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Saturday, February 20, 2016

On the Recent Furor Over Paying the Writer...

So, some dude at Huffington Post believes that pieces written for free are more authentic than those written for money - and so he is very proud that Huffington Post does not pay its writers.

Needless to say, this has created a bit of a furor from a whole stack of writers... but it's something that's been going on for a while, now - this whole not-paying or not-paying-a-fair-rate to writers, so all I can say is it's about time.

Mind you, this attitide isn't confined to the editor-in-chief - yes, that was the 'some dude' - it's also held by at least one staffer holding a salaried position, who believes that writing for free means that, as a writer, you don't have daily hours, deadlines, or need to work on weekends and that the 'exposure' is worth doing something for nothing.

Both these guys delicately avoid the point that they make money off the content they provide, including any content they seek to be allowed to use from other bloggers. While bloggers might post for free on their blog, it could be said that if someone wants to use that content, it's not for charity, it's because that content is expected to grow their audience, or appeal to their audience and assist in their own publication's profitability. For these benefits, it's fair to offer payment.

So, think about it - Huffington Post makes money from those who click on its - often unpaid - articles. There is a way to express your dislike. As Porter Anderson and Chuck Wendig have suggested: Don't support them. Stop clicking.

And think on this: 

Instead of screaming at markets like the Huffington Post (because they are not alone) ... just. don't. write. for. them. - Of course, this means that some other writer is going to write for them, one who doesn't understand that working for nothing means that more people who own markets will think that not paying writers is okay, that it will take a lot of writers not sharing their content and a lot of readers not reading or sharing their content before they understand that words which make you money need to be paid for.

On that note, also remember that signing contracts which purchase rights that the buyer is unlikely to use, that purchase ALL rights for the life of the copyright, that do not have clauses that guarantee the work purchased will stay in print and available for the duration of the contract is very close to working for nothing. There are better contracts out there. Be sure of what your rights are. Be sure of what you want to sell and for how much. Set time limits. Protect your IP and copyright. Negotiate.

If writers work together to insist on payment, and better contracts, instead of rushing into something for fear of 'missing out' - and it will take every writer to do that - then we can work together for better pay for our work.

But, unless we *all* agree to not work for nothing, to not work for peanuts, to not sign greedy rights-grabbing contracts, unless we *all* stop trying to get the contract first, to snap up that limited release slot before anyone else gets the chance, then nothing will change.

Screaming just isn't going to cut it, nor is acting alone, or acting to ensure you don't 'miss out'. Have faith in your work. Have faith in yourself. Have faith in your readers. You are not alone, and you are totally alone, but you work in a community of writers, and we all need to start acting for the good of the whole, instead of only the good of ourselves - if we don't, then unfair contracts will continue, and markets that think it's okay to not pay, or to underpay their writers, will also continue.

Stop screaming. Stop whining. Start acting - together - for change.

Some links that provide a number of different views on the Huffington Post and paying the writers matters as follows:

  • http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2016/02/18/scream-it-until-their-ears-bleed-pay-the-fucking-writers/
  • http://wilwheaton.net/2015/10/you-cant-pay-your-rent-with-the-unique-platform-and-reach-our-site-provides/
  • http://www.ibtimes.com/unpaid-huffington-post-bloggers-actually-do-want-get-paid-2313744
  • http://www.houstonpress.com/arts/wil-wheaton-and-why-i-won-t-write-for-huffington-post-anymore-7896530
  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/huffington-post-bloggers_n_821446.html?section=australia
  • https://alyssaroyse.wordpress.com/2015/08/26/no-to-the-huffington-post-yes-to-these-sites-that-pay-writers/
  • http://www.thewire.com/business/2012/03/judge-upholds-huffington-posts-right-not-pay-bloggers/50577/
  • http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/mar/05/huffington-post-aol
  • http://www.makealivingwriting.com/huffington-post-syndrome-kill-paid-blogging/
  • http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2011/02/unpaid_huffington_post_blogger.html
  • http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2011/02/10/forget-about-huffington-post-ever-paying-bloggers/
  • http://writerunboxed.com/2016/02/19/amazing-disgrace-the-pride-of-the-huffington-post/
  • http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/12/the-economics-of-blogging-and-the-huffington-post/

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