Wednesday, February 3, 2010

To those considering writing for the, read this first!

To those considering writing for the
Al Ritter

Financial incentives

When I first signed on to write for the they hinted at 1 cent per page view, which to be honest, at the time didn’t exactly impress me, but it was more than I receive for page views on my blog. This amount neither convinced me nor turned me away from writing for what I considered to a conservative leaning publication. From February 2009 to the summer of 2009 I did in fact receive 1 cent a page view and my ability to reach larger audiences with my opinions and views had outweighed the pay I was receiving. In the summer of 2009 the came up with a new formulation to compute page hits. This formula was NOT shared with the writers, claiming that it was similar to the formula that Ad Sense uses. They did say that it had to do with average time per view, and how many of your past articles were viewed in addition to your new one. This amount ranged between 10 and 20% less than the original 1 cent per view. This amount continued until mid December when the pay per page view dropped to approximately ½ cent per page view.

Background checks and liability

When I first applied to write for the I filled out an online application. I was informed after qualifying to become a writer that the would need to perform a criminal background check on me. This puzzled me……what exactly did that have to do with writing an interesting, informative article? Would G. Gordon Liddy be denied a writing job because of his criminal background? Finally I was cleared to write but was required to read a “terms of agreement” which foolishly I never copied for later proof against ever changing claims by management. Each writer was required to write 4 to 5 articles a week, save any and all resources, and all original articles used for publication. The writer is also responsible for all liability pertaining to each article written.

Writer support
Any company is only as good as the support they give to employees, and the is no different. The only way to find out how much your boss supports you is through experience and need. Each writer is given a contact or handler. My contact only answered my emails 50% of the time, and only then when the could possibly lose money. On the other hand my contact expected me to reply to HIS emails to me immediately, marking all his emails with “priority.” The website has a support area to fill out a form on complaints or problems. I had filled out so many of these forms having to do with publishing and site problems, I had lost count. Readership had dropped in early fall 2009 because of problems they were having getting articles into the Google search engines, nobody can find articles unless they show up there, either in the news section or the normal search. In the beginning I would get little emails regarding errors I had made, from the “editor guru.” These errors were merely oversights and could have easily been caught by spell check, which I used Word later on as my writing tool, to later cut and paste as my article. The also reveiled my personal phone number to a reader that wanted additional information on an article, a breach I don't approve of!

Publishing tools
The publishing tools the uses are difficult to learn, and up until recently didn’t really jive with Microsoft Word! I don’t know what they expected you to use as a tool to edit your work with before publication, but it wasn’t Word! I have the advantage of judging one publisher to another as I have a blogsite also. My blog is through “blogspot” a site owned and operated by Google. Articles on blogspot are extremely easy and take less than 30 seconds to post. The articles are difficult and the tools that are required are clunky and don’t always work the first time. Each article takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Any pictures you use in any of your articles have to be pics taken by you, previously published pics from AP photographers on the, or freedom of use articles on the internet such as Wikipedia, etc.

Thinly veiled censorship
As with most credit card companies and banks your terms of agreement change, and so does the direction of the I agreed to write for the Examiner as a conservative view from the Baltimore MD area. No demands were made of me to write on just local area politics; in fact I wrote some 250 commentary based articles on the national scene. To now supplement the amount of pay per views the Examiner has instituted, “Rules of the Road,” to pay you an additional bounty based on what THEY want you to write.
1) Topical
Articles are written in a manner that is knowledgeable about their assigned subject matter, and provide useful, relevant information to readers who might share a passion about it.
2) Local
If it's not locally relevant, it's not a local article. The combination of your topic and your city is the most important aspect of your Examiner contributions.
3) Length
Articles should be 200-400 words on average, and no less than 150 words. Use Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? as a guide.
4) Credibility
Use external sources whenever appropriate; quote and reference them when you do. Tip: Build real relationships within the community to use as ongoing source material; their credibility will build and strengthen yours.

Comment moderation

Comment moderation on the internet is handled differently by different companies, but the Examiner .com’s policy on comment moderation is sorely lacking, in fact it is nonexistent. Any moderation has to be done by the writer, except for profanities, which the Examiner will remove, but only after a complaint. You make think this is a pretty good policy at first, and it would be until you get an online troll stalker. In the summer of 2009 a particular person who didn’t agree with me wanted to make my life a living hell. The wouldn’t ban his ISP number, so I was stuck babysitting my articles every day. In one day in the summer this person was posting nasty, profane, and sometime threatening comments at the rate of 3 per minute! The Examiner was useless in stopping it. Comment moderation on other sites is by approval, and that has proved to be a very effective tool to combat situations like this, as well as spam. It’s funny how spam never seems to be posted on the Examiner but hateful comments can be. Below you can see but a few of the thousands of hateful things posted on my articles since February 2009.

Entry: Is Obama playing the name game?
Posted/Updated: 09/20/2009 08:19 PM
Xenu - Another crappy article from a crappy writer.

Entry: Is a second stimulus to seniors a payoff?
Posted/Updated: 10/15/2009 12:15 PM
More stupidity from this blog - Idoiots. The payoff is to counter the lack of a Social Secuirty COLA for the first time in 30 years. Inflation has not caused an icrease in consumer prices, so their is no need for a COLA. The payment is unneccesary and is being given to seniors who claim (falsely) that expenses have gone up. In fact, these are the same seniors who were too stupid to save for any retirmenet other than Social Security, which was NEVEr meant to be a sole source of retiremnet income. Does the author ever research facts or do you and the posters just run off at the mouth like jackasses?

