ECP a.k.a. ShamanicShift (ecp_writes) wrote,
ECP a.k.a. ShamanicShift
ecp_writes

Examiner.com is going through changes. But is it getting better?

The Associated Press Stylebook

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Since late 2009 I have posted zero to three articles per week as the Milwaukee Airline/Airport Examiner. Finally, this month I crossed the minimum $25.00 payment threshold.

Updated, 5/20: I am pleased to report I received a payment of a plausible amount. (The website's set-up makes tracking earnings painstaking.)

I know my topic is far from hot and I am not writing enough. 

Examiner started an incentive program in January, 2010 on top of the performance pay (of a few cents to a few dollars per day, for me). Articles meeting Examiner's standard for hyper-local content earn $1 in addition to the performance pay. Next, an advertising sponsorship feature was added to the incentive program, increasing the local incentive to $2 extra each for two to five articles when advertising sponsored Examiners write at least two a week.

Then, I got into a little misunderstanding. 

I was uncomfortable with the notion of sponsorship, anyway, but I did not understand that a single article over a week would not earn even the basic local incentive $1 extra. Examiner's incentive program rules were ambiguous on this point at first, and seemed (to me) to mean the two articles per week minimum applied to the local incentive sponsorship program but not the original incentive program.

My "channel manager" (transportation) agreed there had been a miscommunication around this, emailed I would get paid for four 1/week articles, after all, and Examiner changed the wording on the site. The email said I would receive a confirmation notice soon about the $4. After a few weeks there is still no word.

But these are small amounts of money, way too small to spend more moments fretting over.

Examiner.com's performance pay has improved significantly since Google News reinstated it as a news source.

Examiner wants articles written AP style and provides basic video instruction on main points.

Sometimes I cramp up from cringing while reading news on Examiner.com, because:

I find many articles are written blog-style (full of first person opinion) and many are out of compliance with the style guidelines. The first, by itself, does not shake me. The second bothers me slightly to a lot, depending on what it is.

Still, I always find just many well-written articles if I stay long enough.

Belinda Luscombe writes in Time that Examiner.com articles
 "...have very little news value. Generally, an Examiner.com news story is a compendium of tidbits culled from other websites, neither advancing the story nor bringing any insight..."
but notes articles in the mainstream media fit this description also, all too often.  

When writing for Examiner I do my best to draw information from press-releases instead of summarizing news from other sources. But, often enough, I fall-back on rearranging information already in the media, because the low level of payment does not cover extra hours for research and interviews. When I summarize, I attempt to link up the best information on the subject all in one place, while providing a local angle.

Today I read a few vehement put downs of Examiner.com and a blogger's claim of making in the hundreds of dollars by publishing there every month. I opine Examiner has great potential to develop into an engaging news source.

Last month Examiner redesigned its website and will launch new publishing tools soon. There have been changes in channels and channel management and further transformation is promised. So far, I haven't noticed anything getting worse or better on account of the improvement efforts. 

I am convinced I would do far better as an Examiner if I published (lots) more articles. Perhaps I will energize more effort and pick up the pace for a while and see what happens. It might be easier to write more stories if I gave up on the AP approach (except for the down-style headlines) and got bloggy. But my topic, Milwaukee airlines and airports, doesn't buzz intensely, either. 

I continue to write for Examiner between doing other freelance jobs that earn my living because it is helping me gradually collect an online archive of journalistic writing under my own, real name. Until last year most of my online content was informal (blogging), or anonymous and pseudonymous.

If you want to be an Examiner, feel free to search for and fill in my name, Elizabeth Perkins, and my Examiner number, 27331, when you visit the site. The "Write for us" tab is on the menu, upper right.

When I applied I thought I had encountered a glitch: The application form timed out and would not submit on my first attempt, because I produced my writing sample in the moment. I had to start over, fill out the form faster and cut and paste the text in.

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