So, how does an idealistic journalist fed-up with the failings of for-profit media put food on the table in the post-consolidation, post-merger, post-layoff San Francisco Bay Area?
Freelance, baby. And, sadly, it is not possible to pay a mortgage or support a family as a ronin journalist. The fees are laughably small. My breatkthrough coverage of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in the San Francisco Bay, written freelance for SFGate.com after I resigned, took a month to research and write and netted me a whopping $400. What a joke.
Currently, I’m writing and editing white papers for FAS.research, an Austrian social network analysis company that recently opened a branch in San Francisco. They develop campaign, marketing and communications strategies for globe-straddling corporations of various descriptions.
A headhunter has also been knocking recently, seeking to place me as a “social media editor” for financial services companies in San Francisco.
Modesty, already in short supply on these pages, forbids me from declaiming the fees I get for that kind of work. But suffice it to say, freelance journalism, and even the average newsroom staff position, doesn’t come anywhere near what these people offer.
And that’s the tragedy of American journalism in a nutshell.