UPDATE at the bottom
UPDATE II (June 8, 2009) — enabling the entrepreneurial journalist
Jeffrey Seglin, a professor who has written for the New York Times, makes the case that when writers write for free, they not only devalue their own work, they make it harder for others to receive compensation:
Your work has value. If you start giving it away for free, then it diminishes that value and makes it harder for others to charge for their work as well.
I think this is true. One need only spend a few moments perusing freelance writing job sites or surveying the payments correspondents are receiving from local pubs (online and print) to know just how little contributors are compensated.
Now, do I think it’s wrong for writers to contribute their work for free?
But do I agree that anyone other than a new writer looking to build a portfolio is — to use Seglin’s term — a “blockhead” if he or she writes for free?