A look inside the operations of a major online publication—The Atlantic—and the evolving standards of how content is assigned, sourced, and paid for.
The post consists of an e-mail exchange between Thayer and an Atlantic editor, where Thayer is asked if he would repurpose a previously published piece for the Atlantic’s website. He is not offered any money, but is told he will gain exposure since Atlantic’s site enjoys 13 million readers per month.
For those familiar with the online world of publication, this exchange is hardly surprising or unusual. If you scan the posts at Who Pays Writers, you’ll see that $0 or maybe $50–$100 is common for very well-known sites. In fact, the more traffic a website gets, the more it can avoid payment by offering the carrot of exposure—which is indeed valuable and needed for some writers, but not all.
Thayer, in response to the offer of pay through exposure, says:
"Frankly, I will refrain from being insulted and am perplexed how one can expect to try to retain quality professional services without compensating for them. Let me know if you have perhaps mispoken [sic]."...