Jason Calacanis addressed the uproar over his proposal to pay the top users of Digg to switch to Netscape's portal today. The funny thing is, this is nothing more than outsourcing:
The media elite are *very* threatened by this idea--just as they were threatened by the concept of paid bloggers. Why, because by making a wider talent pool drops the pay rates they're accustom to getting. There are thousands of great writers who got their start by free blogging who are now getting paid. Those new folks have lower pay expectations and the $1-a -word crowd was really pissed off about it. I remember someone in the stock photography business who got upset by me offering my pictures for free for commercial use. His problem was that my photos were as good as stock in many cases, and I was gonna take money away from the stock business. You know what, I don't care! It's *my* work and I can do what *I* want with it. This is the new world we've built here, and talent rises, wins, and gets to decide for THEMSELVES if they want to get paid or not. It's not Mike Arrington's choice, it's the content creators choice. For photos and blogging I choose to not get paid--for some of my others skills I want to get paid.
A couple of months ago, I spoke to a photographer about the stock photo problem - she came with us on a girl scout trip to talk to the girls about photography. Sure enough, the prices you can get for a portfolio of stock photos has cratered - it's really the same thing that's happening with online music. You hear a lot about music, because the RIAA is fighting tooth and nail to maintain their old business model. You don't hear as much about photography, because the people being impacted don't have an association that makes noise.
What Calacanis is doing is more of the same. Until very recently, being an editor was an elite job, open to a relatively small number of people. Sites like Digg and Netscape (and Flickr, del.icio.us) make it possible for anyone to be an editor. Are most people cut out for that work? No, not really. However, in a population base as large as the English speaking West, there are plenty of people with good instincts who are willing and able to do that work. As with photography, it's not necessarily their full time job, so they're happy to get paid pennies compared to what an editor at a large newspaper makes.
That last bit - being willing to take smaller compensation - is what drives the current editor class nuts. There's nothing they can do about it though - just like music and stock photography, prices are going to be driven down.