Any form of compensation will influence the content which is produced. Why is there so many “top ten” lists on the internet? Haven’t we become tired of headlines which start with “seven things you should…” The truth is that writing for a general audience is very different than writing for a niche audience.
If you hate top 10 lists but find that you have to create these types of posts to pay the bills then you are a salesman. Your selling your soul to Medium with the hopes of getting thousands of likes and monetizing your content.
How is this different than writing for a niche audience and taking compensation from a single interested party? Its different in lots of ways but here are just a few:
- People like to eat psychological junk food. If we write junk food and justify it by saying “well this is the only thing that will allow me to get thousands of views on medium,” then we are not helping anyone and most importantly we betray ourselves.
- It takes far more of our time and energy to write for niche audiences and yet we receive far less compensation. If we could simply create a more transparent process of compensating people who write for niche audiences then there would be a greater diversity of content on Medium that wasn’t junk food.
So the problem is nuanced. People don’t like nuance, they like clear rules of right and wrong.
SPONSORED CONTENT = BAD
MEDIUM COMPENSATING WRITERS FOR POPULAR CONTENT = GOOD
Unfortunately the world is far more complex than this. We need to compensate writers to produce content that is healthy for the few people who choose to incorporate healthy content into their reading diet.
Instead of subsidizing corn and soybeans we should subsidize farmers who grow brussel sprouts. By bringing down the cost to produce brussel sprouts there should be more brussel sprouts in the market. This abundance of brussel sprouts increases the likelihood that people will decide to try them. In this way some people fall in love with brussel sprouts and become healthier. individuals. This is the way we increase the overall health of society.
What you subsidize is what you become. If you want to subsidize junk food then you will become a junk food society. I however reject the thought that all sponsored content is BAD content. There must be a way to sponsor healthy content and thus create a healthier society. Otherwise why even bother writing for ILLUMINATION?
So is sponsored content bad?
Surely sponsored content has the potential to cause problems. It also has the potential promote a community where there is a richer variety of intellectual content. This richer variety might produce a healthier society.
A third party wants to heavily sponsor an author to write content favorable to them. This is not without controversy. I do not believe there is a way to do this that eliminates the appearance of corruption. This is because there will always be someone who attempts to sponsor content which selfishly benefits them and produces toxic results for society.
Sponsored content paid for by a single source will never be “good content.” But this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t allow it to exist, it just means that if it does exist it will always be a potential problem.
Fire is useful, it can also burn down your house. One society may decide to ban fire, another society decides to build systems to manage the risk of fire in order to gain the benefits.