Friday, March 06, 2009

No Free Content for CanWest - Kudos to you J.T.

There is power in a factory
Power in the land
Power in the hands of the worker
But it all amounts to nothing
If together we don't stand
There is power in a union
--Billy Bragg

Being a life-long Quebecker and Habs fan, I have been an avid reader of the Gazette's Habs Inside/Out blog site since its inception a few years ago. They built an excellent and successful online community very quickly by providing informed round-the-clock reporting, together with an open forum for commentary. This was of course all leveraged off the parent newspaper's existing sports reporting infrastructure and access to the club.

Long-time Gazette columnist (and prolific HI/O blogger) Mike Boone was rightly proud of their achievements recently:
Speaking of how hard-working and indispensable we are, Google Analytics calculates Habs Inside/Out had 2,383,333 page views in February – up from 1,180,013 in February, 2008.

That's a 102 per cent increase.

And comScore MediaMetrix credits Habs Inside/Out with 92,000 unique visitors in January – up from 40,000 a year ago. That's a 130 per cent jump.

Are we great or what

Yeah Mike, that's great. But evidently not great enough to actually pay some of the people you've tapped to provide content. One of the regular posters on the site's Other Wing page - one of the people whose content has helped draw up those hit counts - has decided to take a stand on behalf of her profession, and stop providing that content free of charge:
I write here as an unpaid volunteer, and I've been having some serious second thoughts about what that means for others. I've noticed the increase in ads supported by the site, and earlier this week Mike Boone posted stats on the number of site visits, which are up more than a hundred percent over last year. In short, the Gazette makes money from HI/O. So, in an age when my professional colleagues in the newspaper business are struggling to keep their jobs and keep their papers viable, a site like Inside/Out could be an important source of work for them. Therefore, I believe it's wrong for me to undermine the work they depend upon for their livelihoods by providing content for nothing.

Mainly for that reason, I am withdrawing from The Other Wing.
Good for you, J.T. As I wrote in the comments on her final post, there is a difference between providing comments and being a featured (published) poster. As the latter, there is a greater benefit to the publisher, and it competes in the same space as paid professionals. Add to that, J.T. has an established career in media as a CBC radio broadcaster in Newfoundland. Content from a pro like herself has added value based on her training, abilities and experience.

For J.T. to be expected to provide free content is no different from expecting a plumber to fix your pipes for nothing more than positive word of mouth - no matter how much they may enjoy their work.

If you want to send J.T. some love, she has a thoughtful site where she writes on her own terms: The H does NOT stand for Habs.

J.T.: This out-of-work writer salutes you!

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

EI came through blessedly early

I almost feel ashamed.

While some have been waiting months to receive any EI payments, mine has gone through in just over two weeks since submitting my Record of Employment (or RoE).

But even though it's less than half my former salary, it couldn't have happened at a better time, since I continue to wait for my final paycheck and severance pay from my former employer.

Meanwhile, a friend tipped me off to a Marcom writing job at my alma mater.

I applied within hours.

Because even though it's just a one-year contract, the pickings are too slim not to get excited about it. It's a good thing I have up to forty weeks before the EI money dries up.

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