|Type of site||News|
|Created by||Philip Anschutz (Publisher)|
|Launched||September 1994 (domain registered by San Francisco Examiner)
April 2008 (launch in present format)
Examiner.com is a media company based in Denver, Colorado, that operates a network of local news websites, allowing "pro–am contributors" to share their city-based knowledge on a blog-like platform, in 238 markets throughout the United States and parts of Canada with two national editions, one for each country.
Examiner.com is a division of Clarity Media Group, with the primary investor being billionaire businessman Philip Anschutz, owner of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), Regal Cinemas, and other media and entertainment companies. Examiner.com has over 55,000 contributors, commonly referred to on the site as "Examiners."
The domain was registered by The San Francisco Examiner on September 13, 1994, and was used by the San Francisco newspaper. Anschutz/Clarity acquired the examiner.com domain in 2004 when it acquired the San Francisco 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 led by Maya Iyengar (CTO) and David Rager (Systems Architect) 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.
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.
Examiners are 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. During 2009, many of the writers were receiving one penny per page view. Examiner.com later offered a variety of pay scale options to their writers. Examiner.com now bases compensation on variables such as subscriptions, page view traffic and session length.
The company has been 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.”
Matt Smith of the San Francisco Weekly noted 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 Pimental, executive editor of Examiner said,
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?". AdAge (AdAge).
- "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 (nytimes.com). pp. B2. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
- Rocha, Roberto (October 29, 2009). "News website chain expands into Canada". The Gazette (montrealgazette.com). Retrieved November 16, 2009.[dead link]
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- Harden, Mark (April 18, 2008). "Examiner.com recruits local bloggers". Denver Business Journal (denver.bizjournals.com). Retrieved November 16, 2009.
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- "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
- Johannes Beus, "Google Farmer Update Quest for Quality", SEO Blog, 26 February 2011, Sistrix, accessed 12 August 2012
- Harden, Mark (September 29, 2009). "Nielsen: Anschutz's Examiner.com is fastest-growing news website in nation". Denver Business Journal.
- Luscombe, Belinda (December 9, 2009). "Why Does Google Search Love Examiner.com?". Time (Time). Retrieved December 9, 2009.
- Behling, Ellie (September 8, 2010). "Update: Examiner.com explains low wages, hyperlocal strategy". eMedia Vitals (emediavitals.com).
- Hoycom, Angela (May 13, 2009). "How Much Are Examiner.com Writers Really Earning?". WritersWeekly (writersweekly.com). Retrieved November 16, 2009.
- Smith, Matt (December 4, 2007). "Blogos-Free". SF Weekly (SF Weekly). Retrieved November 16, 2009.