An Interview with Ebyline’s Bill Momary

Ebyline, a content management platform, connects freelancers and publishers to create quality content. Founded in 2009 by Bill Momary and Allen Narcisse, Ebyline’s software allows publishers to find freelancers, assign stories and deliver payments through one platform. Freelancers can pitch story ideas to publishers through the service, and the site includes a content marketplace for publishers to buy and distribute content.

Momary, CEO and co-founder of Ebyline, previously had roles with the Ventura County Star and the Los Angeles Times. He shared some of his thoughts with 10,000 Words on Ebyline, the future of content and changes in the media industry.

MZ: How do you view sponsored content (vs. journalism), and what role do you think it will have in the future?

BM: We view content less as an either/or and more as a spectrum that can be divided into four parts: big “J” journalism, high-quality information, sponsored content and marketing content. The differences between these are less about the subjective quality of what is produced and more about the source and the processes used to produce that content. ‘Big “J” journalism’ is a news piece completed by someone who understands the basic principles, ethics and guidelines of reporting. ‘High-quality information’ should also be defined by the source and, to a degree, the process used in collecting the data being reported on.  The trained journalist is already armed with these skills and can produce high-quality information without changing how they operate—blogs, brands, associations, media companies or any custom publisher can fall under this.

Sponsored content starts to introduce a more flexible information-gathering style that doesn’t need to adhere to rigorous journalistic processes (although it still must appeal to an audience). As such, sponsored content can be produced by a broader set of contributors— think brands, blogs, or any custom publisher.

Marketing content is the most flexible with respect to who can produce it— think advertisers, brands or any publisher who wishes to promote a good or service.

It used to be journalism and advertising, a discrete set of content types that supported one another with audience and revenue. Today, thanks in part to search and the digital economy, it’s more of an analog distribution so the differences between journalism and content are disappearing, mostly for the better.

MZ: Is Ebyline focused more on one than the other?

BM: Ebyline’s DNA is descended from the traditional newsroom of hot type and cold coffee. Both of our founders have a deep understanding of the economics of a daily press run. But Ebyline’s mission from day one has been to help sustain the production of quality content, irrespective of whether it lives on newsprint, on air or online and regardless of who the publisher is.

Our position is that journalism quality is essential to all. Now that everyone is a publisher, every publisher needs a professional, proven approach to creating content and connecting with their audience. The blending of content and journalism means that audiences are ready to consume quality content from whatever source as long they have confidence in the processes used to produce it. What traditional media companies across the country are challenged with is the economic model associated with the news operations and not the demand for professionally produced journalism. For news media, incorporating freelancers into their newsroom operations means getting a better handle on costs, being more flexible with their resources and reporters and allocating those resources quickly and easily when an editor senses demand.

For custom publishers and brands, Ebyline is the first step to establishing a presence on the content spectrum and a scalable way to produce the most effective content for their segment. Ebyline tackles assigning, pitching and payments so publishers can focus on the production of quality content and not the administration of it.

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