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Ben Westhoff, a New York freelance writer and occasional contributor to City Paper‘s arts pages, recently signed on with the Examiner‘s new blogger-generated-content model, where writers proclaim themselves experts in some discipline and get paid based on pageviews. It didn’t work out so well for Westhoff, who had a brief stint as a “music examiner,” because, well—-he was trying to get pageviews:
In the beginning I took my column pretty seriously, shouting out stories I’d written for other publications, and including some original content. It quickly became a slog. My hits were 200 or 300 a day, not terrible, but translating to pennies (or perhaps quarters) per day. Then, around the time of the Republican convention it occurred to me that the idiots who dial up Examiner don’t want to read about Jamie Lidell or whatever, they want to read about Sarah fucking Palin. And so I began posting about her, every day. My hits went way up, well over 1000 for this Sarah Palin drinking game.
I was immediately told by an editor — a different one — that this was unacceptable, that I had to write about music only. I pushed back, noting my agreement with the first guy. But he couldn’t be swayed, and since I was near a payment threshold I capitulated. I silently vowed to get over the threshold as quickly as possible, and to entertain myself in the process. And so I began to blog about nothing but Lil Wayne and boobs — Katy Perry’s, mostly — in as absurd a manner as possible. Oh, and I still talked about Sarah Palin via ridiculous musical tie-ins. “Katy Perry and Sarah Palin to wrestle in Jello?” one was titled.
My hits stayed high, probably because nearly every post included a picture of Katy Perry with her tits hanging out, which were splashed across the site’s front page next to headlines like “Katy Perry voted biggest boobs in music.” (The first line of that particular post was, “By my friend Darryl”). After about a week of this they cut me off. My page is still up, but as of Saturday I can’t post to it anymore. This annoyed me at first, but this morning I got paid so I’m over it.
Westhoff’s post includes links to his Examiner posts, but they’re all dead now.