Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Facts & Arguments revisited: Writing for free?

I continue to be amazed at the number of hits this blog gets thanks to a piece I posted in 2010 (yes, three years ago!) about The Globe and Mail's Facts & Arguments essays, for which the writers are not paid. It's a tired topic, but every time I think it's finally dropped off the horizon, there's a flurry of hits that show up in my statistics and leave me shaking my head.

Here's a link to that post: Facts & Arguments: Why I can't send my essays to The Globe and Mail, and why you shouldn't either

It's a hot issue for writers - not being paid. The F&A situation is particularly disappointing because there was a time, pre-2009, that the essay writers were paid: $100 for each 800-word essay. But, for whatever reason, the editorial decision-makers changed their policy (a cost-cutting measure?) and turned the F&A page into a freebie.

Some of the essays that get published are terrific. Some of them aren't. Too many fall into the "me, me, me" category, and quite a few can be filed in the "dead relative" department. Some are so badly visioned and written that I wonder how they made the cut.

But then, I'm a professional writer who writes for a living. Just like Margaret Wente, and Ian Brown, and Peter Cheney and Roy McGregor and Sarah Hampson, and any number of other writers whose work appears on the pages of the Globe and Mail. I suspect many of the essayists who see their work on the F&A page are not.

Perhaps these contributors work in professions where not getting paid for their services is acceptable. Writing personal essays is just a hobby, after all, right?

The Globe's stance appears to be that contributors should feel it's reward enough just to see their essay in The Globe, read from coast to coast. Sorry, but that sounds like arrogance to me. And here's the kicker: the writer isn't paid, but the illustrator is.

I'd love to contribute my writing to The Globe, just like all the other professional writers who make it one of the best reads in Canada.

But shouldn't I be paid, too?

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