The Great Unpaid



They may be washed, but they's unpaid.

Literally 100s of thousands of bloggers/ content providers for popular internet sites are unpaid.

David Carr carped on this in the NYT. One Good Point:

“The technology of a lot of these sites is very seductive, and it lulls you into contributing,” said Anthony De Rosa, a product manager at Reuters. “We are being played for suckers to feed the beast, to create content that ends up creating value for others.”

The rise of"citizen journalists" is one major new factor in the democratization of information--they provide content for thousands of popular sites. I has mah favorites out thar, an reckon y'all do to--of these citizen commentators. I favors this.
The distinction I want to be sure to make is that I favor citizen commentary on personal blogsites, or aggregate sites where readers choose who to read, even when the bloggers ain't paid. What I thinks is dangerous is unpaid writers/ reporters on big commercial websites who write "news reports" that in fact ain't nuthin' but opinion wif' unvetted, unsubstantiated, "sources." When a "news" site offers news reports/ feature/ analysis by unpaid people, I gits a wee antsy.

The lack of real pay for real work, this is the question. Does it lessen professionalism? Of course it do. It short-circuits some resources--how many "citizen journalists" have a Lexis Nexis subscription? Conduct real interviews? How many do even basic research before uploading glop to a website desperate fer new daily content. What is the value of much of what is offered on the net? Most simply turn their topics into a opinion, but not researched reports. *

The Great Unpaid be them professional journalists ( not columnists wif' by-lines) who've been forced to transition to the "new media" cause, iffin' ya ain't noticed, print media is goin' the way of smoke signals.

These is folks who fill the vast webpages that must get filled/ updated daily. Those pages carry advertisements that make the web page owners $$$. But you an' me doan click onto a site to see the adds--we's lookin' fer content. Content worth readin'--an most good content is from people who know what an' how to write. Do ya' think they should be paid? These is folks who wuz paid to do print articles/ op-eds. But as they transitioned, they discovered two thangs:

1.Web readers ain't gonna read mor'n 750-900 word articles ( print articles are typically 2500-5000 words). It is tough bidness to make a cogent argument on a complex matter in 750 words. The sound-byte mentality applies to digital readin'.

2. Web site managers do not want to pay for content. Yep, the webeditors want free content. Even from professional scribblers.

Exhibit A be's the socialist culture rag, Huffington Post--it jes' sold itself fer
315 million to AOL. But ....but the bloggers, an' many "writers," those folks that provide content for HuffPo? They git zip. Nada. Zero.

The dirty details is here, but it's enough to know that ole "let them eat cake" archcrone Ariana Huffington sniffed, "They (bloggers) get exposure."

Try buyin'a tank of gas wif' "exposure."

Whas' exposure supposed to do fer the writer who ain't paid? Why, it might--key word, "might" --lead to better thangs. It might lead to another managing editor "picking up" the writer's stuff--oh, wait, that ain't so nifty, since the new web ed ain't gonna pay either. Then what good is "exposure," that airy phrase that means "We are offering yore work to a million readers, ain't that somethin'? "

No, it ain't somethin', it's nuthin. It's the HuffPo fattening up the fat hawg they's gonna sell after feedin' it fer free. Rarely, the odd blogger/ webzine writer might be offered a speakin' engagement, an that can pay decently--but of the thousands of articles posted each week, how many of those authors does ya' reckon will be asked somewhar' to speak for a fee?

Now the odd thang is that when asked, most Huff Po bloggers lamented their status, but admitted they will keep scribblin', pay or no pay. Is they all trust fund babies? Or do they do it fer the ego trip of seein' their name on a banner? No pay, only an audience (exposure). What is their motivation? Do we trust their stuff ? Says Carr of Huff Po's serfs: "..the people who wrote for The Huffington Post were somewhat politically motivated to contribute to the civic common in what they felt were progressive and additive ways." Ya' think???

( “I really don’t care that Arianna made all that money,” said Ms. Fowler [ who broke the story on Obama sayin' Americans cling to their guns and bibles] “More power to her. The original premise was not that we would get paid, so I didn’t expect to. But after the election and the fact that they nominated my work for a Pulitzer, I thought that might change. I talked to Arianna about getting paid for my work, and she strung me along for two years and then it never happened.” ) Y'all git it? The content is now provided by ideologues who never expected to be paid.

