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Daily Grind

Should You Write For Free? Journos Weigh In on the Thayer/Atlantic Kerfuffle

When freelance journalist Nate Thayer posted an email exchange he’d had with an editor at The Atlantic, who hoped to publish his work without compensation, he had no idea it would garner so much attention. The blog post has been viewed over 100,000 times, tweeted like mad, and has prompted a vigorous debate among journalism professionals.

Over at Reuters, Felix Salmon breaks down point-by-point where The Atlantic screwed up, while explaining why the magazine’s online freelance budget is so small as to be, at times, non-existent. It’s not that digital journalism doesn’t pay, he explains, it just rarely pays freelancers. If you want to make a living wage, you need a staff position.

Not everyone is against working for nothing. Matthew Yglesias of Slate calls it “an enormous boon to society” when people write online for free. Staffer-turned-freelancer Ann Friedman admits in her column at CJR that she occasionally writes for free, albeit only with good reasons. Those include establishing experience, raising her profile, or an opportunity to participate in something wonderful.

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You Feeling Okay? Study Shows Writers Prone to Mental Illness

A large scale study by the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has found a link between creative professions and mental illness. Writers in particular are more likely to suffer from psychiatric issues including clinical depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, and substance abuse. We’re also nearly twice as likely as the general populace to commit suicide!

Researchers seem to think that all this misery has a genetic component. We’re more likely to blame the collapse of the print industry, lousy wages, and shit like this. Either way, all you writers out there may want to think about seeing a psychiatrist. Assuming you’re lucky enough to have health insurance…

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CNET Editor Applauds Google’s Staggeringly Generous ‘Death Benefits’

A word of warning to all happily married independent contractors, freelancers and full-time employees with non-Silicon Valley market leaders. This post may hazardous to the rest of your Wednesday.

In a brief, tantalizing post, CNET executive editor Charles Cooper picks up on the headline-grabbing nugget of information contained in today’s Forbes interview with Google chief people officer Lazlo Bock. It amounts to, quite simply, the most empathetic workplace benefit ever:

Explaining the company’s policy, Bock said that when someone dies while in Google’s employ, the company cuts a check for 50 percent of that staffer’s annual salary to the surviving spouse or domestic partner for the next decade. The company will also immediately vest whatever stock holdings were granted, and the couple’s children receive a $1,000 monthly payment until the age of 19 (or 23 if the child is a full-time student).

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Jenna Jameson Busted for Drunk Driving in the OC

The porn legend was arrested early this morning in Orange County on suspicion of drunk driving after crashing her car into a light pole.

The predictable jokes about how Jameson ought to know her way around a pole by now ensued.

TMZ has obtained the 911 call by a witness to the crash, which occurred around 12:45 a.m. The caller said, “I was actually getting ready to call you guys because she was drunk. Next thing I know, she went into the pole.”

Jameson was taken into custody on the scene after flunking a field sobriety test. She reportedly refused medical treatment, and was cited and released hours later. She is at home and doing well, according to a statement released by her website.

New Simi Valley Condom Mandate Requires Cops to Watch Porn

Following Los Angeles’ lead, the Simi Valley city council passed a law Monday night requiring porn actors to wear condoms. But unlike in LA, the new ordinance was not motivated by concerns for worker’s safety so much as a desire to keep the porn industry out of Simi Valley. The fear is that in the wake of the LA’s new condom mandate, adult filmmakers will flee to neighboring cities to shoot their smut.

But if a porn is shot in Simi Valley, the boys in blue are going to get an eyeful. KCAL 9 reports:

Under the new law, producers have to submit unedited copies of their adult films to the Simi Valley Police Department for review.

KCAL 9 reassures viewers that the law makes an exception for films made for “personal use.” Meaning you don’t have to show your sex tapes to the cops.

Hat tip Huffington Post.

David Lynch Makes the Creepiest Coffee Commercial Ever

You know how when some artists get old they completely lose their edge and become mere shadows of their former selves? Well, not our Mr. Lynch. The acclaimed director is now selling coffee, and it is &#@!% surreal:


David Lynch Signature Cup Coffee Commercial #1 by Flixgr

Hat tip Laughing Squid

PC World Polls Starbucks Home Office Workers

PC World magazine senior associate editor Liana Cassavoy checks in with LA freelancer Derek Jech and others across the country to itemize the recommended do’s and don’ts of a Starbucks home office worker.

Since the chain switched to free Wi-Fi, the laptop brigades have taken a firmer hold of each and every store location. Other than plating over or removing select electrical outlets, there’s really nothing Starbucks can do to discourage these all-day patrons. Or is there?:

“We are convinced the baristas try to freeze us out by jacking up the air conditioning at certain points of the day,” says Tandaleya Wilder, a publicist and founder of She Got Game Media, who often works out of a Starbucks in Miami’s South Beach. Also, she notes that the baristas sometimes “purposely play the worse rotation of songs imaginable to get us out of there.”

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How Hollywood Cures Writer’s Block

Therapist Barry Michels specializes in creative types, and has built a client list out of top Hollywood talent. According to a profile in the New Yorker, Michels helped one blocked writer hash out an academy award-winning script. Now, most of us poor scribes can’t afford Michels’ rates, but we have been afforded a glimpse how treatment works:

By far the most common problem afflicting the writers in Michels’s practice is procrastination, which he understands in terms of Jung’s Father archetype. “They procrastinate because they have no external authority figure demanding that they write,” he says. “Often I explain to the patient that there is an authority figure he’s answerable to, but it’s not human. It’s Time itself that’s passing inexorably. That’s why they call it Father Time. Every time you procrastinate or waste time, you’re defying this authority figure.”
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AP Stylebook Figures Out It’s email, Not e-mail

Finally, the AP Stylebook has changed the style guidelines for the word email. Until today, they were demanding a hyphen, making it “e-mail”. Very 1990s.

Other changes include:

  • Cellphone is now one word, not two.
  • The Indian city Calcutta is now Kolkata.
  • Smartphone also gets to be a single word, and is defined as ” an advanced cellphone that allows for email, Web browsing and downloadable applications.”

West Hollywood Entrepreneur Launches CyberInterns.com

Many Southern California bastions of journalism, movie making and other media fields rely heavily on the blood, sweat and – yes, sometimes – tears of interns. But 24-year-old West Hollywood entrepreneur Talan Torriero (pictured) is hoping to speed the progress of a 21st century free labor twist: the virtual intern.

His brand new site CyberInterns.com has initial employer listing fees ranging from $49.00 to $87.00 and he is about to start officially approaching area colleges and universities. Job seekers are not charged, and Torriero adds that if an employer reading this article wants to give the operation a whirl, they can enter the code “FishbowlLA” for a free 30-day trial.

“In the last four years, I have had the opportunity to intern at some pretty incredible places, from Warner Bros. Records to Akiva Goldsman‘s production company,” Torriero tells FishbowlLA via email. “After that, I got the social media bug and decided to switch gears career-wise. I enrolled online at the University of San Francisco and got an internship at Lunch.com.”

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