Since commencing my career as a teacher in Australia, I have written many articles for free and presented at conferences at the same discount price, often having to pay to attend the event into the bargain. I did this willingly enough as I am passionate about learning, sharing and education but in more recent years, as offers to write and speak occur weekly, have become more enthusiastic, albeit conflicted, to be paid for my labour (as time management becomes more and more challenging).
If one looks at who owns the magazines and profits from the conferences, it is easier to make a decision about doing it for free or not. It is not always clear from their websites who does own the magazine but, after a little digging, often they are affiliated with larger, diversified, media organisations. Many, I’m sure would be struggling in the current media landscape but others do well as they successfully advertise education and ICT products.
The professional teacher’s associations have journals and increasingly are likely to pay for articles. Sometimes quite handsomely. Others have limited, smaller memberships and struggle to reimburse the writers.
Often we all do each other favours at ‘mates rates’ which usually, in my case, means for free. As it should be. Or there is collaborative sharing, like at a TeachMeet, where everyone benefits, enjoying great collegiality.
Doing it for free is often thought to provide exposure for the blogger, writer, photographer etc.. This is surely true for some but wont pay the bills for most. Interesting enough MediaWatch has run a number of stories in recent years that echo this theme. What is of great concern is that people who need to make a living from their writing, photography and other skills are being asked to assist others make money for ‘exposure’ rather than payment. We all understand why this is happening, in an era of abundance, but it is important that behaviour from media organisations is ethical.
Many emails arrive each week asking me to tout products and services at my blog. I rarely respond nowadays unless they are written personably as it should be clear to anyone who reads my blog there is no advertising (except for the occasional worthy cause or of product I use). There is no payment in these cases. I have no real need to ‘monetise’ an online presence. My blog is increasingly expensive to host, for no monetary reward, but increasing traffic is not really that essential as it is to someone who makes a living from their website(s) and creativity.
Education should be free. I am sure many would donate all their time for weekend conferences and write for free if this spirit prevailed.
Australians once, from 1972 -1989, could attend university, regardless of background but now it is very expensive. The Germans have recently made tertiary studies free but in most countries it is cost prohibitive for many. Once, our country had a public education system attended by virtually everyone. Now, that has changed dramatically as learning is branded and the user pays for the privilege.
What about you? Are you writing and speaking for free? How do you feel about this? Should educators be writing without payment for businesses keen to make a profit? How do Canadian, American, New Zealanders or British educators fare comparatively? How do editors feel about asking teachers to write for free? Should education be free?
DISCLAIMER: Adobe provide all their software to me for free. I especially love Lightroom and have no problem recommending it to all photographers.
Featured image: cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by Alan O’Rourke: http://flickr.com/photos/toddle_email_newsletters/7002322316/