Yahoo Recruits Citizen Journalists to Write Stories

The hope is that they will generate revenue for the company and themselves.

Yahoo has enlisted an army of 400,000 citizen journalists, and counting, to write stories and, in theory at least, generate revenue for the company and themselves.

The initiative began in May when Yahoo spent an estimated $100 million to acquire Associated Content. They've been tinkering with the property since then, and on Monday they rebranded it as Yahoo Contributor Network.

The Network primarily generates print stories now, but photographs and video are also welcome, said Matt Idema, a Yahoo vp.

Those who join the Network can go online to pick an assignment to write about at a fixed, nominal fee, or they can write stories of their own choosing and be compensated based on how much traffic they generate.

Usually, said Idema, a Network writer will get $1 or $2 per 1,000 readers. Considering Yahoo's reach, a hot story can be a lucrative proposition, especially if it gets linked at other well-traveled blogs like the Drudge Report.

Idema said that stories go through automated checks to ensure against plagiarism and such, then human employees spot-check some articles.

It appears that not all of the kinks have been worked out yet, as Idema couldn't say who might be liable if any libel sneaks into a Network-written story.

Some of the popular content thus far, said Idema, has been a feature story about an Etch A Sketch artist, a first-person account of surviving Hurricane Katrina and an advice column about getting out of credit card debt.

"It's not hard-core reporting," he said. "This content is meant to complement the content that has always been at Yahoo."