One of the most depressing things about the present climate is the number of talented journalists who agree to allow mainstream media to publish their work for no payment.

“But I quite enjoy it,” said one such to me the other day. Well, yes you are allowed to enjoy your work. But letting employers and publishers think they can get quality work for nothing merely speeds the decline of the profession, and undercuts your colleagues.

So it was with interest that I read this post by Silicon Valley blogger and media executive Alan Mutter, whose argument I entirely agree with. Mutter goes one step further and provides a spreadsheet for working out what to charge for a 600 word freelance journalism piece .

The figures are relevant to the US, of course. Depressingly, they come out with a wordage rate of just US $0.35c a word – which even allowing for the exchange rate is low by Australian standards.

Or is it? 

I think it would be useful to find out what different freelancers are getting paid by our mainstream publications. Here’s what I know:

Fairfax broadsheets start by offering .60c to.70c a word these days, but can be pushed higher if they want you badly enough. Section editors are adept at getting around the bean counters’ rules.

The Monthly still offers its $1 a word, which was princely when that magazine started, and still handsome.

I hear the RACV magazine pays well for both words and photos.

What do others know? Let’s share the market knowledge. Contributions to [email protected] Anonymity will be preserved.