Redhead Ranting has no sympathy fer the HuffPo crybabies, "...these writers who give away their talent, time and skill have hurt all of us who write for a living, however the Huffington Post never held a gun to these freelance writers heads." Exactly.

Does ya' git what ya' pay fer or....an this is important now--do we now trust the average news site wif' unpaid contributors more than we trust professional journalists?

Well now. Huh. No wonder the worst major for graduatin' collich seniors is journalism. Thar' ain't a lower degree on the totem pole. A journalism degree is "worthless" accordin' to The Daily Beast. The odd thang? The digital consumption of news/ features is akshully increasin'. More an' more people click into the net fer news an commentary. (Buh- bye, TV news) But whose ideas/ views are they findin'? Do readers know how to vet what they read?

"Transitional times in any industry are problematic but the transition going on in journalism is frightening. While the variety of platforms for news writing, news photography and news videography increases, the value of an education in journalism decreases.This means that as never before when it comes to reading the news, caveat emptor – let the buyer beware!"

Of course, many top quality sites DO pay, but not the same scale as print.

Why do it matter? I'se askin' that of mahself--do it matter? Will we see the demise of true analysis? The death of decent research? Does the Great Unpaid model of web-writing insure that only a certain sort will be writin' what we read? That sort is the ideologue who's passion is for his point of view. She doan follow rules of ethics. He doan write fer a living, he lives to bring about his vision of how thangs should be. Should the major media of our era be filled wif' idiotlogues?

In the end, what is really revolutionary is that it ain't about news or truth,it is about traffic to the site so adds can be sold. If ya can generate traffic wif'out payin' to generate it, why would ya' pay? If folks will visit hokey garbage, gossip an' grumble sites but not real news or analysis, then the marketplace has spoken: News and analysis has no value to the public.

What ever yore thoughts, I agree wif' this:

Journalists/ commentators brought this on theyselves fer prostituting their profession wif' partisan deceptions rather than honest journalism.

*photo found here

*Lots of blogger/ writers make $$ writing for the net. The techie/ how-to/ health/ finance sites pay "experts" to write their articles. Corporate bloggers are paid. I'se speakin' about the news analysis/ commentary sites that should inform our citizens, but offer the work of unpaid writers whose "work" is suspect.


moi said...

Brilliant post, Aunty. I could talk about this for days, but the upshot for me is, that "content" (which in my opinion is, quite simply, nothing more than opinion) is slowly replacing information. And we as a society are definitely worse off for it. There is no more journalism. There is only the great masses of unwashed Op/Ed. And that shouldn't pay.

fishy said...

Morning Aunty,
You questioned if we, JQPublic, trust the writings of "contributors" more than those of "journalists". Sadly, my answer is "neither".

I cannot remember when I last trusted the presentations of news magazines like dateline, 20/20 or 60 minutes. I do not believe most of what I see on the "news" except maybe some of the local broadcasts. "News" now is mostly lightly camouflaged opinions of the bad guys.

One of the Bond movies was about taking over the world by controlling the media because
"perception is reality". Now reality is imitating fiction. How I wish 007 could fix this mess!

While I do read some "news" and some "opinions" on the web, I trust these no more than the mainstream media. There are just far too many ways data is corrupted, massaged, tweaked, edited or clarified to meet the notions of the writer. Worse, I think a lot of data is written to direct the readers because this digital reality is run like a never ending video game. The purpose of the writing is not to inform. The purpose is to generate "hits". If a little data corruption raises the numbers then corruption is "good".

Our remaining print media is also subject to suspicion. I grew up with a Dad who always had the latest subscription of National Geographic at his bedside. He trusted most of what he read there. Now, one cannot. Not sure if any of us know folks who believe what they read in a Time, a Newsweek, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, USNews & World Report or the NYTimes or the Washington Journal or the Wall Street Journal or the Times Picayune. About the only magazines coming to my door these days are Garden and Guns or Veranda.

It really is sad to see the profession of journalism take a
big hit in this new "reality".

Karl said...

Good morning Aunty Belle,

Seems to me that reporting only who what where and when was lost along time ago. The internet has just made the problem worse, regardless of a paycheck.

Pam said...

