Archive | Rage RSS feed for this section

The Interview That Wasn’t

1 Mar

Image by Bill Couch, shared under a Creative Commons Licence

Some time ago, a PR I hadn’t worked with before pitched me an interview with their client, and I agreed. The client fitted in to a piece I was planning, and the show looked like it would be good fun.

The interview never happened.

Here is why.

The interview was scheduled for a Friday afternoon. The client was based in the US, the PR in London, and I’m in Edinburgh. This is not unusual, this sometimes makes it more interesting, and for these types of interviews, I’ve found that Skype works best.

A week before the interview, I when I was on my way to meet a potential writer for a coffee and an informal interview, the PR emailed me.

The client mistakenly thought they had offered to speak to you today not next Friday.

They are free NOW but not next Friday.

Any chance you can speak to them now?

They’re on: [US Number]

Unfortunately, when I got this email, I was on a bus, on my way to meet a writer, with no recording equipment to hand. Besides, I did not have the budget to phone a US number, it would cost more than the fee I’d be paid for the interview.

I emailed back a sympathetic no, explained I was busy, and asked if we could arrange an alternative date. The PR agreed. And the following week we agreed to do the interview on the Thursday afternoon.

A few days before the interview, I email the PR to ask if we’re still ok for that date and to ask if the interview can be done by Skype. This is what is usually offered when the client is in another city and country, and more importantly, it’s free.

The PR doesn’t email back until the day of the interview, three days later.

Hi Amy, I hope the interview goes well today. The Client doesn’t have Skype, but here is their number. [US Number]

It’s the same number as before.

I emailed back and explained that my fee for the interview would not cover the cost of calling the US. Would an email interview be a suitable compromise?

No. I’ll set up a conference call. 

They send over the dial-in information. I thank them, and say I’ll email once the interview, which is scheduled for 14:30, finishes.

I prepare, and dial in just before 14:30, and I wait. The waiting is not unusual, I don’t think I’ve ever done an interview like this that’s started on time, even when the client has my number and calls me themselves.

I wait, and watch the clock on my laptop whenever I look up from my notes,

14:30.

14:33.

14:38

When I worked in online marketing, I can remember the guys in my office advising me to never wait too long for a client to dial in on a conference call. I think they’d wait for around ten minutes and then hang up. I once waited 20 and they said to just hang up and get on with my work. The client would reschedule.

But, this is a little bit different. I’ve heard of journalists being made to wait hours for their interviewee. Not that I have hours to wait, but I’m feeling anxious now.

Finally, I email the PR:

14:47

Hi, is the client still ok to chat? I’m on the line, and they haven’t dialled in yet.

14:48

Can you just call their number and I’ll pay for the call by BACS transfer?

I hang up.

I read the email a few times.

Can you just call their number and I’ll pay for the call by BACS transfer?

Can you just call their number and I’ll pay for the call by BACS transfer?

Can you just

call

their number

I’ll pay you

by BACS transfer?

The offer is a solution to a problem, but it’s problematic. First of all, the admin; doing the call, getting the bill, sending an invoice.

Secondly, and most importantly, they have offered to pay for the cost of an international phone call because I said my interview fee wouldn’t cover it. But accepting the money makes me feel uncomfortable. Questions run through my head as I weigh up my options:

If people found out I’d taken money from a PR company for the cost of an international phone call, all they’ll hear is:

JOURNALIST ACCEPTED MONEY FROM A PR COMPANY

(for the cost of an international phone call. )

What if I accept the money and totally destroy my reputation in the process?

What if I accept the money and they then use against me?

What if they emailed me again with another client and said something like:

Oh, hey. Remember that time I helped you out with the phone call? Well, I’ve got someone else I want you to interview.

Yes, it’s dramatic but, it could happen, and I don’t really know what to do and if I take th-

It’s funny, interrupts a little voice in my head. That’s the second time they’ve tried to get you to phone the client with no warning.

I get in touch with my editor.

She listens to the whole story, from the payment offer, to the US phone number, to the changing of the interview time and asks me a very important question that I hadn’t considered.

