Demand Media is the robotic online content mill that pays freelancers paltry sums to churn out stories based on "what's hot" search algorithms. Guess who's about to start "creating articles" for your local newspapers?

Erik Sherman got hold of a memo that Demand Media just sent its contributors, telling them that "We have entered into a partnership with Hearst Newspapers to produce articles for two of their premium publications, San Francisco Chronicle and the Houston Chronicle. Specifically, we are creating articles and videos for the Real Estate section of and the Small Business section of"

In short, this sounds like the first step down a very slippery slope for newspapers. Outside of the core of hard news, much regional newspaper content is crap, anyhow. Why pay a full time newspaper staffer a living wage to write real estate or small business stories, when you can contract those tasks out to a writing sweatshop whose typical "rate for an article of a few hundred words is $7.50"? You Hearst employees might want to start calling your union reps right about now.

[BNet. Pic via]