If you thought the lines between advertising and journalism are blurred, you haven’t seen anything yet.
According to the Wall Street Journal, AOL is putting together a new workflow that aims to cut costs by simply outsourcing editorial interest to algorithms. This is how it works:
– The “algo editor” automatically assigns stories to freelancers through Seed.com based on Web searches and sites that AOL users visit;
– The system also figures out how much marketers are willing to pay to advertise alongside such stories;
– AOL’s staffers (human, presumably) will edit the stories as they come in;
– Fees will “range from nothing upfront, with a promise to share ad revenues the article generates, to more than $100 per item.”
This is of course nothing new. Demand Media is already doing it. But it would be interesting to see how the math is done: Surely having to maintain an army of copy editors and fact checkers will outweigh the cost savings — these could arguably be more expensive than the sale of the ads on the articles themselves.
Or maybe it’s just time to leave fact checking to algorithms.