Journalism Bailout: Really?

The Typepad Journalist Bailout Program has been grabbing the attention of both bloggers and reporters at major news organizaitons.  Naturally, I was intrigued.  As in, a bailout for journalists? And, by Typepad?

Well, kind of.  Except, of course, it’s a bailout minus the billions of public dollars.  This new media biz gives journalists and bloggers who recently lost their jobs a free account on the TypePad blogging platform, for  which non-terminated writers would normally fork over $150.  The recently fired and job-searching journos who are selected get tech support and enrollment in the company’s ad revenue-sharing program.  Currently, the company will select 20 to 30 journalists to support, but hope to provide accounts to the 300+ journalists that have applied so far.  Applicants are asked to link to clips with the companies they used to work for.

The website’s tagline may strike a chord with journalism students: “Because your Tumblr and Tweets, while clever, will not pay your bills.”  The company then writes, “Hello, recently-laid-off or fearful-of-layoffs journalist! We’re Six Apart (you know us as the nice folks who make Movable Type or TypePad, which maybe you used for blogging at your old newspaper or magazine) and we want to help you.”

Simon Owens, who blogs for PBS, chimed in on the conversation skeptically, writing: “The vultures are circling. What was once a small trickle of layoffs at major newspapers has become a waterfall of lost jobs within the media business. One can almost picture the Poynter Institute’s widely read journalism industry blog Romenesko sauntering up to Time Inc. and Conde Nast and screaming, “Bring out your dead!”

The site looks like a good way to grab attention and support for an interactive blog, but it would be difficult at best to generate enough advertising revenue to pay the bills.  Still, props to Typepad for attempting to give journalists a ‘bailout’ in a creative way, even if it might seem gimmicky.  Now, if we could just the government to bail out our student loans… 

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