By Mark Wachtler
November 13, 2014. Medford, MA. (ONN) If there is one thing we at Whiteout Press love more than independent politics and citizen-candidates, its independent news and citizen-journalists. Recently, we came across WriterBeat.com, which is rapidly becoming the home of popular grassroots reporters including Whiteout Press. The site is perfectly laid out. The process is fast and simple. Their readers are intelligent and interactive. And the owners are dedicated to the freedom of expression, the freedom of speech, and the freedom of the press.
Autumn Cote, co-owner and co-founder of WriterBeat.com.
It’s difficult to say what the best aspect of WriterBeat.com is. In your author’s paranoid and experienced opinion, it’s the fact that the writer co-op site is just like Whiteout Press - it’s owned and operated by a regular person just like you and me, not some partisan Political Action Committee, a mysteriously funded non-profit based in Virginia, or a Wall Street media conglomerate. In the case of WriterBeat.com, the owner-operators are a brother-sister team with little funding but a brilliant website and an exciting business model.
WriterBeat.com bills itself as, ‘a cross between a social network and a blog.’ After trying out the website a few times, your author can personally verify that the experience really is a perfect mix of social media and grassroots reporting. Unlike Facebook where individuals are featured, or Pinterest and other picture sites where photos are promoted, or even Twitter where a brief sentence is the focus - WriteBeat.com features the articles themselves.
Also unlike most other social media sites that only show you one or two hand-picked posts from your friends or paid advertisers, this simple and easy-to-use website is laid out like a checker board, showing visitors and users six to eight of the most recent and popular articles. And while sites like Facebook and Twitter use a pay-for-display system and sites like Google+ and Reddit use a mysterious algorithm to decide what gets shown - WriteBeat.com uses a transparent ranking system that displays articles based on their popularity, reader comments and reader rankings.
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The website explains, ‘Writer Beat has no political affiliation or content specialty. As a result, we hope to display an eclectic array of work and have no interest in dictating what is featured on our home page.’ The description goes on to quote co-founder Autumn Cote explaining, “Writer Beat is privately funded by my brother (the techie) and myself (political junkie and occasional writer of short stories). At this stage of our existence the venture has no revenue sources.”
Interview with Autumn Cote, co-owner
Whiteout Press’ own author/owner Mark Wachtler recently spoke to Autumn Cote, co-owner/founder of WriterBeat.com. She was gracious enough to talk to us and give our readers a little more information about her popular media site.
Mark Wachtler (Whiteout Press): Hi Autumn. Thanks for taking a minute to sit down and tell Whiteout Press readers a little more about your site WriterBeat.com. I’ve posted a couple of our own articles and I honestly loved the experience.
Autumn Cote (Writer Beat): Thanks for your contribution and compliments. I look forward to answering your questions and appreciate your desire to help grow Writer Beat.
Mark Wachtler: First, who all is behind Writerbeat.com? It sounds like you and your brother are splitting all the work and ownership. Are there any other groups or individuals involved, besides the writers and readers?
Autumn Cote: We’ve hired a firm to handle all the programming. But outside of that, there is nobody else involved.
Mark Wachtler: What made you launch WriterBeat.com? We love the fact that the site specifically states that it has no interest in limiting or censoring any articles based on political or government-imposed censorship. Does that mean you would welcome blacked-out writers like Libertarians, Greens, independents, etc.?
Autumn Cote: I used to spend a lot of time on the blogosphere, mostly as a commenter. The site I liked the best was called OpenSalon.com, until it went under. But I also like OpedNews.com. The main problem with both of those sites is that the bias of the blog’s owners tainted the content and comments towards their political way of thinking. I disagree with the opinion that there are blacked-out writers. But that’s the beauty of Writer Beat - you are free to express your opinion and defend your point of view. My opinions are immaterial.
Mark Wachtler: I've tried all the writer co-ops, like Examiner.com, Yahoo News, Planet Infowars, and there are others like Watchdog.org and even Huffington Post. As far as user experience, WriterBeat.com was the fastest and easiest to use. What else differentiates WriterBeat from the other writer co-op sites?
Autumn Cote: Thanks for the compliment. But if money was no object, I have a plethora of changes I’d like to make to enhance and simplify the Writer Beat experience. I have a contrarian point of view regarding differentiation and the internet. Because of how vast the internet is, no matter what you create, there is likely another website doing nearly the exact same thing…emphasis on “nearly.” We prominently feature articles on our default homepage that received a recommendation within the past hour, followed by the past 24 hours and so on. Because of this structure, it’s almost impossible for the order of the articles to be the same from one hour to the next. That’s the little thing we do differently than most other blogs or writing platforms.
Mark Wachtler: Will there ever be an opportunity for writers to make money? When do you anticipate running ads?
Autumn Cote: People that participate with Writer Beat are doing it for the fun of it. If I were to pay anyone, it would be for comments, as comments are the reason most writers write. If Writer Beat becomes a smashing success, we’ll figure out a way to make money. But we’re not putting the cart before the horse. To be brutally honest, we’ll likely never be a success. I derive a lot of personal enjoyment from running the site, so if I never make a dollar, no big deal.
Mark Wachtler: Who retains ownership of the submitted articles, and do they stay up on Writer Beat forever or only for a set amount of time?
Autumn Cote: As of right now, we have over 4,000 articles and I have no intention of deleting any of them. One day I should ask a lawyer who retains ownership of submitted articles as I honestly don’t know. I imagine articles on Writer Beat are part of the public realm.
Mark Wachtler: What's your vision for the future of Writerbeat.com?
Autumn Cote: Despite the fact that my father doesn’t use Writer Beat, the site was built for people like him. You see, my father has a tendency to put his foot in his mouth and discuss politics with friends and family. Because of his passion, no I won’t say his political leanings, this doesn’t usually go well. He should save his political thoughts for the internet, and I don’t mean Facebook, and discuss the weather or good movies at cocktail parties. In other words, Writer Beat is a safe place to say what’s on your mind without it souring your professional or personal network. Starting a blog is one alternative for these people, the hard part is finding people to read it. Writer Beat does the hard part for you. I believe the site has the potential to be a great internet success story.
Mark Wachtler: Autumn, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us and to tell Whiteout Press readers more about your site WriterBeat.com. As a fierce advocate and supporter of grassroots independent media and citizen-journalists, I can’t tell you enough how impressed I am with Writer Beat and how much I look forward to using the site. I also can’t thank you enough for your passionate dedication to freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of the press. We strongly encourage all of our readers, and especially all the grassroots writers on our subscriber list, to check out WriterBeat.com. You won’t regret it.
Thanks again to Autumn Cote, co-owner and co-founder of WriterBeat.com.