WordCount – Freelancing in the Digital Age

By Michelle Vranizan Rafter

WordCount recap – Weekly news from the digital media biz

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voice-of-san-diego-logoA scenario for news – Prognosticating about the future of the news business on his BuzzMachine blog, industry guru Jeff Jarvis says there’s definitely a place for freelancers. The future of news is all about community – covering it and working with it. Examples of this already abound, such as the Seal Beach Daily community microblog and the non-profitVoiceofSanDiego.org.

A penny for my thoughts? – The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd uses the paper’s Op-Ed pages to ruminate on the trend of outsourcing newspaper work to India. Dowd interviews James Macpherson, publisher of Pasadena Now, an online only news site, who fired his former staff of seven and now outsources production to India. “I pay per piece, just the way it was in the garment business,” Macpherson says in Dowd’s column. “A thousand words pays $7.50.”

Huffington Post more valuable than some newspaper cos. – Yes, you read that right. The Huff Post, the news blog that repackages – or in Webspeak “repurposes” – news and columns created elsewhere along side posts written by its own often unpaid bloggers, raised $25 million in financing, putting its value at $100 million. According to Michael Learmonth’s story in Ad Age, that makes Arianna Huffington’s digital news venture more valuable than Lee Enterprises, which publishes the St. Louis Post Dispatch, or A. H. Belo, which publishes the Dallas Morning News, or Media General, which puts out the Tampa Tribune. It’s conventional freelance wisdom to follow the money and go where the work is, but in this case, freelancers should proceed with caution. While it’d be nice to be associated with an up and coming news aggregator like the Huff Post, is the clip worth the non paycheck you’d get for your efforts? Working for free is not a business model.

Notice anything different about this blog? – No, you don’t. But as of yesterday, WordPress parent company Automattic released a much-anticipated dashboard redesign. While readers of this blog won’t see any difference, behind the scenes is another story. The main page that WordPress bloggers like me use to write and manage posts got a major a face lift. So far, it’s been easy enough to navigate without having to peek at the instructions. But if you’re interested, here’s the complete documentation of the changes. According to Automattic, the changes will be released as version 2.7 to WordPress.org bloggers next week.

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