Seasonal writers

Lack of financial support hindering development of strong and independent Iranian journalism


Seasonal writers
by Ben Madadi

My recent past experience, being absent in the Iranian-istan blogsphere, has been a very interesting one! That of course didn't mean leaving Iranian-istan, but a simple lack of inspiration. Which, may be something normal! When I was heavily writing it struck me as something very odd that some people continuously complained about me, writing comments, but never writing an article to express themselves. I thought writing an article that would go through JJ's examination was really really easy, but now I know.

Writing is only easy when you have inspiration, and it is more probable when you have talent, and it is possible when you also have time. So, putting all the three above together is not exactly possible for everyone, all the time. When you write, there is nothing really extraordinary about your writing, but when you see a writing and you are absolutely unable to compose even one single short paragraph of original thought, it is kind of frustrating to be unable to respond, so you may have the urge, sometimes, behind anonymity, to simply call the writer a jackass, and feel much better already.

I recently saw a comment from our almighty virtual lord, on Iranian-istan that is, Mr Jahanshah (whose name isn't all-for-nothing royal actually), that struck me! Here is the text: "The vast majority of contributors are seasonal. They have a period of creativity and urge to express themselves. It starts slowly, builds over months or years, peaks, drops and almost always disappears." [See: Manam delam tang misheh]

Wow! For all these years I have seen JJ on the Internet this has been the toughest thing he ever typed, if you ask me! Using the word "seasonal" isn't exactly correct, as if we are talking about "years" then everything can be seasonal. I am seasonal, you are seasonal, and is supposed to be seasonal too. One seasonal element within another seasonal element stretches too far into relativity (Einstein's theory), which hasn't been yet discovered for the virtual world, or at least this is my knowledge of it for now!

So, if, hypothetically speaking, there is one contributor who has continuously provided material for over years, just from the start, and hasn't disappeared already, then he is seasonal too, though his season is not up yet. But I do agree with JJ and I have felt this myself. I started slowly, learnt about readers, and writing in general on the Internet for net addicts, improved my abilities for serving them, peaked, declined, and disappeared. One season over!

It is interesting why this happens, from a psychological and sociological point of view. As no contributor is ever paid, they do whatever writing they offer, for various OTHER reasons. I have seen people with very strong political views, who are overtly or not, working for a cause, they TRULY believe in, or not! These people tend not to interact with readers (or commentators), and not necessarily fit into the seasonal thing. They are a different species of their own.

Other writers, who are not really political, seem to be more seasonal. And this is, for the virtual Iranian community, something to ponder about. Politically motivated writers are not exactly what the Iranian community needs. The Iranian community would be much better off with independent and self-determined, especially unbiased, food for thought. No political side is truly clean, to choose from. Why some writers have political motivations is not exactly what I can decide upon.

In countries like Iran, leaders intimidate, or worse, silence, their opposing political analysts and writers, while PAY their own political activists. In case the opposing political activists manage to publish anything they are also usually paid by opposing political factions. So, the political writer is usually paid, or somehow encouraged, by one political faction or the other. Hence, we get political writers who tend to thrive, while non-political writers who tend to be seasonal, more seasonal than what an average writer's creative lifespan can afford. Nevertheless, we shall not generalise!

Money talks! While the Iranian blogsphere is almost financially bankrupt for the non-political, it has all the chances of being financially rewarding for the political. And this is a pity for the Iranian community, as it is extremely small in the diaspora to develop commercially viable media channels of its own to survive on advertising and encourage unbiased (not being the agent of any political entity) reporting and analysis, while those who are ruling over the vast majority of the Iranians have a tight grip on most of the media channels Iranians can get their hands on.

