I grew up with the assumption that if you could write well, you’d never be wanting for life’s necessities. But last year I posed the question of whether journalism was becoming a form of volunteer work:
Are the Internet and the blogosphere turning journalism into volunteer work, an avocation instead of a vocation?
…As the Information Age continues to go digital, we now expect online content to be freely accessible without charge. But we rarely think of this as a labor issue, failing to consider, say, that free online access may be depressing reporters’ salaries and eliminating paid positions in newsrooms. The digital highway certainly has created a lot of jobs, but ironically it may be contributing to the demise of journalism as vocation.
And now fiction
Yesterday I stumbled onto a blog post by T.A. Olivia in Darksculptures speculating on whether good fiction will go the same way:
My question is will readers who have become accustomed to getting free material once again pay to read your work? Or, will they move on to the next free rising star? There is a deluge of good stories to read. Jennifer Lawler admits this in an article titled 5 Myths You Shouldnt Believe About Agents that appeared in on Writer’s Digest website. Jennifer said,
“My problem isn’t how much bad writing crosses my desk. That’s easy to recognize and reject. The problem is how much good writing I see.”
Great for exposure, bad for the bank account
The Internet is a wonderful medium for circulating one’s work. Even a modest blog can attract a readership well beyond those of the small circulation “little magazines” and zines that we so romanticize and associate with new voices and waiting-to-be-discovered talent.
But it is not necessarily translating into opportunities to be paid for one’s writing, at least at the level of a living wage.