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Yahoo to pay 400,000 people to create news articles

Targeted, high quality news are now aggregated and produced semi-automatically. Can someone shed some light on how such a decision could make sense, from a business viewpoint? At the end of the day, advertisers pay for the content, will they be happy with this Yahoo solution?

The article below was published on USA Today.

Yahoo became one of the Web's most popular news sources by aggregating and featuring other people's journalism. On Tuesday, it will take its biggest leap yet into the highly competitive business of creating its own news content.

The Internet giant will launch the Yahoo Contributor Network, harnessing 400,000 freelance writers, photographers and videographers from Associated Content, a firm that Yahoo bought in May.

Yahoo did not renew deals to sell Associated Content's stories to outside news organizations, including Reuters, Scripps and Fox News. The work will appear only on Yahoo, including its home page, Yahoo News, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Sports.

The change will "deepen our engagement with the millions of people who visit us every day and provide new opportunities for creative contributors," CEO Carol Bartz says.

About 28 percent of those who get news online check Yahoo, ahead of CNN's 16 percent and Google's 15 percent, the Pew Research Center reported in September.

Although others including AOL and Demand Media are also wooing freelancers, Yahoo's ability to distribute to such a vast audience "is not something that exists (elsewhere) on the Web today," says Luke Beatty, Yahoo's general manager.

About a third of contributors are paid modestly upfront or collect fees based on the number of people who access their work. Others forgo payment to share views or interests with a large audience.

Will contributors stick with a Yahoo-only service?

"They're not a prestigious news outlet, at least not yet," says Allen Weiner, a media analyst at research firm Gartner. "If a substantial number of contributors don't want to write for one source, then you might see some pushback."

Contributors have expressed "some hesitation" about the change, says Sabah Karimi, author of The AC Source Book. But the concerns should pass, she says, if they attract bigger audiences - and, as a result, collect more money.

She expects "more exposure for all of us." The company has told contributors that it will recommend more targeted topics, easing up on evergreen topics such as holiday baking.

Yahoo expects to post "2,000 stories a day, and that number grows every day," Beatty says.

He doesn't know how many editors review the stories, but he says computers check to be sure nothing is plagiarized or offensive.

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