About a month ago, I linked to Brijit, a new media aggregation website. The idea behind it is intriguing; it's sort of a curated Google News. If you're like me, you have too many newspapers and magazines, and too little time. The idea behind Brijit is that they tell you what you need to read.
I went to see their offices a couple of weeks ago, which are conveniently located a couple blocks from my house in DC. It looks pretty much like every start-up I've ever seen: hyper-energetic boss surrounded by a bunch of young hopefuls crowded around a table with laptops and bottles of iced tea. Jeremy Brosowsky, the thirtysomething founder, has already started and ended one magazine, but this is his first venture on the web.
In his books Bobos in Paradies, David Brooks talks about status-wealth disequilibrium; the wealthy coastal cities are crowded with people who have money made in un-fun jobs, and people who have fun jobs that don't pay so well. The ideal, Brooks points out, is for members of one group to marry the other, to even things out, but unfortunately it generally doesn't work out that way.
The Brijit concept is similar: take people who have time but no money, and marry them to people who have money but no time. Or rather, pay the people who have a lot of time on their hands to read stuff, and then tell the people who have money but no time what they really need to look at, and what they can safely skip.
Brijit has a stable of writers covering 100 magazines and websites; when I talked to them, they'd just added YouTube. The editors scan the magazines to see what they want to look at, and then put out requests for reviews of those articles. Contributors submit a review and recommendation, generally about 100 words--up to three can bid on one article. The editors pick the best one, pay the contributor $5-8 per review, and copyeditors touch it up and put it on the website. It seems kind of paltry pay, even by freelance standards--just 20 to 30 cents a word. But most of his contributors are students and so forth, who are getting paid for something they'd do anyway: read.
Over time, the writers get clips, experience, and a reputation with Brijit--for example, one of their contributors does virtually all of their Sports Illustrated coverage. And hopefully Brijit gets eyeballs, and eventually advertising money, though they're a while from break-even. They already have thousands of readers a day after a few months of operation, and I expect that they'll have thousands more as soon as the bloggers discover it.
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