Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Death of Newspapers, Part II: The End of Free-Lancing

From California Progress Report, a very distressing story about the decline in demand for free-lance stories by writers already hit hard by newspaper closings and cutbacks. Money quote: "For me, the freelance life is not sustainable... I need a job of some kind to support my journalism habit." And this: “I used to get up to $750 per article and then I could turn around and market the same article to European magazines … Now I am lucky if I get $350 per article and of course, because of the Internet, I can no longer resell any article. On a daily basis I see offers from as little as $5 to $50 for articles! And worse, I know many writers who are submitting because they don’t have a lot of choice.”

Trust me: I feel their pain. Back in the mid '90s, for a year or two following the closing of The Houston Post, it wasn't uncommon for me to sell the same free-lance interview with a Harrison Ford or a Patrick Swayze to two or three different papers. Hell, I managed to market only slightly different versions of a Tom Hanks interview to five different papers -- including the Los Angeles Times -- around the time Apollo 13 was released. Those were the days, my friend, I thought they'd never end. But they did. (For more illustrations like the one above, check out the website of writer Stephen Beale.)

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