Please read this article, so I can get paid

Linking performance of articles to journalists’ salaries seems unfair, but it is not a new idea

The level of data now available to newspapers means they have the capability to nip, tuck, adjust and reframe all their editorial choices based on the analytics their loyal users provide. Photograph: iStock

The level of data now available to newspapers means they have the capability to nip, tuck, adjust and reframe all their editorial choices based on the analytics their loyal users provide. Photograph: iStock

Should journalists be paid based on how well their articles perform online? This was the chilling vista portrayed by critics of the Daily Telegraph following the publication last week of an internal memo suggesting that its salaries could be linked to how successful writers’ articles were in attracting traffic and getting new subscribers.

In an email leaked to its competitor, the Guardian, Telegraph editor Chris Evans told staff that “in due course” the newspaper wants to use its internal analytics system, which measures the impact of stories based on how many subscriptions they drive and how much traffic they get, “to link performance to reward”.

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