Sunday, February 15, 2009

Blogging for the Media: Enter At Your Own Risk

Zencomix writes about his experience cartooning for alt-media. Editors gave Dave the pitch "we're giving you exposure." That translates into not being fairly compensated for work. News organizations are discontinuing political comic strips. My experience is Zen Comix brings traffic to Pushing Rope. The second most popular keyboard search on PR's Extreme stats counter is "cartoons." It makes no sense for print and web media to kill a popular feature.

Print media isn't losing money because of comic strips. The lack of advertising revenue reflects the economy and the quality of journalism. Columnist Harold Meyerson details how owner Sam Zell destroyed the Chicago Tribune.

During his first year in journalism, Zell has visited the city rooms and Washington bureaus of a number of Trib publications to deliver obscenity-laced warnings and threats to employees that whatever it was they were doing, it wasn't working. There was too much coverage of world and national affairs, he told Times writers and editors; readers don't want that stuff. Last week, the company decreed that its 12 papers would have to cut by 500 the number of pages they devoted every week to news, features and editorials, until the ratio of pages devoted to copy and pages devoted to advertising was a nice, even 1 to 1. At the Times, that would mean eliminating 82 pages a week.

Corporate owners placed less stock in quality and failed to keep up with the internet revolution. Rupert Murdoch made a mistake ending the Wall Street Journal's online subscription service. Given the WSJ away for free is financially foolish.

Tas wrote about a deal to blog for a media company. Disclosure: I am the blogger ("someone else who the semi-big media site wanted to blog for them") that was negotiating the deal. I don't have anything to add to Tas's post. Except that I stand by everything Tas wrote.

Word of advise to bloggers: want to find out if a media company is being straight. Ask for them to start detailing payment and copyright issues in writing. If they stall (which was my experience) then it is best to move on.

Side note: we won't name the media company. So don't ask.

Update: At one point, the deal was for the media company to host Pushing Rope. My goal was to recruit other progressive bloggers and make PR like AlterNet Peek. At a meeting, I mentioned Talking Points Memo and Daily Kos get ad revenue from political activist organizations. The web editor declared, "We aren't interested in Daily Kos or Talking Points Memo ad revenue!" A media company looking for more internet revenue told me they weren't interested in the ad market of two of the most profitable blogs in America. It took all my willpower not to laugh.

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