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Stringer blues

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Bob Smith, Jan 3, 2020.

  1. justgladtobehere

    justgladtobehere Well-Known Member

    Or maybe paying people like you would like doesn't make economic sense. I don't see how increasing the costs of operating a business is beneficial to employing people.
  2. SoloFlyer

    SoloFlyer Well-Known Member

    Because by being forced to pay hourly wages instead of a freelance rate, employers are now no longer able to try to guilt reporters into accepting ridiculously low rates for a story.

    A reporter will spend at least 5 hours on a Friday night covering a high school football game. There are still shops out there paying $25 for that. That's $5 an hour, sub minimum wage. You can make more than $10 an hour working at a lot of retail places.

    It's time for the industry to stop lowballing the help and paying better. It's not the 80s anymore.
  3. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    "Ridiculously low rates for a story" and "lowballing" are subjective characterizations. What you find ridiculously low, someone else might find acceptable for their circumstances.

    If nobody who can do the work satisfactorily was willing to work for those "lowball" rates, then those media outlets would have to pay more. ... without your notions of what is fair being forced on everyone. Or they would have to go out of business, because they wouldn't be able to find workers.

    When you string or freelance for someone, you aren't forced to take the work. If you find the pay ridiculously low, you don't have to take the work. You can hold out for someone who will pay more, or choose to do ohter work that commands more money.

    But if there are others who do decide to take the gig, it shows that that is the market rate for it. ... what it commands in a free labor market.

    If you force a business to pay more than that market rate, one of several things is going to happen, with the extremely likely outcome being that at least some people who had work. ... are no longer going to have it. It is entirely predictable, yet, when that is the outcome, it's always an "unintended consequence."

    In the wake of that AB5 law going into effect, Vox Media is ending contracts with hundreds of freelancers who wrote for SB Nation sites. And they will try to get by with only a handful of full-time employees doing all of the work. Many of those freelancers actually liked the flexibility of being able to freelance. Others found that with some hustle, they could outearn what they could make in a crappy-paying, full-time journalism-related job. That ability was taken away from them, though.
    justgladtobehere and Roscablo like this.
  4. justgladtobehere

    justgladtobehere Well-Known Member

    I cannot like this enough. Attacking a business by outlawing the economic and legal premises that makes it viable is futile. There is no benefit to anyone.
  5. JimmyHoward33

    JimmyHoward33 Well-Known Member

    If someones not punching a clock (ie in the office) how do you know how long it takes to do anything? Negotiate a price for your feature or gamer that’s worth it. If its $5/hour, dont take it.

    Outlaw per story pay and make people part time hourly employees. Stringer A covers a 7 pm game and files 45 minutes late at 11, gets paid for 4 hours. Stringer B covers a different 7 pm game, files by 10. Gets paid for 3. Did a better job, gets paid less.
  6. SoloFlyer

    SoloFlyer Well-Known Member

    By devaluing the worth of content creators, news organizations have kept overall pay ridiculously low in this industry. Either you accept the low freelance rates, or you don't work in journalism. Either you accept the pitiful salary and benefits, or you don't get a full-time job in news. I'm sick and tired of being told that's what the market dictates when other industries are willing to be more aggressive to keep employees with more competitive pay.

    Journalists are more likely to make less than their PR peers (The growing pay gap between journalism and public relations) and the gap is growing.

    If you're living in the Bay Area and want to work as a freelancer because you like the flexibility, you have options. You can pit news outlets against each other to try and get a better rate and you have the freedom to walk away from a bad deal. That's not the case for many aspiring journalists in college towns and smaller cities throughout the nation. As more newspapers cut staffs or close completely, there are fewer options. Which means the freelancer can't shop around and is stuck either accepting a shitty rate or not working in the industry at all.

    If you are contributing more than three articles per month to a single outlet, you deserve the labor protections and other benefits typically awarded to part-time and full-time employees. Places like Vox and SBNation will never value writers. That's why they should be shunned, with support going to those outlets who are willing to treat contributors fairly.

