I'm Sam Neal, and and I'm an aspiring freelance games journalist looking to break into the industry. In the past I wrote features and reviews for Press2Reset on a volunteer basis, as well as conduct video interviews and host the site's news show.
I'm also a third-year Communications and Journalism student at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.
When not working on articles, I like to create short films and skits.
Yesterday I was let go from my volunteer writing job at Press2Reset. I know that I probably shouldn't complain about a prior "employer", but my emotions are running high and I needed somewhere to vent.
I want to preface this by saying many of the people I worked with at Press2Reset are wonderful, kind people who I am happy to have worked with and wish the best for them in the future.
I have worked for Press2Reset for the last year, constantly producing news articles, features, interviews and videos. I was the host and founder of a video news show. I attended PAX Prime with Press2Reset and worked my ass off to record 35+ developer interviews for content on their website.
So you can imagine my surprise when yesterday I saw an email in my inbox titled "End of Contract with Press2Reset."
I worked hard to produce content for the site, with my only reward being exposure and the privilege of having my content published to the internet. Which in and of itself is all fine and well, I knew that my work for Press2Reset would be on a volunteer basis when I first started writing for the site. However, this came alongside the promise that staff writers would be paid if ever the company had the ability to do so.
But then the site started to grow. The unique user count grew each week, and the site started to rapidly expand. And as they expanded, they started to get offers from advertising companies. Granted, the amount coming in was likely not even covering the maintenance costs of running a website, but the fact remains the site was generating some form of revenue.
And on top of that, the core staff was very secretive about the site's finances. I asked them several times to reveal specific information about ad revenue and its use to the staff, and they always declined. They did, however, reinforce the point that any revenue was being used to pay for web hosting- for whatever that's worth.
This caused quite a bit of frustration on my end. I was promised that they would make every effort to pay staff if it ever were possible, yet they didn't seem to be making any sort of attempt to fulfill that promise.
On Friday, I read a tweet from Gameranx's Ian Cheong (@Stillgray) that read "Being a "volunteer writer" is like being a "volunteer plumber." You wouldn't unplug toilets for free, so don't write for free."
This was personal frustration of mine that had been slowly mounting lately, so i engaged him in conversation. I asked how he suggest new writers get started then, and explained my situation as a volunteer writer. He said writers should pitch article ideas to sites, and anyone who is writing on a volunteer basis is getting screwed over by the site they are writing for.
To which I sarcastically (or so I thought) responded "Ha, well I guess I'm getting fucked then."
I knew that the tweet was technically public, but given that it was used in a conversation with another person, not mentioning any specific company names, and used in a manner that I thought to be relatively sarcastic I didn't think it would cause any harm.
As it turns out, a higher-up at Press2Reset didn't appreciate the fact that one of their writers was complaining about not getting paid for his work, and refereed to his current volunteer writing situation as "being fucked."
On Saturday I received an email saying that my contract had been terminated because my tweets "made the company look bad." I was let go for complaining about not getting a paid as a hard-working games journalist.
At the moment, I'm not too sure what to think. .
I've devoted my entire University education to becoming a games writer, and it seems that I've just hit an impasse. Through a series that I feel to be unfair, I have lost any power I once had in the industry.
Before Saturday I was going to attend PAX East and cover the event with Press2Reset staff. I'm still attending PAX East, but I have no press contacts, no friends in the industry going, and no real way to network so that I can find a hopefully paying writing gig.
I don't know what to make of it, and at the moment I have no idea how to move forward in my career.
Am I in the wrong here? Were they justified in letting me go?
I just don't know. All I have to go on now are my few takeaways:
1. Twitter is a public forum. Everything you say on Twitter can be viewed by others, and can potentially bite you in the ass.
2. Sarcasm doesn't translate well on the internet.
3. If you don't like something about your working situation, quit your job.