“Good content can’t be free”

That’s a direct quote from an opinion piece by Bloomberg View columnist Leonid Bershidsky. It ran a few days ago in the Denver Post, which I read both in print and online. I pay for it.

In the context of Bershidsky’s piece, I could not agree more. He writes about the trend toward paywalls that real news organizations use to get paid. The jury is still out on how well that will work out, but news consumers will pay and should pay for good, trustworthy reporting.

I also could not agree more with his statement in another context: News organizations and others that charge for their content or that generate ad revenue by providing content should pay the people who write it.

Good content can’t be free.

Bershidsky points out that the Huffington Post, which has a history of getting something for nothing from gullible writers, has “scaled back its platform for unpaid bloggers.” That’s a step in the right direction, but it does not go far enough.

I don’t imagine the Huffington Post cares, since it is on the receiving end of a content giveaway, but writers who donate their work to help such companies make a profit demean themselves. They also drive down compensation and dry up opportunities for professional writers, freelance and otherwise. (Much of what they give away is crap, too. It’s true that you get what you pay for.)

Until such platforms for unpaid bloggers are gone, or those bloggers stop giving their work away, I won’t be reading anything that companies like the Huffington Post publish. Neither should you.

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