I don’t usually do blogs like this–meaning, I don’t typically write blogs in response to another person’s blog. But, I read this post by Chuck Wendig yesterday, and I’ve marinated over what was going on in that post all night.Why am I choosing to respond to this post? Well, frankly, off the bat the post made me angry. Not angry at Chuck, mind you. I follow his blog casually, and often find his post helpful and engaging. No, Chuck didn’t do anything wrong in my mind. Rather, I found myself getting angry FOR him while reading the post.
Now, to sum up the post, it was Chuck Wendig’s response to an interview by Steve Hewlett Media Guido with U.K. HuffPost editor Steven Hull. In this interview, Hull is speaking in defense of Huffington Post’s practice of not paying their writers for content.
To explain my anger, this quote by Hull was the first thing I read on Chuck’s post:
“… I’m proud to say that what we do is that we have 13,000 contributors in the UK, bloggers… we don’t pay them, but you know if I was paying someone to write something because I wanted it to get advertising pay, that’s not a real authentic way of presenting copy. So when somebody writes something for us, we know it’s real. We know they want to write it. It’s not been forced or paid for. I think that’s something to be proud of.”
Let that sink in.
Okay…so, I hadn’t even read one word of Chuck’s before I was completely dismayed, frustrated, and angry for him, and pretty much every other professional creative I know. I’m not going to go into detail about what Chuck wrote. He wrote it well enough without my input–complete with some very creative and fantastical new curse words that I’ll be adding to my vocabulary–but I do encourage you to go read the post yourself, if you are interested.
My major reason for writing this post is because I’m dismayed by what I read from Hull. I appreciate Chuck Wendig bringing it to my, and many of my creative friends’, attention, because I think it is very important for us to understand the ugly. The ugly being this trend of under-valuing the products of producers. I’m completely disgusted by how Hull decided to moralize what is in truth cold corporatism and producer exploitation–to say that a creative lacks integrity if they expect payment for hours clocked in the production of their product…like every other professional in every other field. (Imagine saying a lawyer should defend us for free, because we can’t trust lawyers who are paid. They are only doing it for money. But, we can trust lawyers who aren’t paid, because those are the blokes who really love the law and us!–looking at our current civil defense system, you can see that statement is ridiculous, right? Might I add you probably consume the products of artists far more frequently on any given day, in ways you aren’t even conscious of, than the product of the civil defense lawyer, or brain surgeon… or, for hell’s sake, dog groomer. Almost everything you touch in your house was concocted by some artisan.)
Now, as a writer–as a creative–I understand the history of my field intimately. There is no point in history, where a potter, carver, writer, painter, poet, or playwright (add any other artist to the list), produced their product without patrons. Patrons! The people who commissioned, paid for, and took care of the artist’s financial, or material needs, while they produced.
Are our forefathers sellouts? Are they chumps without integrity because they took payment, and lived off of patrons, in return for their craft?
Was the play Hamlet just a rag because it was commissioned by a benefactor of the crown? Does Michelangelo’s David lack integrity because it was commissioned and paid for by the Opera del Duomo?
Charles Dickens was paid £20 a month to produce The Pickwick Papers. What a hack! Guess there is no artistic value to anything that creep produced…he took money, instead of being grateful for the exposure.
No! Work for exposure, and you will DIE of exposure.
Statements like Hull’s leads to this eroding of the creative industry. Every time some one says crap like that and wins, there are more creatives who believe they don’t deserve to be paid for their work. More creatives who are ashamed to tell their family and friends what they do for a living, instead to settle and say “oh, I have this cute hobby.”
I’ve done everything I can to support my friends and colleagues, support their self-esteem in an incredibly competitive, cruel field. And here we have an editor, and entire publication, stating that they are all ASSES if they take themselves seriously.
NO! Screw that! It isn’t a hobby. It is a vocation. Take yourself seriously. I take you seriously. I don’t care if you are selling novels to Tor, or pushing poetry at a flee market–I take you seriously!
Can I also say, I have patrons. I love my patrons, because they take me seriously. They believe in what I’m doing. People who believe in you will support you while you produce. The relationship between the creative and his/her patron hasn’t changed in over a thousand years….and with crap like Hull’s, I’m fearing it is changing. I don’t want to be in a world where art isn’t important enough in society to pay for–just an after thought, you could do with or without. A people that no longer value art, in my opinion, is a lost people. Art is human.
I’m urging people to not do business with HuffPost. It is corporate slave labor. Worse than that! It is a corporate moralization of YOUR slave labor–to make you feel bad, and unworthy if you aren’t okay with being exploited. Don’t read them. Don’t write for them. STOP writing for them, guys! You deserve better, and the more you take up the cup on their behalf, the harder it becomes for writers to get paid in other fields. These rags will start expecting that not paying the writer is the norm…then where will our several millennia old profession go?
Forget HuffPost. Go get paid!
I’ve posted this video before, worth posting again: