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If everybody worked like freelancers

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A Toronto advertising agency came up this clever take about working on spec but it's likely to attract knowing sighs from freelance journalists. Tim Nudd provides the context for the short video, in which "a guy approaches real men and women (not actors) in other businesses and asks them to provide him with a product or service for free, to see if he likes it before committing to more." The video was produced for an annual awards event last week but has now gone viral.

Why is it so hard to unsubscribe?

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Sadie Stein gets too many online newsletters in her inbox and she blames herself — or at least her hoarder-like inability to let go of them: "There are the discount offers, of course. Don’t we all get those? Dirt-cheap massages! Flash sales! Exorbitant shoes made merely overpriced! And wait — the sale has been extended! Here’s the Project Runway contestant you started following nine years ago because you were so moved by his tears when he was told to pack his things."

Requiem for an office machine

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Jack Limpert's typewriter reminiscences about the good old days, when it was the focal point of the office instead of forgotten in the basement: "I remember hearing the salespeople say that if we spent $100,000 on their computers, we’d be able to save that much in salaries because the computers were so efficient. Ha! The staff is bigger than ever, and we now have two guys called IT managers and everyone treats them like the most important people in the office."

In search of the ultimate clickbait

Bryn Nelson riffs on the new economics of journalism, where the pay is less than lawnmowing wages and getting your point across to your readers counts for less than page views, shares, and upvotes: "Think of it as a marginally kinder and gentler 'Hunger Games' for journalists. You see, my pay is contingent on each post being in the top 10% of all articles every month. Plus, if I’m one of the lucky six writers with the most points, I earn the unheard-of bonus of $150!"

Did Cicero really write Lorem ipsum?

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Josh Jones wonders who wrote the famous filler type and discovers the answer starts with Cicero, with help from a long-forgotten typesetter. Quoting Richard McClintock of Hampden-Sydney College: "It has been used as filler text since the sixteenth century when — as McClintock theorized — 'some typesetter had to make a type specimen book, to demo different fonts' and decided that 'the text should be insensible, so as not to distract from the page’s graphical features.'"

What a freelancer's texts really mean

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Kate Hamill lifts the veil and explains what freelancers are really saying in their text messages: "Yes, I’d love to come meet you at the gym, Workout Buddy! Morning is great, except I will inevitably sleep through my alarm after staying up until 3 a.m. When you wake me up, I will pretend that I was up late dancing the night away at some wild party – instead of sitting at home doing obsessive, nitpicky edits to my website after 4 cups of ill-advised evening coffee."

A writer discloses her mood swings

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Joanna Penn takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the roller-coaster of her emotions as a writer. On the one hand: "I love connecting with my readers and fans. I love reading reviews and getting emails from people who enjoy my books." Then, careening to the opposite extreme: "I’m afraid of criticism. I hate the one star reviews. They make me want to give up every day. Sometimes I wonder if it would be best if no one even read my work, because then no one would attack me."

What journalists will lose from SkyMall

SkyMall cover

Even if you've never thought about ordering some lightweight fake boulders for your front lawn, the newly bankrupt SkyMall might have had something you could use as a working journalist, Kristen Hare writes: "In honor of SkyMall, here are five things journalists actually could have used from the magazine." For example. there's the iDream3 Eye & Head Massager: "Co-workers might think you’re testing out Oculus Rift or HoloLens. But you’ll be getting an eyeball massage."

Split an infinitive? Go right ahead

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Your middle-school teacher lied to you. All those grammar rules that were drummed into your brain when you were an impressionable teen? A lot of them don't hold water, Lauren Davis writes: "Some things that people have been taught are rules of English grammar are really not rules at all — and some of them are flat-out wrong. There's actually a word for this phenomenon: hypercorrection. It's what happens when people learn that something that isn't a rule is a rule."

Can your writing make you healthier?

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Rachel Grate discusses a line of research suggesting that the act of writing — even bad writing — can improve the writer's physical and mental health: "You don't have to be a serious novelist or constantly reflecting on your life's most traumatic moments to get these great benefits. Even blogging or journaling is enough to see results. One study found that blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to the effect from running or listening to music."