So says Gawker though they’re not ones to talk… Their target is the Huffington Post, which despite their slings/arrows, happens to post some quality material. The point is that since HP is such a high-profile destination, the contributors should get paid for their work instead of just settling for exposure. The bigger problem that Gawker points out is that this sets bad precedent- if HP can get away without paying, other big sites will do the same. It’s no different for hundreds of reporters across the country who are now told that their job description now includes blogging, even the extra time they put into that doesn’t translate into extra pay.
While I sympathize with Gawker’s position, there’s a few problems with their argument. Ideally, HP should indeed pay their staff. The problem is that a sustainable economic model for blogging isn’t out there yet. A very tiny percentage of bloggers out there make their living from their posts. If the only people blogging will be the ones who get paid, you’d have a lot fewer of them, which is good in some cases but you’d lose a lot of other good bloggers too. If any site has a chance of finding a model for paying bloggers, it’s HP and they should work on that more instead of relying on their writer’s to make a name for themselves at the site. But Gawker doesn’t have the answer either- their plan to pay writers by the amount of traffic they get is a recipe for sensationalism, which always gets more eyeballs than any thoughtful, insightful piece of writing. That’s not even mentioning the fact that they just cut the pay for their writers.
And hey… I happen to write for free here at PopMatters. Why am I doing this? Am I also trying to get my name out there like the HP writers? Yeah, I admit it. It’s true. But I also do it because I really do believe in PM itself and think it’s a quality publication worth supporting. If it changes and I don’t think that’s the case any more with PM, I wouldn’t keep writing here. For now, since PM does provide a good forum for smart scribing on pop culture, I’m glad to keep penning blogs for ‘em, money or not. I hope you keep supporting them too.