    We've hit a breaking point in this industry. A handful of corporations own most of the news outlets in this country. If journalists are going to protect themselves and their financial well-being, there needs to be a push to unionize in newsrooms across the country and to support better pay and treatment of freelancers and part-timers. Simply accepting what the market dictates without trying to enact change is what got us here in the first place.
  7. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    Welcome to the reality people have lived since the beginning of time. You don't have an inherent right to do the work you want to do at the compensation you think you deserve. Not if your value to someone else doesn't merit that compensatoin.

    Your economic value to a news organizations is a simple matter. News organization haven't "devalued" the worth of content creators. The market for what those content creators produce did that. If consumers aren't buying the content the way they once did, or they are not willing to pay a lot for it, the value of the person who creates it loses value. It's common sense, even if it is a shitty reality for a lot of people who love newspapers.

    What magical thing do you think that unionization does that it creates economic value? If you don't "accept" what the market bears for the work you want to do, where do you think the additional pay you want to protect yourself with is going to come from?

    I am sorry, but saying that you aren't going to accept what the market dictates as your worth sounds as ridiculous to me as telling me that you are going to sell ice cream cones for $10 a pop when the market equilibrium price (where demand equals supply) is $5. You might as well be fighting windmills. Why would anyone who wants ice cream pay you the $10 you think you can demand by fiat, when there are dozens of other people willing to sell it to them for $5?
  8. SoloFlyer

    SoloFlyer Well-Known Member

    No one is expecting a miracle cure, but unions have a clear impact on wages for those both inside and outside of the organization.

    From a 2016 study by the Economic Policy Institute:

    Union decline has exacerbated wage inequality in the United States by dampening the pay of nonunion workers as well as by eroding the share of workers directly benefitting from unionization. Earlier research (Western and Rosenfeld 2011) shows that union erosion can explain about one-third of the growth of wage inequality among men and about one-fifth of the growth of wage inequality among women from 1972 to 2007. At least for middle-wage men, the impact of the erosion of unions on the wages of both union and nonunion workers is likely the largest single factor underlying wage stagnation and wage inequality.

    Union decline lowers wages of nonunion workers: The overlooked reason why wages are stuck and inequality is growing
  9. justgladtobehere

    justgladtobehere Well-Known Member

    What if requiring that from companies make the contributions economically unfeasible?
  10. SoloFlyer

    SoloFlyer Well-Known Member

    If the difference between turning someone from a freelancer into part-time help is going to put a company under, then the company has bigger issues and is likely dead in the water anyway.
  11. SoloFlyer

    SoloFlyer Well-Known Member

    Also, let's be real here.

    We're not talking about the longtime former columnist who still writes a weekly Sunday piece for shits and giggles or the weekly outdoors column a paper keeps around to appease older readers.

    Yes, those people will be affected by this bill.

    The peoe we're really talking about are the situations where companies bring on a freelancer, have them do 40 hours worth of work a week during a season, but refuse to bring them on full-time. Shops around the country have guys who work every Friday night at a football game, maybe do a small college game Saturday while the staffer is at Local D1 game, and do a couple stories during the week.

    How many beat writers did SBNation claim to have? Look at the byline count for some of those people, all while Vox/SB pockets the ad revenue those stories generated.

    I keep hearing that the world is conditioned to no longer pay for news, so the money isn't there to pay journalists. Bullshit. The world paid for news for over a century. You couldn't get a newspaper in the world without forking over a penny, a nickel, a quarter, or eventually a $1.50.

    The world can be conditioned again to pay for news. Just have to have the balls to do it.
    britwrit likes this.
  12. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    Another big factor, SoloFlyer, is newspapers could care less about quality anymore, particularly with photos.

    Not that long ago, I could pick up some easy stringer money just by being able to shoot decent (not great) action shots and good reaction/celebration shots when state tournaments were held in my area. Sports editors and reporters could talk to coaches and players from afar by phone, and often get decent stats or play-by-play of state championship games online, but no art to go with that.

    In recent years, many SEs are content to use parent cell phone and/or Facebook pics of the team or athlete with a trophy. (And cell phone cameras keep getting better and better)

    As newsroom personnel and stringer budgets remain in a downward spiral, submitted content — no matter how crappy — becomes the choice for many newspapers.
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