August 3, 2014
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CANADALAND
#43 The Score
The Score is a digital-first, globally popular Canadian media company that's growing each year. So why did its well-loved feature writing team just get the axe? Former features editor Dustin Parkes explains.

Episode Rundown

00:00 The Score lays off its feature writing staff (link)

03:13 “I’ll ask you questions and you’ll have to explain it to me like I’m a very slow four year old because with sports, I don’t really know anything.” Jesse

05:38 “We were like, ‘look at these media dinosaurs going out’ and you know what? In two years, we were the dinosaurs.” Parkes

07:15 “In defending my team throughout the last year and a half, I would look at the shares per article. Ours would always be higher, ours would always be more significant. But you know, we cost more money than the average news editor.” Parkes

7:43 “(a news editor) is what used to be called a blogger. They’re the people who are kind of mining for content, mining online, mining Twitter, social media and looking for the breaking stories.” Parkes

8:40 “By the simple metrics, I could see they were generating more page views and a lot more tap throughs on the app, a lot more views online, a lot more shares online overall.” Parkes

10:30 “They found new ways to share on Facebook that were very effective for them and that kind of cut out the need for us as marketers of their product…Facebook recently changed their algorithm for sharing content and they made sharing content for content providers a lot easier. Using hashtags, and made it more like twitter. And that had a profound effect on our traffic numbers.” Parkes

11:53 “They’re selling $2 million per quarter in ads…it’s up 60% from a year ago. And yet when you consider they’re like the number 3 thing in the world in what they’re doing (Chris corrects- they’re currently #7), and they’ve got an audience of 5 or 6 million- in newspaper terms that’s a pittance. And they’re losing $2.7 million every quarter cause their spending over 5 million a quarter. When the numbers are that big…I’m going to make a wild estimate and guess your whole team cost somewhere around half a million dollars a year?” Jesse

“It’s a lot less than that” Parkes

The Star on The Score’s path to profitability (link)

12:30 “They’ve got a 100 people in there (The Score), 30 of them are journalists? So is everyone else a computer programer?” Jesse

12:40 “It’s a modern company in every way” Parkes

“Is that what a modern company is? Is a modern media company a company without journalists?” Jesse

“In a way, it’s starting to shape up this way” Parkes

14:00 “ That which gains the most traction as far as news content goes is the weird stuff, the wacky stuff in sports…What we as the feature writers offer is something a little bit more than that and it’s kind of for the people who have an unhealthy relationship with sports” Parkes

14:49 “(You wrote) an article about the exploitation of young Dominican kids into baseball, that was as good as any magazine journalism I read recently” Jesse  (link)

15:26 http://grantland.com/ (Maybe the only sports website I frequent. -Chris)

16:12 The personal blog post Dustin mentions (link)

19:02 “’The market can’t support this type of journalism, we’ve learned this is true’. Actually, you’re talking about specific people called advertisers, who are obsessed with metrics,eyeballs and clicks. They don’t particularly care about the quality of the content, they just want people seeing their ads, and where does the value lie when people ignore display ads?…are we acting like this is the reality of the world when we haven’t educated advertisers and they don’t understand the difference between one kind of click and another?” Jesse

24:15 Some of Dustin’s World Cup coverage (link)

24:50 “To be really honest it’s sports, I mean it’s so meaningless. Like, maybe tabloid journalism is maybe a little bit under it. In the end it’s completely meaningless, it’s at best a distraction.” Parkes

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