Pingback this: I work for free now

Here’s a little example of what’s wrong with journalism these days . . .


Today I received a “pingback” notification from wordpress asking for my approval. For those not in the know, a pingback is sent when another site links to yours. In this case, a company that sells running shoes linked to my recent review of the New Balance 904 TR shoes.


Ironically, back in the 1990s I made a fair amount of money reviewing outdoor gear for magazines. It’s true: I was paid as much as $1 per word (generally these reviews were 500-800 words) by magazines such as Outside, Snow Country (formerly published by the New York Times Company) and Rocky Mountain Sports for my written opinion about things such as running shoes, flashlights, bike lights, snowshoes, backpacks, outdoor clothing, cameras, cross-country ski equipment, tents, and I can’t remember what all else.


Some of these can still be found on places like Outside magazine’s website (just click and then search for my name) — the specific work-for-hire contract ensured the magazine could archive these reviews online until the end of time. But what did I care? The work was fun, the pay was great and I got all sorts of swag, some of which I still use today.


Now, I review something for free on my blog, and some web-based shoe-sales site uses it to help boost sales. The pingback message asks if I want to approve the link, but I notice it’s already posted whether I like it or not. Plus, what good does it do me to disapprove it? I already wrote it for free.


How easily and thoughtlessly I did something gratis that I used to get $1 a word to do. I gave nearly $300 of expertise away and didn’t even get a free pair of shoes!


This is an example of what the Internet is doing to journalism. For all anyone knows the person who wrote that review has never run a step in his life. I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.


The Internet has cheapened just about everything trained journalism professionals do. Newspapers and other news organizations give their work away for free these days. And so do journalists who blog or have a website.


Oh well, meanwhile a late evening shower moved through the area, cooling the air and leaving things smelling great around here. Pingback that.

4 thoughts on “Pingback this: I work for free now

  1. More than anything, it’s journalists’ attitude toward the Web that is ruining journalism. If you don’t want them to publish your work on their site, why are you letting them? That’s copyright infringement. They could LINK to your review or post excerpts plus a link, and that would benefit you.

    On this side, what are you doing to monetize your “free” writing on the web? I’ve noted that you’ve used blurbs from your blogs elsewhere, thereby monetizing the writing but what are you doing here? You could add Google Adwords or even explore getting advertisers of your own (with your industry connections in all things nutrition this isn’t hard to imagine).

    I know, I know, this is your personal blog and you don’t want your blog buddies to suffer through advertising — but then why do I have to when I go search for you at Outside magazine? The game has changed and it’s up to you to monetize your content. There’s way to much whining from J side and not enough action.

    1. Typed too quickly — I see they only linked to you. That’s what you want, other people directing traffic to your site. It’s perfect.

  2. OK, I see you’ve corrected yourself — the site only linked to my blog.

    I’d love to make my blog buddies suffer through advertising, but as far as I know wordpress does not allow advertising on its blogs.

  3. Check here and look for adsense plugins:

    Sorry if I came off so strong. I’m struggling with a columnist friend who recently got laid off and refuses to blog thinking she’s giving stuff away. She is perfectly positioned for a money-making blog (she has an audience and already thinks in blogging terms) but buys into the American media misbelief that the Internet is killing papers.

    Recovering journalist has an excellent blog about the future of journalism:

    And his tips for laid-off scribes are also good.

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