Editor's note: This piece reflects Cory's personal opinion on the PolicyMic platform. PolicyMic is still a small but fast growing organization. Our team is currently focused on two goals: create a platform for high-quality news & discussion for millennials and growth.
A rapidly growing community of writers, leaders and analysts at PolicyMic.com is changing how media and politics work. To sustain this organization and movement for democratic media, some money will need to come from somewhere. I’m writing to open a public discussion about the best way for PolicyMic to grow, be financially sustainable, and become a significant influence on the world’s stage.
One of the great strengths of PolicyMic is the use of intrinsic reward to motivate writers to contribute quality material. Instead of earning a paycheck, most contributors on PolicyMic receive public recognition, and praise for their work. For decades, scientific research has shown that intrinsic rewards are generally better motivators to produce creative work than cash bonuses. At the same time, most people’s lives are shaped by economic realities that limit the amount of time they can participate in contributing on forums such as PolicyMic. Over 70% of Americans work at a job they dislike in order to make money, instead of working on tasks that utilize their unique passions and interests.
What can PolicyMic do in response to this knowledge? My potentially game-changing idea is to create a new position after Pundit on PolicyMic, called a ‘Reporter’ that would be earned by receiving 750 lifetime Mics. Every participant on PolicyMic who becomes a ‘Reporter’ would be eligible to receive a share of the revenue generated by PolicyMic if they meet a baseline contribution rate, such as earning 100 mics within the last three months. In addition, Contributors, Anchors, Pundits, and Reporters would all be able to earn a commission for attracting new sources of revenue to PolicyMic.
Where would this revenue come from? While most news sites and blogs monetize their work by selling advertizing, I think PolicyMic can do better. Organizations, whether non-profit or for-profit, are groups of people who play an important role in society and deserve to be included in the conversation. Instead of cluttering the PolicyMic website with flashing ads, participants on PolicyMic could invite organizations to pay a small fee to join in submitting comments about articles that affect their organization. Just like an individual, an organization could earn mics to become a pundit who could then submit articles. This non–traditional public relations opportunity would be attractive to organizations who want to raise awareness about their interests and be seen as responsible corporate citizens.
Just as Twitter is now selling sponsored advertizements, and Wikipedia is fundraising, PolicyMic will also need to monetize their site in some way to stay afloat. As a community of contributors, we need to be proactive about asking for PolicyMic's monetization decision to be done democratically. By inviting all of the best contributors on PolicyMic to share in the work of growing the website, as well as some of the financial rewards, I believe that PolicyMic will be able to grow much larger and more influential, ultimately creating a greater payout for the original founders.
I propose that everyone who earns 750 or more lifetime Mics become ‘Reporters’ who get a monthly dividend check for their work on PolicyMic. The dividend would be equal to a certain percentage of organizational revenue for that month, divided equally among all PolicyMic staff, and Reporters who earned 100 mics in the last three months. This is one idea of many alternative ways that PolicyMic could be democratic and transparent in allocating the financial benefits to those who are creating valuable material for the PolicyMic community.
How do you think we can make this idea even better?