By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.
The Grey Lady ran an article last week that was especially depressing to those of us in the writing business. Would You Write a Cookbook for Next to Nothing? documented exploitation of food writers. Just one example: a cookbook author who was invited to write a book of food reviews of Baltimore and DC restaurants, for a publisher who provided no budget for meals.
Seems that some of those in the publishing business haven’t learned that basic lesson::
When pressed on what options an author has to write a book about restaurants with no dining budget, [Josh Stevens, the publisher of Reedy Press] said that “some authors may work something out with the establishments.” He later clarified: “I don’t know, maybe they give them some comped meals.”
Now, I ask you, how objective do you think those reviews would be, if the author accepted free meals?
The meals were never eaten and the reviews never written because that writer had some integrity – as well as common sense – and turned down the publishing deal.
The wider point: producing independent content requires money. I’d like to say this restaurant review example was an outlier. An aberration. Confined to the features and entertainment side of the publication spectrum, and not a problem for hard news.
Alas, it’s not. In fact, when we survey the media landscape, what do we see? Lack of editorial independence. Group think. Sideshows, to distract from what should be main events. And all this in areas of far more importance than the food writing scene.
The mainstream media doesn’t write for you. It works for its paymasters. Those who can afford to spin and control the narrative. Or obscure they key issues, so readers find ourselves wallowing in meaningless blather.
We don’t do that here. Long before I was a contributor to Naked Capitalism, I was an avid, daily reader. And I understood then that if I wanted to continue to read its independent, hard-hitting content, I needed to donate, so that the site would survive. So I did.
Now, if you appreciate this site, please give (hint: the Tip Jar is over there!).
One other thing. It’s not just posters who share analysis and insights. Often just as astute and even better than the posts themselves are reader comments. Your wisdom is precious and there’s nothing quite like it that I know of anywhere else on the web.
A bit more about you, dear readers. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been able to meet some of you face-to-face, first in New York (with Michael Hudson), and then last week in London (with Clive and Richard Smith). To those who were able to attend: thank you. I enjoyed meeting you and hearing your thoughts and concerns.
Yves and Lambert have created a thriving, lively, intellectually rigorous community. You don’t always agree with each other. In fact, you virtually never do. But the quality of debate in this site’s comment threads is nonpariel. You share your thoughts and opinions. Your comments have made me a better writer. You do me the honor of taking my work seriously. And I try to produce my very best work for you.
So please take a bow, readers. You have helped build the this community. And if you value this space, please pull out your wallet now. The content doesn’t write itself, and without it, there would be no Naked Capitalism community.
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