Reporters Balance Contributor Status

Neda Semnani is a full-time columnist for CQ Roll Call‘s “Heard on the Hill.” Yet there she was last night with a piece about Craigslist sex ads published on BuzzFeed. Was she changing jobs?

Nope. Just working her ass off.

“You know how journalism is today,” she told FishbowlDC when we asked what was going on. “Its all a bit of a hustle, get the stories reported, written and published.”

More and more often reporters are working full-time one place and serving as contributors elsewhere (as I do here at FBDC while working at The Blaze). In many cases, they juggle between publications or they contract with a cable news outlet to serve as on-air commentators.

“It is definitely a challenge to write everyday for my job, freelance and do my own stuff,” Semnani said, “but I feel like I’m still making my bones in this business and this is all trial by fire. If this schedule is what it takes to do it, then that’s just the way it is right now.”

Though she’s employed by CQ Roll Call, she said her Craigslist piece (“The Sexquester Hits D.C.’s Craigslist”) was “probably a bit too much” for the publication, so she submitted it to BuzzFeed. She also occasionally writes for Washington City Paper.

Matthew Lewis, who is a senior editor at The Daily Caller but also writes a regular column for The Week, is a similar case. In addition to those two gigs, he produces a regular podcast. Though the jobs are unrelated, Lewis told us the “vast majority” of his columns at The Week “are an outgrowth” of the blog posts he writes at The Daily Caller.

“It’s understandable that some people would have a difficult time balancing writing for two outlets,” Lewis said, “but in my case, it has been mutually beneficial, seamless, and organic.” He added, unprompted, that he doesn’t “do drama.”

Lewis said there’s been no conflict between his employers. He said his bosses at The DC have been “incredibly generous” and higher-ups at The Week “tremendously kind.”

Jonathan Capehart, an opinion writer for WaPo and an MSNBC contributor, said juggling two jobs plus frequently traveling to and from New York hasn’t caused him any problems, either. Except his jobs sometimes feel like a merry-go-round on meth.

Though the WaPo newsroom has a newsroom inside which makes TV hits easier, but Capehart says he never stops working. “I’m writing for the web so what we talk about on air could spark a column idea,” he said. “So, it’s a neat little cycle. The one thing I had to get used to is that the neat little cycle never stops.”

Conservative blogger Lisa De Pasquale balances her time between Townhall and Breitbart News. Neither have caused her conflict.

“For me it’s easy to juggle because I’m not forced to write about anything in particular,” she said. “If something interests me, it doesn’t take long to formulate a few thoughts about it.  The difficult writing is having to churn out copy about a subject that doesn’t interest me.”

The most vivid example of media job juggling is manifested in Howard Kurtz who sits on the board of advisors for The Daily Download, hosts a weekly CNN program and is the D.C. bureau chief for The Daily Beast. We’ve covered the overlapping of material that occasionally occurs with Kurtz’s multiple jobs. We often call it “double dipping” as he uses his same material for multiple outlets. He said at the time it’s something he and his bosses are conscious of and it hasn’t caused any problems.

Then there’s Fareed Zakaria, the CNN show host, blogger, TIME and WaPo columnist. All those jobs. In 2012 he was busted for plagiarizing and briefly suspended from each of them. As a result, he told NYT, “There’s got to be some stripping down [of all his work responsibilities].”