I’m so tired — how tired am I? — I’m so tired that a howling thunderstorm passed over my roof last night, the kind that everyone discusses over breakfast and into the midmorning coffee break, and I slept right through it. Given that the hissing of summer sprinklers at dawn can wake me up, that’s saying something. I’m still not 100 percent functional, but a bike ride is on order now that the lovely weather behind the storm is on full display. That will help a great deal.
Just what a stressed-out person needs — another to-do list.
The class went fine, thanks for asking. As I mentioned in comments, this is an independent-study deal, and so far my little crew seems ready to go. Wayne State students are different from the ones I got to know in Ann Arbor a few years back, in that so many more of them work full-time, sometimes with multiple jobs. My student questionnaire asked them about their work hours, and let me tell you something — some of these folks work harder than any of us, and for no money, either, the paid summer internship having gone the way of the dodo.
When I was in college, the luckiest and smartest students got summer gigs at the big Ohio dailies, in Cincinnati and Cleveland and Dayton, mostly. There, the Newspaper Guild set intern pay in the contract, and as I recall it was 75 percent of a starting reporter’s salary, which even then was quite generous for a college student. The idea of working free was unheard of.
Of course, that was before Arianna Huffington came on the scene:
How bad is the job market for media types? A charity auction for a two- or three-month internship at the Huffington Post has collected bids as high as $13,000. …The auction’s beneficiary, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, seems exceptionally worthy. But are unemployed media wannabes really this worthless?
To be sure, she’s not the one charging for the chance to sit at her feet — or, more likely, at the feet of her third assistant — for three months, but it’s fitting that the idea of paying someone else to make their coffee should be done at the HuffPost. It didn’t invent the idea of “exposure” as payment enough for one’s work as a writer, but it’s certainly made the most hay of the idea.
A few weeks ago I read something horrifying. Is writing for the rich? asked Francis Wilkinson, who worked for the devil herself:
In 2007, I was in charge of recruiting writers for the expansion of The Huffington Post. I calculated that I would need 75 unpaid blog submissions per day, Monday through Friday, in order to make the site work. That target seemed absurd at first. Yet within two months, hundreds of willing bloggers had signed up, the majority of them credentialed authors published by major publishing houses.
The high end of publishing—books, magazines, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal—has always contained a contingent of wealthy worker bees who don’t actually live off their often meager salaries. But even a couple decades ago, a writer without independent means could still scrape together a living writing about something other than movie stars. Not a good one necessarily, but a living.
…But on the whole, the writing game seems likely to become even more a province of the upper middle class and flat-out wealthy than it is already. The offspring of the affluent, branded college degrees in hand, can afford to give it a go. But anyone hailing from more hardscrabble environs may find it too difficult to get traction before succumbing to the dismal economics of it all.
In other words, get ready for a lot more Megan McArdles. (By the way, has anyone summed up and flushed someone in a phrase better than Roy Edroso, who described her as “Eloise at the Atlantic”? Don’t think so.)
What the world needs is more Jack Londons.
Actually, what the world needs is me at my desk, on task. So adieu for now. A little bloggage:
David Edelstein disposes of “Angels & Demons” in four tight paragraphs with several memorable phrases, my favorite being “loaves and red herrings.” Also, this:
About that carnage: Angels & Demons is rated PG-13 in spite of multiple splattery shootings, brandings, gouged eyeballs, and close-ups of holy men writhing in flames. Of course, there’s no nudity.
Speaking of phrases, two that if you get them too close together? Will cause your skin to break out in rashes: “Gov. Sarah Palin has issued a statement” and “I applaud Donald Trump.” Get the cortisone cream!