On the day the perennially troubled Radar magazine folded, its editor Maer Roshan got an email from an old friend, Tina Brown, with whom he’d worked at her own sunken ship, Talk.
“Maer my darling, I’m grieving so terribly,” she wrote in her Masterpiece Theatre trill. “I’m running into a meeting, but do nothing either yourself or with your staff until you’ve spoken to us. I will call you as soon as I can.”
Maybe Barry Diller’s mammoth IAC Corporation, with whom Ms. Brown launched her aggregator Web site, the Daily Beast, was prepping a bailout plan for the magazine!
Or was she looking for spiked pieces she could use to add original content to her own online magazine?
These days, Ms. Brown’s aggregator site creates as many as 10 original stories a day, and the Beast’s roster of writers reads a bit like a list of the recently laid off. She’s like Schindler, in a skirt-suit.
Recent fallen Radar-troops like Choire Sicha, Neel Shah and Adam Raymond also have bylines (though Mr. Shah has recently started a new gig at Page Six). Mr. Roshan himself was lucky enough to find himself a job there as editor at large. And he’s been recruiting as well.
“[Former New York Sun editor] Seth [Lipsky] and Maer are the first people I call about young talent anyway, and I immediately emailed Seth and said, ‘Who should we look at?’” Ms. Brown told Off the Record. “And he gave me six or seven names of people he thought were very talented.”
Ah, The New York Sun! The newspaper, which printed its last issue on Sept. 30, has matriculated the bylines of Ira Stoll, Kate Taylor, Julie Satow, Ross Goldberg, Benjamin Sarlin and Russell Berman into Ms. Brown’s freelance budget.
Of course, these freelancers are not operating at the level of her marquee talent. For every Neel Shah or Kate Taylor item, there are many more posts from Tucker Carlson, Christopher Buckley and Peter Beinart, all of whom are on contract. Ms. Brown said it’s like a magazine-style contract, just different (more items, less pay).
Now it’s time to get servicey! How much can you expect to be paid for a piece at the Daily Beast if you just sort of wash up, tempest-tossed, from the vast dark sea of recent unemployment?
“We’re not offering big fees,” Ms. Brown said. Posts are generally good for $250. One recently laid-off staffer who’s been pitching the site was told posts could get $300 to $500—others say it’s closer to 50 cents per word. Seven hundred words? Three hundred and fifty bucks. Another tells us that there are bonuses for reporting.
But not too much reporting!
“They want celeb-focus and featurey stuff that’s light and fun to read,” said one recently laid-off staffer who contributes. “They’re less interested in the scoop and more interested in the fun, light read. They like stuff with celebrities attached with little lists: five of this, five of that.”
“Clearly we’re not in a bigger place and people can’t have their major writing here, but we do give people an opportunity to write,” Ms. Brown said. “You know, to get their bylines out there and develop their voices, and if they’re productive, they can use it as part of what they’re doing.”