Friday, September 26, 2008


Your client assigns you a project and it goes something like this:
Client – “Oh, I put together a rough draft, just some notes, really. I’m not the writer, that’s what we pay you for, ha-ha.”

You talk some more, get the details, review what the press is saying about the topic, incorporate some of that language, and (as Hunter S. used to say) you piece together a few facts throw in a little old negro wisdom and, bam, this nightmare’s over.

Except when you send it to the client for review they come back and say, “You know, just change it back to what I had before.”

So, what do you pay me for?


Say it like Seinfeld used to say “Newman” – with pursed lips and clenched teeth.


When I was on the agency side we used to joke that this would be a great job if it weren’t for the clients. Talk on the phone, read magazines, write and suggest to other writers what they should write. Only we had to suggest they write about our clients. Sure there are plenty of creative ways to do that, but you’re still pimping someone else’s dream.

Back then I thought, well, those reporters can’t be too pleased with themselves either. As kids did they dream about growing up to write about COBOL or Virtual Private Networks or Public Key Infrastructure? God, I hope not. I would hope they dreamt about being Ernest Hemingway or Woodward or Bernstein or both (Woodstein? Bernward? Ouch). No, who would ever dream about writing for a tech trade rag?

Now, though, you see people writing about all this crap just for fun, because they like it and want to share their opinions about it – for free.

And there, oh imagined reader, is the rub.

See, we had to pimp for our clients, that’s what they paid us for. The writers at CMP and IDG, et al, they had to write about tech because that’s what their bosses paid them for, tech was what paid for the rag in the first place. No ads, no articles.

Everything’s all upside down now, and crazy people are writing whatever sort of crap they want. Present company excluded, of course. What is one to do?

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