Friday High Five: Celebrating IWD and Paying Writers

We bring you our favourite findings from around the internet this week.

International Women’s Day: Media voices & the ‘glass ceiling index’

It’s International Women’s Day today - and there’s a slew of interesting articles out there today on the subject of feminism. Daily Life has published an edited version of a lecture Clementine Ford gave at ANU this week on women’s voices in the media. The Drum has published Julia Baird on the way women’s anger is being harnessed to fight oppression through organising on social media. And The Economist has published an international ‘glass ceiling index’ today, rating nations on their working conditions for women. New Zealand topped the list, while Australia came in at number five.

Stella Prize longlist

What better way for bookish types to celebrate International Women’s Day than by deciding to read one or more of the 12 books on the Stella Prize longlist? The Stella Prize (worth $50,000) will be awarded for the first time on Tuesday 16 April, to the best book by an Australian woman writer published in the past year. In the week of the prize’s announcement, its founders and judges will discuss its evolution (and winner!) at the Wheeler Centre. Put Thursday 18 April on your calendar.

Why (and how) George Lucas sold Star Wars

George Lucas – the king of creative control – has sold the rights to his beloved Star Wars franchise to Disney. Why? All those Jar-Jar Binks jibes from outraged fans really hurt.

He found it difficult to be creative when people were calling him a jerk. ‘It was fine before the Internet,’ he says. ‘But now with the Internet, it’s gotten very vicious and very personal.’

Photo from *Bloomerg Businessweek*. From left, R2-D2, Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, and Mickey Mouse.

Photo from Bloomerg Businessweek. From left, R2-D2, Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, and Mickey Mouse.

In this Businessweek article about how the deal went down, Lucas reveals that Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford have signed on to the next suite of Star Wars films (or, they were ‘in final negotiations’ at the time of sale). And that after the sale was made, excited Disney chairman and CEO Robert Iger went trick-or-treating with his kids dressed as Darth Vader. Awww.

Freelance journalism, working for free and The Atlantic

The internet has been abuzz this week with the latest in the ongoing saga of writers being expected to write for free (which is linked to the parallel saga of readers expecting content for free, and publications being broke). Nate Thayer published an exchange with an online editor at The Atlantic this week, in which he was invited to write a 1200 word version of a 4300 word article for the magazine, but when he asked about payment, was told there was none. (He was also told that even writers who deliver original content are paid $100 a piece these days.)

Digital journalism doesn't seem to pay – at least not like journalism used to.

Digital journalism doesn't seem to pay – at least not like journalism used to.

The editor-in-chief of The Atlantic issued a formal apology to Thayer for offending him. Bob Cohn, the head of Atlantic Digital, said that ‘it was a mistake’; Thayer should have been asked ‘if the Atlantic could cross-post, or syndicate, the original piece, with no more work involved on Thayer’s part’.

Felix Salmon uses the whole affair to look at the current media landscape and concludes:

Digital journalism isn’t really about writing, any more – not in the manner that freelance print journalists understand it, anyway. Instead, it’s more about reading, and aggregating, and working in teams.

In an ironic twist, the Nate Thayer piece that the Atlantic was so fond of has been hit with some pretty incriminating plagiarism charges. ‘At the very least, his citations are a bit sloppy,’ writes New York magazine, which calls him out in detail for a raft of unattributed quotes through his piece, which was ‘deeply indebted’ to a 2006 article on the same subject.

Pay the writers

Meanwhile, over at Overland, Jennifer Mills addresses the issue of writer payment from an Australian perspective - again, using an example of being offered exposure in lieu of payment. She argues in favour of writers organising as a collective to negotiate reasonable payment and conditions.

Karen Pickering: Has argued against writers working for free.

Karen Pickering: Has argued against writers working for free.

We published arguments for and against writers working for free, by Helen Razer and Karen Pickering respectively, late last year.

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