I once ran into a starving freelance tech journalist at a Google press briefing by Eric Schmidt. There was very limited seating in the room, so this journalist began questioning the “purity” of some of those who had been invited. She seemed taken aback that in the online marketing specialties, many of the “thought leaders” were also practitioners who worked on campaigns for clients, for pay.
Then why are you here? she said, unabashedly, implying that a proper “analysis” can only come from people who don’t bill clients.
That would be like issuing an ultimatum to an NFL player who played three seasons on special teams, butting heads sporadically for the cause, making a grand total of zero after tax and expenses, to continue strapping on the pads and playing for even less pay in some exhibition league. Even though he has a family to feed and a $75,000 a year job offer on the table from an insurance company.
It’s fun to be part of the show. But you still have to work. If you have any financial sense whatsoever, you should probably do both.
As for j-school concepts like journalistic detachment and integrity: how are underpaid freelance journalists who don’t take on enough extra work to make ends meet, faring on the bias meter? Won’t they eventually have to throw in the towel to take a public relations job in their industry, or at least self-censor to appease perceived influencers and future sources?
Enjoy the show, folks. No charge.