15 October, 2013

The Next Small Thing

Last night, the ABC’s Media Watch program ran an excellent segment on the increasing trend of journalists and photographers, including award-winning professionals, being expected to work for free on the promise of “exposure.”

This idea of exposure and recognition as remuneration is a kind of bizarre twist on trickle-down theory. We’re not prepared to pay you for your work but if we’re both really lucky, it just might be seen by someone who is. It’s a novel theory but in a market where even one of the country’s biggest newspapers isn’t prepared to pay for content, one is left wondering where the publishers who are prepared to pay for content really are and if they even exist at all.

We’re all guilty of similar attitudes. How many of us have actually, materially contributed to all the causes we promote? Or do we just retweet them or share them on Facebook in hopeful expectation that a few more people will share and retweet them until it comes to the attention of some influential benefactor who will make enough of a contribution for the rest of us?

If people aren’t paid for their work, then they’re going to find a job that does pay and that will leave a hole in journalism, both written and pictorial, that no amount of enthusiastic amateurs will be able to fill, no matter how good they are. Media Watch does an excellent job of reminding us of how difficult it has become to make a living creating content that is accessed digitally and can so easily be copied.

So isn’t it time we finally admitted that musicians may just have had a point about file sharing?

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