A Day in the Life of a Freelance Journalist—2013

4 Mar

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Journalist—2013

Here is an exchange between the Global Editor of the Atlantic Magazine and myself this afternoon attempting to solicit my professional services for an article they sought to publish after reading my story “25 Years of Slam Dunk Diplomacy: Rodman trip comes after 25 years of basketball diplomacy between U.S. and North Korea”   here http://www.nknews.org/2013/03/slam-dunk-diplomacy/ at NKNews.org

From the Atlantic Magazine:

On Mar 4, 2013 3:27 PM, “olga khazan” <okhazan@theatlantic.com> wrote:

Hi there — I’m the global editor for the Atlantic, and I’m trying to reach Nate Thayer to see if he’d be interested in repurposing his recent basketball diplomacy post on our site.

Could someone connect me with him, please?

thanks,
Olga Khazan
okhazan@theatlantic.com

 From the head of NK News, who originally published the piece this morning:

Hi that piece is copy right to NK News, so please engage us mutually.
Thanks, tad

From the Atlantic:

Sure. Thanks Nate and Tad…I was just wondering if you’d be interested in adapting a version of that for the Atlantic. Let me know if you’d be interested.

thanks,

Olga

From me:

Hi Olga:

Give me a shout at 443 205 9162 in D.C. and I’d be delighted to see whether we can work something out.

Best,

Nate Thayer

From the Atlantic:

Sure, I’ll call you in a few minutes.

After a brief phone call where no specifics were really discussed, and she requested I email her:

Hi Olga: What did you have in mind for length, storyline, deadline, and fees for the basketball  diplomacy piece. Or any other specifics. I think we can work something out, but I want to make sure I have the time to do it properly to meet your deadline, so give me a shout back when you have the earliest chance.

best,

Nate Thayer

From the Atlantic:

Thanks for responding. Maybe by the end of the week? 1,200 words? We unfortunately can’t pay you for it, but we do reach 13 million readers a month. I understand if that’s not a workable arrangement for you, I just wanted to see if you were interested.

Thanks so much again for your time. A great piece!

From me:

Thanks Olga:

I am a professional journalist who has made my living by writing for 25 years and am not in the habit of giving my services for free to for profit media outlets so they can make money by using my work and efforts by removing my ability to pay my bills and feed my children. I know several people who write for the Atlantic who of course get paid. I appreciate your interest, but, while I respect the Atlantic, and have several friends who write for it, I have bills to pay and cannot expect to do so by giving my work away for free to a for profit company so they can make money off of my efforts. 1200 words by the end of the week would be fine, and I can assure you it would be well received, but not for free. Frankly, I will refrain from being insulted and am perplexed how one can expect to try to retain quality professional services without compensating for them. Let me know if you have perhaps mispoken.

best,

Nate

From the Atlantic:

Hi Nate — I completely understand your position, but our rate even for original, reported stories is $100. I am out of freelance money right now, I enjoyed your post, and I thought you’d be willing to summarize it for posting for a wider audience without doing any additional legwork. Some journalists use our platform as a way to gain more exposure for whatever professional goals they might have, but that’s not right for everyone and it’s of course perfectly reasonable to decline.

Thank you and I’m sorry to have offended you.

Best,

Olga

From me:

Hi Olga: No offense taken and no worries. I am sure you are aware of the changing, deteriorating condition of our profession and the difficulty for serious journalists to make a living through their work resulting in the decline of the quality of news in general. Ironically, a few years back I was offered a staff job with the Atlantic to write 6 articles a year for a retainer of $125,000, with the right to publish elsewhere in addition. The then editor, Michael Kelly, was killed while we were both in Iraq, and we both, as it were, moved on to different places. I don’t have a problem with exposure but I do with paying my bills.

I am sure you can do what is the common practice these days and just have one of your interns rewrite the story as it was published elsewhere, but hopefully stating that is how the information was acquired. If you ever are interested in  a quality story on North Korea and wiling to pay for it, please do give me a shout. I do enjoy reading what you put out, although I remain befuddled as to how that particular business model would be sustainable to either journalism and ultimately the owners and stockholders of the Atlantic.

