This made the rounds among journo-types yesterday, but in case you haven’t seen it, there’s an exciting development in the media world: a startup is “aimed at fixing news.” (Yes, really!)
Unfortunately, it’s a secret. Hence, the handle for the employer in the ad listing at the Poynter site: “Secret Journalism Startup.” (Yes, really.) The accompanying description helpfully explains: “We’re funded and advised by YCombinator, the people behind Reddit, posterous, and Justin.tv. Contact us at email@example.com. We’re not releasing our name publicly for another few weeks, for esoteric reasons involving investors.”
And what will this mystery employer be paying? Well, the listing pegs salaries at $30,000-$70,000, but compensation turns out to be, if not a secret, then something of a guess. According to a note: “We help journalists make money online, and earn a small portion of the proceeds. So while this isn’t a paid position, we only earn money if you do. (So the 30K-70K is an estimate, not a concrete figure).”
As it turns out, the secret didn’t last long. A rudimentary Google search shows that the phone number in the ad—an unpublished listing in the Bay Area—is shared by something called NewsLabs, which does have a Web site with a bit more information, including a handy Q&A explainer. (Sample question: “Um, this sounds sinister?”)
Sinister, it’s probably not. Still, it’s hard to imagine an out-of-work journalist coming across a listing like this and not feeling a bit bewildered, even if there might be some merit in the underlying idea. And that’s no secret.