When somebody in the media gets canned/fired/downsized/outsourced/pink-slipped/let go/shown the door/choose your euphemism, said media doesn’t generally make note of it. There are exceptions; when I was stabbed in the back and shown the door by my former radio partners in 2008, the CEO went on the air two days later and libeled me. A “discoverable public statement”, as my lawyer said. BIG mistake. (I still have the tape of the broadcast, although my lawsuit was settled and sealed in 2009.)
But this rant is about Dave Blaska, not me. I had to find out in Chris Rickert’s column in the State Journal that Blaska , along with fellow Isthmus bloggers Jack Craver and Emily Mills, were recently shown the door in a cost-cutting move/realignment of goals/reassessment of mission/refocusing on core strengths/choose your euphemism.
I read Blaska’s Blog on the Isthmus Daily Page (which owns the copyright to the composite graphic at the top of this post) faithfully. He posted three or four columns in a typical week, and they were always well-written and entertaining. Dave and I agree on very little, and his canonization of Vicki McKenna is annoying, but Dave put out a good, lefty-baiting, thought-provoking, and apparently well-read blog.
The disappointment this rant is about is not so much that Blaska’s Blog has been banished, although I will miss not having it to laugh with or at it; rather, I’m more disappointed that Rickert’s column says Blaska was doing this for the paltry sum of 30 dollars a week. I’m disappointed that he’d agree to work that cheaply. He’s FAR better than 30 bucks a week, fifteen hundred bucks a year, ten bucks per column, or however you want to look at the number.
When I was canned and went into the freelance business, I wasn’t sure how to price my work. The best information I could get back then, based on several reliable sources, was that the going rate for experienced and qualified freelancers was, give or take, 39 bucks an hour plus expenses (travel, lodging, etc.). In my negotiations with various clients I’ve had in the past three years, I’ve worked for less and I’ve worked for more. But I’ve never gone below 20 bucks an hour plus expenses, a “rate” I gave a couple not-for-profit agencies.
More disclosure: back in the summer of ’09, Isthmus contacted me about being Blaska’s foil – writing a Daily Page blog from the lefty point of view, to “balance” Dave’s right-wing blog. Long story short, we never even got to the discussion of money (and I’m sure I was not the only person “in the running” for the job), because many of my concerns about who’s property the proposed posts would be, what kind of backing I might expect from Isthmus if I ruffled the wrong feathers, and similar technical/intellectual property/ownership concerns took me out of the running after a few conversations.
I was thinking that if my concerns could be addressed, and it ever got down to talking about money, I’d say “just pay me what you’re paying Blaska”. We are similar in age and “journalistic” (please don’t call me a journalist) experience; I’d venture to say my name at that time had at least as much public recognition/recall as Dave’s; I admired his work; I figured I’d work for the same wage. As it turns out, I’m glad it never got to the money stage. At that time, I had four other projects going – one big one, and three smaller ones. I was billing out at 20 bucks an hour plus expenses for one of them; 40 bucks an hour plus expenses for two of the other small projects; and I was doing the big project for 75 bucks an hour plus direct expenses.
Had I known Isthmus was paying Blaska 30 bucks a week….regardless of the number of columns/blogs he posted per week….I would have turned it down, had we ever gotten to the money stage. I may or may not have an inflated view of my marketability, but I wouldn’t do a column for ten bucks, or seven and a half bucks, or whatever it worked out to at $30/week.
I was doing THIS – blogging here, at that time under the name “The Way Things R” (I changed it to “Rifles at Dawn” a couple years ago) por nada. Some of the best writing in the blogosphere is done gratis; those of us who do this sort of thing do it because we love it, and because it’s an important outlet for our creativity, and…..because nobody EDITS our work! We can say whatever we please (within reasonable bounds), however we please, whenever we please. No editors, no deadlines, no nothin’.
Dave Blaska, I miss your Daily Page blog. I’m sure you had your reasons, but you worked too damn cheaply. You’re worth a hell of a lot more than 30 bucks a week.By the way, this is the 666th post on this site. Scary.