The logo of Examiner.com
Type of site
|Owner||Anschutz Entertainment Group|
|Registration||Optional, required to comment|
September 1994 (domain registered by San Francisco Examiner)|
April 2008 (launch in present format)
|Current status||Defunct (July 10, 2016)|
Examiner.com was an American news website based in Denver, Colorado, that operated using a network of "pro–am contributors"' for content. It had various local editions with contributors posting city-based items tailored to 238 markets throughout the United States and parts of Canada in two putative national editions, one for each country.
As of early 2014, Examiner.com was a property of Philip Anschutz-owned AEG, and announced it would be partnering closely with ticket merchant AXS. Subsequently, Examiner operations were announced to be shutting down on July 10, 2016.
In August 2009, Examiner.com was named one of the fastest-growing network of localized websites by Nielsen Online. It grew faster in the 12 months from August 2008 than any of the other top 30 Internet news sites in the United States, as it increased page views more than 342 percent, attracting 7,569,000 unique users. Examiner.com reports that it received 20.8 million unique visitors to Examiner.com sites in July 2010, with 60.1 million page views served, according to Omniture.
The company was criticized for the low compensation received by some contributors. Examiner.com claims it tells contributors that they should not consider this full-time employment, and "tries to be very clear and transparent that this isn't a 'quit your day job' opportunity."
Examiners were paid based on a black box system, which quantifies page views and other metrics, or the "Gawker-model" made famous by the blog Gawker.com. This resulted in writers not getting paid when blogs were not read by many people, despite every numerous placed ads surrounding blogs that should have given Examine.com plenty of revunue. However, the profits were not shared those providing content for them to use to get more ads. Also, when writers were not paid and stopper writing on a regular basis to provide content so more ads could be posted, they receieved threatening emails that threatened the writers' continuation as a blogger on the site. Examiner.com offered a variety of pay scale options to its writers. Examiner.com based compensation on variables such as subscriptions, page view traffic and session length.
The domain was registered by The San Francisco Examiner on September 13, 1994, and was used by the San Francisco newspaper until 2004 when Anschutz/Clarity acquired the examiner.com domain as part of its acquisition of the newspaper.
In 2006, David Schafer, Clarity Digital Media's CEO (former MapQuest general manager), transformed the domain from being San Francisco specific to being a hyperlocal news aggregator for the 60 markets in which Clarity Media trademarked the name "Examiner". By using online geo targeting technology, users were placed into their closest city where they could read the most recent news and updates from both their city's broadcast and print media streams. Readers could also view local, state, national, and international content from the Associated Press.
A small team of engineers and developers worked over the next 18 months to develop the site into something more than a collection of news headlines. Schafer was replaced by the former AOL executive Michael Sherrod in February 2008. (He stayed on as Chief Operations Officer).
In late April 2008, Sherrod unveiled the current model of using "Examiners," local writers and columnists recruited for expertise in a variety of areas, to feature local material about numerous cities. Launching the new model, which he called a "community knowledge site," were 115 "Examiners" in five markets: Denver, Seattle, Baltimore, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. The latter three already had free distribution of printed Examiner newspapers in certain neighborhoods of those cities. The flagship national edition was for users outside designated market areas.
In March 2009, Sherrod was replaced by Rick Blair, also formerly of AOL. In September 2009 Clarity Media purchased NowPublic, a Vancouver-based website consisting of "citizen journalists" contributing from around the world. Clarity Media developed the Clarity Digital Group, including both Examiner.com and NowPublic. Blair serves as the CEO of both Clarity Digital and Examiner.com.
On October 29, 2009, the website's first international expansion took place when Examiner.com Canada was launched in Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver, along with a national Canadian edition. In 2010 it moved from a Coldfusion to Drupal platform. Examiner had significant problems with the transition to Drupal. In February 2011, Google changed its algorithm, significantly reducing how high Examiner.com and other aggregators, particularly of "how-to" content, appear in search results. It is trying to spot and downplay what are called "content farms" and to highlight more reliable sources. Commentators suggest that some readers may rely more on articles recommended by their social networks. Due to Google's change, search results decreased by 79% for Examiner.com.