“Do you still want to do the interview?”

“No.”

“Then don’t do it. The onus is on them to make the client available for interview.”

I email the PR, and tell them that this arrangement won’t work for me or the magazine.

They email back almost instantly.

Please call me.

I don’t.

My editor messages me.

“The PR has just phoned the office.”

Minutes later, another email arrives.

I’m waiting for the editor to phone me to sort out. 

I message her.

No, I won’t be, she says.

I look at his email again. There’s a kind of smugness to it.

I’m waiting for the editor to phone me to sort out. 

The calm little voice pipes up again.

It’s almost as if he phoned the editor to try and force you to do the interview. Just like he tried to get you to phone the client’s US number on short notice.

I log out of my email and get on with other things. He emails again later that evening.

Hi Amy,

Sorry about today

How about you send a Q&A and I’ll get it back to you ASAP

Suddenly, that email interview I’d suggested a few hours ago was a suitable compromise after all? I forward it to my editor.

“How about no?”

The next morning, another email is waiting for me.

Hi Amy

I am speaking to the client tomorrow before they go away for a 2-week holiday so can get your answers done if you send me a Q&A today

Oh look, says the familiar small voice, it’s another time dependent demand, because all the other demands and the attempt to get you in trouble with your editor didn’t work.

And this is the first time that this holiday has been mentioned, too.

I don’t reply.

That evening, I go to an event and when I get there, I bump into my editor.

“Oh,” said my editor, “That PR phoned the office today and said you’d agreed to do an email interview.”

I tell her I hadn’t.

“We knew it was bullshit.”

I try to laugh it off, but I’m angry.

I’m still angry.

Advertisements

What Your Job Rejection Letter Really Means

31 Oct
Image by Caro Wallis, shared under a Creative Commons Licence

Image by Caro Wallis, shared under a Creative Commons Licence

Dear Applicant,

[Hello, nameless unemployed person, whose name we can’t be bothered to learn because we’re far too busy having a job and giving back to society.]

Thank you for your application for the role of Meaningless Job Title, with little pay and fewer prospects.

[Well, we have to credit you for something.]

Sorry for the delay in responding to your email.

[Yes, it’s been 8 weeks, but you don’t need to remind us, you impatient cretin, we’ve been busy working. Do you remember what ‘working’ is?]

Unfortunately…

[Surprise, surprise!]

… on this occasion you were unsuccessful.

[You’ll never work here in a million years]

Due to the large number of applications, we are unable to offer feedback.

[It took us 8 weeks to let you know you didn’t get the job, but you’re not getting any feedback because you’re lucky we emailed you to say no in the first place, you filthy rat.]

Thank you for your interest in our organisation

[Our organisation is so awesome. We just had to validate it with that sentence. See what we did there?]

and we wish you well for the future.

[You’re going to need it, jackass.]

Yours sincerely,

[Go fuck yourself!]

Stranger Name

[A person you will never meet or hear from again, because they’re far too busy working.]

Seven Tips for the Theatregoer Or Sit Down, Shut Up and Quit Moving

9 Dec

Theatre Audience

I go to the theatre quite a lot, and so, I’m pretty familiar with certain rules in the theatre. Other theatregoers, however, aren’t always as familiar with these rules as I am. Which, to be blunt, is rather annoying to other theatregoers, the actors, the director and the theatre staff, and so, in the spirit of Christmas, a bit of fun, and my own sanity, here are my seven tips for every theatregoer.

Be On Time

Shows start at a certain time, and this time is on your ticket. If you arrive at the theatre late, then there is a chance that you might not be allowed into the auditorium as your late arrival could disrupt the performance. Most theatres have a latecomers policy – you can find this on your ticket – so make sure you’re familiar with that venue’s particular policy.

If you are running late, it’s an idea to phone ahead and see if the theatre will let you in later, or perhaps even if they could stall the show’s starting time by a few minutes for you – this is rare, but it does happen.

However, if you are late, and the theatre staff let you in after the show starts, and you have to ask people to stand up so you can get to your seat, then be polite and extremely apologetic. Believe me, other theatregoers don’t appreciate latecomers any more than the actors/director/venue staff do.