The lack of financial support is indeed a problem that is hindering the development of a strong and independent Iranian journalism to flourish. Non-political writers seem to be more of a seasonal type for this matter, and most of them seem to disappear before reaching their true peak because they are usually too busy with their daily lives. Professional quality journalism and writing needs money, and the Internet has so far failed to come up with free truly quality material to match commercial publications (with mostly paid journalists). The job of the unpaid blogger becomes even more hazardous when he is constantly faced with the frustrated and untalented commentator whose best inspiration is at best a jackass, or other phrases in excusable 'French'. What a blogger had hoped to be a pleasant hobby turns out to be a choice between extreme politicisation at best, or too often simply an unpleasant encounter with the anonymous.

These are indeed some challenges that face our flourishing new virtual freedom. By the way, I personally do not complain about my own case, or other Iranian writers or bloggers in individual cases, from a financial point of view. I do not fit, and I will never fit (because my professional activity is too different), into the truly professional community of Iranian journalism.


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Rosie T.

Seasonal worker, Souri, Ben

by Rosie T. on

Seasonal, too many things coming at me all at once. You say you've said all you have to say but I have a lot to say about our last conversation on Souri's blog and as I told you it will come in the form of a blog.  But it won't be point by point.

In response to Souri (and you Seasonal), yes Ben touches upon the post jj wrote on your musical blog Souri but it does not specifically question him nor is it specifically addressed to him. It also raises myriad other concerns.  It is not exactly what I was thinking of when I kept telling. Seasonal: Blog it. And everyone else too.

Blog it looks like: JJ, why Are OUr Best Writers Really Leaving?" or "JJ, Should People Be Called Cockroachers Here" with the link to Amir's blog. Then jj has a professional responsibilty to respond publicly as well as open up the debate with the community.  He has an obligation to respond AT LEAST ONCE. And if he doesn't IMHO he should be taken to task (sharply and openly criticized, Souri) for it. But my impression is he will. He always has to my recollection.

Except when it's...okay Seasonal if you are registered under another name please go into my account and contact me and I will explain some things to you that you mentioned on Souri's blog. If you are not registered or don't want to pursue it I will just have to live with that.




by Seasonal Worker (not verified) on

"Writer's block? No…not really. It's more like reader's block (as there are less and less people who actually read books!)"

Azarin there is no shortage of readers in this website, is it? Readers here don't have to pay and read. Writers here not only don't get paid, they also have to work in a harrassful environment.

As far as getting published, if you "have" a good story to tell you'll get published. Not everybody has a good story, either as a bio or as fiction. A "good" story includes a whole host of things, starting with writer's attitude and outlook to goals and aspirations.

Ben Madadi


by Ben Madadi on

Thank you, friends, for your comments :)

Ben Madadi

Re: Azarin Sadegh

by Ben Madadi on

Dear Azarin,

Professional journalism mostly depends on the market and the entrepreneurs in the field. They can provide the society with The Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Herald Tribune and so on, in which professionals can dedicate more time writing without direct political involvement, except when it is mostly, usually, volutary and conscious. And unfortunately this is not the case for Iran and Iranians. Thanks!

Azarin Sadegh

No offense...we're all seasonal!

by Azarin Sadegh on

 In today's world, I think any writer is a seasonal writer.

I have been taking writing classes in the last two years and it seems that (considering my short experience in writing) I have been one of the most successful! My classmates think it is mainly because of my origin and the support of Iranian community. I’d say it’s only because of and JJ.

Most of my classmates (all American except for one incredible writer from Kazakhstan) are wonderful writers, working on their second or third novel. None of them being published.

My teacher whose book was published around ten years ago has difficulty with publishing his second novel, due to low sale of his first book. No matter how good he is. No matter the talent. he is not a generator of money in today's market. So he had to take a day-job, he had to become a part time writer, like a seasonal writer.

I have been writing for and elsewhere. I have even been lucky enough to get paid for two articles published in Chicago Sun Times. $75 for each article! And everybody congratulates me because many newspapers wouldn't even pay this much!

So what do you expect? I know I would never be able to spend my full day on writing. Writer's block? No…not really. It's more like reader's block (as there are less and less people who actually read books!)

