30 October 2007

[liff] Freely Writing-Or Writing For Free?

1065. As someone who's trying to find a living as a professional creative, I think it's a fair question to ask: are the various campaigns by content providers for "citizen journalists" or "community voices" a way to get content for free–content that those providers used to have to pay a professional to provide?

Would you, dear reader, want to work in such a field? How do you think you'd fare if you knew you'd have to compete with people who are willing to literally work for nothing?

This is how decent professional creative occupations get undermined and devalued in the eyes of the public.

Kevin Allman speaks sooth here and here. The big dark-side takeaway for me comes from this quote Kevin's provided us:

“In two days, we can have 50 or 100 people work an hour a day and do the work it used to take a reporter two months to do,” said Marc Cooper, 56, who is OTB’s editorial director and teaches journalism at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School.

With all that free content coming in, why bother paying a professional who's been trained to write and report effectively? Point taken, point taken indeed. Or, as Kevin retorts (and we can say no better):

Back in the hoary old days, "traditional newsroom protocol" included a paycheck.

Graphic designers deal with this centrifugal pressure too. We call our initiative NO!SPEC, which is our virtual leafleting about how logo and design contests tend to really amount to a whole bunch of designers working for nothing.

One might wonder what an underemployed designer is doing talking such smack about people who might potentially employ him. I don't think I'm goring any oxes here–what I am sayng is that any profession that has sophisticated training as an entry requirement ought also to provide concomitant reward. If you train as a designer or writer or professional content creator, it's only fair that what awaits us on the other end of that training is the real potential for prosperity in our chose field.

For information on the NO!SPEC initiative, go ahead and clicky upon the pritty button thingee.

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