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READER LETTER: Why the Missourian doesn't pay columnist who needs charity

Answers questions about troubling J-School practice after public plea for financial help
By David Rosman

This letter responds to a recent Columbia Heart Beat editorial about unpaid Missourian columnist David Rosman's public plea for health care help
 
It also follows a national controversy about the same issue. 
 
Editor, the Columbia Heart Beat:
 
I don’t have a bucket-list, but if I did, writing for a city newspaper would be near the top. Getting paid would be better, but for now, I am a volunteer honing my skills.
 
For the last six years, my weekly opinion essays have appeared on the pages and web site of the Columbia Missourian, running opposite J. Karl Miller, sometimes as a point/counterpoint, but most of the time simply because our politics differ.
 
Since my arrival in Columbia, I had written letters to the editor of both Columbia papers, with 95-percent published. This success emboldened me to approach the Missourian with the idea of writing a regular column. Then editor Jake Sherlock and I met and worked out the details, including my titanic salary of $0.00.
 
[Missourian editor in chief] Tom Warhover and I have since had the pay conversation several times. I continue to accept Tom’s offers of doubling my current salary [zero dollars] when requested. He does know I want to crossover.
 
My goals for writing are multi-fold. First and foremost is my wanting to start the conversation concerning local, state and federal politics. There is a strong belief that I, along with Miller and Rose Nolen, are fulfilling a patriotic duty, engaging the public to discuss and become involved in our democratic republic’s political process.
 
Even as "volunteers," those who wish to be taken seriously must maintain a high level of professionalism, as my colleagues at the Association of Opinion Journalist (AOJ) regularly point out. I use a golf analogy to explain: I may not be a paid "professional," but I am, even by AOJ’s standards, a high ranking amateur.
 
The paybacks are simple: I have become an important and influential voice in the local and state political system and I receive free books.
 
I now am waiting so that my "close and dear friend," associate Mizzou journalism school professor Clyde Bentley, will gift me his editorial writing class (hint, hint). Or is there an opening at the Missourian I may fill?
 
Until that time comes, I knowingly and willingly volunteer my time.
 
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