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At The Wirecutter, the editors choose what to write about — even if it doesn’t make money

“Let’s pursue [reader interests] regardless of revenue opportunity.”

The Wirecutter’s David Perpich onstage at Code Commerce
The Wirecutter’s David Perpich
Keith MacDonald

The Wirecutter makes money by recommending products for its readers to buy — wireless routers, mattresses, air purifiers — and then taking a cut of that sale once a reader actually completes a purchase.

For the New York Times, which bought The Wirecutter last year for more than $30 million, it’s a business meant to supplement other revenue generated from subscriptions and advertising.

But there can also be a conflict: How do you objectively recommend products, knowing that you’re also relying on the sale of those products to make money? Or how do you decide when to recommend cheaper products, which won’t result is as much revenue, versus pricier gadgets like TVs or smartphones?

At a place like the New York Times, where traditional journalism ethics are still crucial, it’s an interesting dilemma. Turns out, ethics ultimately reign supreme.

“We’re really looking and saying, ‘where are reader interests?’ And let’s pursue that regardless of revenue opportunity,” said David Perpich, general manager of The Wirecutter, at Code Commerce. “That’s a kindred spirit to the Times.”

He added: “At the end of the day, yes we are planning at the macro level, but we’re giving our editorial team the runway to say, ‘where do we really think we can serve our readers?’ And we know that even though [we won’t] always make money, in the big picture we’ll actually build that trust and will work both ways.”

Separately, Perpich announced a small re-branding of The Wirecutter and The Sweethome (its home appliance review site) which is coming in October. The site is dropping the “The” and will just be called Wirecutter.

Watch the full interview below.

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