In the digital future will online writers get royalties?

Journalists who write for newspapers and magazines don’t get royalties, but in the future will that change and will that make things better? But first, let’s talk about how a royalty system will work for journalists. After being given a salary or being paid a fixed fee per article (for freelance writers), as long as the online articles get hits, the writer will get royalties (a few cents per click). The clicks have to be unique page views so as to prevent the writer from cheating by clicking on their own article.

In the past, it made sense that writers were paid a fixed fee. When reproduced as print, a journalist’s article comes out as several copies and then they are sold. After that, the article is rarely ever reprinted. If no one saves that printed article, future generations wouldn’t be able to stumble upon it and read it. Things are different online. Past articles can be rediscovered by someone searching the web. It can suddenly rise in popularity and drive traffic to a website. Since traffic increases the website’s ability to attract more lucrative advertisement deals, then the article is a continuous source of revenue for the company. So should the company acknowledge this and give a continuous compensation for the writer?

The only danger though of this scheme is if this will incentivize journalists to write articles that they know will be popular. Just because a topic is popular doesn’t mean that it should be the main focus of the journalist. This will be especially problematic with news journalists but maybe not so much with lifestyle journalists. Or am I wrong?

Let me know what your thoughts are by leaving a comment.

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All the opinions expressed in this page and in this blog are my own and do not represent the official stances of the companies, institutions, and organizations that I am affiliated with. I am a person. I’m not just a manifestation of corporate interests. I have an identity that is separate from my company because even if human beings are paid for a service by corporations, human beings are not owned by corporations.


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