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The New Economy of Journalism: When Should Writers Get Paid?

Mar 9, 2013

Credit tweepi.com

Journalists can no longer be certain that when they write they will get paid.

Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute's "Making Sense" project says that there has been a big debate in recent weeks over journalists being asked to give up some of their words for free.

"Nowadays writers are trying to figure out how much writing they give away for free, how much writing they do at a really low pay scale that -- if you figure it out on an hourly rate it would be absolutely abysmal -- and how much writing they should do at a living age. And, it turns out, it's really complicated."

With the decline of newspapers, journalists are increasingly turning to the internet for their pay. But, that's not the straight paycheck situation writers have dealt with in the past.

What sparked the most recent pay debate was a journalist who was asked by a magazine site to rewrite a previous article he had penned. The magazine wanted to repost a fresher version.

Here's the catch. They wanted the rewrite for free. 

As complicated as it is, McBride says freelance writers can make a living on the internet, and the proliferation of internet writers is great for internet readers.

"We can find information and voices and stories that would have never been available to us in the old media environment when we just had print and broadcast," said McBride.

And can you trust all these new sources of news in the digital world?

"Well, sure, you can trust some of them," McBride explained. "You have to use your own judgment to figure out what you can trust."