There are some good reasons to be be a Times Union blogger. For example, there’s the exposure you get to a large audience. And don’t forget about the… ummmm… and… well alright, that’s the only reason.
And that’s OK.
If you have something to sell, whether it be yourself, a product, or service, a big readership is great. The other thing is that we all like to be heard. Artists want to have their work seen, actors crave an audience, and writers wish to be read.
But there are some negatives.
How would you like to work for a huge media company and not get paid? They call it building a community. I call it having people do work for free and then peddling it to advertisers. Oh, you say, they don’t make money on those blogs! Really? Why are there ads on the sites then? Look, I’ve spent years writing for free and don’t mind. Working for free while someone profits from your labor is another matter.
Read the terms of service that they make bloggers sign and you’ll find something surprising: they own your work and may do whatever they like with it. They can present it in any context, put ads that you don’t like on your page, and even jerk you around when you say you’re leaving and you want to take the content with you. True, they will most likely be a benevolent master, but one never knows, does one?
It’s funny that they say they own the content and then put this disclaimer on your blog: The Times Union is not responsible for posts and comments written by non-staff members.
Here’s a sample of the insightful comments you’ll find in the TU blog section. It was left on a post about a woman awarded $500,000 in a lawsuit after being raped in prison by a corrections officer:
I wonder what happened to the jail guard, are they both laughing their way to the bank. She probably planned this so she could be a thug millionaire with the guard.
I realize that the Times Union is trying to tackle this issue, but remember that as long as you are on a site that allows this sort of hateful dialogue, you are part of the problem. Yes, you are. You may be very responsible in how you moderate comments, but next door, like on the Crime Confidential blog, they’ll publish any trash that the readers submit. Sleep with dogs and you wake up with fleas.
And there you have it. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t write for them, just know where you stand. To me it looks like they hold all the cards.