Q:You've been given $500,000 but you can only spend it to hire writers for a website. If it's awesome, you'll get another $500,000 next year. Assume all design and maintenance costs are already covered, but you have a nice shell that you need to populate with content. You have no restrictions for eyeballs etc. Who are your writers and what do they write about? NOW WHAT?
That’s more like it.
My model for the website would be something along the lines of the Vanity Fair of the 20s and 30s, or the New Yorker of the same period, but with more space around the edges for dick jokes. General interest, but assuming that the reader is interested in everything.
My first three hires would be Maura Johnston as music editor, Michelle Dean as books editor, and Britt Julious as arts editor, and then I would start asking people who know more than I do who I should hire for the science (Sunny?), politics (Barthel?), fashion (Michaela?), sports (Andy?), film (Nick?), television (Meghan?), games (Stephen?), and history desks (and yes, we would have a history desk (actually, I’d probably just take the history desk for myself)). I would also hire at least three staff cartoonists for illustration, narrative, and commentary pieces, at least two photographers for portraiture and photojournalism (not slideshows), and at least four top-drawer copy editors and fact checkers. (I have three people in mind for the latter position, but I don’t want to insult them by suggesting that they aren’t great writers and wouldn’t be more than welcome to contribute original material too.)
I would trust my editors to commission great work from a wide-ranging freelance pool — with no currency requirement, but definite requirements for equality of representation, and a progressive and internationalist outlook — while also contributing between two and four longform pieces over the course of the year themselves. I would not have post minimums or word count limits; the expectation would be to have a shorter piece (under 3,000 words) from each department run weekly and three long pieces (over 3,000 words), from rotating departments, run monthly. I would also have regular columnists on subjects ranging from religion and philosophy to advice and humor. I would have recurring features like staff lists, brackets, and year-end round-ups. I would not allow infographics, listicles, poorly-designed charts, or YouTube embeds larger than the text of the piece. Every piece would load in one page.
So basically The Believer, but not boring.
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- andyhutchins said: Yes, I would have a list of sports people you could hire.
- imathers said: Would kill to even freelance for this if it was happening.
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- girlboymusic said: I’m a professional fact-checker, dick.
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