Thursday, April 29, 2010

Blogging about blogging about blogging: If I gotta work for free, I'd rather work for me

Today I came across this item on Wonkette about a Maryland political blogger who turned down an offer to have his content stripped, raped and strangled* and paraded through the internets by the Washington Post. The Post generously offered to reproduce Maryland Politics Watch's content in an agreement which would allow the Post to modify said content as they saw fit, and which implied an obligation to produce steady content as well as participate in organizational activities with other unpaid bloggers to keep things running smoothly. Like most everything else, this story reminded me of myself.

Several years back our own Hartford Advocate recognized the growing importance of the blog medium, and started running some sparsely updated and poorly publicized blogs on their website. As a former employee and current freelancer, I was invited to participate. For free. Now it's all well and good to blog for free when you're operating a blogspot page about shit you bought at Ocean State Job Lot, but when a major media company (the Advocate is of course a property of the Courant and the Tribune Company) wants your work, it is not unreasonable to expect to be paid. And "the exposure" is pretty worthless when it's coming from a source previously thought of as the paying gig. What is there to aspire too? Overexposure? Occasional free shit? Hate email?

Newspapers want to get in on the blog game, but they don't quite get it. Successful brand-name blogs like Gawker and Wonkette operate just like they do - with paid employees, including writers, editors, and salespeople. Their success (i.e. traffic, readership) hinges on both the quality and quantity of posts, which is pretty much impossible to achieve with unpaid writers, since the rich, idle and underaged/student interns just aren't that clever or insightful, and the rest of us simply don't have that kind of time.

Many of the Advocate's "blogs" are written by their regular writers and employees, but they apparently don't have the time either. While both the Courant and the Advocate have of late tried to give their "blog" features more prominent billing on their respective sites, they both do a very clunky job, listings them in an index of individual writers who post daily at most rather than going with the easy to read, constantly updated newest-stuff-at-the-top flow of commentary quickies by a variety of contributors that is the hallmark of actual blogs.

*this is a Cannibal Corpse reference, but you knew that

1 comment:

  1. The Hartford Advocate thinks they know who you are all they know is you love to write. Face down paper cut on the ground find you before another is found.