Writing for fun or profit (but not both?)

Tom Teicholz blogged this week that blogging is no fun. More to the point, he says:

I still find that it is neither as pleasurable as composing a column or article essay, and not necessarily as emotionally or intellectually rewarding. I don’t really write in as great depth or push myself to think as deeply.

True, when something is  not fun anymore then either don’t do it or find a way to do it differently, right? Not so fast. Perhaps the real trouble is this:

Also blogging is another full time job that does not really earn its keep.

Content still has value. If we’re producing content – articles, well-thought out essays, screeds, love letters – then the act of not getting paid is not just about not having money for food and rent, but also the reminder of our writing’s value: the worth of our ideas, the cost of time and effort spent that could have been spent elsewhere on better pursuits.

But writing is the better pursuit, which is why, perhaps, so many writers, reporters, lobbyists, publicists, and yes, bloggers continue to do it. In some perfect, economically balanced world, everyone gets paid for their words. We’re not in that perfect world though; this blog piece, such as it is, was written for free.

This is journalism’s struggle today. It’s not in that perfect world and, from all the layoffs of reporters and editors, it may not be of anyone’s world soon. And yet – it may well be that newspapers are going away, but news is here to stay. Content does have value; it just may have to come from different places with different business models.

The trick is for the field of Capital-J Journalism to ensure and uphold jounalistic standards in this new world, which is needed now more than ever. It wouldn’t hurt to make some money, either, if only to keep reporters and writers in business at least until the next story.

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