I understand your dilemma and it really is nothing personal, I assure you, and I wish you the best of luck.

So now, for those of you remained unclear on the state of journalism in 2013, you no longer are…..

829 Responses to “A Day in the Life of a Freelance Journalist—2013”

  1. Catherine Walsh March 5, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    It’s a sadly similar case in freelance photography here in the UK. I have several connections who are highly published in the field of equestrian sports photography but who have all but had to withdraw from the area in recent years due to the number of weekend warriors who offer their ‘services’ for free to publishers. As a result, the standard of photography has plummeted as the professionals are shunted aside and the fantasy pro brigade stand around at events bragging about being ‘press photographers’. It’s very difficult to watch both photography and journalism being decimated like this.

    Like

  2. Linda Seid Frembes (@TenPixels) March 5, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

    Nate, thanks for blogging this exchange with The Atlantic. I was able to make a good living as a freelance writer for 9 years, but got out of it a few years ago for this exact reason. Publishers and editors want fantastic content and innovative ideas, but don’t want to pay for it. $100 for a reported story is not a living wage.

    Like

  3. larry darnell March 5, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

    I wish I had a fresh peach for the number of times some snoid offered me the opportunity to work for nothing. As much as I would like to be independently wealthy like Henry Adams and want to have my work stolen and reprinted for nothing so more people would read it, I’d just prefer to be independently wealthy.

    Like

  4. Molly Young March 5, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    See also: BuzzFeed offering freelance writers 10 cents/word for 1,000 word+ pieces.

    Like

  5. Jonny Eberle March 5, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    It is deplorable that people expect journalists to work for free, as if the time and effort to research, interview, write and edit a piece isn’t worth paying for. I think the unfortunate practice of giving away news for free online has led to a widespread belief that all writing should be free. How are we going to pay our bills with this pervasive assumption that others can exploit our hard work for their own gain?

    Like

  6. Jenna Scatena March 5, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    Nate, could you clarify if your article was to be published on the web or for the print magazine? I understand it’s still under the umbrella publishing of The Atlantic, but as far as I’ve heard the Atlantic pays upward of $1/word for articles published in their magazine (though I have not written for them myself). That’s about the average rate for most magazines. However, most WEB platforms–magazine, blog, or otherwise–don’t pay their writers because the web publishing model is not lucrative (though it’s totally bogus that web editors get paid, but writers don’t get paid to supply the content). No matter what, I think writers should get paid for their work, regardless of what medium is appears on. However, I’m hoping that you can add a bit to this argument to distinguish if you think this is an issue with magazines or if it’s actually a problem of publishing free content on the web, which are two different issues that often get blurred together. Thanks for sharing this.

    Like

  7. jsaturnJS March 5, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    Why dont you stop complaining. All industries peak and valley and change. Journalism is no different.

    Like

  8. K.M. Kowalski March 5, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    I just read your post after getting a note about it from the National Association of Science Writers. I’ve had some clients give me a heads-up that they were running late on payments, but to offer nothing is absolutely insulting. Writing is a skilled craft, and quality content is what draws people to read books, magazines, and websites. Failure to realize that is part of the reason why publishers are having problems these days.
    Thanks for sharing. The more writers share information like yours, the better chance we’ll all have in this market.
    –K.M.K., http://summacumlatte.wordpress.com

    Like

  9. N.P. Thompson March 5, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    “We unfortunately can’t pay you for it, but we do reach 13 million readers a month.” Always an invitation to bound in the opposite direction. Thank you for calling them out on this chicanery, Mr. Thayer.

    Like

  10. MetroMatteres March 5, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    So publication in the Atlantic is merely the means and not the end?

    Like

    • LairBob March 5, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

      Well-put.

      Like

    • judith brown March 5, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

      I once had an editor who offered me only “exposure” for payment and I replied, “It’s winter, and you I could die from exposure.”

      Ya know who was getting paid? The editor, that’s who.

      And the publisher, and the printer, and the people who supplied the paper, and the landlord of the building, and the people who watered the publisher’s plants.

