The new “free” in freelance

A Los Angeles Times column, “Freelance writing’s unfortunate new model,” warns that while everyone has been riveted on the loss of staff jobs, freelancing has been taking a quiet nosedive, compounding the loss of journalism.

Excerpt from the piece by James Rainey:

“Freelance writing fees — beginning with the Internet but extending to newspapers and magazines — have been spiraling downward for a couple of years and reached what appears to be bottom in 2009.

“The trend has gotten scant attention outside the trade. Maybe that’s because we live in a culture that holds journalists in low esteem. Or it could be because so much focus has been put on the massive cutbacks in full-time journalism jobs. An estimated 31,000 writers, editors and others have been jettisoned by newspapers in just the last two years.

“Today’s reality is that much of freelancing has become all too free. Seasoned professionals have seen their income drop by 50% or more as publishers fill the Web’s seemingly limitless news hole, drawing on the ever-expanding rank of under-employed writers.”