I agree, journalism is dead. All tv news is a reading of a press release from someone else. Nothing investigatory, nothing that you can't get off a newswire somewhere. As my media friend told me, tv news (and tv in general, same for radio) exists as a format for commercials. The news and programming is incidental. Programming isn't to attract viewers/listeners for the programs, but to hear the commercials that bring in the bucks.

..................... said...

I've never specifically thought about who gets paid or who is unpaid online.
I am a bit leary of reading anything that leans too far one way or the other.

sparringK9 said...

this happens in art a lot too. Benefit dogooder calls, asks for art to auction -for the cause and exposure. uh huh. how bout you just write a check and skip the party, lady? I could care less about exposure


one of the clearest markers of tyranny is a state run media. were about there...

but interesting to me is this:

irony alert: a big kumbaya lib like HuffHo cuts the legs off the little people who got her there. Thats compassion in action for ya. These kinds of people are the jerks that tell the rest of the nation they are racist pigs if they dont go along with the insanity they promote -all while laughing to the bank. Huff Po writers are the picture you see in the dictionary when you look up "useful idiots"

just like how now that Obambi is president - bloodthirsty, sovereign nation defying, non declared war is cool! oh yeah. my country right or wrong! *now* grherhahahha. opinion seems to be a flux kinda thing.

Media today is all about perception management.

when they tell you where to go for food and water and saftey -run the other way. grrhahahha

great post aunty on a good topic.

Aunty Belle said...


I wish ya wowuld talk on this fer a days--well, fer a few minutes, leastways. Eggsactly: opinion is replacin' information--even when presented as info, much of the content is info selected an' edited to support an unstated opinion--very deceptive.

I could paraphrase Dante on this evil:

wrong information leads to wrong thoughts that in turn lead to wrong actions.


Ain't it sad? Folks today ain't got no prayer of hearin' from "news" sources anything like the truth. Even such neutral matters as an earthquake is now fraught wif' political or religious or junk-science lingo.

Amen. The 5 Ws is a lost standard. Or when employed, it is done so selectively as to be censorship--I git that thar' ain't time to post a story on ever'thang afoot on any given day, but gracious! Has ya' ever noticed the vast difference in news ya hear on CNN sittin' in a lounge of Barajas vs. O'Hare? I guess Barajas is reporting news from that Other Planet.


youse on the $$$--all media outlets is jes' a platform fer advertisers. I suppose we's al too accustomed to "free" info, but thar's a side of me that thinks I would pay for true stuff if it were reliable--subscription news with NO advertisements.

We jes' cain't escape--wif' even the movies saturated wif' "product placement" such that PP experts is now highly paid but useless people who make no contribution to real life.

I fully expect that one day we will see celebrities speak on screen an' the word "Scope" or "Biotene" will come scrolling out of their mouths in a vapor.


Most of us ain't thought of it much afore --we assumed that SOME ethics remained, an' if youse an editor who PAYS fer work, then ya expect the work to be of some worth--but now that the dirty secret is out, we's on alert. Idea of usin' a GooTrillion Kbps to distribute garbage jes' makes me ill.

Aunty Belle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aunty Belle said...


oh yeah, sistah! Art serfs abound--all fer the cause, of course. See, when ya's starvin' fer a *cause* y'aint so hungry, right?

I do jes' write a check an skip the parties now--why? Sick of the sycophants who put their name in local lights gettin' the *cause* to pay for havin' their palace cleaned top to bottom, keepin' all the 1000 buck floral extravaganzas hauled in fer the stellar evening--

an' the $10 per bite canapes deftly whipped into the twin sub-zeros the minute the announced hour strokes. ( yeah, the caterer takes the $$ goodies from the oven at 8:30 an' passes a token tray out on the terrace while 4 more trays wait in the kitchen, until the stroke of 9 when the hostess takes possession of the "leftovers"...that she serves to her hubby's firm party the NEXT weekend. An' thas' how it is done, sports fans.) Ain't goin' be no mo'
$$$ per couple benefactors gala fer Aunty & Aloysius. Even if the economy returns an' we recover an' can close some of our wounds.

Pup, oh youse too right on Ariana--but looky, what she figgered out wuz ya could do this slimy thang as a Demoncrat an be applauded and lauded. Good luck to Newt wif' his sham(e) American Solutions scam--too many Red State folks still hate the odor of sulfur. I hope he is handed his head in a basket.

czar said...

Or do they do it fer the ego trip of seein' their name on a banner?