      Of the dozens employed by the Atlantic, none would work for a day for the “exposure” — nor would they be expected to.

      The Atlantic is media, media is communication, and it’s communication is through the writing.

      Which is what the Atlantic is selling to readers: the writing.

      It’s odd (no, it’s disgusting) that The Atlantic would refuse to pay those who create the product they’re selling.

      But then again, the pimps always want to keep all the cash, don’t they?

      Like

      • Caron Eastgate Dann March 6, 2013 at 6:07 am #

        Spot on. I have often thought this. The cleaners get paid, the receptionist gets paid, on and on.

        Like

    • Jason Ruiter March 5, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

      Good sir, could you please explain this situation where you write, say an article for about $20,000!!! (125,000/6)

      Like

  11. Sally March 5, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    A recent conversation:
    Website publisher: We’d like a 500-word article. How much would you charge?
    Me: A professional of my level and experience receives $1 per word, so $500.
    Publisher: We pay $50.
    I accepted because a) it’s a subject I want to write about, b) I need the $50. Or maybe those should be reversed.

    Like

    • Ian Stone March 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

      Ok, I know you needed the $, but I think would have sent them the following, acting like you don’t need their money. Play Poker! It’s fun, you lose most hands, but if you play enough, you’ll occasionally win:

      “How about I charge you 10$ and just send you a bullet list of points? Would that work for your editorial dept?

      At $50 you get two hours of my time. After that, I send you what I have and you are free to doctor it up, BUT you must send it back to me for final approval.

      At $100 you get four hours of my time, which is enough to complete the article but it won’t be polished.

      At $200, etc…”

      I don’t know the answer to this one either… just a thought/suggestion…🙂 Ian

      Like

  12. Steve Gallo March 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    Reblogged this on FULL IMPACT FOOTBALL.

    Like

  13. Mynta Duhamel (@Mynta) March 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    I saw that someone wrote to the Atlantic, which inspired me to write to them too. Kind of conveniently, the most applicable category I could label my feedback as was “Advice”.

    ———————-

    There is no category for general feedback, so “Advice” seemed most appropriate. I have read the article by journalist Nate Thayer in which The Atlantic attempted to gain his story without offering compensation of any sort, beyond “exposure”.

    https://natethayer.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-freelance-journalist-2013/

    I wanted to inform you that you have lost your legitimacy in the estimation of this reader. My advice to Atlantic Media Company is to pay your writers. I find this practice utterly unacceptable, and honestly rather pathetic. If you do not wish to be a news site, then do not be a news site. But don’t go begging to legitimate journalists in hopes of bolstering your own reputation for free. I am sure that somewhere up the line is a parent company who can afford to give the Atlantic a budget which can pay for journalists. If you are unable to make any policy changes yourselves, I suggest someone speak to the parent company about amending practices.

    Like

    • Christine March 5, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

      Well done, Mynta Duhamel! I love your lines. Thank you.

      Like

  14. Jenna Scatena March 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    Nate, could you clarify if your article was to be published on the web or for the print magazine? I understand it’s still under the umbrella publishing of The Atlantic, but as far as I’ve heard the Atlantic pays upward of $1/word for articles published in their magazine (though I have not written for them myself). That’s about the average rate for most magazines. However, most WEB platforms–magazine, blog, or otherwise–don’t pay their writers because the web publishing model is not lucrative (though it’s totally bogus that web editors get paid, but writers don’t get paid to supply the content). No matter what, I think writers should get paid for their work, regardless of what medium is appears on. However, I’m hoping that you can add a bit to this argument to distinguish if you think this is an issue with magazines or if it’s actually a problem of publishing free content on the web, which are two different issues that often get blurred together. Thanks for sharing this.

    Like

    • Sandy March 5, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

      Nate is a professional writer. I don’t see how it’s relevant whether the article is to be printed on the back of napkin or online. The publishing house’s online business model does not change the value of the education and experience of the writer. I know business are using this two-fold system. And it’s time we call bullshit on it.

