Crikey media blogger Margaret Simons got her nose put out of joint when she got word of a new freelance writer contract being touted by Pacific Magazines.
As a result of her ruminations, Margaret put out a call to freelancers on her blog to send in details of what they receive as compensation for their work. The results were assembled and published today. They make grim reading.
While Simons says in another post that the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (the journalist's union) recommends a per-word rate of around 90 cents, the market in reality can be a lot less bountiful for freelancers.
Freelancers on the dedicated Google Group and on Twitter continued the discussion, ruminating that the pro-blogger economy has hurt freelance fees, that freelancers should uniformly refuse to work for nothing, and that exploitation of student-journalist labour has increased as the market tightens.
It's not that long ago that I bumped into an ex-teacher from my postgrad uni days, who told me this was the worst time he'd known to be a journalist.
Readers (I know you're there, mate!) who frequent this blog will know what I've been working for lately. But things are looking up. Sort of.
Today, for example, I did a bit of biographical composition for a budding filmmaker who contacted me on Facebook. Kudos to me, but nix in the lucre department.
Then I got an email from an interviewee on a recent story telling me that my editor in the magazine had said that my article was "impressive" and that he would consider taking more from me in future.
These are seemingly insignificant signs of life, but they're not helping to load my dinner table with groceries, or even contribute toward my next carton of Marlboros.
I continue to pitch, plan, and wait for the boodle to drop sweetly in.