Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A fitting postscript to 'The end of a career in journalism'

I received a lot of responses and retweets from yesterday's column on media companies that refuse to pay writers for their work or expertise, and why it would eventually mean the end of my journalism career. It was almost all very supportive and for that, I am grateful.

There was an interesting discussion on sportsjournalists.com -- a site populated by sports journalists, one presumes -- where many argued that the market had simply declared there was no value to our work. That is far too simple an explanation for the massive transformation within the industry, from the horrific decision years ago to give away the product for free to the inevitable decimation of independent media sports staffs that followed and the rise of journo-marketers at stakeholder sites from nfl.com to ESPN.com. There are a lot of reasons why the industry is where it is today and why it is forcing me out.

But perhaps the most telling response to my column came via a personal message that showed up in my Facebook inbox. A radio host named Dennis Michelsen from RaceTalkRadio wrote that he enjoyed my column on media outlets that refuse to pay people for their expertise, but he really liked another one I had written about fewer independent voices in Nascar. He wanted to talk about that column on his radio show and asked me to email him to set up a time for an interview.

I wrote back and asked what he would pay me to appear on his show.

His response: "Guests appear for free on our radio show to publicize their work ..."

Monday, October 28, 2013

The end of a career in journalism

Shortly after I wrote a jersey/slant column last July titled, "Nascar, Kyle Petty and the future of sports coverage," I received an email from an editor of a major metropolitan newspaper's editorial board. He wanted permission to reprint the column for the op-ed page. I responded, in part, with a request for information on the newspaper's compensation rate.

He quickly wrote back that they had chosen a different column instead. I've always wondered if it was because I dared to ask for money.

Not that I would be shocked if that was the reason. I've been asked too many times in my career to provide my work or expertise for free. And I'm hardly alone. Here's Tim Kreider's piece in The New York Times about the absurdity of this surprisingly commonplace practice. It's called "Slaves of the Internet, Unite!"

It would almost be funny if the truth wasn't killing my career.