The Huffington Post continues its tradition of trading “exposure” for lots of unpaid hard work. Sign up, kids!
The new vertical, HuffPost College, will rely on that sexy, growing and emerging new class of journo’s — “citizens” (aka free labor) — to contribute/donate their time, skills and talent for exposure. Exposure won’t pay Visa or Mastercard or put gas in your car or groceries in your fridge. It’s BS, plain and simple, and it’s sucking in entire legions of the desperate in the race to fill the web with free or low-paid content.
I have been writing for a living, earning four-figure checks for my ideas and skills, since my sophomore year of college, (no, not J-school). It meant, from an early, unconfident, less-experienced position — which is where many of us start out from –learning how to negotiate with editors many decades my senior. Not fun, not easy, not always successfully.
I once overheard an editor pleading with a fellow columnist, whose work filled the same weekly Toronto newspaper section I was writing for as well, to stay — “You’ll lose $200 a week!” she said. I was making $125. Hm. I went into her boss that day and asked for a raise. I was 19. (Didn’t get it, but learned how totally random “value” appears to those who buy your copy.)
Whatever your age, writing is a job, not a hobby!
The endless ugly secret of who gets to write for “free” and wh0 doesn’t boils down to who can afford to do it. Very few students can afford to give away their time — and those who can continue to form a media elite of the middle-class and up whose parents pick up the costs for them while media mavens pocket profits.
I have written without pay, in 30 years, maybe 10 times, as a pro bono choice to support a cause I believe in or to promote my books. Riley Waggaman, a full-time student at Wheaton College, is a T/S contributor, is getting paid to write here, as are we all.
Just. Say. No.