      Like

  15. fbrinleybruton March 5, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

    Reblogged this on F. Brinley Bruton and commented:
    This is so depressing, although I think there is money out there – it’s just that not enough of it is being spent on quality journalism.

    Like

  16. Jennifer Margulis March 5, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

    “I am a professional journalist who has made my living by writing for 25 years and am not in the habit of giving my services for free to for profit media outlets so they can make money by using my work and efforts by removing my ability to pay my bills and feed my children. I know several people who write for the Atlantic who of course get paid. I appreciate your interest, but, while I respect the Atlantic, and have several friends who write for it, I have bills to pay and cannot expect to do so by giving my work away for free to a for profit company so they can make money off of my efforts. 1200 words by the end of the week would be fine, and I can assure you it would be well received, but not for free. Frankly, I will refrain from being insulted and am perplexed how one can expect to try to retain quality professional services without compensating for them. Let me know if you have perhaps mispoken.” AMEN BROTHER. All of us who make a living as writers are dealing with some version of this. Good for you for being very clear and honest and direct. I understand newspapers and magazines are in difficult straits but in order for them and us to stay in business they can’t expect to walk all over writers. No one should give their writing away for free, no matter how far the “reach” of the outlet is…

    Like

    • charlesparkinson March 5, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

      While this is a very sad situation, I feel it somewhat unkind that you, being such a professional, have not redacted the name and email of the person who was only doing their job and enforcing the policies of the outlet they work for. Where you hoping her inbox would be deluged with complaints? Journalism is going through rocky ground. Not a new story. This offer was pitiful, goes without saying. Sadly, to carve out a career people have to do things they might not want to do and there are people doing much worse than offering nothing/a pittance for copy. I don’t think it’s fair to drag her through the bushes for trying to work within the parameters of her position (perhaps with a view to one day being in a position to offer the likes of you a reasonable amount for your work). Interesting article which inspired all this.

      Like

      • charlesparkinson March 5, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

        I didn’t mean to write this as a comment on someone else’s post…

        Like

      • wazzupsavo March 5, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

        Hey Charles, no disrespect because I can tell from the tone of your response to that writer that your a courteous person, but I think you know it’s a mean world out there, and in this day and age almost the only way big corps change their ways, apologize, or at a minimum are forced to take a look in the mirror at, in this case, just one in the myriad of the smug, bull in a China shop, take it or leave it, ways they negotiate err, interface with- not just journalists – but the proletariat at large is by putting them on display (as the subject writer who the Atlantic in this case tried to get a freebie off of) in their full ugliness for the world to see. in most cases it is then and only then that they might – and I wouldn’t hold my breathe – might change, or apologize, or anything of that sort. And, when they do, if they do, its usually some see through way like BP celebrating how they have made the Gulf all warm and fuzzy again that makes you want to puke. Just sayin….

        Like

      • istantchick March 5, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

        I think it’s fair game…and I think the editor didn’t do her research. I looked her up…she graduated from college in 2008. As a young editor myself who has worked with established writers, it is critical…and earns respect…when you know who you’re dealing with. She didn’t receive a blind pitch, she was reaching out, and a five second Google would have made her realize she was contacting someone who had a pretty significant journalism reputation and she could have been less of a ditz on her end.

        Like

    • happyhyena March 5, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

      I noted your post in my blog– my main contribution to this is that this sort of thing is becoming increasingly common in nearly every field. I’ve lot count of the people I know who broke their hearts working an Internship job only to be told they “didn’t fit in”, coincidentally as another bright eyed Intern showed up.

      Fundamentally, if your work is worth reading, it is worth paying for, especially if you have a proven track record in the field.

      Like

  17. Teri Buhl March 5, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    I am so glad you shared this Nate. The Atlantic is clearly suffering budget problems for a while now. When I wrote my investigative piece about Bear Stearns RMBS fraud that turned into a Frontline Film – The Untouchables – and led to an SEC settlement and a NY AG civil fraud suit they only paid me $150 for the story in Jan 2011. I agreed to do it because they were the only pup at the time who had an editor (he’s now with Reuters) who understood fraud and knew this would be big news down the road. Still I really undersold myself. But did make up for it in continued reporting at DealFlow Media (a trade publication) who pays a respectable living wage. I never wrote for The Atlantic again. I learned the trade magazines and online pubs with a paywall are paying the best these days. I gave up caring how many readers my work was seen by because I need to make money selling my stories. It’s sad to see main stream media run away from paying for quality freelance reporting and even sadder to see jurnos allow them to do it.

