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Criticizing pieces/writers at pubs where you (have) freelance(d)?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by BobSacamano, Aug 20, 2012.

  1. BobSacamano

    BobSacamano Member

    Say you're a freelancer who's never signed an NDA. Then say you've got a blog. And then, let's say you put a publication on blast on said-blog because you disagree, fundamentally, with something they've published. But this publication has compensated you for work in the past.

    Are you flirting with career suicide? Or is publishing the equivalent to committing it? A check means that they bought my work, not me. Right?

    To be less vague, but still hypothetical, as a stringer who's done items for ESPN Mag (for example), would it be ill-advised to openly mock and criticize an ESPN writer or TV segment for its absurdity? I'm not talking about rage-typing as an angry blogger, or tossing out an incendiary tweet, but about offering a well-reasoned argument as to why that thing they did was fucking stupid.

    Can it be done? Should it be?
  2. JimmyHoward33

    JimmyHoward33 Well-Known Member

    Doesn't seem like a hot idea. Depends how serious the issue is I guess. If you've freelanced for Time and you're going to be 1 of 100 blogs criticizing Fareed, that's different than say a metro daily where you'd be the only blog blasting them for some perceived conflict of interest.

    I guess you have to weigh the odds of writing for them again, your relationship with the SE (Are you blasting another section? Hows the power structure? If you're on good with the SE is he likely to get over-ruled over politics?) and your future earnings vs the benefit to your blog.
  3. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    It can be done, but it shouldn't be, if you are counting on working again for that organization.

    Blogs, and what is written in them, get more people into unintended trouble these days than just about anything in the media world. It is one of the reasons I wish they'd never evolved into a prevalent tool in this business.

    Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. If you have a well-thought plan or reasoned argument about something, perhaps you could bring it up directly and personally, in person or in a non-public letter or email meeting of the minds with the organization involved.

    I won't say no one cares what a writer is thinking. It can be interesting and good to know, and certainly, it encourages/prompts engagement by and with readers. But the desire/encouragement to put personal spins on things -- especially things that involve others and may not make them look good -- in blogs often backfires in a way so that the writer is the one who ends up not looking good. Readers can be blind, unthinking or stupid that way -- attacking the messenger, or seeing a vendetta in an entry, etc.

    Just by having the open forum of a blog, while another person or organization may not, the writer leaves him/herself open for targeting -- and terminating. It's doing something inadvisable, just because you can (or because it is encouraged/fostered by your newspaper. Don't do it.
  4. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    It seems to me that the potential minuses greatly outweigh the pluses in that scenario.
  5. typefitter

    typefitter Well-Known Member

    Are there any pluses?
  6. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    Exactly. What's the point? Atta boys from ya homies? People on Twitter give you daps for keeping it real?
  7. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    Online validation from people you have never or will ever meet is much more important than a paycheck.


    So go for it, and be sure to post a link to the blog/tweet so people here can see and comment as well.

    Some quick writing tips for the blog/tweet:
    --Be sure to include as many references to The Wire as possible
    --Stylize yourself as the Marlo of the writing world (see what I just did there?) and talk about the importance of your name
    --Denigrate as many other writers as you can for they are, obviously, sellouts for cashing those checks and not speaking out courageously, like you, the hero
    --No matter what you are writing about, make it about race. That's very important.
    --Do no research on the matter before you write. You don't want to confuse your points with facts, like, for example, calling someone, who is Jewish, an anti-Semite. These types of confluence only add credibility to your work.
    --This one is important, be sure to e-mail a link to your work to people like Jim Romenesko, David Carr, your local media writers. Them linking to your work drives up traffic
    --I don't know the last step, but the result is you'll be rich, famous and people will want to sleep with you.

    Best of luck!
  8. da man

    da man Well-Known Member



    Couldn't decide which one I liked better, so here are both.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  9. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    One reason I (and others, I'm sure) post anonymously here is to enable the open discourse. I can't think of any situation in which I would openly criticize my current employer, former employers or potential future employers in an open forum with my name attached.
  10. [​IMG]

    When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong!
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  11. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    Couldn't have put it any better. What do you have to gain by complaining?
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  12. BobSacamano

    BobSacamano Member

    My perspective wouldn't be a complaint, nor would I have written an FJM-style takedown. Seems as though that's what some people think I was suggesting. I'm afraid some of you read "blog" and envisioned some irrational rant. It wasn't going to be a smug and venomous piece like you'd find on Deadspin or KSK.

    Either way, thanks to Jimmy and Write for their perspectives. I felt it out and it's not worth my time. Wrote a few drafts that I trashed. Just wondering if there have been good instances where a writer has taken an editor or publication to task for some hypocrisy and clear double standards.

    EDIT: And maybe I'm too much of an idealist, and my logic is likely flawed, but I really believed that paychecks received were for services rendered and not a perpetual muzzle.
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