OnPoint by Keith Ng

72

Meet your new overlords + media conference

They are here. Finally. The robots have armed themselves and are now ready to rid the planet of its organic scourge. Pity the fools.

The US Army have finally deployed armed ground robots in Iraq - essentially a remote-controlled gun, scope and cameras on a tracked platform. It looks kinda like a weaponised Johnny 5, with less personality and a lower centre of gravity. The one armed with a six-barrelled grenade launcher was the scariest. I think I would utterly shit myself if one of those little buggers came wheeling after me.

Favourite quotes:

"Anything can happen when a robot is given a machine gun."

"[It's] a significant emotional event..."

Let it out, soldier. Let it out.

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Meanwhile, No Right Turn has some beefy reportage from the Journalism Matters conference in the weekend. And kudos to the Herald, for putting Judy McGregor's speech - which is pretty critical of APN, the Herald's publisher - on their website.

I/S was appalled at how badly journalists are paid. More to the point, how badly we're underpaid, as demostrated by everyone who switches industries and suddenly make a whole lot more money.

We bring it on ourselves, I think. As an industry, we talk ourselves up as bearers of a civic duty, how fantastic the job is, how we'd hate to sell our soul to become a PR hack. It's all true, but damn, it makes for a lousy bargaining position.

I was once told apolegetically by [a section editor] of [a metro daily] that they only paid 25c per word, but that on the bright side, I would get to establish my reputation by being published in [a metro daily]. It was true, and I did the story. But what good is having a good reputation all it meant was that you could work for 40c per word?

It's interesting that trade press (industry publications) with a fraction of the readers of metro dailies will actually pay more for stories. My hypothesis is that a) those who set freelancing rates know that we do it for the love, and are therefore happy to oblige by setting below-market rates, or b) the marginal returns on attracting better journalists with more money isn't worth it (i.e. More money might get them a better journalist doing a better story, but a better story doesn't do enough for the paper to justify the investment).

The EPMU has a full list of freelance rates here. It makes no sense whatsoever (the rates, not the list). For example, the best paying freelance gigs in New Zealand are NZ House and Garden and AA Directions. No offence to AA Directions, but, jesus, AA Directions?

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