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Monday, November 23, 2009

On the sunny side

Here's a publication that we stumbled upon yesterday at the grocery store:

It says it's issue no. 7, which means this monthly has been going for a while. Good for them, especially in these tough times.

For those readers who find this blog too cynical, may we suggest that you find yourself a copy of the Portland Upside and cheer up. Or just check out their website, here. They're nice to people, so we don't have to be.

We'll resist commenting too extensively on the fact that they're based in Damascus, Oregon.

Comments (8)

Not quite so nice to their writers, though. They don't pay them.

Are they chained to their computers? If not, I suspect the writer can go elsewhere if this volunteer effort is not to their liking.

Of course they can, but beginning writers are vulnerable: they desperately need experience and clippings, so they'll work for free if they have to. It's only fair to pay them a little something, since it is difficult work. (Especially if you are claiming to be all about niceness.)

This is like the arguments around performing artists and Equity, which has determined that it's better that there be no shows and no acting gigs than it is to have people work below scale or for free because they love it. Better that people never learn to express themselves at all than to have them do so without "a little something."

Where that "little something" is going to come from is never quite explained -- since the Upside is free, it would have to be from ads or the publisher's pocket.

Bloggers blog for free -- are they exploited? Or are they only being exploited if you write a post for someone _else's_ blog (or penny paper)? The Upside looks like a dead-tree blog to me...

I'm reminded of the observation about media corruption and how it's hard to say that they've been corrupted when they seem to enjoy it so much.

Maybe we just have to accept that there are whole realms of human beingness that aren't adequately described by or limited to (thank goodness!) market forces and be glad that people continually find new ways to express themselves simply for the joy of doing so. And note how much less of that joy there would be if we insisted on the "fairness" of compensation for all.

Some of the ad revenue that goes to pay the publishers should also go to pay the writers.

Take my word for it, when I started out as a professional writer working for pennies per word, the joy factor was pretty small.

Many of us in media production started out volunteering 20 hours a week in local origination cable programming along with working a regular 40 hour work week. What we didn't get in dollars then we have in careers now. Anyone remember, "Do what you love, the money will follow?" No one's getting abused here. Just smart self-investment.

Sounds like an internship to me. Gain some experience in your chosen field and move on to a better job.

Look at it this way: Everyone but the writers has to pay to have their stuff published in the Upside. The publishers by printing it and the advertisers by buying ads. If the publishers are ahead on this thing at all, it's probably not yet to double digits.

Sounds like you agree with Samuel Johnson that "None but a blockhead ever wrote but for money," and thus you shouldn't write for the Upside.

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