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A Long-Winded Rant Concerning the New York/Speak Up Contest

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We feel kinda bad now, because we’re thinking that we certainly helped to aid this growing anger among the community. Back over the summer, maybe because of the heat, when everyone seemed to be talking spec work this, and unfair contests that, and so on, we got into it a bit and added our two cents here and there. But now it seems like the equation works like this: “any contest = bad, bad, bad.” And that’s not the case. Over at SpeakUp, they’re doing a little contest thingie with New York magazine, to design their High Priority page, which is always put together by designers who are picked by, yes, the people running this contest on the site. So they thought to open it up to their readers and give them a chance at submitting something. But then, because of said anger, people got up and arms about it. Why, we’re not sure. There’s money involved, incredible exposure, etc. Everything good. Yet people are complaining, saying that this contest is hurting the industry. Yet, if you look at any other creative field, this is pretty standard stuff. Can’t be specific, because we don’t know their practices, but if you’re a freelance writer who wants to write for New York magazine, you will be pitching them stories. You write them and if they don’t get picked up, you might get some small kill fee, but not much. And some magazines, papers, require that you absolutely have to write a whole story before they’ll even think about even looking at it. We have countless friends who have spent loads of time writing 2,000 word features, only to have them not picked up. So to say that this is some outrage or that designers are additionally entitled in some way to be above what we see is a legitimate, and very fair, opportunity, seems a little silly.

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