    Like

  18. Lorenzo Gonzalez March 5, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    If only everyone responded the way you did, then things would change.

    Like

  19. jane gros March 5, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    Surely you know this has gone viral. Me? Twenty nine years at NYT, five Pulitzer nominations, founded their blog “New Old Age,” wrote uniformly well-reviewed book, “A Bittersweet Season” (Knopf 2011, Vintage 2012). Contacted by “Atlantic” to do series of linked 2000 word paid posts. Asked for sked lines. Sked lines sent. “We love them, but can no longer pay.” My reply: “I don’t work for free.” Ante upped to $100, with first a “tryout.” Leaving aside “tryout” request, my reply, “I don’t work for $100. My cleaning lady gets more than that.” Wish I had saved the verbatim exchange. What if we all went on strike, very publicly? A business model based on slave labor would collapse very quickly were there no slaves. And any experienced journalist who works for free, or for $100, is a co-conspirator in the end of a great profession.

    Like

    • Ian Stone March 5, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

      Wow – this is all so enlightening – we are witnessing and discussing the death of the written word… at least in terms of its monetary value. Anyone else cognizant/aware of this and all its implications? Put it to you this way… Sarah Palin can now author a genetic research study and get more hits than the most popular geneticist to do the same. Should we be afraid? Maybe we need Coca Cola and Disney in on this debate… hmmm

      Like

    • dknyc March 5, 2013 at 11:01 pm #

      Right on, Jane. Enough is enough & people really need to not take it anymore.

      Like

  20. Steve March 5, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    Wow, have times changed… I was paid $1.25 per word for a 1,500-word Business 2.0 article back in 2000.

    Like

  21. mfloeter March 5, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    Gloomy times for writers, indeed. Now, even the best among you consider “for free” proper English. Makes me want to cry.

    Like

  22. Carolina A. Miranda (@cmonstah) March 5, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    Thank you thank you for writing this. A while back I was approached by a prominent, well-funded website to write an original feature-length story related to cognitive development. It would require poring various jargon-y studies and interviewing scads of scientists, while throwing in some IRL examples, to produce a clearly written take on infant language development. For this, they were offering me $100 and lots of “exposure.” I turned them down. I hope other writers learn to do the same, too. My question is: Do their staffers work for exposure? Do their ad sales people work for exposure? Do their marketing people do it for exposure? Probably not. I’m always mystified that writers are somehow beholden to the notion that our skills have no value….

    All if it brings me back to Harlan Ellison. He says it very well:

    Like

    • derek mornoe March 7, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

      Fantastic video. Thank you,

      Like

  23. Ann Douglas (@anndouglas) March 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

    Dumbfounded (although I know I shouldn’t be). I mean, The Atlantic? Thank you for reminding them that professionals expect to be paid.

    Like

  24. Pullmypork March 5, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    I would like some free advertising. How about the cover?

    Like

  25. Alina Shanin March 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    Glad to see you stood your ground. It’s definitely a hard time to be a journalist…

    Like

    • Steve March 5, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

      CNN completely jettisoned its investigate news unit. Not that CNN was quality journalism to begin with (at least it had a promising start, however), but what kind of a bizarro world do we live in when the supposed cable news pioneer has no use for a single investigative reporter? In all honesty, I get much better information from the Daily Show than most supposedly “serious” news outlets. Thankfully we still have Democracy Now, Bill Moyers, and Matt Taibi.

      Like

  26. NYLG March 5, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    you are awesome for sharing this. If writers continue to expose this kind of thing, we’ll hopefully see a change. Hopefully.

