Past The Press Box

AOL Seed an opportunity for sportswriters? Not yet.

With everyone dying to find the next successful revenue model for journalism—assuming it even exists—many have taken an interest in AOL Seed. Seed takes aim at 'crowdsourcing' journalism by giving publishers a forum to post stories and freelance journalists an opportunity to claim and write those stories for compensation. The thing is, it doesn't take a great deal of journalistic expertise, if any, to write the stories Seed is looking for.

As an example, Seed's most recent and ambitious project includes profiling all 2,000 bands playing at SXSW. The details

  • Each assignment/profile is worth $50.
  • The format will be a 1,000 word Q&A
  • Said format will be based on a template, with Seed providing some of the questions
  • Finished bios will be used to populate, AOL's music site
  • Posts will be edited and approved by the teams at AOL/Spinner

Now, where exactly does this fit in for sports? It's hard to imagine a format where you'd need that type of content, possibly a situation like the NCAA Tournament. But many sites are already doing profiles of each team, with Deadspin even coming to mind. Those don't involve firsthand reporting (talking to the coaches, players, etc.) but I don't imagine a template-based series with predetermined questions would be all that interesting to a majority of readers. However, this isn't to say all content is templated, but it's not all that much better either.

Just to see what was available, I signed up for seed and went to their recommended sports opportunities. At the moment, there are two opportunities: a $100 story on going to the 2010 WWE Royal Rumble for the first time and another titled "Investigate the World of Broomball!" for $75. Not interested.

So, based on this, I decided to check out who was using the Seed-produced sports content. Based on their own publisher portfolio, it looks as though only AOL-owned sports entities have used the service. Makes sense at the moment but this isn't ideal.

So yes, this could be a good idea and if you're interested in writing on other subjects you could make some money right now, but for sportswriters Seed still has a long ways to go.

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Comments (2) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
FanHouse - February 1, 2010 9:05 PM

FanHouse is home to many bloggers and award winning writers. Seed may send content to FanHouse soon, but the premium content there seems to be working just fine at the moment.

Keep in mind, Seed is only one month old...

Colin O'Keefe - February 1, 2010 9:14 PM

Fanhouse has certainly done very well, using both bloggers and more big-name mainstream writers like Mariotti and Blackistone. I was under the impression Fanhouse was already receiving content from Seed, maybe not.

I think Seed certainly will give a certain amount of sportswriters and bloggers some work to do but at the moment the publishers still need to buy into it and give writers more stories to claim. However, this SXSW project could be just the thing publishers need to see. We'll find out.

Seed is very young and does have a ways to go, but from the start it seems like a good idea, or at least one worth trying.

- Colin

The American Sportswriter_