It’s easy for the fat cats to say “do what I ask or you will be shut out completely,” when really, they are only hoping mid-level and below writers will accept that, and seal the deal by running around convincing others that the sky is falling.
It’s a huge mistake to believe that the future will look like the present only more so; consider the way we fight current wars with Viet Nam strategies.
If you pitch articles on the stuff you know more about than most people — cars, art, green design, etc. to appropriately targeted publications in whatever medium, and you really have something that hasn’t been said, they will pay you. Specificity matters. One good place to see that in action is Smithsonian Mag.
It will never be easy, but newspapers are using more freelancers these days to write reviews, One Tank Of Gas Away travel features, and so on. I get the feeling that one result of the Chicken Little Syndrome, (and the rise, and now increasing decline, of SEO/content mills) is that it seemed better to try and become a generalist, able to cover whatever. And we do want to be able to take advantage of unexpected opportunities.
The other side of that, though, is the creation of a population of writers all able to do the same mile wide and inch deep work. What’s your speciality?