Several months ago, I posted a link to a craig'slist ad for an internship at Wired. The ad has long since expired, but that post remains one of the most popular pages on j.linx. Pageviews come from across the country -- most notably in states with j.schools.
The moral of the story, I guess, is that if you want to increase your hits to a journalism blog, add "internship" to your tags.
But i digress. Now that internship-hunting season is in full-swing, the pageloads for that post are once again revving up -- as is another troubling sign of the state of the j-biz. Slate reports here on the growing trend to sell -- or auction off -- internships to eager college kids. (I also referenced this via Alice's blog on Sunday.) Not only do the kids work for free, they pay for the privilege.
Happening alongside is an even more twisted phenom: asking writers, mainly experienced freelancers/newly laid-off reporters, to blog for free, for the "exposure." Really? Or to sign on to the pay-per-click model: Examiner.com, for example, entices writers to blog on their area of expertise -- which could be anything from business to the Beatles -- for something like $2.50 per 1000 hits.
You do the math. Granted, exposure on blogs such as HuffPo is worth it. Or getting in on the ground floor of the next salon.com or DailyCandy. And clearly, there are community blogs such as flintexpats that fill a void. But, barring similar exceptions, I've always thought writing was way too much work to do it for nothing, especially for someone else, and I find it reprehensible to prey on the hopes -- and dashed dreams -- of so many good writers, who are stuck trying to distinguish themselves among the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of blogs out there in cyberia.
I also worry about the journalism talent that goes to waste, and the stories that don't get reported, because good reporters are stuck spending their time pimping their blogs. In that case, we all suffer.
I could go on. But, well, see above. bk