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Yahoo’s content strategy is frustrating a lot of its own writers and other media personalities, with many complaining about the front page algorithm that shows non-Yahoo generated stories over original content.
In fact, it’s become so demoralizing that some Yahoo journalists are openly complaining about losing front page space to lowbrow content, like celebrity gossip, according to a report by Vanity Fair.
“You are competing against Kim Kardashian’s ass,” is a running joke within the Yahoo newsroom, the report said.
One big reason for this is that Yahoo’s front page is run by an algorithm that automatically identifies and shows stories based on each user’s personal taste. Yahoo engineers apparently designed the algorithm to give more priority to general stories over specialized content made by its own high-profile media talent, like Katie Couric and David Pogue.
But given Yahoo’s front page shows individualized content, based on past history, it could also be a reflection of a mismatch between Yahoo’s highbrow media tastes and the reality of its readers, the report noted.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer made a big push towards building a high-quality newsroom, recruiting a bunch of star writers, including top editors from the New York Times and Fortune. The report says Yahoo renewed its contract with Couric at a value believed to be close to $10 million.
But Yahoo recently shut down a number of its content sites, including its food, travel, and health verticals. Instead, it said it will double down on news, sports, finance and lifestyle, four of its most successful content areas, taking a much more focused approach.
The downsized ambition is creating a lot of empty space within the newsroom, causing reporters to move closer to each other, the report said.
“…there are now so many empty desks that remaining employees have ‘corralled everyone together so it didn’t feel so lonely,'” it said.