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Slate Seeks Monogamous Indentured Servant for Aggregation

It's always painfully ironic whenever a left-leaning media outfit reveals how, at heart, it's as money-grubbing and hard-nosed as any capitalist tool. As in, for instance, the Huffington Post's ready surrender to AOL's buyout offer.

However, there's a smaller yet still poignant current example in Slate, the online magazine owned by the Washington Post (WPO) -- an older journalistic icon often associated with the left. As it turns out, Slate needs a new employee -- well, really, a new contractor. But it would much rather not pay very much for one.

In the modern media world, where profits are scarce and health insurance, expensive, the term "employee" conjures a regular salary, benefits, maybe overtime, and at least a couple of weeks severance pay when tight times demand that management lay off the newest hires. But that's not what Slate's job posting suggests:

Slate seeks a smart, quick journalist to revamp the "Slatest," its news aggregator. The job will be to write circa 15 items a day for Slate's news blog, keeping our readers abreast of breaking news throughout the day. Posts should be pithy, clear, and offer an insightful take on news as it breaks -- like your smartest friend giving you a pointed and illuminating summary. Candidates should be sharp writers, voracious readers, and newshounds, preferably with a good understanding of SEO. The position is a full-time contract position without benefits.
Might as well read: "Slate seeks someone young, inexperienced, tireless, addicted to caffeine, and willing to write news items based on the reporting of others who do get benefits." Oh, don't forget, "ready to work in either New York City or Washington, D.C." As one commenter on the job posting put it: "Great! I've been looking for a job with no benefits and that would require me to move to one of the most expensive cities in the U.S." In other words, political talk is cheap.

A problem with the approach is that the IRS and state tax authorities tend to frown upon companies that say full-time staff members who work on site, where the company controls their hours and time, are contractors. But then, maybe the IRS doesn't read Slate.


Image: Flickr user striatic, CC 2.0.
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