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Nieman Journalism Lab
Pushing to the future of journalism — A project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard

The path to enter the journalism business is changing. Some media companies are abandoning unpaid internships; others are terming them reporting fellowships.

Enter Gawker, which is adding a new metaphor to the game by creating a new “Recruits” program. Under the Recruits system, aspiring writers will get short-term contracts, a stipend, their own Kinja blog, and the potential to pull in better pay based off their traffic. Recruits recruits may eventually make their way into a regular gig with Gawker, either as a full-time staffer or as a long-term freelancer.

It’s more of a formalized farm system for Gawker, which has a history of plucking sharp writers out of the comments for a full-time gig.

Since this is Gawker, the emphasis for recruits is not just on becoming a better writer, but also mastering the economics of online media. Here’s Gawker editorial director Joel Johnson on how recruits will get paid:

Recruits will operate on a $5 eCPM — earning $5 for every 1,000 uniques they bring in each month. We will “spot” Recruits their first $1,500 a month; we’re not monsters. Recruits can post as little or as often as they’d like; determining the sweet spot will be part of their learning and tuning process. Monthly uniques over the first 300,000 ($1,500) a month will be paid out at the $5 eCPM, up to a maximum of $6,000. (An atypically aggressive bonus for Gawker, reached at just 1,250,000 uniques per month, but we want to reward initiative.)

— Justin Ellis
                                   
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