Wednesday 13 March 2013

Not fair, Fairfax.

Twenty-three. That's how many stories I have lined up in the files of five publications, accepted and waiting to see the light of day. The good news is, well, 23! The bad news is, waiting. But that's how it goes in this job, and I'm used to that, even though there can be months - a year plus, even - passing by before I'm paid for my work. The very worst news is the number five. Four newspapers and one magazine, that is, the main takers of my stories. There are some other magazines that publish travel stories (though not many, and definitely fewer than there were) but for one reason or another I haven't done so well with them, so far anyway. That's why it's so dismaying that this week one of my core editors reluctantly announced that he's not able to accept any more - "for payment" - overseas destination stories from freelances for publication in the Press.

Fairfax has been trimming its sails for a couple of years now, getting rid of lots of journalists mainly in Australia but also here, consolidating its operations and cutting its budgets back further and further. It's all part of the changing face of the media, the incursions of the internet into the territory of the newspapers, falling sales and advertising revenue, the recession, money, money, money. No-one really knows how it's going to end, whether newspapers will survive in anything like their current form; but it's definite that everyone is now feeling the pinch, even me out here on the periphery.

It's hard for us freelances, to be losing now one of our main markets for overseas stories; but it's also bad for the paper. Sure the editor can pick and choose from huge files of syndicated stories by excellent writers who've been everywhere - but they're all foreigners, and what's missing will be the local connection, the specifically Kiwi slant on a place or an event that makes a story that much more interesting for readers here, more relevant, more intriguing. It's not being parochial, it's a short cut to being connected to a destination, and that's something I think is important (see above, right). It's not a big thing, granted, but it's just another dilution of the richness we have enjoyed. So that's mainly why I'm sad about the Fairfax decision: it's not just my loss, it's everybody's.

1 comment:

Brett Atkinson said...

23 stories - you're a machine! Sad news about The Press but I actually gave up on Fairfax when I started seeing overseas content on destinations I'd previously pitched - Balkans, Mozambique - in the Sunday Star Times. You're bang on about the need for a local Kiwi angle. I actually reckon the travel wholesalers, NTO's and RTO's should withhold advertising if they're not willing to pay for locally-written content.

In other news, the BBC is about to sell LP to a Kentucky tobacco billionaire apparently

may you live in interesting times...


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