Well known blogger and art world writer Lisa anonymously expressed a very common misunderstanding about web publishing on this blog recently:
I think highly of your site and wish you all the best with your fundraiser, but there's still an underlying problem:
Newspapers have cut back on their coverage precisely because bloggers (many of them former newspaper writers or top freelancers) have been giving away the same kind of coverage for free. Now readers expect this content to be free. The idea that writers ought to be paid for their expertise seems to have vanished.
Not to put to fine a point on it, but blogs are not responsible for the financial troubles of newspapers, and the logic used to come to that conclusion makes no sense. Wildly successful free publications such as the Village Voice existed long before the Internet came along and didn’t topple the industry. What’s more, the Voice wasn’t an anomaly; hundreds of thousands of freely distributed newspapers and magazines circulate the country and continue to do so. The real challenge the Internet poses to traditional forms of publishing comes from the loss of revenue generated by classifieds — Real estate, job listings, furniture sales, personals — which at one point provided a huge source of income for publications. Those funds are now collected by sites like craigslist, ebay, and NYFA. (See Clay Shirky for more on this subject.)
But for Lisa, I doubt too many would be Art Fag City Fundraiser contributors have been swayed by the blog’s larger effect on writers wages, but I hope this post will clear up a few misunderstandings. Independent critics need to be paid a living wage, and like everyone else in the industry I’m just trying to figure out how to make that happen.
Readers wishing to contribute to the Art Fag City Fundraiser can do so either through check or paypal. Momenta Art is processing all payment so readers can write off their donations, and to ensure all proceeds are not used for profit.