Crikey media editor Margaret Simons writes:


Hands up those who have heard more than
they ever wanted to hear about Sam
Chisholm
and his lung
transplant
, or Eddie
McGuire’s Broadmeadows upbringing.

Sometimes it seems that the media knows
only one way to report on itself – by talking about the personalities of the
people at the top. Meanwhile there are important changes in media that are impersonal
– in a way that is both terrifying and
potentially liberating.

In the e-world everything can depend on
whether your name or your business comes up on the first page of Google search results.
This depends not on patronage, but on an algorithm.

John
Batelle
tells a chilling story in his recently published book The Search. Neil Moncrief sold
shoes for larger than average feet. Google made his fortune. Once Moncrief got
a website, he suddenly began getting orders from all over the world.

Then in November 2003, Google changed its
algorithms. Suddenly Moncrief’s business didn’t appear in the top hundred
results. He almost went broke. On Google’s website he couldn’t find a number to
call or an e-mail to contact. He tried ringing Google headquarters, and never
got a response. Google didn’t care.

The paradox is that Google can know pretty
much everything about you, but at the same time they don’t even know you exist.

Why is this potentially liberating? Because
it breaks, or at least alters, the old tension between media independence and
having to please your advertisers.

As you can read at ProBlogger, there are people – at
least one of them here in Melbourne – who are making six figure salaries from
blogging, largely thanks to GoogleAds.
Sign up with Google and relevant ads are automatically placed on your site. You
get paid when someone clicks on them, and yet the advertiser will never know
you exist.

Have a look at the blog network www.b5media.com, built on a revenue sharing
model with its writers, or the Australian start-up, The Podcast Network, for
examples of the nascent, semi-professional journalism now benefiting from the
surge in internet advertising. Some of b5media’s writers are making $200 a week
for their efforts. Others, of course, make little or nothing.

As the ProBlogger makes clear, you will get
more high value ads, and more click throughs, if you have certain kinds of content
on your blog. There is nothing to stop bloggers from selling
their souls. But nothing to make them do so, either.

Peter Fray

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Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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