The Atlantic tells a writer: “We unfortunately can’t pay you for [your piece], but we do reach 13 million readers a month.”
If an editor offers no cash but says you’ll get lots of exposure, you usually won’t get very much exposure. fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/12/the…
— Nate Silver (@fivethirtyeight) March 5, 2013
From James Bennet, editor in chief of The Atlantic
Atlantic staff journalists write most of the stories on our sites. When we publish original, reported work by freelancers, we pay them. Our freelance rates vary, depending on the kind of work involved. We do publish some unpaid pieces, typically analysis or commentary by non-journalists, if the work meets our standards and if, of course, the writer sees value in publishing with us. We don’t force anyone to contribute to us, and we are extremely grateful to the wonderful writers who do.
The case involving Nate Thayer is unusual. We did not ask him to report and write an original piece for us, but we did ask if he’d be interested in posting a condensed version of an article he had already published elsewhere, which we would have done with full credit to the original publisher. We rarely do this outside our established partnerships, but we were enthusiastic about bringing Thayer’s work to a larger audience – an outcome, I guess, we have now, backhandedly, achieved. We’re sorry we offended him.