Find Your Seat 

Now, I know the quality of seating somewhat varied between theatres, and sometimes it isn’t entirely clear where your seat is, but this is why theatres have signs and ushers; to show you where you should be sitting. If you’re ever unsure, ask. Don’t just sit down on the first seat you find; sitting in someone else’s seat is a sure-fire way to make you very unpopular very quickly. Find your seat and then sit in it.

Be Considerate

Theatres can be very cramped places, which is funny, considering that they are designed for people to flock to and enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, they are very sociable places, but you need to be considerate of others’ personal space at all times. So, if someone needs to squeeze past you to get to their seat, stand up so that they can get to their seat quickly.

The auditorium isn’t your living room, so if you have your belongings strewn all over the floor, pick them up so the person squeezing past you doesn’t have to make their journey any more precarious. It’s only polite and have you ever had to struggle to climb over somebody else’s bags while trying to make your way to your seat? It’s difficult, isn’t it? It’s also not very graceful, and takes more time to do. So don’t sit there, and shift your legs slightly to one side, that’s lazy and unhelpful – stand up, smile and get out of their way.

Similarly, if you are the person trying to squeeze past, say phrases like: “Excuse me, please.” when you need someone to move so you can get to your seat and “Thank you very much, that’s very good of you.” when someone moves for you – you’d be amazed how many people forget these basic and very necessary utterances. Be polite and appreciative in both the auditorium and the bar, which can get very busy during the interval, so don’t forget your manners, please.

Switch off your phone

By ‘switch off your phone’, I mean don’t just put it on silent; switch it off, put it back in your bag, or your pocket and don’t look at it for the entirety of the performance, you can do this, it is possible. Also, switch it off when you arrive at the venue, not when you’re told to by staff, or just before the curtain goes up.

Theatre is about escape, it’s where you can lose yourself in another world, it’s a place where your phone and your social life are not important. Don’t even think about checking your phone for messages during the show, a silent phone still lights up when used, and that light is not only instantly noticeable  but also really very bright and annoying, so leave it in your bag.

Be silent

That thing on your face – your mouth – close it. Stop making noises, stop talking to your best mate or whoever you’re at the theatre with about that dress an actor is wearing, or how funny that joke was. Silently close your mouth, and let not a sound come out of it unless you need to cough, sneeze or if something utterly amazing or distressing happens on stage.

The same applied to bringing in food –  only do this if you have to. Trust me, if it’s not the noise of you trying to rip open a packet of Maltesers with all the grace and artistry of a starving elephant attempting to open a Kilner jar full of peanuts, it’s the unimaginable noise that a single Werther’s Original makes when it’s being slowly unwrapped. Unwrapping it slowly doesn’t make it any quieter. So, if you must bring in food, (and I don’t think you need to) then please have it to hand and opened before the curtain goes up.

Be still

Is there any reason for you to be fidgeting? No? Then sit still. It seems like some people can’t watch a film or a show without fiddling with something on their person, such as a work pass, a necklace, their hair, or a really pretty, but far too noisy bracelet.

What some people forget, is that when they go to the theatre or even the cinema, is that fidgeting isn’t necessary in public. I once saw a woman take off one of her sandals and then proceed pick at the dry skin on her feet during an Edinburgh Fringe show; she did it for so long that a little pile of dead skin formed on the floor, which being a Fringe venue, also happened to be the stage. She had no idea she was doing it, it just seemed to be a bit of a habit for her, regardless of where she was.

So stop playing with stuff, chewing your nails, stroking your hair, picking at your feet and mucking about with your keys/lanyard/loud jewellery and be still, it’s very distracting.

Get Out

If you’re not enjoying the show, grab your stuff, stand up and leave the theatre quietly. There are other people there who would like to keep watching the show, so by all means, leave, no one is stopping you. Don’t sit there moaning about the show, or trying to distract yourself with your phone, shut up, stand up and get out of the theatre.

