Dominic Holden has a pretty amazing piece about the fact that The Seattle Times is charging its employees to use the Seattle Times online archive.
As a reporter, I frequently have to search our website’s online archives for linking, providing context, or developing backfill on articles. It didn’t seem possible that a newspaper would actually charge its reporters for an essential function of their jobs. That would be like installing payphones on everyone’s desk and pocketing the money.
At first, when I read that last sentence, I thought don’t give them any ideas. Giving Frank Blethen ways to screw his employees over is like giving Frank Blethen a gun and a puppy: nothing good can come out of it, yet Frank Blethen will be full of smiles. But then I thought fuck it, and came up with a list of other ways he can screw his employees:
- Charge reporters for pens and notepads
- Force delivery drivers to pay for routine maintenance on their trucks, or at least to paint them over
- Reclassify all employees as interns, and don’t pay them
- Instead of paying writers per word, charge them per word for proofing and editing
- Force freelancers to buy ad space
- Force columnists to sell ad space
- Give ad space away free to candidates and causes, thus devaluing the pretense of neutrality that the paper strives for
- Make nepotism hires for important jobs