People who make their living by writing for publication had good reason to follow the recent hoo-hah over publishers who think paying writers for their work is optional.
What happened was that The Atlantic Magazine, a marquee name in the world of words, approached a well-established freelancer named Nate Thayer and asked him about “repurposing” work he’d done for an online site, NKNews.org. The Atlantic was interested in a 1,200-word rendering of a longer article of Thayer’s pegged to ex-basketball star Dennis Rodman’s bizarre visit to North Korea.
When Thayer asked about terms, the magazine indicated it wasn’t proposing to actually pay him, at least not in cash money, but noted that its website reached 13 million readers per month, suggesting that exposure on that scale is worth a lot.
Thayer wasn’t persuaded. He replied: “I am a professional journalist who has made my living by writing for 25 years and am not in the habit of giving my services for free to for-profit media outlets so they can make money by using my work and efforts by removing my ability to pay my bills and feed my children.”
Word of the affair zipped around the Internet, triggering a flood of comment.
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