Trash and The Libel Case Or, How to Piss Off a Theatre Critic

9 Sep

I updated this blog for the first time in nearly three months last week, but I couldn’t update again without discussing the tale of my recent experience of dealing with a very difficult company at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This encounter was very unpleasant, stressful and infuriating. Despite my anger, I’ve decided not to name the company involved, but for the purposes of this blog I will refer to them as Sunshine Inc.

This was my fourth year of reviewing during the Fringe and my first experience of being a Fringe editor, as I took up the post of Scotland Editor at The Public Reviews in May. In the midst of sorting through the thousands of Edinburgh Fringe PRs I received, my editor, John, forwarded me a PR for a Fringe show, suggesting that we book tickets and make a fun evening of it. The show was being performed by Sunshine Inc, and was presented as a two-hour long interactive comedy show, that involved actors impersonating characters from a famous TV comedy.

I booked the tickets for the show through their internal PR contact, a woman I’ll call Melina, who, I have to stress was very polite, helpful and friendly at the beginning. I did have to move the tickets by one day because of a scheduling clash, but again, Melina was very accommodating, and both myself and John were very much looking forward to the evening.

The show, however, was not like we expected, and we quickly realised that while the characters in the piece were designed to look and sound like the TV characters – they dressed similarly, and they even used their famous one-liners – this was where the similarities to the TV show ended. The evening consisted of these actors using new and ‘original’ content instead of established sketches from the TV programme, which wasn’t what I was expecting. Suffice to say, I didn’t enjoy Sunshine Inc’s offering, and I wrote what was I felt was a negative, yet honest and fair review, which was published on The Public Reviews website shortly after. In my review, I stated that the show was “unauthorised” as when I researched the show, I found a number of articles and quotes from the makers of the TV show saying that the show had not been authorised by them. Quotes from Sunshine Inc’s Managing Director, Francis, revealed that he hadn’t contacted the makers of TV programme to ask for permission to use the characters. Furthermore, on Sunshine Inc’s website they stated in the small print that their work had no association with the makers of the original TV show. So, with this information to hand, I mentioned in the review that the show was unauthorised.

A few days after the review was published, Melina emailed me to ask if we had any feedback on the show, and I replied with a link to the review, along with a brief response explaining that I hadn’t enjoyed the evening, but thanking her for inviting me and John along.

Melina’s response was interesting, to say the least; she emailed me back almost immediately and asked for the details of our “Managing Director” stating that there were points in my review that were of “great concern”. I responded, explaining that John, my editor, was the best person to contact and included his email address.

However, Melina emailed me again to ask for John’s mobile number, but because John was reviewing throughout the day, I was unwilling to share his phone number without his consent, or without him knowing what was going on. I decided not to respond to her email immediately, and concentrated on getting in touch with John to explain the situation.

As I tried to get hold of John, however, Melina continued emailing me demanding John’s phone number, saying that Sunshine Inc’s managing director, Francis, wanted to speak to him. Again I didn’t reply to her emails as I was concentrating on getting in touch with John. However, Milena’s emails continued, and she then began demanding that I remove the review from the website “immediately”. She also claimed that the show was authorised, yet didn’t say by who, and didn’t produce any evidence of this authorisation. When that failed to elicit a response from me, she further claimed that my review was “lies” and was therefore “libel” and again demanded I take the review down “immediately”, or they “would take legal action'”.

After reading these emails, John asked Milena to send him an email detailing her concerns, and to also highlight what parts of the review that she and Francis believed to be libellous. He further asked her to include the evidence of their authorisation so that we could address their concerns. Milena, however, ignored this, and emailed me again, telling me to take down the review before they took legal action. I replied, repeating what John had said, and also stressing that we couldn’t help them until they told us what issues they had with my review. I also asked her to send me evidence of authorisation, and asked for specifics, including the details of who exactly had authorised the show, such as the TV channel, the production company or the show’s writers.

