This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #8, on the subject of Open Letter to the Editors of The Examiner.
I have not actually told the editors of The Examiner that I am not writing for them anymore. I am not certain that they care; I am not certain that they will ever even notice. However, I have some hope that as I explain it to you, my readers, they might hear about it and learn something from it. In my defense, part of the reason I have not told them is that it has become incredibly difficult to converse with them–communication in their direction seems never to reach anyone, or at least not to get anything like a suitable reply. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let’s start by saying that I have worked with quite a few editors over the years, on my books and on articles submitted to various websites. Some of them have treated my work in a perfunctory way, that is, glancing over it and publishing it. Some have made what they thought were corrections and then published without checking with me–I have tried to make a point of informing editors that I expect final approval of anything that bears my name, because I have had some change grammatically correct text they did not understand to grammatically incorrect text that did not say what I meant. The best editors, honestly, are those who tear apart what I write and give me detailed feedback, then explain and interact until we agree on a final text.
I started at The Examiner in the middle of 2009. Animator and illustrator Jim Denaxas pointed me that direction, suggesting that the popular Temporal Anomalies materials might earn a paycheck there, so I contacted them and was almost immediately given the title Time Travel Films Examiner. At that time, it seemed that the editorial system amounted to a writer wrote, published, and promoted his articles, and if the editors got around to reading them they would sometimes push an article to the front page for extra attention, sometimes pull an article and send a message to the writer. I never had the latter happen; I only recall the former occurring once. In any case, it was evident that our remuneration was dependent upon readership, and our readership was dependent upon self-promotion; but the turnaround was fast, as one could post an article and promote it immediately.
At some point the process got a bit more complicated, because it was strongly recommended that we begin using Pinterest to promote our articles. I was already using Facebook and MySpace, but Pinterest meant having images in the articles. They provided access to Getty Images, but this was only good for national and international news and major entertainment events. For a writer covering time travel movies, there was nothing there. I also was given the title New Jersey Political Buzz Examiner in 2012, so I could publish some work on the “Birther” issue, and the Getty images were a bit more useful for that as long as the coverage was national–but there were never available photos of, for example, the candidates running against the incumbent governor and senator. The writing process just got more difficult, because I had to hunt for pictures. I was largely dependent on promotional photos for a lot of my material. (It got a bit more complicated when they changed the Getty Image system: originally it was possible to search for photos in advance of publication at my leisure, but the altered system made finding the image part of the publishing process, an added complication.)
It should be noted that this effort was bringing me pennies a day. It should also be noted that I was alway in the top quarter in both of my categories, and frequently in the top ten percent, so it wasn’t as if most writers were making more than I. I put in a lot of time for a very little money, and it was not increasing significantly. Of course, I had written many things for no money, so this was better.
The problem occurred this year, 2015, because someone at The Examiner thought they ought to tighten the editorial process. That’s fine; they have the right to improve quality that way. I think they recognized the inconvenience, because they promised quick turnaround–the inconvenience, obviously, was that now when an author published an article, he had to wait perhaps half an hour to an hour to learn whether it had been approved, and he could not promote it before that. Previously when an article was submitted, it appeared immediately, and the author was provided with automated systems to push it onto Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and LinkedIn. Now, for that few cents a day, he had to waste time waiting for approval.
That might not have been too egregious, but the editorial process itself was a shambles.
The first glitch I hit arose because I had begun republishing articles from M. J. Young Net to The Examiner. To do this, I had to serialize them, and I ran them as weekly posts on different days of the week from my regular posts. Abruptly I was notified that the third article in a series (for which the first two had posted and their were two more to come) could not be published because I was not permitted to publish material from some other web site. Of course, I could not well publish the fourth part without the third, and since I was doing both law and time travel materials it put both in question, but my original agreement with The Examiner stated that I owned the articles and could publish them elsewhere, so there was no logic to an objection that I could not publish articles at The Examiner that I owned but had previously published elsewhere. I sent a message to attempt to get an answer, and the only answer I got was that someone apparently had changed his mind and restored the article before the person I contacted looked at it–but it took over a week to get that answer.
A few days later I published another “republished” article. I had been putting an opening paragraph in italics introducing the articles and the fact that they had been previously published but were now being edited for serialization. I had done this with every such article to this point–but this time I got blocked with a note that said I overused italics. I could not help wondering whether the editor had even read the article, but with some grumbling to myself that it was going to create an inconsistent appearance I removed the italics from the opening paragraphs and resubmitted it. A few hours later I received a notice that said they were not certain I had permission to use the image.
I don’t know whether I had permission to use the image; it was a movie poster, published for promotional purposes, so I’m assuming the movie producers wanted it circulated. I can understand blocking the use of an image if it might not be a legitimate use (after all, that Image A.S.C.A.P. proposal has not been adopted). My objection is that they should have said that on the first submission–I’ve already put several hours into what should be a ten minute publishing process, and they want me to put several more hours into it. It is one thing if in fixing one part of an article you break something else; it is entirely different if the editor is going to raise one objection at a time, over the course of what can turn into hours or even days. This is supposed to be published at the speed of Internet News. It is not supposed to take me all day to earn those few pennies.
So I wish The Examiner and its editors and its remaining writers well, but am removing my articles from their publication. After all, after having refused to publish one of my articles they had the nerve to remind me that if I don’t publish them often enough I don’t get paid for traffic to the old ones, and I don’t see any equity in allowing them to profit from my old work when they put up such obstacles to the new and failed to provide a means for two-way communication between the writers and the editors.
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