Last month I began taking a break from DJ to find a new topic area, possibly from my local Milwaukee scene. I would rather blog about science (while keeping up many journalistic standards) than write (journalistic style) news articles, I have decided.
Every member of DJ, citizens (who can blog, participate in groups and vote) and digital journalists (who get paid to contribute), can suggest article edits, subject to author approval. DJ staff can apply edits immediately and do so often. Editing by crowd-sourcing works OK.
The overall quality of the writing on DJ is good to excellent and keeps getting better, IMO, though the editing has seemed to me a bit inconsistent.
Editing by a crowd is likely to be inconsistent, of course. Sometimes minor errors, such as extra or missing commas, get corrected while awkward wordings, apparent grammatical errors (that could be typos) and hanging links remain.
Why do I sit by and observe, instead of editing, where I opine it is called for but has not been done? So far I have refrained from suggesting edits in most of these cases, because, being relatively new, I want to learn more of the ways of DJ before I jump in.
DJ's contributors live in many countries and wordings that seem odd or incorrect to me, might be standard elsewhere, I am supposing. And my own writing is far from blooper-free.
DJ pays digital journalists (through PayPal) for their most recent two months of articles by dividing a variable moneypot (generated by ad revenue) according to a ranking system. Page views count, along with reader votes, but so does the type of article. Only paying for the latest two months makes the moneypot is larger and the number of digital journalists to divide it among smaller.
There are three article types: Digital Journal Reports (with a first hand account and/or interview); In the Media (written from press-releases or already-published news articles, often with extra information and links from research); and Opinion). DJ publishes press-releases from various sources also, to round it out as a complete news source.
The DJ FAQ-help page explains more and links to further details. Prospective digital journalists must submit a writing sample and write under their real names.
DJ recommends writing AP style, except where its style guide differs. For example, headlines do not have to be down-style. DJ staff provide ongoing instruction through posts in the DJ.com Tips and Tricks group, as well as blogs and emails through the site's contact form feature.
When I visit DJ to read the news, I am usually impressed and fascinated. I re-tweet many articles.
My (mostly) science articles on DJ were written from embargoed press-releases, not gathered from other news articles, and I have usually linked to reliable online sources of background and additional information, as well as the press-release I worked from and a link to the professional journal where the researchers' science paper is published.
Though I have no trouble exceeding the $10 minimum payout when I write more than three articles a month, I consider DJ's (generous enough) rate of pay too low, still, to cover extra hours for interviewing sources, given my current compelling need to work more hours for a living income. So all my DJ articles have fallen into the "In the Media" classification, so far, though none were written from already-published news.
If I wrote for DJ every day and switched to reporting+interviews around a more popular topic, I imagine I would earn much more. That is my long-range plan, after I brainstorm new topic areas and decide on one or two.
Already, I find DJ to be an engaging news source, most days.
And I have learned lots about journalism from DJ staff and other digital journalists while appreciating the community interactions. So I am only taking a break to regroup and concentrate on projects and activities where I am earning more of a living these days, not abandoning the place.
I intend to resume writing for DJ as soon as I find a new angle, because it is helping me learn journalism, develop connections and build my online news article archive, while I emerge from my cramped, pseudonymous-anonymous shell as a freelancer. Eventually, if I stick with DJ, I might (even) learn how to use commas correctly.