Computers drive compensation at The Daily Caller (Yuya Shino/Reuters)
Computers drive compensation at The Daily Caller (Yuya Shino/Reuters)

There was a time when the Daily Caller, the feisty, combative news outlet piloted by Beltway eminence Tucker Carlson, paid its full-timers the way most other outlets do: via a traditional base-salary package.

No longer. At the beginning of 2014, says Daily Caller Publisher Neil Patel, the site began a hybrid pay arrangement in which staffers receive base pay plus an incentive for the performance of their work on the Internet. “I’m not going to go into all the details of how our plan works,” notes Patel in an e-mail to the Erik Wemple Blog, “but in a nutshell yes we do have a partially performance based newsroom pay plan.”

Sources familiar with the arrangement report that it entails a cut in salary for at least some employees along with an incentive for how their work performs on the Internet, with page views being at least one of the metrics. Calls and e-mails to Daily Caller staffers yielded no on-the-record feedback on how the plan is being greeted, though one was optimistic about the prospects. For his part, Patel sees quite an upside: “It’s working great. The Daily Caller is thriving financially. In fact, as opposed to just about every other news company, The Daily Caller is both growing like crazy and turning a profit. How many can say that? We pay out more in total compensation under our new plan than we did under our old plan. And we have the happiest staff that I have ever been around.”

The Daily Caller pays traffic bonuses for freelance articles.

Now for the task of determining whether the incentive plan has occasioned an uptick in patent Daily Caller click-bait. Not that journalists across the industry ever needed financial incentives to troll for traffic.

Updated to include sentence about freelance payments.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.