Tina Brown on Building a Subculture of Impoverished Writers


Here’s Tina Brown, from January, 2009: “For a while last year, the downsized people I know went around pretending they enjoyed the ‘freedom’ and ‘variety’ of doing ‘a whole lot of interesting things.’ Twelve months later, nobody bothers with that cover story anymore. Everyone knows what it actually feels like, this penny-ante slog of working three times as hard for the same amount of money (if you’re lucky) or a lot less (if you’re not). Minus benefits, of course…. The managers of all these disintegrating companies tend to be mesmerized by the notion that everyone can now be hired cheap-that everyone is slave labor.” And then there’s Tina Brown late last week, on Charlie Rose-in which Tina has cast herself in a different role in this fractured, problematic transactional relationship.

TINA BROWN: We do pay for content on “The Daily Beast,” but it is certainly not the —

CHARLIE ROSE: You don’t get rich on what you pay.

TINA BROWN: Right. So are we building this new sort of subculture frankly of impoverished, living in garret writers, because the fact is writers can hardly make a living right now because they don’t get paid. The same is true of songwriters and the same is true of so many artists today. We are actually relegating great people to not being able to make a living.

CHARLIE ROSE: So how are we going to change that?

TINA BROWN: Well I think we haven’t figured it out, and I think what we are right now is in a volatile moment of absolute realignment, I mean, there is kind of a volcanic shift that is happening in the landscape. And it is painful interim for artists and writers at the moment. They feel absolutely beached and orphaned. I think we are going to emerge from that and, in fact, there is a golden future, that in fact we will figure out these business models and actually there is an effervescence of content, of need for content, and real good material to see feed these multi-channels.