My NYT-on-Medium Drive-By
I assumed the big pubs were being paid by engagement like other Partner Program participants, so thank you for this article, Dan Belmont . I was concerned, due to their reputation and writing, that they might throw the Partner system out of balance.
I haven’t paid much attention to the New York Times posts on Medium because I’m already a subscriber. So, before responding to your question, I decided should check out their November article portfolio. Anything else would be old news.
What I found surprised me. Of the articles posted, only one — a piece on a Tesla semi truck — has garnered up to or more than 1K claps. Most are in the low hundreds.
Were readers were being stingier with claps for a big pub than they would be for a favorite writer? This turns out to be partially true, but not excessively so. For example, the (as of today) 1.18K claps for the Tesla article were generated by 205 users (48 if whom were Medium Members), an average of six claps per user.
There was also little engagement via responses. Since the bar for having one’s letter printed in the NYT is high, I thought there might be a healthy level of response on a platform that places every reader reply on equal footing. Not so. Of the November articles, most — including the Tesla one — garnered zero to one response. The highest response rate, three, was to a David Brooks piece on politics which garnered 390 claps from 50 users, an average of eight claps per user.
Why the anemic performance? Maybe the people who care what the NYT has to say already read it elsewhere. Maybe the selection the NYT places here is too scanty. (There have only been 21 pieces posted in November and we are 24 days into the month.) Maybe the article selection isn’t a good fit for the Medium readership. (In my opinion, the best of the Op-Ed does not appear to be here.) Maybe its because they aren’t putting writers’ bylines at the top. (The banner reads “In the New York Times by The New York Times.” Readers are not privy to authorship until they open the article.) Maybe its simply that readers come to Medium for fresh voices, so, for them, the NYT is beside the point.
From what I saw on my drive-by and what has been reported as income-for-engagement by individual Partner Program members, if the NYT is being paid $200 per article no matter what, they are getting a sweet deal.
Of course, the NYT and other big name pubs bring their reputations with them, adding a seriousness to the Medium platform when they are placed on par with the rest of the users. That is worth something. How much is up to Medium management to decide.