Thursday, April 14, 2011

When "staff" writing really isn't

One of the Johnny Depp pirate movies.
AARRGGGGHH!!

It's the sound of my frustration and irritation, not my inner pirate, at the job listings I continue to see that devalue professional writers.

Take this one posted the other day on a LinkedIn writers' group under the headline "Staff Writing Positions Available." A weblink takes you to the Staff Writer Application, which lists these "minimum requirements":  "A journalism, writing or English degree is not required but is a plus. Alternatively, a year or more experience as a professional freelance writer or blogger will be considered. Professional experience or knowledge related to the topic area you're applying for will also be taken into consideration."

You know right then that it's a come-on for some low-paid content farm "job," and, indeed, the application states that the pay is "$25 upfront per post for full rights," which, admittedly, is better than what some well-known sites offer. (The application also asks for a lot of proof of writing ability, like links to writing samples and any websites you've written for, as well as URLs for your personal blog and Twitter accounts, and, of all things, your Skype ID.)

But let's get real here. If the website this application is attached to is looking for "paid Staff Writers," as it states, where's the benefits package? If I'm on staff, don't I get sick days and vacation days and health insurance and perhaps even occasional overtime pay?  C'mon!

Of course you know the answer.

And this site isn't alone, mind you. On the same day this posting slapped me in the face, the Yahoo! Contributor Network was advertising for "writers, bloggers and journalists," and Suite 101 was trying to rope in college kids.

It makes you want to shout a "Right on!" in solidarity with Jonathan Tasini and the freelancers looking to get a hunk of cash out of the Huffington Post-AOL merger for all their blogging.

One final irony of the "paid Staff Writers" posting is this mission statement offered by the website: "By being authentic in our writing and portrayal of real women facing real life every day, we encourage women to purposefully choose to create bliss in family life and home."

Except, that is, if you're a woman who wants to make a living as a writer.

4 comments:

Cathy Woodruff said...

Um, well, this sentence is a beauty:
"By being authentic in our writing and portrayal of real women facing real life every day, we encourage women to purposefully choose to create bliss in family life and home."
I'd say they need editors every bit as much as they need writers.

MARLENE KENNEDY said...

Agreed!

Laurie said...

Don't be silly: you have to pay editors.

MARLENE KENNEDY said...

I like your sentiment, Laurie.