A New Boom in User-Created Content

The New York Times has an article today about how many sites are turning to user-generated content (specifically video, but also some general information) and offering cash rewards: Online Auteurs Hardly Need to Be Famous. Yahoo recently scaled back plans to create original programming in favor of putting up free user-created stuff. As you might expect, the quality of material is all over the map, but then again that doesn’t seem to matter too much.

Increasingly, the new, new thing in media is getting paid for the homemade. Reflecting the surge in the popularity of user-created material, both online and traditional media companies are opening their wallets to make sure that the best of it finds its way onto their television shows and Web sites.

Even Yahoo, the nation’s most-visited Web site, has signaled a change in its strategy by moving away from creating its own professional content in favor of user-generated material — and it appears willing to pay for anything its users deem worthy.

All this is part of a trend seeking to turn conventional media business models on their heads in the digital age. Typically, media content was either paid for by consumers in the form of subscription fees or by marketers through advertising. In offering to pay users for creating content, companies like Yahoo are not looking to turn every amateur into a professional so much as acknowledging the growing appeal of homemade material to audiences and hence its value to media businesses.

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