First and foremost, I felt the need to say ‘thank you.’ We are amazed and humbled by how many members of our professional freelance community come to our defense every single day. There were days (and they still happen), where I cringed at the association with the term “content farm.” We are also honest with ourselves, know that we need to get even better and we will.
We know that we are just getting started and every day we push ourselves because we have the desire and the commitment that goes way beyond ourselves - to the communities that we serve, our freelance community, our partners and millions of readers. For those of you who’ve been with us since the beginning, you know that we continually fine tune the way that we do things - not because we are gluttons for punishment, but because we know we can improve.
While many of you took the time to weigh in on the conversations around the Web, one particular comment that referred to writers who have a "complete disregard for the craft and the reader” struck a nerve because, in spite of what people are writing about us, all of us here at Demand Media and the vast majority of you, do care about the writing craft and for the reader. The editorial rigor and process for creating content is just part of the equation; the other important piece is the pride in what we do and pride in the articles you touch. We really do start from the point of creating content that helps people every day, changes lives for the better, informs them and, sometimes even makes them laugh. The stories I love hearing most are from people who got something done with the help of our content - like the person who used a recent eHow.com article to stop her dog from choking.
Many of you who’ve read our company manifesto know that some of the things that we believe in very strongly are: starting each day by listening to the customer and creating content that is unequivocally useful in addition to fully believing/investing heavily in our freelance community. In building our platform we knew that everyone’s motivations would be different. For some it was applying a particular expertise, and writing to supplement their income. For others it was about creating a name for yourself, improving your craft and getting regular access to freelance assignments. Please continue to send your ideas and feedback. We are listening and acting on them.
You are not a nameless, faceless, soul-less group of people on a “farm.” We are not a robotic organization that’s only concerned about numbers and data. We are a media company. We work together to tell stories. As the Dean of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television Teri Schwartz said, “Story is the driver. It’s the timeless classic, universal piece that binds us all together.” (If you haven’t seen our 8-minute documentary featuring Teri Schwartz, SPJ President Kevin Z. Smith and some of our creators, please check it out. Many thanks again to all who participated in this piece and to Emmy Award winner Gina Miller, one of our filmmakers, who actually worked with us to put it together.)
As an editor, you always want just one more pass. We’ve only been at this for four years. This is not meant as an excuse, but to give context. Tonight, I will read my new issues of the New Yorker and Texas Monthly that showed up in my mailbox and that I look to for inspiration. Our hope and intent is to fulfill the needs of our best writers, copy editors, titlers, and filmmakers. We hope to continue to improve the content in order to be the standard upon which other content is judged. More importantly, tomorrow we (Demand Media) will get up, work hard like so many of you and be driven by all the smart people around us in our community to make it happen.
As a parting thanks, I wanted to give you a peek at two examples from our Feature template that we'll launch in the coming weeks. Here they are: 7 Ways to Kid-Proof Summer & Summer on the Rocks. (Note: These mocks are in our Resource Center so you will need to log in to view them.) Please know that they are early mocks that could (and probably will) change within a week. We are committed to introducing new opportunities for our creators and this is another example. In this similar vein, we recently launched our Talent & Experts Program as way to pair our filmmakers with qualified on-screen experts, drive the creation of Web series content as well as develop a rolodex of experts for our writers to source for feature content and other formats.
We know that when we’re being criticized, you’re being criticized as well. It’s a fight worth fighting and we’re not daunted. So thanks again for taking the criticism and reacting to it, you didn’t have to. It makes me want to sing a few lines from the ZZ Top song, “Thank You,” (but in a more platonic sense.)
Jeremy & the Demand Media Team