Journalism is screwed

Genuine job ads from the interweb

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Ah, if you don’t pay people, their passion is fired up and thus ensures quality. If you do pay them, they get all lacklustre and mediocre.

Ah, if you don’t pay people, their passion is fired up and thus ensures quality. If you do pay them, they get all lacklustre and mediocre.

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Hey! It’s a paying job! And with this one dollar for 500 words, these guys are really spoiling us!

Hey! It’s a paying job! And with this one dollar for 500 words, these guys are really spoiling us!

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Assistant editor

Here’s a question for you. What do you think this is?

If you said “a job ad for full-time work”, give yourself half a point.

If you said “a job ad for full-time work that will be paying a full-time salary”, give yourself no points and a clip round the ear for being so gullible.

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I kind of love this one. I love the way they put their rate of pay in the headline, like paying £10 for a 500-word article is fair recompense. And I love the jaunty exclamation mark at the end - “Yes! That’s right! 2p per word if you’re a decent professional writer with proper standards!”

I kind of love this one. I love the way they put their rate of pay in the headline, like paying £10 for a 500-word article is fair recompense. And I love the jaunty exclamation mark at the end - “Yes! That’s right! 2p per word if you’re a decent professional writer with proper standards!”

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This one’s a rarity. Look, there’s money on offer! A big, lovely, huge, day-rate! Eh? Oh.
It may be unfair to single this one out - the internet is awash with ads for SEO copywriters, with rates of pay generally hideously low (I saw one the other day offering 50 cents per article, with 20 articles expected to be filed per day. Yes, that’s right - $10 per day for what they happily presumed to be a full-time job). 
I can’t decide whether these are worse than the ones that are honest about offering no money.

This one’s a rarity. Look, there’s money on offer! A big, lovely, huge, day-rate! Eh? Oh.

It may be unfair to single this one out - the internet is awash with ads for SEO copywriters, with rates of pay generally hideously low (I saw one the other day offering 50 cents per article, with 20 articles expected to be filed per day. Yes, that’s right - $10 per day for what they happily presumed to be a full-time job). 

I can’t decide whether these are worse than the ones that are honest about offering no money.

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I wanted to give these guys the benefit of the doubt, but couldn’t help but notice the absence of any mention of remuneration. So I emailed them to check. Kudos to them, they wrote back:
“We are starting out with no money whatsoever aside from the cost of buying the rights to www.nottinghillnews.com. Initially we will be relying upon articles written for free which is why we understand that this may not suit many people, especially if they are already established as freelance journalists. In time, we are hoping that the website can be used as a prototype for a newspaper to be published in hard copy - money from advertising ect will then be available to pay contributors. NHN is still very much in the early stages and a work in progress. Thanks.”
Perhaps in that case their request for “talented writers” may have been a little optimistic. Maybe “writers with a private income who can afford to provide news, features and interviews for free” would have been a better way to go about it.

I wanted to give these guys the benefit of the doubt, but couldn’t help but notice the absence of any mention of remuneration. So I emailed them to check. Kudos to them, they wrote back:

We are starting out with no money whatsoever aside from the cost of buying the rights to www.nottinghillnews.com. Initially we will be relying upon articles written for free which is why we understand that this may not suit many people, especially if they are already established as freelance journalists. In time, we are hoping that the website can be used as a prototype for a newspaper to be published in hard copy - money from advertising ect will then be available to pay contributors. NHN is still very much in the early stages and a work in progress. Thanks.”

Perhaps in that case their request for “talented writers” may have been a little optimistic. Maybe “writers with a private income who can afford to provide news, features and interviews for free” would have been a better way to go about it.

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These guys value their writers’ insights. Although they do not value them in monetary terms. Presumably “thinkers” don’t have bills to pay.

These guys value their writers’ insights. Although they do not value them in monetary terms. Presumably “thinkers” don’t have bills to pay.

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I received this email with the subject line CONGRATULATIONS! Lucky, lucky, lucky me! Indeed I DO have a strong set of values and beliefs. One of them is that if you’re asking someone to do work for you, you should probably be offering them some form of recompense, and you certainly shouldn’t have the cheek to ask them to jump through hoops just to have the honour of contributing content to your corporate website.
As for achieving my dreams, I dream of making a living wage from my trade for the next 30-odd years, and I dream that one day I’ll respond to job ads for a freelance writer and every single one of them will actually BE for a job, rather than unpaid exploitation.
Self-belief? I believe every working journalist is better than this, and I hope nobody actually takes this “job” on.

I received this email with the subject line CONGRATULATIONS! Lucky, lucky, lucky me! Indeed I DO have a strong set of values and beliefs. One of them is that if you’re asking someone to do work for you, you should probably be offering them some form of recompense, and you certainly shouldn’t have the cheek to ask them to jump through hoops just to have the honour of contributing content to your corporate website.

As for achieving my dreams, I dream of making a living wage from my trade for the next 30-odd years, and I dream that one day I’ll respond to job ads for a freelance writer and every single one of them will actually BE for a job, rather than unpaid exploitation.

Self-belief? I believe every working journalist is better than this, and I hope nobody actually takes this “job” on.

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The world seems a much brighter place if you choose to believe this one is an elaborate joke.

The world seems a much brighter place if you choose to believe this one is an elaborate joke.