Except for writers like Stephen King or J.K.Rowling, the act of writing is an act of love. Their love (and only love) for writing. But unfortunately this love alone is not enough for the survival of any human being and as a reminder, even if writers can manage to write in an ominous voice, still they're humans!

So no wonder, like seasons, or even like days and nights, they come and go.



ebi amirhosseini

Dear Ben

by ebi amirhosseini on

Thanks for giving us the oppurtunity to read one of your articles once again.

best Wishes


Financial and Free Press

by What a heck do I know (not verified) on

"Grant me thirty years of equal division of inheritances and a free press, and I will provide you with a republic."
Alexis de Tocqueville


Listen from one ear

by Seasonal Worker (not verified) on

I think I've said all I wanted to say. A little more here a little more there doesn't make any difference and I certainly don't want to put words in people's mouths.

I'm more interested in what others think. I participated when I saw few people made comments about things not being champagne worthy.

JJ publishes all this stuff but seems unfazed. I don't see the possibility for any changes anytime soon and as I see it the longer this goes on the harder it will become to change anything.

Rosie T.

I'm here, Souri, I have to read it more carefully and the

by Rosie T. on

comments. As you know I've been having a very interesting dialog with Seasonal Worker on your thread Ben gives the link to.  I really was planning on blogging in response too our specific discussion tomorrow. I see my friend Seasonal Worker is already here.  But I just wrote something else,, a different blog on a completely different topic I told Seasonal I'd do that blog tomorrow because it's quite a complex one for me to write...and the one I just wrote was  actually was believe it or not much simpler for me.  So in between my conversation with Seasonal and tomorrow along came Ben....whadda ya know?

And this is what I keep TRYING to tell people see Ben must have just submitted it very recently and already it's posted as an ARTICLE.  I simply DON'T understand why so many people think jj is unresponsive and either too anarchic or too autocratic...and inflexible either way...I just don't get it. I simply don't get it.  It's beyond  me...

Thanks so much, Souri.

I love you darling.




by Majid on

Even though I'm NOT a "writer" in this site, just a commentator, I can't agree with you more.

Great to see you here again, and I hope to read more from you. 



by Souri on

Are you there? This is what you have suggested. Now Ben wrote a blog about the suggestion, as you said. Then, where are you ? Would you pariticipate? Want to hear from you, please.

Ben Madadi

Re: Seasonal worker

by Ben Madadi on

Well, I very much believe in personal property, and I think this website is someone's personal property who has all the right to do whatever he does like doing. But I have for a few times suggested to JJ that it would be better to do more to improve the comments section from attacks or wasteful comments, and at the same time to reduce the visibility of the comments section so that articles do not attract irrelevant comments, and their respective viewers, because that reduces the quality of the viewership, and the value of the article as a whole (which is the result of somebody's work). Other websites have encountered such problems and many of them give contributors the ability to filter comments or even disable them altogether. I don't know what else I can say!


When they became seasonal?!

by Seasonal Worker (not verified) on

Ben good article but I'd like to hear your opinion on one point. Remember these contributors, seasonal or permanent residents or citizens :-), don't you think they need some kind of rights from abuse?

It is like that Seinfeld's episode where Kramer works for free! These contributors don't "really work" here! but they produce readership and money for this website. So don't they deserve some kind of recognition, other than just a thank you note from time to time, or deleting some 'excessively vulgar' comment?

In blogesphere elsewhere, bloggers have control over their own blogs, here they are at the mercy of this website, which HAS allowed abuse.

I have my own opinions so do others, but since you wrote this article, what do you think about the subject of having something like a "contributors' rights" in this website? Mind you in the process we may all learn and be forced to use good judgement and think before we speak, think before we insult and learn how to carry on a good debate.

Do they need some kind of protection or is that part of their hazardous duties?! Part of their job descriptions. That they MUST be able to endure abuse. As a virtual employer shouldn't this employer follow the same labor regulations?! Not only they don't pay the minimum wage, they MUST create workplace harrassment too?!