Entry: Attacks and violations of decorum
Posted/Updated: 10/13/2009 12:30 PM
... - Glad to see you people are still on the extreme fringes of rational thought and still have notihng of value to contribute. It's just all ignorance and conspiracies for you people. Good luck in the elections suckers! Sore ass losers!

Entry: Doctors leaving their practices
Posted/Updated: 12/30/2009 03:50 PM
Dianna Sellers - Old people like you should be put out to pasture. You should read the book "Logan's Run" because it's a classic! You and ol' Yeller are suffering from senility and rabies, respectively. The gov't should put ya out of your misery!

Entry: Don't Cry for me Nigeria!
Posted/Updated: 01/05/2010 11:31 PM
Crappy Indep - Hey Sellers, this article isn't racist, it's just stupid and poorly written. Typical grandpa

Entry: MTA Light Rail, a crowning glory or failed policy?
Posted/Updated: 01/14/2010 10:46 AM
Dianna Sellers - Al, don't start deleting my comments again. Please act your age - which is what, 86?
Entry: One man’s ascension to power
Posted/Updated: 01/24/2010 02:31 AM
i h8 neo cons - neo cons like you need to be put to sleep. how dare you link Obama to Hitler. yet you voted for george bush - you hypocrite!!!

As you can see the benefits are hardly worth the hassle to me, you might think that “getting your word out” is worth all the problems that the Examiner causes. You may think that maybe I am merely a malcontent marginal writer bent on painting the Examiner in a bad light. Since June 2009 I have been the most read political writer in the Baltimore area. My articles had 141,000 hits last year, my highest month was 30,000 hits, I have written over 600 articles in an 24 month period, I wasn’t a fluke or a flash in the pan, my history was simple and easily proven. I have a fan base of loyal readers, they don’t make any comments on the Examiner anymore because they don’t like to be bashed by the stalker, this is sad. I liked appealing to a large readership, but I refuse to bend to something I’m not. I will continue my high standards of research, and publishing the very articles my readers can use as definitive proof of claims of their position to others.
If you would like to follow my work you may do so at


Anne Wayman said...

Have you made the penny a page? Are they paying you? Have the kept with their agreements?

Those are the issues for freelance writers... much more than what kinds of comments you get. Or it least it seems that way to me.

Anonymous said...

Al and I are friendly colleagues on I have mainly enjoyed by relationship with A few of Al's points I find accurate, a few don't hold true for me. I get about 9/10 of a cent per hit currently, not including the new "local" incentive. I understood when I signed up about nine months ago that I was supposed to write local interest articles. I now do that as a rule. The tool used to be much more cumbersome than it is now, but I have no other experience to compare it to. I enjoy the lack of editing on my articles and on the comments. I have never had an article edited one word. has changed the pay structure twice since I started. They are a bit slow to respond to requests. All in all however, I am satisfied, enjoy the venue provides, and hope they will require more quality of their writers as the business grows. Everyone gets nasty comments, so what? I think if you handle them correctly and don't respond to them emotionally, the problem will usually take care of itself. I recommend to anyone who loves to write on their topic, does it well, and is not doing it for the money.

republican patriot said...

Anne I used to get a penny a page view until the procedure changed, it was then cut by 10 to 20%. Later things changed again and the rate is closer to 1/2cent per what they refer to now as "usage earnings," notice the new term has nothing to do with page hits.

No they haven't held true to their agreements in my opinion

pamela m said...

Okay...I want to smack the crap out of this Diana Sellers person. What a jerk she is!!!! You and I know you are only 85....LOL
Glad you are no longer dealing with these people.

barb p said...

This is incredible...where does this newspaper 'live'? They sound very 'foreign' to me as well as the 'reactions' of people who negatively responded to your articles. If they felt so strong...then let them 'write a constructive article' regarding today's politics. I am not that 'up' on many of the political 'goings on' and have the highest respect for someone such as yourself who does. Your research only speaks to your effort in reporting what is accurate. I am really sorry to read this Al. I won't wish you luck with your continued endeavors, your intelligence with continue to keep people very interested in your writings. When I read your articles, I realize how much I lack in the political 'arena of information', but the responses shown below give me more faith in people like me who read people like you...keep it up.

B Goode said...

No, I'm not considering writing for, but thanks for your e-mail anyway. I read the whole thing you sent. This is my opinion: Yes, they allowed you to post "conservative" articles, but they are LIBERAL bastards, trust me, they might don't tell you and other conservative writers but they rather have ONLY Liberals posting. That is why nothing was done about the hateful responses you got from Liberal stalkers/trolls.

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republican patriot said...

As a follow up to this article, the Examiner decided to remove an article I wrote claiming it was an opinion piece. Well all political writers do "opinion pieces" They went on to claim it was written in first person, so I changed it to thrird person and reposted it. I wrote a pretty pointed letter explaining that it just wasn't "their" opinion, and I wouldn't any longer tolerate censorship of any form. Their reply was typical of the confrontational attitude they had exhibited from the day I started.....if you are even slightly considering writing for these morons, I'd think about it seriously!

Debbie Dillon said...

Hello there! I'm just now reading this, and I'm so glad I did. I'm thinking of cancelling my application (just submitted yesterday).
I'd like to know if you currently write for the Examiner and if your views are the same now as when you first posted your article.

republican patriot said...

No Debbie, I made them fire me!