Gaby Dunn complains about a common practice in media:

Not too long ago, I was desperate for paid work, so I gave away a lot of my ideas and rights. In 2013 I was a staff writer for the website Thought Catalog and they asked me if they could publish a book of my previously published TC essays. An editor and I put it together while I was a salaried employee for no extra money. I did not receive any bonus or commission on sales of the book. But wow! I had gotten to publish a book! Incredible! Three years later, I no longer work at TC. I am more well-known and have more fans. These fans find the book and excitedly purchase it thinking they’re supporting me. But I don’t see any of that money. The more high-profile I become, the more the book sells for Thought Catalog.

After that, I got hired at Buzzfeed, and it happened again. I was hired first as on-camera talent and then as a scripted series writer. I was excited to have a steady writing gig and thrilled by the $55,000 annual salary. Before being hired there, I had no idea the company had a huge YouTube presence, but I thought I’d stay a couple of months, find another industry gig, and peace out. I ended up staying eight months because the non-compete caused me to turn down other work and meetings that might have led to other work. There was a constant push-and-pull about how much we could do outside of Buzzfeed and how much other projects would take time from our full-time jobs. Even the concept of “time” was up for debate. I stayed because I felt trapped.

I went into it not entirely prepared to be sympathetic, but I thought she actually made some good points and the terms of “employment” really do seem excessive. Perhaps it can be chalked up to “the market at work” but at some point we’re going to miss our on talent if enough people actually start reading and considering the contracts.

Now, let me put on my White Male hat for a moment and say one thing about it… the focus on the demographic triumvirate (women, persons of color, LGBTQ was really something of a distraction, and I suspect lessens rather than expands the impact of the piece. Throughout the article, Dunn talks about how those groups are especially impacted. The contents of the article really are pretty important for anybody to understand, and the problem is a problem for anybody in media. The demographic framing runs the risk of telling others either “This is not something you want to worry about” or generally making them less sympathetic because they are on the “wrong” side of this. People who jump to the latter conclusion are not acting as their ideal selves… but most of the time, most people don’t.

Category: Theater

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15 Responses to Women & Children Hit Hardest

  1. KenB says:

    To some extent she’s exhibiting hindsight bias, but I think she places the responsibility where it belongs, i.e. on herself. By and large, the rewards go to those who take the risks, and choosing to get a paycheck is usually equivalent to letting someone else take the risk and thus claim any reward. The TC thing could have worked out differently — her works might not have been worth anything and then the money they paid for her time and for the publishing would have been wasted.

    Re the identity issues, yes, it seems like for the new generation of liberals, there’s no issue that can’t be connected to race/gender/orientation. With that Stanford rape case, my (liberal) wife rolled her eyes when she saw on FB where his treatment was being compared to the treatment of a black athlete in a similar situation — her reaction was basically “the perpetrator and the victim are both white, so why do we need to bring racism into this?”. OTOH my liberal daughter said it was very important to call out the disparate treatment because besides the wealth and gender component, there was also a race component.

    To which I said that by that definition there’s a race component to every single thing that happens in this country, and her response was “You’re right! Which is why we need to call attention to it!”

  2. ScarletNumber says:

    I’m shocked, SHOCKED you didn’t cross post this.

    • ScarletNumber says:

      That’s why his blog is superior to Over There, plus the readership is more intelligent.

      • dand says:


        I’ve always wondered what the comments that don’t make it through moderation look like.

        I only started reading him when Razib moved to Unz.

    • trumwill says:

      Context is a thing.

      When the thing first hit, I thought it might have been incidental (the Microsoft Shapes thing). I could see myself missing it and being horrified when someone said “Now imagine that star yellow.”

      But that’s just it, I would gave been horrified. Whatever slack I might have cut went away when they responded the way they did. And then it turned out likely not to be incidental.

      They decided the role they wanted to play here. Frozen doesn’t bail them out.

      • dand says:

        Yeah, I could imagine something like this happening where the media did blow it out of proportion if it were someone other than Trump.

        I was wondering if Trump got the image from uncle steve…

        • trumwill says:

          That it’s Trump is important, though. It fits a specific pattern of behavior (retweeting material blatantly offensive sources).

          If it had been Ben Carson (the only other candidate who could be comparably dangerous, in my view), it would have been an assumed error (because if he’s dangerous, he’s not dangerous is quite the same way).

        • Brandon Berg says:

          I’m skeptical that Trump’s campaign is directly taking things from white supremacist sites. My guess is that it someone else takes something from those sites and posts out to Reddit, or tweets it, then someone from Trump’s campaign sees it and retweets it without researching the original source, because, let’s face it, it takes quite a bit of reaching to decide that a solid starburst superimposed over Hillary Clinton is actually a Star of David (almost always drawn as two interlaced triangles).

          With all the legitimate criticisms there are to make of Trump, it really speaks to the intellectual bankruptcy of the identity-politics left that they’re trying to make an issue out of this. But it’s the only trick they know.

        • trumwill says:

          I think your explanation is credible, but I also don’t think that lets the Trump campaign off the hook. I didn’t notice the Star of David at first, but… people did. And it is what it is. And it was, evidently, put there intentionally.

          Even if it was incidentally passed on, you can respond in such a way as to indicate that you didn’t mean to pass on imagery from anti-semitic sources, or you can respond in such a way that you did or at least don’t care that you did. They chose the latter route.

          I agree that there are more substantive complaints against Trump, but this anti-Semitic thing is enough of a thing to be an issue, and Trump himself is keeping it in the headlines.

        • It’s things like this that make me want to vote for Clinton instead of the 3d party I was planning on voting for. I still don’t like Clinton–and I still believe my vote won’t even come close to making a difference in this election–but if my voting for her puts the screws to Trump even a little bit more than my voting 3d party, then I’m more inclined to do it than I’ve been.

    • trumwill says:

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