Fritz McDonald writes with the following observation, which has been receiving some deserved attention lately:
As far as I can tell, the only relevant service provided by the APA is to organize conferences, and given that these conferences are just general philosophy conferences with no central focus and some curious choices of topical focus, the only raison d'être of the Eastern APA meeting is the job market. Nobody would willingly choose to spend the time between Christmas and New Years working without the job market at the Eastern and the related conference. In light of this, the most important resource on the APA website is Jobs for Philosophers. Given the desperate state of most graduate students in philosophy, who are generally underpaid and tend to have to live in expensive areas, the JFP information should be freely available right on the front of the website. After all, as far as I can tell, the only real reason we need a print listing of job ads such as JFP is so all searches are publicly available, for affirmative action purposes. I have not heard any other justification for JFP. Yet the APA almost goes out of its way to hide the JFP. You cannot even see the link to the JFP if you are not logged in as a member. You have to first click on the option of "Resources" and then select "Member Resources," an option that can only be seen if you are logged in as a member. Needless to say, this has the effect of making the job search process significantly more difficult for people who cannot afford the APA dues and quite a bit more difficult for people who are not tech savvy. To some degree, making the JFP a hidden resource like this itself leads to some kind of discrimination against the poor and/or the tech un-savvy. So why not put the JFP right on the front of the page and make it available to everyone everywhere, just like the listings on the Chronicle of Higher Education website? Better yet, why don't we all agree that if we are hiring, we will also post our ads to phylo.info/jobs?
It seems to me that the APA uses the JFP to force vulnerable members of the profession to become members. Until recently, I was taking advantage of the fact that although the JFP was in the members-only section of the website, you could easily access it if you knew the URL. And I think it is no coincidence that the one part of the new website that works really quite well is the paywall in front of the JFP. (And I will tell you that when at various times in the past I have been a member of the APA it has been solely to gain access to their various bits of job-market infrastructure.)
And the more I think of it, the more perverse I think this is. The JFP is a list of ads that you have to pay for if you want to see. This abrogates the entire point of advertising. The point of e.g. newspaper and magazine advertising is to defray the production costs of the newspaper or magazine--that is, the costs associated with equipment, rent, paying people to write the articles, etc.--so that it is affordable to the consumer. The JFP cannot possibly involve much in the way of such expenses, so it's hard to imagine that the paywall is driven by a financial necessity. The JFP is more like a third-rate craigslist with a print edition, or those books of car- or real estate ads they have next to the door at the supermarket, than a newspaper. Those things charge the advertisers, not the advertisees. And it's not in the interests of the advertisers to have the JFP behind a paywall, for it is in their interests that their advertisements be disseminated as widely as possible.
So what of it? Why doesn't the APA make the JFP freely available to everyone? (By which I mean to encourage the APA to do this. I guess I think I know why they won't.)
And search committees: please, please, please post your ads to the Phylo Jobs site. Pretty please.