Matt Smith of the San Francisco Weekly noted in 2007 that numerous articles and photos by Sharon Gray were from other sources, including the Sacramento Bee, and constituted apparent plagiarism. Smith suggested that the case showed that "free isn't always a bargain." When questioned, Jim Pimentel, executive editor of Examiner said,
"They're blogs. They don't get edited. We don't give any direction to people on what to write in their blogs. And that's standard operating procedure."
After Smith brought the issue to Pimentel's attention, the voluminous Gray material was removed from Examiner.com. Pimentel said the Examiner has "a less-strict standard for accuracy and attribution in stories that appear on the Web" than for publications in print. According to Smith, Robert Gunnison, director of school affairs at the U.C. Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, shares his own view that newspapers "should observe the same journalism standards online as they do in print."
- Lee, Edmund (June 7, 2010). "Does Who Creates Content Matter to Marketers in a 'Pro-Am' Media World?". Advertising Age.
- "Examiner.com Execs Push for Quality, Refute 'Content Farm'". PBS MediaShift. October 1, 2010.
- Stelter, Brian (September 2, 2009). "Examiner.com Buys NowPublic, a Citizen-Media Web Site". The New York Times. pp. B2. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
- Rocha, Roberto (October 29, 2009). "News website chain expands into Canada". The Gazette. Montreal. Archived from the original on November 1, 2009. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
- "Examiner.com expanding into Canada". The Sydney Morning Herald. Agence France-Presse. October 28, 2009. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
- Harden, Mark (April 18, 2008). "Examiner.com recruits local bloggers". Denver Business Journal. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
- "Examiner.com Acquired by AXS". AEG Worldwide. 23 January 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "Online Content Platform Examiner.com Shutting Down". Retrieved 2016-07-05.
- Harden, Mark (September 29, 2009). "Nielsen: Anschutz's Examiner.com is fastest-growing news website in nation". Denver Business Journal.
- Takahashi, Dean (October 1, 2010). "As AOL rushes to local news, Examiner.com is already there". VentureBeat. VentureBeat.
- Hoycom, Angela (May 13, 2009). "How Much Are Examiner.com Writers Really Earning?". Writers Weekly. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
- Behling, Ellie (September 8, 2010). "Update: Examiner.com explains low wages, hyperlocal strategy". eMedia Vitals.
- Luscombe, Belinda (December 9, 2009). "Why Does Google Search Love Examiner.com?". Time. New York. Retrieved December 9, 2009.
- Harden, Mark (February 27, 2008). "Anschutz's Clarity Media names online chief, recruits new editors | Denver Business Journal". Bizjournals.com. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
- Raine, George (December 22, 2004). "What's in a name? Plenty". San Francisco Chronicle. sfgate.com. pp. C1. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
- Harden, Mark (February 27, 2008). "Anschutz's Clarity Media names online chief, recruits new editors".
- "New executives named at Anschutz's Examiner.com". Denver Business Journal. March 25, 2009.
- Steltner, Brian (September 1, 2009). "Examiner.com Buys NowPublic, a Citizen-Media Web Site". New York Times. New York Times.
- "Examiner.com invades 5 Canadian cities". CNET. October 28, 2009.
- "Examiner.com conversion". drupal.org. 2010-02-01. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
- "Something is Broken on Examiner.com – Writers in Uproar"
- "Google Tweaks Algorithm To Spot 'Content Farms'", NPR, 22 April 2011
- Beus, Johannes. "Google Farmer Update: Quest for Quality". SISTRIX SEO Blog. Archived from the original on 23 January 2013.
- Smith, Matt (December 4, 2007). "Blogos-Free". SF Weekly. SF Weekly. Retrieved November 16, 2009.