Milena responded, ignoring my request, offering no evidence of authorisation, and further accusing me of trying to discredit the company, alleging that I had something against Sunshine Inc. This is untrue; I had never heard of Sunshine Inc until John forwarded me their Fringe PR in May. After reading this email, and following legal advice, I was told not to respond to any further emails from either Milena, Francis or any other representative of Sunshine Inc, as they had stated they were taking legal action, and could use our emails against us in the future. The lawyer also assured us that if they really were taking legal action, we’d be hearing from their lawyer, and not them, as they would also be told not to contact us for the same reasons.

However, despite my silence, Milena continued to email me throughout the day, and her emails became steadily more aggressive and more bizarre. John even forwarded me an email that Milena had sent to him, alleging that I was involved with a rival theatre company, naming the founder of that company, a woman I shall call Julie, and stating that this company had a “history of malicious intent” against Sunshine Inc. Incidentally, when Milena emailed John with this allegation, she inadvertently libelled me and Julie by alleging we were working together. These emails culminated in Milena taking a screenshot of my Twitter account, stating that the nature of my tweets regarding their show, which had been written after the review had been published, showed my negative review had been “premeditated” and that they were “taking further action”. They further accused me of “gross unprofessionalism”.

I contacted the Fringe Media Office to ask for advice about the situation. To my surprise, they told me that they were aware of what was happening, as Sunshine Inc had contacted them earlier that day. They told me that in a phone call that lasted around an hour, both Milena and Francis had spoken to Fringe media officers, demanding that the Fringe use their “considerable power” to force John and me to remove the review from The Public Reviews. The Fringe Media Office refused, as they don’t possess that power, nor do they want to.

A few days later, someone from Sunshine Inc called my mobile, but I let the call go straight to answer phone. They didn’t leave a message, and luckily, they haven’t tried to phone me since. Their emails, however, continued until the end of the Fringe, as they emailed John on several occasions to ask for the details of our “Managing Director” and for an address, so they could send an “official letter of complaint.” Eventually, John emailed them back, explaining that we had no managing director, we had no official address as we are online media, and that the best way to get in touch was to email him with specific concerns. Which, irritatingly enough, was what we asked them to do weeks earlier, when they had first made legal threats. They responded, asking “Who owns and runs The Public Reviews?” To which John explained that he did, and we haven’t heard from them since.

This happened during the second week of the Fringe, and while I like to consider myself as an experienced and confident reviewer, this incident shook me to the core. It made me question myself, my writing, my abilities and my voice, and was an extra stress during an already incredibly stressful time. I trained in art journalism for two years at university, and I have worked hard for the last three years since graduating to establish myself as an honest, objective and constructive critic. While I have had my fair share of abuse because of my reviews, this is the first time that I have been threatened with legal action for what I have written. I researched the piece thoroughly, as I do with every review I write, and I wrote a truthful and accurate review.

What’s very interesting, however, is that Sunshine Inc had one other reviewer attend the show, who also gave them a negative review. I have spoken to the editor of that publication, and they have not been contacted by anyone from Sunshine Inc. Recently, I made contact with one of the writers of the TV show, who confirmed that Sunshine Inc had never received authorisation from him to use his characters in their show.

Reviews are, essentially, the reviewer’s opinion, and as with any thing else in life, opinions will differ on almost many subjects, especially when it comes to performance. People are entitled to disagree with critical opinion, just as they are entitled to disagree with popular opinion. However, threats of legal action, and the intimidation, bullying and harassment of journalists simply because someone disagrees with what they have written, are immoral, unethical and odious. I cannot and will not be treated this way, by a company that are so desperate to undermine my authority and my review that they are prepared to not only accuse me of libel, but also in turn, libel both me and Julie in email correspondence. I have no idea if Milena and Francis have threatened journalists before, but judging by how quickly they threatened me with legal action, I would hazard a guess that this probably isn’t the first time that they’ve done this.

My advice to any company that is disappointed with a review is to see what they can take from it. If the review is constructive, then there will be something positive in there that you can learn from. If the reviewer has made an error, such as a spelling error, or got the name of an actor wrong, then feel free to contact them and tell them. Journalists, like all human beings, are fallible, and often work to very tight deadlines, especially during Fringe time. Tight deadlines, full schedules and many, many sleepless nights can lead to mistakes in copy. Editors are often very happy to correct inaccuracies when contacted.

