Podcast: 'If modern journalism is rotting your brain, how can we fix it?'

The perverse incentives of ad-driven news, and how I built an equal-pay system at my tech company.

Thanks for being a part of Hiatus – hope you’re having a great weekend.

This week I was a guest on the Politics Politics Politics podcast, where host Justin Robert Young and I discussed the challenge of building a news organization that actually treats journalism as a public service – rather than turning every publication into another digital slot machine. It’s a sequel to my article from last week, Political chaos = money for news organizations.


At my tech company, I’ve tried to build an organization that follows the same guidelines I think would make sense for a news organization – including implementing equal, transparent pay and a more democratic and egalitarian mindset than the typical corporation.

You can learn more about my approach in my article on Medium, How we built our equal-pay system. Here’s an excerpt:

Earlier this year, I transitioned my company to an equal-pay policy. Among our seven software developers, everyone is compensated in an identical way, and those numbers and formulas are public to the whole team.

It almost goes without saying that equal pay and financial transparency are good things—they’re critical to closing the wage gap as well as building a strong, cooperative and dedicated team. Nonetheless, many companies (including those who talk-the-talk about equity and inclusion) have large, irrational pay disparities among workers who do very similar jobs.

As my company has grown, I’ve had the opportunity to hire new people and build systems that will help us all prosper. My philosophy has been to design a business that I would be happy to be a part of — regardless of my role or position in the hierarchy. It’s easy to make policies that benefit the CEO — but could I build a company where I would feel I was treated fairly at the entry-level, mid-level and executive level? In short: Would I want to work at my own company? It’s a pretty high bar, especially coming from someone who eschewed traditional employment for entrepreneurship early in his career.

One of the key steps toward that goal is building a system of equal, predictable pay. I don’t want to work for a company that keeps compensation in the shadows, and I don’t want to put my team in that position either.

Read the full article: How we built our equal-pay system

And before we wrap up, a quick reminder to check out the California Sun newsletter if you’re into local, independent journalism.

It’s written by Mike McPhate, a former New York Times reporter, and this week we’re exchanging links in each other’s newsletters.

“Fantastic.” “Original.” “Best thing in my inbox.” People are loving the California Sun, a daily newsletter with must-read stories about the Golden State. The sign up is free.

Until next time, enjoy your Hiatus.