A living wage for journalists?

Is there a living wage for journalists?  What should it be?  Arianna Huffington says a “living wage” for her journalists is still being worked out.  My opinion  —  and I may be wrong or just completely biased  —  is that journalism doesn’t pay a living wage.  You do it for the love.  I think in the long-term, I will make my money doing other things.  Can one make a good living in journalism today?

The downside of sovereignty

Now that I’ve raved about the sovereignty of working for oneself as a freelance writer…let me tell you about the downside.  The one thing that was lacking for me as a freelancer who worked at home was one of the most important: peers.  Say what you want about your coworkers, but they are essential.  Having a second opinion sitting one desk over from you is invaluable.

Can you recreate this experience as a freelancer?

It’s an important thing to ask yourself if you are thinking about going out on your own and stepping away from the corporate environment.  A lot of people here in Phoenix like to go to co-working places and/or coffee shops.  To be honest, sometimes I like working in coffee shops but other times, not so much.  I guess it depends on the atmosphere on any given day.  I most often like working in my own home office where I can control my own atmosphere.  But sometimes it gets to feeling like an island and the coffee shop starts to become appealing again.

But as a writer, peers are so important.  I work in a newsroom and can’t begin to tell you the importance of a second set of eyes on a piece of copy.  When I work on my own I have to change my work habits to give myself extra time for revisions.  I write and then let my work “cool” for a while before I re-read and revise.  Without a coworker sitting next to me to serve as my second set of eyes, I can only depend on my own.  So I come up with little tricks like letting a draft “cool” for a couple hours or overnight before I come back to it.  (This method has really helped with a few Boston University papers, too).

Freelancing from home means I have to create my own peers.  Twitter and Facebook are great for this. But so are instant messaging, email, and Skype.  It never hurts to have someone you can call or IM for advice or a second pair of eyes when needed.  I’ve met a few great freelance writers online and they have given great help over the years.  It’s also great to keep in touch with others to see how their careers take shape and see how they market themselves.  It’s so good to see how others succeed — it’s inspiring.

Sometimes that’s the most important thing.  Do your coworkers inspire you?  Do they make you better? Do they make you want to step up your game?  Are they supportive?  If not, maybe you would be better off creating a community of peers on your own.

Sovereignty

I’d like to take a few blog posts to explain why, after two years of full-time employment, I am yearning for my old life as a freelance writer.  The first idea I’d like to get across is that freelance writing, however scary it may be at times, is a completely sovereign activity.  That’s the first and most important reason why I loved it, why I now miss it.  I miss my sovereignty as a freelance writer and realize I have desperately been trying to recreate it with my blogs in my spare time.  I don’t care if I only make $1 per month as a freelancer, as long as I am doing it again.

What brought this on?  I was reading this just now after reading the new Seth Godin ebook, “What Matters Now.”

I realize I cannot extol the virtues of Seth Godin in all corporate environments.  Some dig it while the cultures of some companies don’t make for happy, energetic, and creative environments.  But I can do that on my own as a freelancer!  I can enjoy Seth’s ideas all I want when I’m on my own.  I can even fit reading Seth’s blog into my actual workday as something that adds value to my experience.  But in some corporate environments, people just don’t get this.

I am really loving Seth’s new ebook today and stopped at Hugh Macleod’s entry in it, which took me to his website…and I realize I live my life more in the Hugh Macleod way than in the corporate sheep way. I think I’ll be buying Ignore Everybody later.

But first, I have to get to work.  Creativity time is over so I can go make a CEO richer.

Top-searched words in 2009 at Dictionary.com

Drumroll, please…  We still have no idea what the difference is between “affect” and “effect.”  Seriously!  According to Dictionary.com, the top 10 most-searched words in 2009 were:

1. Affect

2. Ubiquitous

3. Irony

4. Socialism

5. Effect

6. Melancholy

7. Love

8. Integrity

9. Nostalgic

10. Pedantic

I will be the first to admit to having had a lively discussion in our own newsroom about affect/effect.  We’ve all fallen victim to that one once or twice.

The only real interesting reflection of our culture in 2009 has to be #4.  Apparently we were all looking that one up to see if others were using it properly?  What term in 2009 was thrown around more casually than “socialism?” There had to be a few looking it up just to see if it fit their rhetoric.  And so, 2009 was the year we learned the definition of socialism.  Or tried to, anyway.

On that note, the top decliners of 2009 were:

1. Bush

2. Maverick

3. Solace

4. Liberal

5. Obsequious

6. Rhetoric

7. Superfluous

8. Condescending

9. Cynical

10. Ostentatious

Apparently the abuse of “maverick” stopped in 2009.  I think we all know who we can credit that too…and she was probably responsible for putting “socialism” at #4 in the first list.  So what did we want more of in 2009?  Greed!  Dictionary.com users needed a new word for it, and “esurient” was the one. Twitter made it in at #10 on the list of 2009 gainers in an obvious nod to the growth of the social networking site.  I honestly have no idea how “namaste” made it onto the list unless yoga had a boom in popularity this year too.

Top Gainers of 2009:

1. Esurient

2. Impeded

3. Shuddering

4. Fugacious

5. Suffering

6. Negative

7. Namaste

8. Adjuvant

9. Callipygian

10. Twitter

I am surprised to see that words like “furlough” and “bailout” didn’t make the list.  But most of us know the meaning of those all too well.