    Like

    • Ian Stone March 5, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

      I guess I just figured out why I’m so drawn to this string – No matter what we do here, we will not see a change back to yesteryear vis a vis authoring/editorial/writing norms and practices.
      It’s sick, it’s wrong, it’s even bordering on criminal, but it’s also… the new literary reality.

      We’re going to have to swallow this one folks. Ian ;0)

      Like

      • jane gros March 6, 2013 at 12:37 am #

        Who says we have to swallow this one? Clean houses. Drive a cab. Eat tuna fish and peanut butter. It’s only the “new literary reality” if literary professionals permit it. And those who do are dooming the rest of us.

        Like

  27. DrummerCT1 March 5, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    Very interesting. Glad for the position you took with the Atlantic. Similar thing happens with musicians and live music, including bands being asked to bring their own audience to the bar/club/whatever as a precondition.

    As an aside, “comments” to material published online also add value at given web site (well, sometimes); that being said, in this instance, I’m more than happy to provide this “comment” for free! 😉

    In all seriousness, and in a related fashion, there’s other social media forms that are founded on user-generated content contributed for free based on the idea that they’re providing a service – think Facebook, Twitter. They earn huge amounts of profit yet share no $$$ with the users. Is the equation balanced? Should contributors receive something more in return from social media outlets?

    Like

    • Ian Stone March 5, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

      Precisely – re: Social media… this amazing invention that connects the world to one or three social databases, has, by natural consequence, diluted the power and monetary worth of the written word. Social media is not squarely to blame – our new methodologies for speaking/sharing info/research – they’ve all changed. As writers, we need to adapt to this. This is CRUCIAL… I think. Things are NOT going back to the way they were so as writers, we need to “niche” and to get more involved/linked/networked in order to get our pieces/views out there, sadly for less and less $… until you’re syndicated of course…🙂

      Like

  28. Steve March 5, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    Oh, and next time they offer “exposure” you should offer some “exposure” — via texted crotch shot — of your own.

    Like

  29. Sarah March 5, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

    Oh snap. It’s always worth putting a price on your time and talent.

    Like

  30. Jay March 5, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    Nate, your response to Olga was insulting. You were insinuating her, it’s very clear, and she responded professionally. And you surely know that times have changed, that you’re perhaps earning a lot less as a feature writer than you did in your glory days.

    I’m not saying you should write the article. Just stop feeding your fat ego at the expense of others.

    Like

    • Michael Davis March 5, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

      Just what was he “insinuating?” It certainly wasn’t her. You can not insinuate a person. He could insinuate something about her, certainly. This is not the company in which one uses words one does not have a firm grasp upon.

      Like

      • Drew Limsky March 5, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

        Thank you, Michael.

        Jay: better to have a fat ego than to be illiterate. I insinuate you.

        Like

      • Ernst Blofeld March 6, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

        We appreciate proper grammar too. I believe you meant: “This is not the company in which one uses words upon which one does not have a firm grasp.” Apologies; I couldn’t resist.

        Like

  31. Allia Zobel Nolan March 5, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    Ah, yes, the old “exposure” ploy. I was once asked to have 4,000 of one of my books delivered to my house (where in the world would I put them?), with the express purpose of my signing them to go in a special promotion a certain store was having in all of its many outlets as an added bonus to entice buyers.When I asked about payment, I was offered “exposure.” Needless to say, I was not interested. I feel your pain.

    Like

  32. Christopher Cook March 5, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

    Hi Nate and others–yes this is deeply distressing, I too am a veteran journalist and author, 20 years of writing for national publications under my belt, and exceedingly difficult now just to survive. I’m on food stamps, pitching and applying for jobs, and observing the field I’ve devoted my life to erode before my eyes. I would like to share a couple pieces I wrote on this, one for Salon.com, the other for The Progressive. I welcome more dialogue on this, and thank you for your posts Nate. – Christopher Cook
    The Wages of Words: http://www.progressive.org/wages_of_words.html
    The Shame and Pride of Joining Food Stamp Nation: http://www.salon.com/2012/01/27/joining_the_food_stamp_nation/

    Like

  33. Ian Stone March 5, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    I can’t explain why I am so “drawn” to this string… perhaps it is because I’ve seen my “monetary” societal value decrease over the last 13 years, as a writer. However, what that has forced by consequence is a larger business view whereas I operate as a wearer of 12 hats – I own three companies, I am a public and media relations “guru” (small scale to be sure) and I am always on the look out for opportunities re: publishing/producing/ spreading the word…

    It’s a different world today than it was back in 2000.

