Newspapers are kind of dreary, depressed places. I would go the penniless Web route to get practice. You can enter the mainstream so much quicker there.
New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell • Suggesting, during a lecture at Yale, that writers should work for free online to get practice, rather than at newspapers. Gladwell, who once worked at the Washington Post, said that while he had good experiences there, he ultimately felt that newspapers’ lack of profitability makes them less desirable in this regard. How many writers or journalists out there would be willing to take this advice — or are at this very moment? (ht Poynter)
“Told ya so!”
— Arianna Huffington
This is a continual trend of the depreciation of work and earning something for it. It’s the model that got Huffington paid off the back of people who wrote for free for someone else. As someone who wrote a crappy sports blog, unsure if anyone would read it, and link-whored myself over to bigger blogs that occasionally linked to my stuff — I did it because I liked it. Eventually I received paid opportunities which were necessary to keep a roof over my head despite the general lack of sleep they contributed to. (I quit when I moved to Portland; I grew tired of spending more time writing for pay than I already did.)
Entering the mainstream more quickly is nice, I’m sure — but being part of the zeitgeist doesn’t guarantee you the next spot at Gawker or that whichever fly-by-night web operation or media conglomerate will pay you enough to keep you fed and the lights on. This is a failing of both new and old media, and a microcosm of our society in general: we have so little respect for work and it manifests itself in our minimum wage and the corporate reliance on stretching the limits of what can be called “internships.”