A former friend of mine who recently resigned as an editor of a major magazine was chatting with me today on the phone about her ongoing quest to find good free lance writing jobs which pay a fair price for original, high quality journalism.
I was commiserating with her about the constant Web write around "authors" who target long standing articles and "rework" them in order to publish them on the legions of pay-for-content sites all over the web.
It used to make me angry when I would see my own long published content "reworked".
Now it just makes me sad the free lance industry has been basically destroyed by anyone who can find a good quality article on just about any topic and then "steal" it, rewriting it enough to avoid legal action in exchange for a quick payoff of a few bucks.
Although it's really not funny, I have had some of the Internet Write Arounders submit rewritten articles from my original content to me for purchase consideration. At first I was shocked when it happened, now I am amazed at how often it occurs. In many ways the Web has become the Wild Wild West with many taking and reworking any type of content they desire.
Seriously, it's hard to be polite when you see your own original work sliced up and rewritten with incorrect spellings and heinous punctuation and then offered to be sold back to you. It's sort of like buying back your car after it was stolen and hacked up.
Ironically, after my phone conversation with my editor friend ended I received an email with links to two blogs discussing the very free lance situation that my editor friend and I were bemoaning.
In his article Rainey states "a former staff writer for a national magazine told me that she has been disturbed not only by low fees (one site offered her $100 for an 800-word essay), but by the way some website editors accept "reporting" that really amounts to reworking previously published material." Rainey explained "that's known in the trade as a "clip job" and on the Web as a "write around."
Yes, I know all about that. I've been offered $2-$5 per blog for 250-500 words on some of the women's websites. I have also been offered literally pennies to post on web forums and a few bucks to do product reviews.
No, these surprisingly low offers aren't a reflection on my writing skills. They're the going rate for all free lance writers. My editor friend is a fabulous professional writer with lots of high quality published pieces over the years. She also is offered the same amounts for blogging, posting and writing I am offered.
Rainey also points out "today's reality is that much of freelancing has become all too free. Seasoned professionals have seen their income drop by 50% or more as publishers fill the Web's seemingly limitless news hole, drawing on the ever-expanding rank of under-employed writers."
Even worse, just like many amateurs on the Web believe they are professional photographers, artists and make-up professionals, there are many people who believe they are professional writers who can just sit down and write, although most of the time they "write around" or copy from the real journalism pros.
Could there be anything worse? Well maybe the infamous case of the balding male plumber with no real hair knowledge or experience who decided to open a hair website, "write around" many of my long published articles on how to curl long hair or create elaborate updos and then post links to his "content" on HairBoutique.com forums, blogs and related content.
Am I making this up? Of course not, how could I even imagine such a thing? Yes, it really happened and it has happened many times over the past few years.
While I really appreciate Rainey utilizing his own excellent journalistic skills to highlight the plight of the newly displaced free lancers, editors and photographers, I wonder if this trend will continue with the constant introduction of yet another Pay-For-Content web site model which will let just about anybody write just about anything, regardless of its accuracy and sometimes misleading innocent readers in the process.
One thing Rainey did not highlight is how this current trend is causing a major problem with Web misinformation. When amateurs are writing blogs, articles or forum posts with only an eye to the opportunity to make a few quick bucks, they don't do the exhaustive research a seasoned free lancer would do.
They also don't seem to care if they are providing fiction disguised as fact in their content. Which is definitely very concerning on a number of levels too numerous to explore at this moment.
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