“Gut Feeling” Guides Pay-for-Play at Gawker

How does Gawker decide whether (and how much) to pay for a story, wondered Simon Owens over at TNW? Writes Owens:

Why was the iPhone story (13 million views) worth $5,000, the Christine O’Donnell story (1.2 million views) worth a “low four figures,” and the Brett Favre pics (4.6 million views) worth “less than $20,000“?

Owens asked Gawker’s editor-in-chief, Remy Stern, how the site makes these decisions, noting that paying for stories is “a rather common business decision made by dozens of news outlets, including tabloid magazines and even major TV news networks (who pay exorbitant ‘licensing fees’ to gain access to exclusive photos, which almost always result in an exclusive interview as well).”

Stern told Owens that “Gawker is approached at least once a week with some kind of pay-for-play scoop and at least 95 percent of them are deemed not worth paying for,” determinations that are made by “gut feeling” (oh, and also, “some rough calculations as to how many unique visitors a story would attract.”) Sometimes Gawker-owner Nick Denton even lets Stern (and editors of Gawker’s sister sites) make these calls! That O’Donnell story? “Far exceeded” Stern’s expectations. (Traffic-wise, I assume?)

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.