I hear from people almost every day who want to commission an article or reprint a post in exchange for the ephemeral compensation known as “exposure.”
Amazingly – or, should I say, outrageously? – most of the requests come from people who themselves are being paid for their work at either a for-profit or non-profit organization.
Instead of simply declining, I tell them something like this:
Quality journalism takes training, time and tenacity. Although it’s easy to fill space with words, pictures and videos that are produced quickly and on the cheap, down-and-dirty “journalism” is the intellectual equivalent of empty calories. ...
The only way for journalists to fight back is to demand to be paid what they’re worth.
I've argued, perhaps less eloquently, variations on this theme myself in recent years. There are, of course, real challenges to getting journalists to fight as a team on this front: A. they're notoriously independent minded, B. some journalists are quite content to get "exposure" instead of "m-o-n-e-y," C. corporations can effectively divide and conquer through layoffs, cheap hires, cluster domination, and lowered standards, and D. a wave of anti-professional populism has swept through the country and journalism is a prime target (something else corporations have taken advantage of).
Aware of these practical problems, Mutter offers a practical solution in the form of a "freelance pay calculator." The calculator literally allows a journalist to assign value to his or her work. It can also give employed journalists an idea of how much they're worth in terms of salary.
Depressingly, the hourly pay rate Mutter uses in his example is higher than what many full-time newspaper reporters in Southern California receive.