Writing Op-Eds Doesn’t Pay!

AEI’s Charles Murray, he of Bell Curve fame, is irked at the NYT:

To all my fellow ink-stained wretches, a heads up. I got my check from the New York Times for an op-ed that was published a few weeks ago. It was for $75. Not that anyone has ever paid the mortgage by writing op-eds, but $75 for 800 words written for The Greatest Newspaper In the World is… how shall I put this? Weird. Do you suppose the red ink has really gotten that bad?

Alan McDuffee thinks it “weird” that Murray is “posting something for the New York Times complaint department on the AEI blog.”    That doesn’t strike me as unusual; bloggers use their spaces to bitch about things that annoy them all the time.  Indeed, some bloggers mostly use their space in that way.

More saliently, though, Matt Yglesias tweets, “If Charles Murray isn’t happy with the NYT’s op-ed rates, I’m happy to take his space.”   Indeed, as I replied, I’m shocked that NYT pays for opeds at all.  Certainly, they don’t need to. As Adam Serwer retorted, “they could probably charge if they wanted to.”

Maybe that’s the new business model for the major papers!  Certainly, the big boys could generate quite a bit of money by bidding out their editorial space to think tanks, public policy groups, and wealthy individuals looking for a big platform.  They’re just giving this valuable commodity away for nothing!  Sometimes, they even pay $75!

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Brett says:

    It definitely seems like an “Op-Ed buyers” market out there, so the major papers can get away with cheap-skating writers and pundits. There’s always more where they came from, as Matt Yglesias’ comment testifies.

  2. john personna says:

    Content vs. Venue?

  3. Anon says:

    Murray reveals a remarkable degree of cluelessness about pricing. It’s especially ironic given that he is at AEI.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    Isn’t that one of the points behind political blogging? That op-eds aren’t worth paying for?

  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    Free-lance rates for newspapers have always been pitiful.

    So, Murray, a guy who worships IQ, a certified think tank guy, is shocked by this? Interesting.

  6. john personna says:

    I have a comment, I’ll post it for $5

  7. In my experience writing op/eds the pay-out ranges from $0-$150.