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To the Atlantic, and any other profit-making company that insists that in these times of economic--yadda, yadda--they often can't afford to pay writers or other creative sorts, I reply with this 2007 NSFW video by one of my personal writer heroes, Harlan Ellison. 
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Harlan Ellison once worked for Walt Disney, and managed to get fired for "messing with the Mouse" =)
 
Haha pretty true. Alex Jones stole his style.
 
I wish more writers would watch this. Too many writers are willing to play in the attention economy while those they write for exist in the monetary one.
 
I'm sure all writers have written something nobody has bought. The question I have is how should writers be paid? Should media be run by the government like education, fire and police? Or the BBC? Benefactors like the 1500's?

If magazines and newspapers don't have money to pay writers, how do we pay them? Is there a compelling reason to buy the Atlantic versus other publications? Or free options?

Help me understand your value and how much and how you should be paid.
 
Well, how is this different from the millions of software developers that contribute code to an open source project?  Or those that provide support in online forums to millions of people?

It's great that someone has found a way to do something they enjoy and get paid. But complaining about those that are doing it for free is a failure to recognize that there is a devaluation occurring in that field.

I'm sure that the movie and TV industry has nightmares about YouTube and similar sites, offering hundreds of hours of new content every minute, free. There are thousands of pages of new free fanfic every day. There are endless tracks of free music. A lot of it is crap? Guess what, a lot of everything in every creative field is crap.

Much of what should have been in the public domain (about 50 years of content) has been pilfered through purchased extensions to copyright. If content creators don't think that has soured the commercial relationship with the public whose pockets were picked, they are the naive ones. Welcome to the fallout.
 
Is anyone paying him for this video?
 
For the other side of the argument, I refer you to the following post by John Scalzi (currently president of the Science Fiction Writers of America): http://sfwa.livejournal.com/11289.html

Another good (but very long read) is the following set of essays by Eric Flint (author of many popular Science Fiction novels, including the 1632 series, which I very much recommend): http://www.ericflint.net/index.php/2011/09/26/salvos-against-big-brother/

This was originally a dozen or more columns in Jim Baen's Universe, so it's quite long.  If you don't want to read it all, I suggest you skip about 30% of the way down, and start with the section that begins thusly:

"To prove that was nonsense, as graphically as I could, I put up one of my own novels for free. “Pirated myself,” if you’ll allow me the absurd expression. That novel, Mother of Demons, has been available online for free for almost seven years now. And…

It’s still in print, and still keeps selling.

Soon thereafter, with Jim Baen’s co-operation, we set up the Baen Free Library on Baen Books’ web site, which now has dozens of titles from many authors made available for free to anyone who wants them.... "

I can say that as an Open Source contributor, I've given away vast amounts of "intellectual property", and its paid itself back in terms of a very remunerative career.   Yes, I'm an outlier; many open source contributors don't earn as much as I do.  But then again, most writers weren't as successful as Harlan Ellison, either.   The point remains that there are many of us, both Programmers and Writers, who have made some of our work available for anyone to download, and it has served us quite well.    I don't consider myself an "amateur", and despite the fact that Scalzi and Flint have given away stuff for "free" on the internet, I doubt they or the families which they feed would consider themselves "amateurs" either.
 
If magazines and newspapers don't have money to pay writers, how do we pay them?
So, if I run a brickworks selling bricks... just how do I manage to pay the suppliers of the raw materials?  If there are no magazines and no newspapers being sold, then I agree that writers will need to do something else to make money.   Until then...
 
+Derek Hohls Ah, but they do make money. Yes, a lot of magazines and newspapers are going down, but smart publishers are still viable. These are the ones who weren't stuck in the idea that we'd always be printing on paper. That the executives should always be paid big money while firing editors and writers. In my own case, for example, I've made a good living for decades as a freelance writer. How? In part because I won't work for people who offer to pay me for "exposure." 
 
+Theodore Ts'o Free can work as part of a business model. The difference between open source and publications such as HuffPo and The Atlantic is that the best developers are hired--it's the open-source meritocracy at work--in publishing the best writers for "free" publishers aren't hired. They may find success by going elsewhere, but only the owners and top brass of HuffPo, etc. benefit from their variant of the free model.

The Baen free-library did indeed work, but you may have noticed that they're publishing less and less new free materials. That's because Baen and Flint started the model, e-books were still quite new. Now, with cheap e-books everywhere, the model doesn't work nearly as well. That said, for fiction, especially for serial and/or genre fiction, it can still work quite well. For non-fiction, especially journalism, it really doesn't work.

I wish it did. 
 
+Steven Vaughan-Nichols I agree that simply giving away your writing is probably not a viable business model.   But appearing on panels at conferences to raise your visibility was certain a useful technique for I/T Analysts a few years ago, when Stacey was still in the business.  Raising your profile and increasing your brand does still have value, and to some extent, to the extent that you write a wry paragraph on G+ to induce us to click on the link and read your articles on ZDnet, you are giving something away for "free", yes?

As far as Harlan Ellison and Dr. Howard Hendrix are concerned, as Science Fiction writers, their business is quite different from journalists, and their attitudes have been viewed by many as being rather Jurassic in nature.  Google "International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day" for more of that backstory..... 

And by the way, while I've given away lots of code, but I've generally not given away huge amounts of free advice or custom programming.  When I worked at MIT, which allowed employees to do outside consulting, if someone asked me for that level of help, I did always make sure that past a certain point, we would have to agree on an fair and reasonable hourly rate (or a price for completion of some agreed-upon work).
 
+Theodore Ts'o Indeed. raising your public profile is good for people in many businesses (Hi Stacey!) To me, doing things like writing on G+ is something I do both because I enjoy talking with intelligent people and to promote my work or anything else that I think other people might find interesting. A lot of writers though, and I suspect many others, hate using social networks to promote their work.

My writer/editor friend +Esther Schindler & I, who make pushing our work publicly part of our day have been trying to talk other writers into doing this for ages but we're always running into resistance. We find this more than a little perplexing since there's a clear correlation between raising your visibility and making more money in writing. Just as Flint, et. al. found that giving novels away for free actually increased their sales, providing "free" public intelligent conversation improves our traffic, which in turn, helps keep a roof over our heads. 
 
As long as they can get away with it (i.e. as long as there are suckers) why would they change?
 
I say we automate journalism. Have survey monkey conduct interviews and feed random troll words into the title. Then a computer writes a story using Facebook posts for inspiration.
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