Thursday, October 31, 2013

No, writing for free isn’t slavery, and other misconceptions about the economics of online media


Summary: In an op-ed piece in the New York Times, an author complained about repeatedly being asked to write for free, but what he finds so insulting is something many others see as an opportunity — and it is not going away any time soon

Even if you didn’t know that the media industry was in turmoil, you’d be able to guess that something was wrong based on how often financial questions seem to intrude into discussions about journalism and writing in general — questions like “Who is going to pay us? How are we going to make money?” and so on. The most recent eruption along those lines occurred on the weekend based on an opinion piece in the New York Times entitled “Slaves of the Internet, Unite!”

Writing for free, of course, is nothing like slavery, as a number of people pointed out in their responses to the piece on Twitter. For one thing, it is largely voluntary. But author Tim Kreider’s argument is flawed in a number of other ways as well — and even contains the seeds of its own destruction in a way.

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