I’m in nearly the exact same position as you. No matter how many times I may hear it, it’s still comforting to read the stories of people like us who are going through the same thing with their writing careers. If I have to hear something along the lines of “Your work is valuable – so valuable that we’re going to publish it on our site for free!” one more time I’m going to go on a rampage. Not only is that frustrating (to put it mildly) but I always feel guilty when I accept unpaid work because then I’m perpetuating the idea that writers don’t deserve to be paid. When did people decide that writers weren’t worth paying for, anyway? I’d like to see what would happen if this same “business model” was applied to some other career paths out there. I’m getting to the point where I have to decide how much longer I’m going to try and “make it” before figuring out my plan B, C, and D, and it’s awful. Hang in there, and remember you’re not alone.
I don’t understand. Why are people doing all this work for HuffPo for free? If people stopped doing so much REAL WORK for free, then they would have to start paying or just lose that content, right? If they can get the content for free, then there isn’t much incentive to pay.
The fact is there are less eyeballs and each pair of eyeballs isn’t worth as much as it used to be so the structure of everything in this industry is going to change. In the meantime though, I would be wary of giving too much away for nothing.
At the very least, the change I would make is to spend as much time as possible on your personal site to build that brand up so that whatever reputation bump you get from writing for HuffPo, Daily Beast, etc, trickles back to at least traffic of your very own. If you can start getting traffic like that then you can eventually find a way to start making SOMETHING off it.
Wow – as a intermittent news consumer I had no idea this was Huffington Post’s model. I think its awful and yes contributing to the dumbing down of just about everything and everybody. But how do you change it? For journalists to get paid someone must pay for news. That means subscribing. Subscribing to something with very little insight into where or how they get their news or the quality of their journalists and writing. Trying to find that one news outlet that produces news in a way meaningful to you which is a tall order for one publication. Its easier for a consumer like me to go out and sample and donate to NPR.
I would love to support truly thoughtful, well researched neutral! jouranlism but have no idea how.
I won’t be reading the Huffingtong Post anymore though.
…unfortunately, most writers don’t write for money, they write because they want people to read their words. If offered a salary to write things no one would ever read, or no salary to write things everyone would read, all writers would choose the latter.
And that’s the problem. And it’s not going to change.
We’re lucky Huffpo doesn’t charge a fee to the writers for granting space on their site. Hello, people would probably submit “reading fees” for the honor of even being *considered* for space on the Huffpo site, if the experience of fiction writers is any analog at all to the experience of journalists.
“But my beef is not with not getting paid right now, it’s with the diminished opportunities I see in my journalism future.”
Why do you feel the need to undercut your position with this sentence? It’s disingenuous AND self-defeating. Your beef clearly is – and clearly should be! – that you’re not getting paid right now for real work that just a few years ago you and many many other journalists and editors would have gotten paid to do. Work that is making someone else money! Every time I read articles about the HuffPo it makes me feel so ill. Arianna Huffington may have created a so called liberal media juggernaut, which in my opinion is a good thing, but she’s also ruthlessly and selfishly exploited thousands of people like yourself to make herself a multimillionaire many times over. Best of luck finding a career doing what you’ve dedicated your passion and energy to. It’s not entitled or whiny to express your desire to do just that!
I’m also in a similar situation: fresh out of college in nyc, taking unpaid internships and barely stopping short of selling my body on Craigslist for extra cash to pay the bills. It’s mildly comforting to know that others are suffering digitalization’s wrath.
Why not band together a bunch of your writer mates in the same boat and start your own site? Since you are already working for free you have nothing to lose. Start a paper on one of the various blogging sites, no tech experience required. Start writing, if its of value people will come and read it. Then advertisers will follow.
Wow, very well said. I’m closer to the end than the start of my journalism career and I can’t imagine what I’d have done starting out in the current environment. All of the culture industries are under assault — not to sound too political, but that’s what you’d expect during a fascist shift.
One of the best summations of “New Journalism” I’ve had the privilege of reading, thanks for a crash course in the subject and your honest, personal take on the matters raised. Fingers crossed you’ll have nothing but paid writing gigs landing in your lap in the not too distant future!
hi, first of all I apologise in advance if I will make mistakes or I don’t make myself clear
1) I believe that the ‘likes and share’ standard is bound to downgrade the quality of things. The most successful thing on the internet is porn. And, often, the most read news are sports, gossip and ‘voyeuristic news’. Does that makes that sort of article newsworthy?
2) all work should be paid. I understand that it can be appealing to ‘share the workspace’ with some ‘mostri sacri’ but nonetheless using that, and potential visibility, as an excuse for not paying is plain exploitation. I’m not aware on how journalists union work in the US, but, to me, it seems as if some collective bargaining is needed. This current capitalistic approach (masked as opportunity) in which aggregator and content providers cant negotiate on equal terms can only create harm.
3) use of accessory tools (facebook, twitter, etc). I’m not absolutely against social networks (apart from facebook) but I believe that, in the urge to ‘create a bond’ with readers, a ‘bulimic’ approach to news reading is being strongly implemented. A lot of people browse an article rather than reading it… stories aren’t digested. Is the purpouse of an article to be understood or to be seen?
In addition, but perhaps this is even more OT than what I’ve already written, I think that the news channels who focus a lot on the web and “breaking news” are shifting the idea of relevance from “how a story is told” to how “immediately a story is told”. Thus implementing a short-sighted idea of the world in which the present is always a sort of ‘epochal’ turning point
all the best
p.s. i reached this article because it is printed in the new issue of Iternazionale
I almost never use Facebook – my friends on there probably think I’ve died – but the hooks in this got me to share. (One of them was your “early voting in Chicago” story.) What I particularly liked was the way you USED all those professional writing skills you have so painstakingly developed, COMBINED with Rumpus-style 110% honest gutspilling.
Get me rewrite: the container that holds your honesty is totally professional: you’re willing to write an honest fact-checked-quality account of your own career, experiencing and reporting your emotions but not letting them pull the story off track, and I respect that SO much. (I wrote something like that once, except covering a 20 year period, and people were very surprised at what kinds of writing a person can get paid for. “Money or deathless fame but not both.” Fuck. Anyway you’ve made me want to put mine up – of course, for free, on my own blog. But will I follow your example and include the really embarrassing bits? ROFL and another FUCK for good measure…)
Stephen argues that if someone writes something REALLY amazing and unique and new, there WILL be a market, there WILL be readers. I hope that’s true and based on what you’ve shown us here, I hope it happens for you.
In a nutshell, isn’t this just about a person working for free so that another can get even richer? Peonage … slavery, bonded labor, whatever … This is an ancient business practice, legal in some times & places, illegal in others. It’s coming back with a vengeance today.
I am in complete agreement about Arianna and her business practices. But, I’m sorry, I have to point out that when you choose to write for free, you’re only helping to perpetuate the problem. Clearly, you’re a talented writer, and I’m sure there are plenty of other talented young people heading out with hopes of a journalism career. But if you give it up for free, who’s going to pay? I’ve been writing professionally for a dozen years or so and I’ve watched as paid opportunities have dwindled with more writers fighting for those well stories. Yes, the business has changed – it changed when people began writing for the vanity of a byline rather than a paycheck.
One of the best personal arguments I’ve read regarding HuffPo’s exploitation of writers. The Newspaper Guild and others who are fighting to preserve journalism as a profession have asked Huffington to reconsider her position of not paying bloggers. If you want to read more check out the the Facebook page: “Hey Arianna, Can You Spare A Dime?” It’s a shame that she has to be pressured to do the right thing. Apparently a bundle of money ($315 million) can turn a so-called progressive into a female version of Donald Trump.