Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Grousing freelancers in UK consider one-day strike

here are a few common freelance grumbles which are behind a proposed strike:

1. Tumbling rates. The Telegraph, for example, now pays just pounds 250 per
thousand words. Half of what the going rate was a few years back. This means low quality features and low quality news, both of which will depend ever more heavily on press releases. Plus poorer freelancers (in both senses of the word).
2. Payment according to click. There is a horrifying new trend where
bloggers' fees depend on how many readers their piece attracts, which
quite clearly means that they will tend to write sensational bits of
opinion which go heavy on key phrases like "fellatio". The medium
will profoundly influence the message.
3. A startling lack of courtesy from commissioning editors. My own
example: I wrote a 1,600 word piece for the Telegraph Review section
and filed it five weeks ago. Since then I have heard not a peep
despite four emails chasing up.
4. Late payment.
5. Commissioning a certain amount of words, printing a cut-down version
and then paying only for the reduced version. This trick was played on
me by the New Statesman.
6. Simply not paying. Esquire took eighteen months to pay me for a
piece, and only then after the NUJ got heavy with them.
7. Extra low payments for blogs. The Guardian offered me ?85 for a five
hundred word opinion piece (for their Comment is Cheap section). This
sticks in the craw a lttle when you consider that the site is
completely plastered in advertising and also that Guardian MD Carolyn
McCall takes home over a million quid a year.

We need to stand up and protest against this new shoddy treatment, and
a strike is the way to do it. Freelances also need to meet up and
talk. The computer has separated us; hence the meeting in the pub.

It's time to fight back, and the best way to do that is to sit in the
pub all afternoon, combining protest and merriment in time-honoured
fashion. Solidarity!

Hat tip to Tom Hodgkinson from Quality Street

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