Yahoo Cranks Up New Content Machine

Portal Completes Integration of Associated Content; Hires More Bloggers

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Yahoo is launching blogs, hiring writers and turning on its own fire hose of freelance content as it attempts to create and scale a low-cost model for media.

The writer's pipeline once known as Associated Content will become the "Yahoo Contributors Network" and will feed its lineup of sites its brand of how-to and search-engine-friendly fare for close to 180 million readers every month.

"It's not a vendor kind of relationship anymore, it's baked in," said Associated founder Luke Beatty. "Now, you'll be publishing in the context of the largest online media company in the world."

Associated, which Yahoo bought for $100 million in May, will still maintain its database of articles on its website and will continue to create assignments tuned to what people are searching for on Google -- typically how-to content -- but anyone looking to write for Associated will now have to go through Yahoo. The vetting process will essentially remain the same. Potential writers will upload writing samples and a resume and Associated's editors will cull through the applications. For articles that are accepted, contributors will be paid an upfront fee in the $2 to $50 range, and after an article generates a thousand page views, writers can collect anywhere from $1 to $4.50 for every additional thousand pages it generates.

As part of the new integration Yahoo's editors will now be able to create assignments directly into Associated's contributor roster which numbers over 400,000. Some editors have already been pulling in content from Associated, though in limited capacity as the technologies between the two platforms hadn't been fully integrated.

Yahoo editors plan on putting out calls for content timed to holidays, such as a request for first-person stories from former military people timed to Veteran's Day, or will look for citizen reporting in response to events, such as the Gulf oil spill.

Editors say that they've already tapped some Associated contributors to man certain beats, such as technology, which would ease the need for editors to continuously out calls for assignments.

"The goal is to really fill out the content stack," Yahoo News head Mark Walker said. "We have great original journalism we're producing, and we have great partnerships. And now there's also a layer of first-person account and analysis that really helps to complete this information structure."

The new structure bears striking resemblance to what AOL built internally with its own freelance content platform SEED, though the old Associated Content has a much bigger roster of contributors and a library of evergreen stories built over several years.

It comes as Yahoo is cutting back on the tech side, with significant layoffs planned for the product division, which creates Yahoo's tools and applications.

Yahoo's content initiatives are wide-ranging and not always clear. In addition to the Associated acquisition as well as its partnerships with an array of providers, from The Daily Beast to the AP, Yahoo has expanded its blog presence, hiring a number of bloggers to fill out its forthcoming entertainment and finance blogs.

As previously reported, Yahoo has tapped former Defamer editor Mark Lisanti to head up original entertainment coverage, reporting to Courtney Reimer, but it has also brought on former Deadspin editor and current New York Magazine writer Will Leitch, who will cover movies for Yahoo. Mr. Leitch will continue to write about sports for New York magazine, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company on Friday announced it would expand its Upshot group of blogs to include coverage of national affairs, politics and the media industry, though its team of reporters will remain unchanged.

Yahoo would not comment on when it would launch its entertainment and finance blogs.

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