Thursday, April 29, 2010

Another One for the Rant Files...

I follow the tweets of Roger Ebert, and while that often means a barrage of re-tweets and incomprehensible references, it also means that once in a while, you get a gem of information or entertainment. This morning, as I perused the dozens of accumulated tweets produced by people who stay up later, wake up earlier, or live in another time zone than me. One tweet caught my eye, a re-tweet from Ebert about bloggers not being slaves. Well, how could I resist?

It seems that the Washington Post, like many other newspapers, is looking to expand its online content to stay alive. By creating a local blogging network, they are providing several markets with a directory of blogs, which they find and ask to sign up. The blogger gets their photo and biography on the website, along with a link to every new blog post. They also get to create content for the Post on demand and engage in discussions with other bloggers and editors. But what they really get is nothing.

Sure, there is the prospect of increased traffic from being promoted by Washington Post on their local site, but there's no guarantee, especially since the blogs they choose could easily have more traffic than they do at the moment. Many bloggers write for nothing. It's like volunteer work. You write what you are interested in and take your pay however you can, either from pure satisfaction or Google Ad pennies. But that doesn't work when you know that someone else is looking to line their pockets with your content. If it's worth something to them, it should mean something for you.

You can read the post itself here. He has a really good point about why bloggers shouldn't sell themselves short. It's not just about us. It's about the other writers who have climbed their way to a position that actually gets them paid. If you provide content for free just because other people do, you contribute to circumstances that lead to paid writers getting phased out. For the sake of more page views, you dismantle a whole system of writers getting wages.

It's a diabolical plan, and it's probably working for them for the most part. But I believe in karma, and I believe that value eventually gets its due. So I'm going to end this rant on a positive note. See how we're evolving together?

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