Writers and editors, as Harper’s Magazine’s Thomas Frank points out, are being driven into penury by Internet wages — in most cases, no wages. But, as Lawrence Summers once said to me about Mexicans, Americans are free to ‘choos’” to work in ‘content mills,’ the editorial equivalent of Mexican maquilladoras, where they can earn $15 for writing 300 words. The result of this ‘free choice’ is what Leon Wieseltier calls the ‘proletarianization of the writer,’ although what he describes as their ‘i’ndecent poverty’ has yet to turn them radical.
I have been radicalized, both as a publisher and a writer, and have instituted a ‘protectionist’ policy in regard to the Internet and its free-content salesmen. In the long run, I think I’ll be vindicated, since clearly the advertising ‘model’ has failed and readers are going to have to pay (in opposition to Google’s bias against paid sites) if they want to see anything more complex than a blog, a classified ad or a sex act.
I Won’t Hug This File — I Won’t Even Call It My Friend—By John R. MacArthur (Harper’s Magazine). Ease up on the scare quotes, man.