Writing for fuel and profit.


When Civil Beat announced that it will be partnering with Huffington Post and that there will be a site dedicated to the Islands called HuffPost Hawaii, I was excited. I’m looking for work, I’m a former Honolulu Advertiser and Pacific Business News reporter, I’ve been freelancing since the early 1990s, and I try to keep my writing chops sharp with my blog and by staying up to date with current events through the Internet and the world of social media.

Soon word got out that HuffPost Hawaii was looking for bloggers. I thought that maybe lavagal.net would be worthy of such a great opportunity. Maybe I could finally cash in on my words. Since I began the blog in 2008 I’ve accumulated a lot of subscribers, it gets plenty of hits each week, and some people actually share my blog! That’s all very gratifying. I can look at a map of my hits and see that people from all over the globe have found lavagal.net. They might be looking for something to do with Hawaii, a recipe, something to do with triathlons or motherhood, or maybe they want to know about the darker subjects I’ve covered such as that period where I felt like my phone number previously belonged to a drug dealer.

With a few emails I managed to get my blog before Patti Epler, the editor at Civil Beat. Patti responded, said she liked my content there and said that HuffPost Hawaii could definitely use the blog for the site, which will be live in September. She attached the guidelines to her email and I told her I’d be back in touch after I checked them out.

So here’s the nail in my “I’ll-never-write-in-this-town-again coffin,” which is a drag because I do believe I would be a great writer for some outfit here in Honolulu. The HuffPost Hawaii guidelines say:

“…You don’t get paid, but you get access to our highly engaged audience and a forum to share your views and express your opinions and ideas. You also get exposure, so promote yourself!…”

Well, shoots. I already don’t pay myself for writing lavagal.net. I get engagement, I post updates to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I do get pitches for ads on my site and maybe I should start considering them. But here’s the thing about lavagal.net: It’s purely me, it’s fun, it goes in any direction I want it to take, it gives you something to think about, it makes some people happy, it makes some people laugh, and it makes some people mad. And since I pay the annual fee I get to decide what comments are public and I make sure the spam about erection direction or secret love cam links never surface.

What’s the deal HuffPost Hawaii?

  • Does any working journalist think that anyone should contribute content anywhere for free?
  • Does any ethical journalist think it is OK to suggest that writing at no charge for exposure and writing without pay for the glory of a byline and writing for free just to get experience is legitimate?
  • If you are no longer a college student or beyond considering an internship, and if you are raising a family like me, writing isn’t for fun, it’s for fuel and profit.

As we see what bloggers decided to sign on to the HuffPost Hawaii gravyless train, keep in mind that not a single one of them will be paid. And keep in mind that not a single one of them has any self esteem.

Here was my response: 

Patti:

I would need tangible compensation in order to participate. I’m worth more than zero, and I do believe journalists and bloggers shouldn’t allow themselves to be used for the privilege of gaining national exposure. If you like me and my site enough to pay for it, then I’d be happy to discuss.

I’m disappointed, but I know I made the right decision. Pass the Cup Noodles, children.