The Risk Of A Bonus Plan For Journalists

There is plenty of evidence that bonuses have more negative than positive effects. Rewards succeed at securing one thing only: temporary compliance. When it comes to producing lasting change in attitudes and behavior, however, rewards, like punishment, are strikingly ineffective. Notwithstanding all the data, Chris Evans, the editor of The Telegraph announced an idea to "link performance to reward" in journalism. Evans said: “It seems only right that those who attract and retain the most subscribers should be the most handsomely paid.”

I tend to disagree. Everybody scores stories published online according to factors such as how many subscriptions they drive and how many clicks they get, but they all stay far from rewarding the writers. My problem with rewards: they punish the ones who work as hard as the others, but receive nothing. If you are not allowed to write about some things like celebs, corona virus or crime, you are basically deprived of part of your income. This reduces cooperation between coworkers, the exact thing that breeds success as we wrote in our blog (above and two weeks ago).

Unrelated to the above, but at the same organization, the ex-Head of Digital at The Times, Alan Hunter, wrote a piece on his path from print editor into a digital change agent. He starts off with fixing tablet editions based on his own experiences as a journalist (breaking news!) to understanding what consumers want (meaningful insights and stories you can actually finish). Eventually the data comes in, and the the newsroom is born where you can still work as an independent thinker, but understand what resonates with clients.


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