Thursday, April 22, 2010

Is Demand Studios' USA Today deal a raw one for writers?

I'll answer the question in the title of this post right away: Yes. It is.

If you don't know, Demand Studios is paying its writers $20 for travel stories that will eventually end up in the pages of USA Today. This begs the question: Is this a great way for writers to get a byline in the national paper, or is it just one more sign that newspaper publishers enjoy screwing over writers?

I think it's the latter, unfortunately.

Look, $20 is simply a lousy fee for a USA Today story. The USA Today is a national newspaper. It should be paying writers $500 or more for travel stories. Instead it's worked out a deal with Demand Studios to fill its pages on the cheap.

To me, this stinks of a terrible deal for writers. I write every now and again for the Washington Post. I get paid a lot more than $20. My fear is that more big-time newspapers -- not the small ones that have always paid lousy -- will make similar deals with content providers like Demand Studios.

It's already tough enough to make a living as a freelance writer. We don't need papers like USA Today working to make it even tougher.

(And I, unlike most writers, actually kind of like USA Today!)


  1. Huh. I don't know why I didn't think of it this way before. I guess I'm just used to the pricing. It seems like price for online content is just low across the board. But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe that's just what I'm led to believe.

  2. They aren't articles - they're tips. Additionally they aren't featured content.

  3. Hi, There:

    Even if they're not articles and they're only tips, $20 is just too low for anything printed in USA Today. This is a national newspaper. This is not a good deal for writers, in my opinion.


  4. Except that they aren't "printed in USA Today" they are a section of the USA Today's website. They are short, online only pieces that aren't worth the time and man power of a qualified journalist, but that do provide much needed long term search links to the USA Today domain.