However, a difference in opinion is simply a difference in opinion. Libel law exists to protect people who have been libelled and who have had very unfair things said about them in print. It does not exist to prosecute journalists who give a show a negative review, and it most certainly was not created to be used as a threat designed to intimidate journalists, editors and bloggers. Libel is a very, very damaging word and process, it comes with responsibility and should only be used if there is an actual case for libel proceedings. Journalists are busy people. Journalists are especially busy during the Fringe; we don’t even have the time to respond to the most basic emails during August, let alone waste precious hours and even days, dealing with baseless and utterly false allegations against us. I am very angry that I had to devote what little time I had during the Fringe to Sunshine Inc, because it cut into my reviewing schedule, which meant that I couldn’t attend the shows that I really, really wanted to review.

So to all journalists and bloggers: familiarise yourself with UK media law; study it until you can recite it. Join the NUJ – they have lots of lawyers who can deal with threats like this on your behalf. Stand your ground, don’t give into intimidation, bullying and aggressive, underhand tactics by “companies” like Sunshine Inc.

To all the people who supported me during this difficult time, including John and Glen at The Public Reviews, my close friends and family, the Fringe Media Office, Liam Rudden of The Edinburgh Evening News, Nick Awde of The Stage, and the CATS panel, including Michael Cox, Joyce McMillan, Mary Brennan, Allan Radcliffe, Mark Brown, Neil Cooper, Mark Fisher, Thom Dibdin and Gareth K. Vile: thank you. Your words and advice were of great comfort, and I’m so glad that you took the time to listen to me and support me last month.

And finally, to Sunshine Inc, I will say this: journalists communicate with one another. This means that if you threaten a writer or a publication with legal proceedings, other writers will hear about it. Once others learn about your treatment of journalists, it damages your reputation more than any negative review ever could. Some might say that’s ironic, but to me, that’s poetic justice.

Update: Following a request from Interactive Theatre International (formerly Interactive Theatre Australia) I am happy to confirm that the show and company in this blog have no connection with Interactive Theatre International or their show, Faulty Towers The Dining Experience which was performed at B’est Restaurant at this year’s Fringe.

Cameron’s Cabinet Reshuffle – It’s Not For Girls

5 Sep

Can you spot the female MPs?

It began after midnight, with Baroness Warsi’s now-infamous 2am tweet, where she broke the news that she was no longer the Conservative party’s co-chairman. Warsi, who was the first female Muslim MP, was quickly joined by Cheryl Gillan, who announced she had been removed from her post as Welsh Secretary. And so began the cabinet reshuffle that by the end of the day would see Cameron’s government lose 60% of its female MPs, including Warsi, who was their only ethnic minority MP, making this cabinet the most white, male and least culturally diverse one possible, highlighting the Conservative’s failure to modernise their own party.

In the cold, clear light of morning, more departures were announced, albeit, not always by Twitter, as the departures also included Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, or the one that made those ignorant comments about ‘serious rape’ last year, although he is to remain in the government.

However, perhaps the most surprising change was David Cameron’s decision to appoint Jeremy Hunt as the new Health Secretary, who replaces the much-maligned Andrew Lansley. While Lansley is set to become the Leader of the Commons, Hunt, the MP whose ties to the Murdoch media empire, and a man incapable of ringing a bell without injuring someone, is now in charge of the nation’s health.

Let me be frank, there are a number of reasons why the former Secretary of State for Culture, the Olympics, Sport and media should not be the new Health Secretary: his connections to Rupert Murdoch during News Corp’s failed BSkyB takeover bid have been well-documented, as his desire to disband the NHS, our national health service, which provides free healthcare for every citizen. In 2009, he was one of three MPs named by the Mirror (the others were Greg Clark and Michael Gove) as in favour of dismantling the NHS. They claimed it was “no longer relevant” in the book, Direct Democracy. Hunt is also a well-known fan of homoeopathy, and is one of a few MPs who voted to decrease the abortion limit from 24 weeks to 12 weeks or under.

