During the Canadian election, I was approached by a representative of CanWest to submit blogs for their Election Issues coverage on www.canada.com Two of my blogs were submitted, and both were selected. I considered it a serious honour to be invited to participate and to lend my words to those of other Canadians discussing issues on their minds. Since my blog address was published, presumeably exposure in this national forum would increase blog traffic and I would be able to enjoy the prestige of having my words in such a professional milieu.
Having permitted them to reprint my words, I was surprised to notice at the bottom of my reprinted piece (c) Postmedia News. Huh? Nowhere in our correspondence did they ask for nor did I give them copyright. I gave them reprint permission. Interesting, isn’t it? If some text book or magazine wants to reprint it, will they be paying Postmedia News or will they be coming to me, the author and legitimate copyright holder of the work? What would it cost me to fight it?
There is an issue among professional writers with respect to news agencies using nonprofessional, unpaid writers who work for the glory of seeing their byline. It’s pretty cool, but an unpaid byline doesn’t put bread on the table of anyone’s family, except perhaps the publisher who’s enjoying the free labour. On the other hand, how does one earn a professional reputation except through giving some words away? It’s a bit of a tightrope, to be sure.
According to the shawnbird.com site stats, although there was a bit of a spike on April 26 and 27th, there was no increase in traffic after the May 2 article was posted on canada.com which suggests that the exposure didn’t generate the potential blog traffic. None the less, it was entertaining reading the comments from readers who would not normally have been exposed to my blog, and it was a thrill to see my words in a national forum. Perhaps there will be some name recognition in the future. I’m not really counting on it, though. We Canadian artistes know that with too much free exposure you can freeze to death, after all.