Sunday, March 10, 2013

"The Atlantic" stirs up the "freelancers' conundrum"; it's not "free"

There’s an interestin :talking to myself” conversation by Ta-Nahesi Coates at The Atlantic, “Lucrative work-for-free opportunity”, basic link here
Apparently Nate Thayer had an exchange with Olga Khazan at the The Atlantic, which wanted a nice trim piece from freelancer Thayer about Rodman’s visit to Norht Korea – a hot topic give the DRNK’s public and bellicose behavior this week (and not to be taken lightly).  Apparently OK had no money in her budget to pay for the piece, and Thayer has to support a family.  Thayer posted the interchange on hos own Wordpress blog here

This whole soliloquy (not as cheerful from the song by that name from “Carousel”) couples into the debate on amateurism, “free content”, and advertising business  models.  The Internet is not exactly the “public library” (posting Feb. 23), but, like the library, it could not exist if some people (“experts” or “professionals”) didn’t get paid.  Is the plethora of content driving the costs down to the point that “real writers” can’t make a living at it?  What about “real composers” or “real pop stars”? Yeah, you need “charisma”.
Working as a reporter is not easy.  You have deadlines, word-counts, fact-checking, and can get into trouble.  R. Foster Winans explained all that in his 1989 book about life at the Wall Street Journal during the insider trading scandal, “Trading Secrets”.  And reporters have to be wary about conflicts that could imply loss of objectivity.  Back in the mid 1990s, a lesbian reported was transferred to copyediting by a Tacoma, WA paper because of her public activism, and the courts at the time upheld the paper’s action. 

The exchange also plays into the debate about employers' (especially in media) abuse of interns and the whole probationary "work for free" mentality. 
So, is there a “freelancers’ conundrum”? 

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