Hunt’s extreme views on abortion control limit womens’ options during an unplanned pregnancy. Considering that many women don’t realise that they are pregnant until around 6 weeks, and with waiting times for abortions being more than two weeks at some clinics, that leaves very little time to make a difficult decision. Hunt is also against stem cell research.

Another notable promotion was that of Hunt’s replacement, Maria Miller, a former disability minister who will take over the departure of Culture, and will also take on the responsibility of Women and Equalities from Theresa May, as these departments are to become part of the culture department. While some sources claim that Miller is more connected to culture than Hunt and his predecessors, her track record in both women’s issues and equalities is damning.

Miller has amongst other things, voted to raise university fees and voted against gay marriage. She is opposed to gay couples adopting and lesbian couples receiving fertility treatment. She is against abortion, and like Hunt, voted to change the abortion limit, but from 24 to 20 weeks. She backed Nadine Dorries’ failed attempt to allow independent and faith-based groups to counsel women seeking abortions, rather than abortion providers, such as BPAS, who provide balanced and unbiased information for women facing the challenges of an unwanted pregnancy.

In place of what we had before, we now have an anti-choice, anti-NHS, minister in charge of our health and an anti-choice, anti-equal rights minister in charge of women rights, women’s health and equal rights of gay couples. Whichever way you look at it, things are only going to get worse.

Money and Change: A Young Journalist’s Lament

3 Sep

Image

When I started training to be a theatre critic in 2007, theatre criticism, the internet and digital media were very different. Print was still the primary place for all things theatre criticism related, and indeed, journalism, while online was seen as a younger, but less important sidekick to the newspaper industry.

When I graduated in 2009, theatre criticism, and indeed journalism as an industry, was already changing; content was increasingly being published online, and independent websites were starting to rival the output of more established printed magazines. But perhaps, most importantly, in 2009, the credit crunch of 2007/2008 had become a full-blown recession, leading to redundancies, the closure of newspapers and publishers and fewer opportunities for both young and established journalists. For a new journalist, like me, who needed experience, working for free was a very real and very real way to get into the industry.

In 2012, journalism is still evolving; while some newspapers, such as The Times, The Sunday Times in the UK and The New York Times in the US have put their online content behind a paywall. However, they are fighting against increasingly popular and considerably newer websites, who continue to put their content out for free. While a paywall may be the way forward, and a way for revenue-starved newspapers to increase their circulation and make some money from their websites, many readers, writers, journalists and editors disagree on the use of them.

But the conundrum remains – how can journalists start making money from online content? How much to charge? How often to charge for access to online content? And perhaps most importantly, how do readers feel about paying for accessing news websites?

I always knew that journalism wasn’t well paid, and so, the desire to write and inform outweighed any ideas I might have once have had about making more than £25,000 a year. Although I’ve continued to work for free since graduating, primarily because paid opportunities are very slim if you have no contacts in the industry, I’ve still managed to make a total of £190 from my writing since then. However, this figure is from three separate commissions over three years and in the meantime, in the hope of being noticed, I’ve continued to write for free. I’ve also paid for all travel, food and other expenses during time, so, in that sense, some remuneration would be fair, if not deserved. But until some changes are made across the board and every newspaper decides how they can make money from online, more and more writers will have to continue to work for nothing.

Photo by Images_of_money under Creative Commons Licence

KNUT

DIY or DIE

Deeply Fascinating

Thoughts on contemporary performance

Lili La Scala

a collection of words and pictures

The Arabic Apprentice

A native English speaker's attempts to master Arabic

Stroppy Editor

Minding other people’s language. A lot.

Keren Nicol

Thoughts from an arts marketer living in in Scotland. Not always about arts marketing

EYELASHROAMING

A blog by Ashleigh Young. A burning wreck

monica byrne

novelist . playwright . traveler . futurist . feminist

Captain Awkward

Advice. Staircase Wit. Faux Pas. Movies.

Planet Edinburgh

Strange and exotic anecdotes from the planet Edinburgh

Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Annalisa Barbieri

Writer and broadcaster

The FlavNav

Navigating my way around the world to get my life back

%d bloggers like this: