Today it all started with this Poynter tidbit. But of course whatever “this” is has been going on for much longer. I imagine that ever since the first time someone said “It’ll help you gain visibility!” in regards to wrtiting online for free, there have been vicious debates.
On the other hand, we have situations like this local example. And of course overall, more anti-HuffPo stuff is being written and said online than I could possibly link to here.
Personally, I’m torn. I’ve never written for HuffPo, but I do write for free on Windy Citizen or the Daily Daley to be more exact. However, there is an ocean of difference between a lone local news entrepreneur and one of the wealthiest and most connected women in the world. The differences in resources and in access are astronomical. Ironic, isn’t it? One of the much-touted qualities of the Internet is supposedly its power to democratize, but we cannot escape glaring inequalities here.
Of course it doesn’t begin or end with HuffPo. They get so much flack because of their size and this is deserved, but they aren’t the only media property banking on free writing. I recall for instance someone posting a “job ad” on the AWJ-Chicago e-mail listserv. I’ve put it in quotes, because it was an ad for an unpaid position. Members’ angry reactions were swift and numerous.
Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot of anger and frustration out there and no one quite knows what to do. Has anyone any idea how to sustain journalism as a paid profession? The question already been asked countless times, but I’ve yet to hear a satisfactory answer.