Thursday’s Gazette features some letters to the business editor responding to last week’s inaugural Business Observer section, and particularly my opinion piece about independent video producers being exploited by big media.
One of those letters asks an interesting question (which I jokingly alluded to last week): Should letter writers be paid for their opinions?
You are asking us for our opinion on using Web content with no payment to the producer. Well, how about you guys at the Gazette? Why don’t you pay the author when you publish his opinion, or even a letter to the editor? Writing something for publication doesn’t exactly take only a few minutes of his time. An opinion piece, or letter to the editor can take the author hours of his time.
So let’s be upright about this. When The Gazette (or any publication) publishes anything, there should be automatic payment for the author.
Martin Plant, Montreal
At some point, we have to have a discussion as a society over what line exists between freelance journalism (which should be paid for) and reader interaction (which shouldn’t).
They shouldn’t be paid for. Reader interaction is part of what newspapers are about, and is different from the “citizen journalist” idea — which comes down to using free content in place of paid content.
But newspapers should not commit the insult of claiming ownership of copyright in the letters. For a while, the Globe and Mail was doing this, but now they just say letters may be edited.