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Recently, The Washington Times laid off more than 20 newsroom staff writers. Not surprising considering the landscape of traditional news reporting, print publications vs. digital media, and the economy.

Although I write for the Washington Times Communities (TWTC), I am not an employee. What I write does not make it to the print version of the publication or the main pages of their website. My Times gig does not benefit my checkbook, but it does help build my portfolio. It’s fun, not work. I have a day job.

I also have sympathy for the writers who were laid off. Who doesn’t? Regardless of the market, losing your job and trying to find a new one is humiliating and daunting. For writers and reporters, I think the prospects and hopes are even more daunting than those in other careers.

As a writer and independent contributor for other online resources and sites, I know what companies are willing to pay and what they are not willing to pay for good writing. Not much! Sometimes absolutely nothing. And there are more and more of us “amateur” writers willing to receive little to no compensation to help businesses and organizations fill the empty spaces on their sites.

What’s the payoff? For me, there is an enormous feeling of accomplishment in having my work published instantly for all to read and comment. I’ll be honest, I don’t publish crap I don’t like. I publish the stuff I am most proud of and that I believe will be most helpful to the readers of this blog and my TWTC column.

I would never insult the profession of journalism and call myself a journalist. Writing might be fun for me, but writing and reporting the news is serious business and not always a good time for journalists.

I once worked in a newsroom as an undergrad. I was an unpaid intern. I was given soft-news stories to draft, stories that didn’t make the headlines but interested readers none the less. I couldn’t pick and choose what I wanted to write. There was an editor who told me what I could write. If I had ideas of my own, I had to run them past her first. The experience was eye-opening but not very gratifying. Needless to say, I was not encouraged to become a newspaper reporter. Not only does someone else dictate what and when a reporter writes, but a reporter is also challenged with research and source verification (something good journalist ALWAYS practice) on a deadline-driven basis every single day! I think of reporters and journalists as being highly stressed and recipients of few perks and compensation but lots of criticism and little praise.

I’m a writer with many passions. As a blogger and TWTC contributing writer, I enjoy the freedom to write when and how I want to write. I have a voice I’m interested in sharing. Much of my writing is based on my experiences and opinions. But experiences and opinions don’t pay the bills. I know that and you know that.

Even though I love my blogging community and think there are some amazingly talented and gifted writers here, we still need the skills and expertise of educated and trained journalists to bring us the most accurate and timely news, news that influences our thinking, writing, and conversations.

Keep the staffers who were laid off last week in your thoughts. Demand the best from the news sources you go to every day. Let them know when they’ve succeeded and when they have failed to bring you reliable and trustworthy news. If writers and reporters are losing their jobs, the ones who still have their jobs need to be the best of the best. At least that’s what I think. 🙂

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The Washington Times, Writing
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Join the conversation! 7 Comments

  1. agree with the problems related to the loss of journalists’ jobs etc…everyone ought to be able to get paid for a job that they are doing routinely…my daughter has to wait for a client to ‘purchase’ an insurance policy before she is able to get any payment for the hours and hours of work that went into ‘getting’ that one client…such is the nature of some jobs

    as far as writing because you love to and have something to say…a person has to balance that out…with so many aspects

    my narcissistic/sociopath sister wrote, NOT because she is good at writing, far from it, BUT, because she DREAMED of having a best seller and a movie deal! on the backs of everyone in two families…nope that’s called delusional and libel and that’s why I write today…to reclaim family honor

    I have, in another time in my life, wrote, been published in magazines, was a co-editor and author of a quarterly international magazine, helped get others’ work published, by the real ‘self-publishing’ aspect…by ourselves, everything was done by hand, on a computer, xerox machine, you name any aspect of putting out a booklet, book, magazine, I’ve done it AND never earned a penny! Because everything went back into the business of self-publishing because we BELIEVED in what we were doing and did it for the LOVE OF DOING IT.

    We, my mentor/co-editor, have since retired from that business and sold the republishing rights to another because our work was for others to continue and prosper from. Our subject was the reawakening aspects of our ancestral traditions, gods and beliefs and as such was for a select audience.

    People write because they want to write and if they have a JOB of writing they ought to have a paycheck for providing the product.

    Since I’ve been forced, by countering the lies of a socio-path in my family, the writing as helped keep my MIND sharp. And since I’ve gotten my own blog I see more benefits. And since I’ve made a couple of friends, I hope, my horizons are expanding.

    So yes, save the journalists!

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  2. I write content and sometimes news…all net based. It’s feat or famine here, too. I am not a journalist. My oldest daughter has a degree in journalism, but is a school guidance counselor now. My younger daughter’s fiance is a newspaper writer…in print. Yay for him, but I do not envy the hours and he gets paid so little…so little.

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    • It’s definitely a hustle if any money is to be made. Does your daughter offer you any advice? We rely so heavily on receiving the best news, but the rewards are clearly dwindling for even the best writers to remain motivated and excited about delivering it.

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  3. The web is removing the middle class. The really good continue to prosper. My job(s) went to India and Hungary. There is an interesting article on the subject:
    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/What-Turned-Jaron-Lanier-Against-the-Web-183832741.html

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