28 January 2009

National Newspaper standards floundering

A freelance travel writer colleague tells me that on Monday he was approached by a national broadsheet asking if he would write the introduction to a guidebook they're producing to be given away with the newspaper. When he asked how much they were paying, he was told they hoped he would do it "for the publicity".

What is shocking is
not that they might expect him to do it for nothing. That kind of thinking has unfortunately been around for a while, making in-roads into the livelihoods of professional writers. What's shocking is that they would try it on with him, one of the best known, award-winning, travel writers in the business (whose latest book was recently serialised on BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week).

It's just another symptom of the diminishing clout (and budgets) of the print media.

He turned their kind offer down, pointing out that when his next rent is due his landlady isn't likely to let him off "for the publicity".


Addendum: He's just told me they've now come back to him and suggested they may be able to offer him something after all. (I bet they can! I bet the guide is covered with a sponsorship deal!)  But that's not the point. Print editors are no longer trying to get something for nothing from wannabe travel writers, or lesser known ones. Now they are trying to get premier division travel writers to work for nothing. Muppets!

1 comment:

David Atkinson said...

Shocking isn't it. He should tell them where to stick it. Nobody should work for free - and especially not on a sponored guide. I've been debating low fees and long hours on my own blog this week. Have a look at http://atkinsondavid.blogspot.com/2009/01/loneliness-of-long-distance-travel.html.