Poisonous Pay

In an era when anyone can get published, maybe it’s no surprise that websites are offering $10 or $20 for articles.

That’s my guess for one of the reasons freelance writers have become rather an endangered species.

According to James Rainey, who writes On the Media for the Los Angeles Times, approximately 31,000 writers and editors have lost their newspaper jobs in the last two years.

Let’s say a few have retired or become bike messengers. That’s still a lot of professional talent trying to hire itself out.

Meanwhile, freelance writing fees have been dropping as well. People who used to make a living at it are now struggling.

I understand that unpaid or poorly paid work may be appropriate for a beginner trying to accumulate what we once called "clips" but which now might be urls. Everybody needs to start somewhere.

But, traditionally, after a period of free or slave labor, you had enough samples to persuade an editor to trust you with real work.

Writing, a venerable craft, is clearly no longer respected. Otherwise, how could a website or publication offer such pitiful rates?

I think the growth of self-publishing, which lets anyone with the wherewithal be an "author," has cheapened the profession. If anyone can do it, why pay more for an experienced professional?

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