Every week we round up media news you may have missed while you were busy doing it right.
- The Atlantic was once again at the center of controversy this week, this time over freelance pay. Freelance journalist Nate Thayer published an email exchange with the magazine’s newly-hired global editor, who asked to republish a recent story by Thayer without paying him. “We unfortunately can’t pay you for it, but we do reach 13 million readers a month,” she wrote.
Thayer’s blog post caused a social media firestorm, prompting editor-in-chief James Bennet to release a statement clarifying that The Atlantic always pays for “original, reported work by freelancers” and apologizing for offending Thayer.
The incident led to several discussions on making a living as a freelance writer in 2013, such as: How much should writers be paid? And when is it okay to write for free? Over at The Awl, an impressive roster of editors and writers openly discussed their freelance budgets, how they determine who gets what, and what writers consider to be fair value for their work.
Back at The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal sprung to the defense of his colleague and said that when it comes down to it, the numbers just don’t add up the way they used to: the business of digital media can’t support writers the way print media once did.
Wonkette adds: “Let us all take a step back and appreciate exactly where we are right now: we are in a place wherein paying people for their work has become a topic worthy of debate and discussion.“
- But you can’t get paid if you’re not even getting a byline. VIDA’s annual byline gender count shows that while a few publications “have held steady or made calculable strides towards shaping a more egalitarian literary landscape via gender,” others, like Harper’s, The Nation, The New Republic, and The Paris Review continue to show “gross (& indecent) neglect of female writers’ work.”
- New data shows a major slowdown in online display advertising and a surge in secondary buys through ad networks and exchanges in a report that MediaPost says “is likely the most accurate accounting ever of the U.S. media-buying marketplace.”
Could this be because web banner ads are on the way out? Digiday takes a look at the threats facing the “banner industrtial complex.”
And The Atlantic‘s Derek Thompson says the real reason mobile ads are suffering is that users have a digital-attention deficit.
- The Washington Post will take a stab at running sponsored posts.
- “If anybody out there thinks a paywall is going to solve our industry’s problems in itself, they’re in for a very rude surprise.” The Wall Street Journal‘s Raju Narisetti talks with the Nieman Journalism Lab about paywalls and reinventing ads.
- “When it comes to persuading your readers to pay you money, it actually helps to be small,” says Felix Salmon, pointing to the examples of Andrew Sullivan, Amanda Palmer and Tomorrow Magazine:
There’s an exception for finance, of course, and also for the NYT, which is unique in many ways. But the lesson of Palmer’s [TED] talk is that while 25,000 supporters aren’t nearly enough to support a band on a record label, they’re more than enough to support a band on Kickstarter — or, for that matter, to keep an iPad magazine going strong. What’s more, while consumers can be very loyal to brands and to publications, in many ways it’s easier to become loyal to an individual, especially when she has an idiosyncratic and unique voice.
- Alan Mutter on why smartphone apps by retailers such as Macy’s, CVS, and Best Buy should make publishers worry:
These efforts should give publishers the shivers, because this new channel represents a major threat to the retail lineage that constitutes half of what’s left of the advertising sold by newspapers.
- Warren Buffett: Still a fan of newspapers.
- How the IRS’s “antiquated and counterproductive” rules are hurting nonprofit news orgs.
- The four habits of a rock star content curator.
- And finally, in this week’s edition of “the more things change,” former Tucson Weekly editor Jimmy Boegle is showing that even at his new home in the Southern California desert, the daily Desert Sun is proudly carrying on the timeless tradition of claiming credit for a story that was reported first by the alt â€” namely, Boegle’s Coachella Valley Independent. Congrats, Jimmy. That’s a sure sign your new publication is doing something right.