    Thank you for bringing this to everyone’s attention.

    Like

  34. Caroline Leopold (@caroline815) March 5, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    I presume that you were fairly compensated by NK News because your original article was published there. And that the article circulated well online because that the Atlantic editor discovered the story and wanted a fresh rewrite, exclusive to the website.

    That gave me some hope for journalism in that smaller or trade outlets can compete by paying their journalists to produce excellent content. And excellent content generates interest, sharing, and more page views. That leads to a virtuous cycle of reader excitement and investment in quality content.

    Therefore, I argue that we can reframe this story as both a win for Nate Thayer and NK News, who to me seem far mightier than The Atlantic, who acquires online content through begging and subterfuge. Whether smaller news outlets will survive is another matter, as larger publications who don’t pay their writers have more money to spend in squashing the competition. I, as a writer and discerning reader, will be more mindful to visit and support outlets that pay their writers.

    Thank you for you posting your story. I hope more of us will continue to do the same!

    Like

  35. kyliehennagin March 5, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    Reblogged this on Kylie Hennagin and commented:
    Really eye-opening. How are journalists supposed to even get to the level of their career where they CAN write for free when large companies like The Atlantic want writers to write for free…or paying only $100/piece? Is this the nature of freelancing today?

    Like

  36. wandlampen March 5, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    I am always happy when I find such a contributory

    Like

  37. Southern Beale March 5, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

    “We unfortunately can’t pay you for it, but we do reach 13 million readers a month…..”

    Oh geez, how often have I heard that song and dance??? One more time with feeling: FREELANCE DOES NOT MEAN FREE!!!!

    Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The State of Online Journalism Today: Controversial | Jane Friedman - March 5, 2013

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  2. A Day in the Life of a Freelance Journalist—2013 | Fórum de Jornalistas - March 5, 2013

    […] Here is an exchange between the Global Editor of the Atlantic Magazine and myself this afternoon att… […]

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  3. read “Hi, we reach 13 million readers but we can’t afford to pay you freelance types for your work. Can we…”postme - March 5, 2013

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  4. Atlantic Editor to Freelancer: ‘We Unfortunately Can’t Pay You for It …’ : The Other McCain - March 5, 2013

    […] Monday, Ms. Khazan e-mailed the edtor of NKNews, desiring Thayer’s contact information to solicit a similar piece from him: […]

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  5. read “Hi, we reach 13 million readers but we can’t afford to pay you freelance types for your work. Can we…” postme - March 5, 2013

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  6. Yael's Variety Hour: Income Disparity & Medical Cures - Yael Writes - March 5, 2013

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  7. Do you write for free? Of course, kick some sand in my face! | Sally Duros - March 5, 2013

    […] Thayer tells a riveting and comical story about his negotiations with The Atlantic over writing a story specifically for them, where the […]

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    […] Really gloomy times in my profession, but Olympic silver medallist and New England Patriots kick returner Jeff Demps just brightened my day by announcing he intends to return to the track this spring and summer. […]

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  10. Freelance Journalism’s Downside Perfectly Captured [Update] - FishbowlNY - March 5, 2013

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  11. The problem with online freelance journalism | Felix Salmon - March 5, 2013

    […] Nate Thayer caused quite a stir in the Twittersphere this morning when he published the email correspondence between himself and Olga Khazan, an editor at the Atlantic. Khazan had seen Thayer’s 4,300-word piece for North Korea News about “basketball diplomacy”, and decided that it would be great to have a shorter version of the story at the Atlantic. After a bit of back-and-forth, she proposed this to Thayer: […]

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  12. If The Atlantic ought to pay for content, why should Facebook make distribution free? - March 5, 2013

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