remuneration IKON IMAGES / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO On reflection, she feels she should have been paid as a

contributor. “Too late now,” says Grossman. “But, if I had known the format, I would not have agreed for no money.” It’s always worth telling someone what your rate is and seeing what they say, says Lunn, “but bear in mind that some companies unwilling to pay might agree a price and then not have the money when the time comes. So if you have any doubts, ask for some or all of your fee upfront.” And while Bevan’s response is uncompromising – no

money, no appearance – she says she tries to be constructive. “I’m not rude about it, but I say come back to me when you have a budget. I point out that I’m a supplier, and I often ask: ‘Are you paying your venue and caterers?’”


R agencies and news outlets pumping out content on the cheap are far from being the only culprits, however. One freelancer who regularly does TV slots said that, while ITV ‘never asks’ her to appear for free, the BBC

‘have a lot of form’ for asking journalists to do exactly that. “I was asked by a BBC programme called Rip Off Britain – the irony – to film a segment for no pay,” she told me. “It would have taken two days – it was filming in Manchester – and they would only have covered travel expenses. “There’s also a Sunday programme hosted by Nicky

Campbell on BBC1 that I have twice been asked to be on the panel for, also for no money.” Why does the problem exist in the first place? Drew Jones believes the perception of journalism’s value has

changed. “We’re not experts who research and break stories and hold power to account and change lives and entertain, enrich and inspire any more,” she says. “We’re hobbyists who Instagram our breakfasts, and who wants to pay for that? I’m being flippant, but there’s an element of this in the public perception of journalism and media now, and that’s bled back into people even within the industry too. PR agencies, content agencies, event organisers – they don’t value journalists or, in many cases, differentiate us from the hobbyist bloggers and influencers with large Twitter followings but no journalism skills.” In this climate, it is tougher than ever to negotiate when starting out. While in a salaried job, Emma Sheppard, now a commissioning editor at Guardian Networks, wrote articles ‘for anyone who would take my stuff’ to build up her portfolio. “That meant working for free,” she says.

Before going freelance full time two years ago, Sheppard had saved some money but found making a living ‘was slow going’ at first. “I went to a couple of NUJ workshops about freelancing and one thing really stood out: if you say yes to working for free, you’re making it harder for everyone else.” Although she does now bring up the issue of payment once an editor has expressed interest in an idea she’s pitched, Sheppard ‘still hates’ asking. Demanding that your skills are valued still feels delicate for those early in their careers. “I know it’s harder for young people and I encourage them

theJournalist | 17

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If a budget doesn’t appear, then you have to ask yourself what you’re getting out of it, because often enough it’s bugger all

to stand their ground,” Bevan says. “If a budget doesn’t appear, then you have to ask yourself what you’re getting out of it, because often enough it’s bugger all.” Words, broadcast interviews and the speaker circuit are

only part of the problem. To address the specific issue of amateur photography being

supplied – or ripped off – for no payment, the NUJ recently launched the #useitpayforit campaign. With groups such as Newsquest making user-generated copy part of their business plans and openly courting camera clubs to provide free pictures, the union believes it is now time to raise awareness of the issue with amateur photographers and videographers who, by giving their work away, are undermining professional photographers and the value of good photographs and videos. “If an image is good enough to be published or broadcast, it is good enough to be paid for,” is the message. Freelance forums such as the private Facebook group Can’t

Pay Won’t Pay exist for freelance journalists to let off steam and ask for advice on how to secure a better deal – as well as, sometimes, to work through their thoughts about when working for free might be acceptable. What can freelancers do to ensure people value their work? “First, be fantastic at what you do so you can genuinely offer

a valuable service that demands fair payment,” says Drew Jones. “I explain why the ‘work for free’ approach is a mistake but, of course, I’m also a business so I offer a solution too, suggesting a consultation fee with an explanation of what unique benefit my expertise and experience can bring to the project. “It’s never been more important for freelancers to be

multi-skilled, flexible and at the top of their game. But you do have to take a stand, because our profession is under threat. Know your worth and fight to get fair recognition of it.”

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