CEO of MediaCooler Alison Yesilcimen told Journalism.co.uk how the technology connects freelancers with newspapers and magazines.
Q. What is MediaCooler?
A. It's an online content market place that allows professional journalists to showcase and sell features and columns to global publications.
Q. How does it work?
A. A journalist will sign up to MediaCooler, for free, and then upload any content that is either new or previously published; I like to call it new and gently used content.
Anything previously published that a journalist owns the rights to they can post online. It's kind of like Getty Images, but for text.
It's all watermarked so no one can copy and paste the article. We felt it was really important to give the journalist the confidence they need when posting their content on our site.
The buyer, the publisher, has a look at it and gets to read it in its entirety, gets to see the journalist's background in the profile area, and can access its [the article's] publishing history, which explains whether it has already been published or if its a new piece.
Q. Who decides on the price?
A. The journalist sets the price and sells it based on the circulation size of the newspaper or magazine.
Q. What happens if a publisher wants to buy it?
A. Just like with Getty, the publisher clicks to buy the article. They can use PayPal or a credit card.
PayPal does such an amazing job that we thought why recreate the wheel.
MediaCooler takes 25 per cent at the time of transaction.
Q. Does the freelancer keep their copyright?
A. Yes. I'm not interested in the copyright I'm just there to facilitate the transaction between the journalist and the publication.
Q. Who are your clients?
A. Having been in the publishing industry for more than 18 years, I have a strong network in Canada of newspapers and magazines.
We launched a few months ago and already have a couple of the largest newspaper companies on side and I have one of the big magazine companies signed up to purchase.
Q. What are they buying?
A. What's selling now is feature content. I've had a couple of columns be purchased on the site but we are really trying to be niche in our approach in looking at getting content on a variety of topics that include lifestyle and recreation.
It could be anything from food to travel to health and wellness.
Q. How do you sell the concept or model to a freelancer who is used to pitching and getting a publisher to agree to commission an article before they start writing?
A. We send out emails to our journalists, letting them know that we've been approached by this publisher looking for this type of content, so we are definitely hands on when it comes to that.
But we are not trying to limit the freelancer from selling it themselves, perhaps to a publication in the UK. We allow them, where they still maintain the copyright, to syndicate their work. It is where we make it super-easy for them to just online post it and repurpose it over and over again.
Q. Are Canadian news organisations buying less freelance articles than they were before the global economic downturn or have the cuts in the number of staffers resulted in an increase in publishers relying on freelance articles?
A. They have cut back extensively yet still need quality content. A lot of the magazines I'm talking to have freelancers and they are looking for fresh, diverse content outside of that. We give them a platform to find someone, say, in the UK who has done a fabulous travel piece on Greece and quickly read it, buy it and use it and everyone gets paid in the process.
Q. What about pictures?
A. We offer the ability to upload photos, again they are watermarked. You can add as many photos as you want to to your piece. Obviously it is a lot easier to sell a piece if there are photos but you have to own the copyright in order to post them.
Q. You say the journalist sets the price. Talk me through a few examples of recent deals to illustrate what articles are selling for.
A. It really varies. It varies based on the length of the article and whether it has photographs. We also separate circulation size. And, of course, a publication with a circulation of under 50,000 has a much smaller budget than one with a circulation of 500,000.
To date we really haven't had a lot of challenges with the freelancers setting the amounts because a lot of them are in the industry so know what to expect. We have had a couple of people who have asked for a low price and we have told them that there is an opportunity to make a little bit more so they can then go in and increase the amount they are asking.
Q. What's your background?
A. I used to run a newspaper group here in Canada. It was a couple of dailies, a bunch of weekly newspapers and I had a staff of about 200. I'd been with the company for 13 years and I felt that there has got to be a way of using technology to benefit journalists and the publishing industry.