Don't ever discount the power of this statement. And forget people who aren't paid to be writers. What about the tons of people now who will pay to be perceived as writers or authors? The self-publishing industry is going through the roof, and adding a few ducats along the way to the czarist household, thanks very much.

I am reminded of my pastor friend many years ago who wanted to compile his columns for the weekly local newspaper into a book. (Many of the articles were barely rewritten texts from pastor sermon-help books. I tried to gussy them up some before republication.) His statement: "I want to die with 'author' on my tombstone." All proceeds, thankfully, went to the church's ministries.

About a year after the book came out, he called me up wondering if I'd want to work on another one. His comment: "I don't want to die being known as a one-book author."

As far as HuffPo et al. making money off the labors of people who are perfectly willing to whore themselves out for no dollars, isn't that what some folks call the free market? What's the complaint? Everyone's going into it with their eyes open, aren't they? (I've never even looked at HuffPo myself.)

chickory said...

@czar: im not complaining about the writers being willing serfs. Im complaining about how somebody like arianna huffpo acts like a typical mistress of compassion like most limo libs and then is your basic capitalist after all -just like the people they love to trash talk over there. my issue is the every expanding universe of their hypocrisy.

Aunty Belle said...

"Or do they do it fer the ego trip of seein' their name on a banner?"

heh....woefully true! I'se realized that the unpaid web writers hope an pray that somehow--of the millions who do it--THEY will be recognized, THEY will be selected to move on to the big league of paid writers--however dismally paid those may be.

Glad youse makin' the ducats off the gullible--but seems to me ya's got the makin's of your own book--the delusions of the self published. (tho I does know thar's reports of some self publishin' succcess out thar'--I jes doan 'em))


I has some libbers in one of mah bookclubs who absolutely cannot see what amuses us about the tyranny of the lefties--an' when we ask about closin' GITMO,
one said in exasperation, "Well at least Obama WANTS to close that cesspool."


Jenny said...

I came for the great post, stayed for the comments.

(I've been out of town. Again.)

There's another kind of problem with the internet and that's intellectual property when it comes to designs of products. My products are pulled all of the time and I hate to say it; but I'm also guilty. Before the internet is was much easier to contain my product line to those actually interested in buying it.

moi said...

I think part of the problem comes down to the age old question of who is responsible for the addiction: the pusher or the user?

As long as writers aren't going to take themselves—or the profession—seriously, neither will editors. And if readers no longer care about quality writing, well, then, all we're left with is "content."

Which is fine. Just don't call it journalism. It's opinion, and should be treated as such. Hence, the low or no pay.

But the lines need to be understood. I have no problem with those seemingly harmless "How To" sites like About.com so long as they stay in the land of "How to Set up a Pup Tent." When they try to get into explaining, say, the uprising in Egypt or politics, well, then, we're back into opinion and not feature writing or journalism.

"Pop" writing has always been around (most fashion magazines, Teen and Tiger Beat, even trade mags, etc.) and most of the writing I do has a PR or advertorial aspect to it. But I do my research, I do my subject justice, I care about how I present my material, build a story, etc. And my clients pay me (relatively) well for that. Therefore, I don't write for online content providers. Maybe one day, that will be all there is and my profession will go the way of the Woolly Mammoth. But for now, there's still some dignity to be found there.

Aunty Belle said...


yep. Another rip off is the design / intellectual property. I cain't see how to git arousn that iffin' ya's gonna have a web-presence.

Fishy mentioned in one of herearlier posts soemthin' similar--how formewr clients thought they could pull thangs together from online demos.

We's in a transition time on this spinnin' ball. Lots of stuff in flux. The ethics of the itnernet, bloggin', FB, Tweeties, --it's the wild west out thar'.

I try to imagine what I would choose--how mah life would look if I wuz a trust fund chile'--would I git a spread in mountains an' hibernate? The pace and face of whar' we's goin' is unnervin' me some--I admit it.

Aunty Belle said...

Moi, Cherie,

Hold on to yore good spot--sounds jes' right fer the currents we have to ride.

Mah worries include the content of what the public has access too--if EVERthang becomes a product placement/ advertisement/ ideological slant, how on earth is the average person supposed to arrive at grasp of "truth"? Too Orwellian of a world fer me, I reckon.

Jenny said...

I'm with you Aunty. I'd happily unplug anad move into the mountains if I could afford it.