I recently received an email from one of those mass markets inviting me to write for them at the princely sum of $5 to $25 an article for all rights. I declined the offer. This isn't the first offer from such a market I've received or probably the last. It's an offer that I'm not interested in accepting no matter what.
Why? For starters I don't give up all rights. You want the extra rights you pay for them. Also in order to make a decent wage I'd have to earn at least $25 an hour, which at seven hours per day (an hour for lunch), five days per week and 48 weeks per year (allowing for holidays, vacation and sick days) would bring in $42,000. I'd have to produce 1,200 to 2,000 words per hour or 8,400 to 14,000 words per day. Put in another way that would mean no more than 20 minutes per article to research and write. Personally I don't feel that I could do a topic justice in that short a time. And even if I could, it would take the joy out of writing for me.
I won't judge those who do write for these outfits. I just know that it's not right for me.
How did these sorts of companies arise? I believe from over expansion of media companies who are now saddled with huge debts and the desire to squeeze more money from their investments. The older, smaller media companies were satisfied with much smaller profits in order to take the time to do more in depth reporting. Another reason is that with the rise of the Internet, people, who formerly used to pay for content, now started getting content for free and are very reluctant to go back to paying for it.
I don't think it will last. The new Great Depression will wipe out the debt and many of the giant media companies. I also think that people will eventually realize that writers need to be paid a decent wage, which in turn allows them the time to really dig into various topics. All parties benefit from that, including the media companies themselves.