Thursday, March 7, 2013

Against All Efforts, Nate Thayer Goes Viral

Nate Thayer did a recent post on his blog describing an exchange with The Atlantic.  Nate posted a story for free on his blog, "25 Years of Slam Dunk Diplomacy" that now appears for free at NK News.  The Atlantic offered to post a condensed version of the story for free on their blog with reference to the original source, offering exposure to an audience of 14 million people.  Nate becomes offended that they would like to use his material without compensating him.

This has been covered from several sides already, and I think my framing of the above hints at where I stand.  I am already writing for free, and would love one of my posts to go viral.  I would love the exposure of getting linked to by Tyler Cowen.  I'm half tempted to offer him $50 for linking to one of my posts, just in hopes that he would use it for a "Markets in Everything" post (maybe I should make it $500).  I don't really have any plan for monetizing the extra eyeballs, but it would help build my personal brand, and it would be cool to have some influence.

What struck me in the exchange is a minor point that Thayer kept repeating,
If you ever are interested in  a quality story on North Korea and wiling to pay for it, please do give me a shout. I do enjoy reading what you put out, although I remain befuddled as to how that particular business model would be sustainable to either journalism and ultimately the owners and stockholders of the Atlantic.
I think he is misunderstanding a major part of The Atlantic's value added.  The Atlantic (among other things) is a filter sending interesting content to its audience.  There is, in fact, already a high quality story on North Korea already available for free on the internet.  The Atlantic is seeking to maintain the influence and eyeballs it has by both delivering new content, but also filtering through a tremendous amount of noise and delivering high quality content from around the web to its readers.  Usually, I think it is win, win, win.  Nate Thayer gets exposure.  NK News gets free marketing and a chance to gain new viewers.  And The Atlantic continues to satisfy eager customers.

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