What A Tangled Web We Weave
AOL, America’s favorite provider of substandard email and dial-up internet, has recently purchased The Huffington Post for $315 million. That is 315 with six zeros after it. And many thought there was no value to what journalists did these days? Oh, but, these weren’t journalists. They were citizen journalists and bloggers – a lesser valued but similar version of a traditional journalist. I don’t necessarily agree with that last statement. But I tell you who does agree with that: Arianna Huffington. She built an empire from nothing by aggregating content from citizen journalists and bloggers, for low or no cost, and made millions off of their hard work.
You’ll have to excuse my language for the next part. Kids, ear muffs. You. stupid. fucking. morons. How could you NOT think you would end up getting screwed in this deal? You thought giving away your content was OK because after all it got you a byline and some web traffic. You thought doing it for free was what everyone did. You thought that it was for the good of society and a free press. I actually agree with some of that last idea. However, there is a value to creating content. This includes good photography and good reporting. You got FUCKED without dinner or a movie. How does that feel?
What’s that you say?! You want to get paid now? You want a piece of that $315 million?! Well son, we need to have a little talk. IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY. Good talk, eh? You agreed to those terms. You knew what you were getting out of this. With the traffic that website generated on a daily basis, you had to have known that it was worth something to someone. Try paying your bills with a byline. I tried that once and the reaction I got from the cashier was similar to what you get trying to show a card trick to a dog. It feels pretty bad to see all that hard work make somebody else rich, doesn’t it?
So in protest you will just stop visiting the site and you will stop blogging for it too. That’s a step in the right direction. But it’s a little late. Like it or not you are now part of a mega corporation. And if you leave there are a thousand other bloggers and citizen journalists who are waiting for a chance at a byline. And they will do it for less than you. They might actually pay for the opportunity! That’s a pretty sick feeling developing in your stomach isn’t it? Welcome to my traditional media world.
I do have a point that I am eventually getting to and here it is. “If you are good at something, never do it for free.” While that quote is credited to the late Heath Ledger playing the Joker, I believe the idea is much older than that. There are a ton of resources available for finding ways to get paid for creating content. I would suggest steering clear of the Huffington Post. The best resource is your ability to say “no, I won’t give away my work.” I stopped doing that years ago when I realized that I couldn’t pay my rent with a tear sheet. And while I still have a staff job at a (don’t say it) traditional media outlet, I also freelance to supplement my income. I know that my job at the paper won’t be forever. When it comes time to make that next step I am confident that I will be able make a living from my photography. One of the best ways to make a living is to get paid for the work you do.
EDITORS NOTE: I will to go back to posting pictures instead of writing these editorials this week, I promise.
Written by Matthew Jonas
February 13, 2011 at 2:02 pm