Following Christmas and New Years, it is common to find yourself staring into a fridge full of leftovers. Turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, perhaps even some half-munched shrimp rings. The debris and detritus left from the festivities that took place.
This year I am taking stock of another form of leftovers. The leftovers of my once profitable freelance writing career.
It has been a few years since I was working full-time as a writer, and in that time much has changed in the media landscape. Ok, that’s putting it mildly. Reconciling the writing market a few years ago with what exists now is like the difference between a chicken and chicken nugget – one is vibrant, full of life, and pecking away at change, while the other is dead, lifeless, devoid of value, and sold for cheap.
Take, for instance, Innovation Canada. Once upon a time this was the online magazine for the Canada Foundation for Innovation. It published long form journalism on top-notch research, which yes was supported by grants from the CFI. It had interviews with leading researchers. And, it was a great place for a science writer. Good editors, interesting articles, and payment that was fair and timely.
Well, it’s gone, and so are the numerous articles I wrote for it. They can still be searched for on the CFI website, but rather than good journalism being front and centre it is now hidden amongst press releases and media briefings.
I can also add the demise of YESMag, a Canadian science magazine for kids; the loss of a reasonable payment scale at Green Living Online and National Geographic News Online. Plus, you look at all the journalists losing jobs and the rising number of journalism graduates from universities, and I have to wonder if there is even enough leftover from my freelance career to make a decent soup. It’s got me quite glum.
I think I’m gonna go see if there is any leftover Christmas cookies.