Washington Post Tries User Generated Content

The Washington Potwp_logo_300st has announced a competition to find a new pundit.   “Beginning on or about Oct. 30, ten prospective pundits will get to compete for the title of America’s Next Great Pundit.” To make it to the final ten you have to submit a brief, topical, opinion essay.  In a world where traditional media is struggling, this presumably has several benefits:

1.  They get at least ten more readers (at least for a while)

2.  They get some free content from all those who submit an entry

3.  They get a very cheap columnist (the winner will get paid $200 per column for 13 weeks plus $2600).

Now they cant be doing this because they are short of editorial talent, or people that want be on their staff; and I doubt they are really doing this to drive a bargain with existing columnists.  So they are presumably doing this to get some interest in the publication.  Is this going to be like American Idol where we see the really terrible entries as well as the really good ones?  I hope not.  I have to say, that on one level I think it’s great that they are doing this.  It will give some exposure to some great talent.  On another level I’m a little disappointed that a publication like this has to do these things to get readers.

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