Consider saving your Snap! attacks for news of note. Limited to the software issue, the piece may have earned its keep.
Snap! the Sweatshop
Your item about Snap! ("Can't the ILGWU Do Something About This?") prompted quite the response from Executive Producer Katharine English, who threatened her employees with unspecified trouble if her internal memo defending Snap!'s free-lance policies was released to the press.
All that and just think, your piece didn't even begin to touch the unpaid overtime required of on-staff employees at the "service" and the repetitive stress injuries increasingly incurred by employees as management looks the other way.
The person whose memo you quoted, Suzanne Herel, has taken the job of a laid-off employee, likely at a lower salary -- although it's not a union shop (of course), some would consider her a scab.
Snap! is a lawsuit (or five) waiting to happen.
The Web at $7.50 an Hour
Your story about CNET ("Can't the ILGWU Do Something About This?") made me cringe, as I had a similar experience with another S.F. media company. In 1996 I was hired to write Web site reviews for $5 per review. Shit howdy, I was raring to go when my supervisor told me I'd be making an average of $20 per hour.
They'd send the writers batches of 100 URLs, most of which contained the same genre of site. What do you say differently in both content and style about the Dodge of Jacksonville's site from the Ford of Portland's site from the Subaru of Riverside's site? I'd do a little dance of joy if my batch contained less than 10 in a row of the same thing.
Twenty bucks an hour? Try $7.50. When working with a 28.8 modem, having to crawl through each site to analyze content/style and check links, and then write about it with what the copy editors called "savvy" (read: pretension and irony), there's no way it'd take less than 30 to 45 minutes per site. Then I started getting twice-weekly e-mail from my supervisor telling me I'd have to pick up the pace or else I'd be fired. Everyone else in my pool seemed to have no problem cranking out a minimum of 150 reviews per week, she said, although the story was quite different when I talked to those very co-workers, who were running up against the same time and writing issues I was.
I've met several people in the two years since who've done similar contract work, and this story is not a new one. Internet companies are exploiting eager young people to grind out a competitive Web product. I guess that's the price you pay for wanting to be involved in something so "cutting edge." Forget getting your foot in the door, because before you know it the door slams shut on your fingers.
And One Pro ...
Thank you for doing the story on the attempted murder of Sargon Dadesho and the plight of Assyrians in Iraq and elsewhere ("Dial Saddam for Murder," March 4). Your unbiased reporting is much appreciated.
And One Con ...
I just read your piece on Sargon Dadesho ("Dial Saddam for Murder"). He is a first-class phony, and you can quote me on that. The thing I noticed the most in your article is that nowhere do you refer to him as "Dr." Dadesho, a title he has assumed for himself, while refusing all efforts to ascertain where he may have obtained his alleged Ph.D.
The Modesto Bee did a series on the Assyrians of the San Joaquin Valley a few years ago. When it came to Dadesho, they asked about the degree and some other questions. Before you knew it, Dadesho had filed a lawsuit against the Bee. In my opinion, he is not an asset but a minus for we the Assyrians.
There is one legitimate Assyrian organization in north Iraq, and that is the Assyrian Democratic Movement. Although I am not a member of ADM, I personally know their leaders in north Iraq. They are a brave bunch, and they are respected by the Assyrian populace over there. Sargon Dadesho is generally persona non grata in north Iraq, because they recognize him for what he is: a bag of hot air.