The New York Times wants more content on its site, but it can only squeeze so much out of the employees it has: Union rules prevent it from simply ordering writers to make more copy for the Web, and some writers still have philosophical qualms about putting their prose exclusively on the Internet. The answer: Hire non-union contract writers as bloggers.
This is a smart move, and the NYT has been headed in this direction for a while. It has been steadily increasing its array of staff-written blogs; it has converted some print writers, like the excellent Saul Hansell, into full-time bloggers; it has imported the popular Freakonomics blog, and it has hired outsiders like Deadspin’s Will Leitch to do special features, like the coverage he’s providing for the baseball playoffs. And we understand the paper will increasingly be looking to beef up its web roster with contract writers.
The paper’s business section, in particular, is relying on the strategy. It has already put freelancers to work on its Wheels and ShiftingCareers blogs, and we’re told it is now looking to hire up to four more full-time bloggers in the near future. We don’t know how the NYT’s blogging pay scale compares to rest of the paper’s writers, but we’re assuming that it’s significantly lower. This may unsettle the NYT’s union members, but it should provide a rare bit of good news for the NYT’s beleaguered shareholders.