Examining Examiner

I was already in the writing field around 2000-2001 when pay-per-click markets were all the rage, and I was around when they went down the tubes rather rapidly, disappointing hordes of new age/pagan writers along with well, every other writer trying to adapt to how the Internet changes how we do just about everything. I had earned a grand total of eight-three cents back then, money lost to the ages, along with the $450 a Tuscaloosa Alabama rag never paid me for writings on tarot and alternative religion. I’m hardly the only writer to get taken, and sometimes it’s hard not to see it as just one more crappy thing that happens in the freelance biz.

At the behest of a friend, I applied for the Minneapolis Museum Examiner gig and was accepted. They did ask for my social – unthrilling, but I’ve got my credit report pretty carefully blocked to casual users and they do use a direct login system- and I was off. Family and friends really seem to enjoy the postings, and my mother’s likely thrilled I’m writing something she can comfortably tell her church and DAR friends about. It’s very self-directed, which suits me, although I do have some nagging concerns about it. First, a lot of other people are crossing my path and getting Examiner gigs. They’re all great writers/bloggers that I’ve seen in action, but something about the closeness of the connections nags at me. Second, I’ve taken away something fun from myself – my musuem explorations. I’ve made them work and not fun. Something in the back of my mind bothers me about this gig.

So when this post on Writer’s Weekly crossed my RSS feed, it gave me pause.

“1. They reportedly pay 1 penny per page view. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Even if it was double that, it would be hysterically and insultingly low. So, if you email 20 friends and ask them to read your article – and 5 actually do bother to click – you’ve earned a whopping 5 cents. Whoo hoo!!!

2. They claim you retain rights to your work. But, read the fine print:


However, by uploading, posting, transmitting or otherwise making any User Content available on or through this Site, you are granting Examiner.com, and its parent, subsidiaries, and affiliates, an irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free license to copy, modify, publish, distribute publicly, and prepare derivative works of such User Content in any medium or form, without any obligation of notice, attribution or compensation to you.

If somebody else has these rights to your work, the resale value of your article is likely zero. You can’t sell first rights to anyone else and you have to let any potential buyer know that you’ve already given these generous (and entirely unnecessary!) rights to another company. It appears they’re a content meat market as well!

3. They do background checks on all “examiners.” You may or may not agree with me on this but I think this is a gross intrusion in exchange for paying ONE PENNY per page view. Ridiculous…

4. Their contract doesn’t “guarantee” any payment rate at all! See the note at the end of this article.”

They go on to cite the following complaints:
Ripoffreport.com 1
Ripoffreport.com 2

I don’t know much about how RipOffReport is run, but mediabistro’s posting did raise some flags.

It’s food for thought. I haven’t drawn any conclusions yet, but my flags are raised. Blogging has changed the meaning of writing, and journalistic credentials don’t mean what they used to (although I do have a degree in mass communication.) I have my doubts that journalistic credentials ever meant what some people assume they do – journalism is anything but surgery.

Now that anyone can declare a blog and write out expertise, the rules have changed, and I think that there’s a mentality that a)self-promotion is just part of the game and that b)the pay per click model just might work.

I’ll have to think about it; my instincts are good and if I’ve been feeling disinclined there’s usually an external reason.