The great libertarian thinker Charles Murray was paid $75 for an NYT op-ed piece. He writes:
Not that anyone has ever paid the mortgage by writing op-eds, but $75 for 800 words written for The Greatest Newspaper In the World is… how shall I put this? Weird. Do you suppose the red ink has really gotten that bad?
Yeah, it probably has. Besides which, Timothy B. Lee explains why the law of supply and demand in the Internet age have made Charles and his colleagues unhappy campers. A thinker and writer whose name most of you would recognize told me recently she phoned the op-ed page of one of the biggest U.S. dailies to ask why they hadn’t paid her for the recent essay she’d done for them. She relayed to me that she was told it was now that newspaper’s policy not to pay op-ed writers unless they made a fuss over it. She got something like $250. This is not from the Bugtussle Bugle, either, but from one of the biggest brands in American journalism. The future is not good. Word of warning to you aspiring freelance writers: don’t quit your day job. I’m very serious.
Happily for writers, the Web publication the John Templeton Foundation will soon launch, Big Questions Online, will be paying good money for essays. We’re interested in smart, insightful pieces on science, religion, markets, morals, and any combination of the four. If you have a good idea, send me (the BQO editor) a pitch at rdreher (at) templeton.org. Don’t call me, please! I’ll reply if we’re interested.