You’d think “Newspaper Reporter” would be on the list of jobs that pay more than I make, but apparently, no. Not all the time. Not at the Fairbury Journal-News, at least. They’re looking for correspondents who are willing to work for free.
Now, in the Journal-News’ defense, it is a small-town newspaper. Like a lot of small-town newspapers, it’s probably hanging on by a thread. And maybe, it genuinely can’t afford to pay it’s reporters a real wage. I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
I thought about this.
Well, after a brief eye-roll, and a couple of snarky thoughts about the Huff-Po of the Plains, that is. Because, of course, work for “exposure” or–as this ad puts it, “credit for any stories”–is kinda a sticky point for creatives. Hell, it’s the thorn in their side.
No. I’m not going to work for free. And I’m sure as hell not going to pretend that working for “exposure” or “credit for any stories” is NOT working for free. It is.
But this is a small-town newspaper, and it happens to be one I like. (‘Cause, reasons. You know how it is.) So, I spent an hour or so thinking about what it would take–what I could ask this impoverished, small-town newspaper for in place of cold hard cash.
I came up with things. Barter could work for me. I wouldn’t mind trading some of my writing for ad space. And based on the amount of filler in the paper, they do have ad-space. Some of my other ideas were more out-there. Server space. Printers, and machines, and networks. Leftover cold cuts from the company picnic.
And as I thought about things I would be willing to barter–about the things that I believe are worth something to me– I began to understand that the problem isn’t cash flow, or matching column inches to ad space, or even printing up a few posters to make me happy.
There are so many things that could have been offered… but weren’t. Ad space. Posters. Servers. A damn link on the newspaper’s website. Or even just a statement that the paper is willing to make a trade. “Let’s put our heads together, and see what we come up with.”
What’s missing is a statement that my time is valuable.
That the work I would be doing for them is valuable.
And if the situation were **somehow** reversed?
If I had twice as many twitter followers as they do, or a website of my own with an international following…
Would I get my ad space in exchange for exposure?