This article in Salon sure makes it sound like they are:
by Daniel D’Addario
Entertainment Weekly, the venerable consumer-friendly magazine about movies and TV and the like, is under the same crunch as the rest of the media industry; its parent company, Time Inc., has recently gone through a series of layoffs. But the manner in which the magazine is attempting to build out its brand is the absolute worst-case scenario — bad for authors and for readers.
Lucia Moses at Digiday reports that Entertainment Weekly is to launch an online “contributor network” that is to feature readers as writers, particularly on “TV and eventually other areas […] staff reporters don’t cover deeply.” In other words, anyone can now write for Entertainment Weekly, but they shouldn’t expect a check. Per Digiday:
“The idea is familiar: enlist passionate experts to expand coverage — and generate audience at a low cost. […] Some bloggers will be paid, but EW isn’t ‘putting a specific bounty on traffic,’ EW editor Matt Bean said. Others will be compensated in the form of prestige, access to the brand’s editors and a huge potential readership audience via Google Hangouts and its SiriusXM show.”
Familiar, sure, but dispiriting. It’s not as though the EW community platform is designed to spotlight special insights, gossip or news that only particular people might have access to; the community page, currently in beta, features a recap of NBC’s “Parenthood” and a piece titled “10 Reasons Why We Love Rebekah Mikaelson,” a character on the CW’s “The Originals.” A scroll through the community page indicates that there’s no reason other than limited time in the day that a paid Entertainment Weekly writer or reporter couldn’t have put these out, and they would seem to cohere in form (recaps, snappy lists) to what’s already being done by paid writers.