We want to call to your attention an article by Sarah Henry, posted at KQED’s Bay Area Bites, about the plight of freelancers in an era when news websites are often paying their writers next to nothing, or nothing at all.
Henry says that the sale of Huffington Post to AOL for $315 million “was fabulous news for the already fabulously wealthy Arianna Huffington and her cronies, but a slap in the face for the army of unpaid wordsmiths on which the HuffPo has built a blog empire using, essentially, the slave labor of journalists who wrote posts for free in the hope it may make a difference, including to their cash flow, down the track.”
Later on in the piece, Henry says:
- But I’ve taken to adopting the mantra “adapt or die,” and find myself — like many mid-career scribblers — struggling to find a way to make a living in a field where the landscape has changed dramatically. Although I shifted to food writing two years ago, a notoriously under-paid beat, I’ve been able to eke out an income by diversifying and carving out a niche.
- The jury is out on whether this experiment will work, and there are days when I wonder if I should go fill out an application at Trader Joe’s. I know scores of writers, both freelancers and those who used to be staffers, who feel the same way.
And this …
- [W]hat we have going on here is sweatshop conditions akin to the old economy’s industrial capitalism: Poorly paid piecework and huge profits for the owners. Something has to shift.
Not only is Henry’s article spot on, but the comments are worth reading, too. P.S. We stole the graphic, top right, from her posting on the KQED site.