As I posted recently on my personal blog, the field of commercial blogging is growing exponentially, and bloggers are increasingly being viewed as 'content providers', much as television has always been a content provision exercise that delivers audiences for advertisers. As I've argued, the trouble begins when bloggers aren't adequately recognised and remunerated, and I see syndication agencies such as ScooptWords as a dangerous development.
This is because they notice and exploit a culture in blogging in which bloggers are amateurs who are not equipped or not inclined to deal personally with editors wishing to republish their work. Indeed, new business ventures driven by the growth in so-called "citizen journalism" rely on an amateurised (as opposed to a professionalised) market of "content providers" who are willing to provide their work anonymously and to have it edited with impunity. All because they are happy just to see their words in print, under the aegis of a 'respectable' media masthead.
I argue that this is a patronising attitude. It may work for some people for whom blogging is a hobby. Indeed, I run a number of personal blogs for which I wouldn't expect to get paid. But as a working journalist and cultural critic, I would like to earn a living from my research, my innovative ideas, my authoritatively argued opinions and my analytical abilities. These are my tools of trade. And I believe that bloggers writing this sort of material should learn to put a dollar value on the work they publish.
This is why I am adding this button to my sidebar. I'll keep posting here for free, but I will ask for a reasonable pay rate if any editors should be interested either in republishing my posts or in commissioning stories from me. I believe that if enough bloggers are polite but firm about this, there is no reason that bloggers can't be content providers. And this more equal industrial relationship ought to be the future of online content provision.