How Much Should a Writer Be Paid, If Anything
There’s a fantastic thread going on over at Branch about how — and how much — different publications pay freelancers and contributors.
For example, The Awl’s Choire Sicha writes:
Okay. I will lay some cards on the table on the currently argument-inducing arena of writer pay. At The Awl, essentially what we pay in total for freelance pieces is 10% of *gross* site revenue. Overall it might be more than 10%. (And I do not mean 10% of net revenue, mind you, which is a radically different number than gross.) I do not know if this is fair or right. I do not know if it scales appropriately for either side, ours or the writers. (That’s actually an important consideration, not an idle one; if it scales too poorly for our side, guess what, The End.) But still I find it dissatisfying.
Editors from various publications (Boing Boing, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, etc) chime in about the budgets they have and how they work with contributors. So too people like Reuters’ Felix Salmon who recently wrote about how the concept of a ‘writer’ is becoming outdated.
All this is in response to a post by the investigative journalist Nate Thayer that broke the internet yesterday. In it, he shares his conversation with an Atlantic editor who was hoping he would rework an article he wrote about “basketball diplomacy” and efforts to get a 7’9” North Korean basketball player into the NBA.
Thayer was asked whittle his original down to 1,200 words for free.
So if you’re a freelancer, thinking about becoming a freelancer or just getting started in journalism, read the Branch thread. It’s an invaluable look behind the curtain of this industry.