Okay, I will admit it. I was appealed to by the idea that I could write on a topic I love – horses – and get regional exposure. So I signed on to write for The Wilmington Examiner. I went through the application process and they did a background check on me that would have made a police department blush. I was found “fit for writing” and given a chance to provide content to them.
I wrote for them from September 16th of 2009 until March of 2010. Six months ago I stopped writing for them. I held off posting this because I needed to decide if I was overreacting. I don’t think I am.
I published close to 3 dozen articles that were well-written, well thought out, contained original content and included interviews with local, regional and national experts. Then, one morning I received an email from The Examiner “auditor” informing me that an article I posted on natural fly control was not “local”, got a verbal slap on the wrist and was reminded that I w0uld not get paid for articles that were deemed not local.
When I was done laughing, I sent them a note telling them why I would no longer be writing for them.
If you write for the The Examiner, you really cannot be writing for money. Local articles earn the writer $1.00. No that is not a typo – that’s 100 pennies. The article in question took me several hours to put together. At my usual writing rate, I would get $200 for 4 hours of work. By writing this article, I lost $199.00 in income.
Beyond the obvious, if I had been writing for money, why would I have spent 6 months writing solid, appealing articles about horses, horse rescue and horse care to earn a total of $12.34? I earn 4 times that, per hour, for articles written for three magazines for which I am a regular contributor.
So this is NOT about money. This is about trying to contribute content about a topic I love so that people who live in the tri-state area (or anywhere in the world since the web isn’t geographically limited) would have yet another resource for solid information and entertaining stories about the equestrian world. My average page views ran 1210; Wilmington Pets ran at a rate of 1228 and the average for pets, in general was 1457. I’d say I had a readership.
The article in question covered a topic that a LOT of equestrians are interested in and used experts from several companies/places discussing their respective products. It was linked to different web sites which should increase traffic to The Examiner’s site and was tagged for SEO.
So, who is the editorial genius that says writing from my desk in Pennsylvania has to be limited to….well, Pennsylvania? And why? This article was about flies. Flies don’t limit themselves to the tri-state area. They aren’t restricted to ADIs or zip codes. Last time I checked, flies tend to hang around stables and barns. And Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland are… duh…in horse country.
If The Examiner wants to incent writers to leave their enterprise, this is the way to do it. As a former journalist and a frequent contributor to several magazines with readerships in the hundreds of thousands, I find their approach short-sighted and insulting. I have written my entire life and the product that I produced for their web site was top drawer.
The operative word in that last sentence is “was.” I officially resigned and have not written for the Examiner since the email from the auditor. To their credit, the auditor did send me an apology for the email but the damage was done. Theirs is a business model that works for them but, not, I would wager for 99% of the writers toiling over articles for this company. If you are a writer and you are smart, you will save your words for someone who appreciates the effort, literally and figuratively.