I’m not usually one for writing massively personal stuff on my website, but some occurrences of the last week have stirred me into action.
A few people have been asking what’s going on – especially if you’ve been following me on Twitter- as I’ve mentioned I cannot now return to Chamonix. Well, perhaps I’ve been hasty declaring this- but I’m beginning to see no option.
I’ve been motivated to write down my situation after reading this recent article in The Guardian: Philip Hensher stirs debate among authors after refusing to write for free
I’ve also just read another similar and very interesting article on this topic: Slaves of the Internet.
Well, its not just creative writers that have this problem. I’ve suffered it in journalism over and over again. From having to work several shifts for free at every new place I’m attempting to work at – despite years of experience – to contributing travel features for free/next to nothing.
The latest kick in the stomach was thus: Philip Henshers article came out a day or so after I was told I was no longer needed for a job I was pretty much promised in Chamonix ( although not a formal job offer with a contract signed etc- NOTE TO SELF- ALWAYS GET A CONTRACT). The job was as a news editor or broadcast journalist ( i could take first pick) for a new radio station in the town. I was very keen as it offered a secure monthly income and would still allow time for a bit of writing and skiing! It would also be exciting to work for a new, local station for Chamonix – I was psyched.
(I had also been told by the other station I’d been working for that – because of their partners- the Mayor and Mont Blanc Radio- that they needed a fluent French speaker- fair enough I suppose -I can’t argue with this- I am living in France after all.)
Well last week I was told I was no longer needed because ” We have been inundated with applicants (over 90) and some are even willing to work free of charge to help the station succeed.” I was however offered the chance of some freelance work.
I’m *guessing* these are fresh out of uni, supported by the bank of mum and dad- and cheap labour. I’d not even discussed a salary at this point and myself would have been satisfied for enough to just cover my rent-plus some.
Anyway- perhaps this is Karma as I’ve been criticised for writing articles for free.( I emphasis TRAVEL here as it has only been in this genre)
My argument at the time was:- as I was trying to break into the industry and at that point didn’t have any print/online experience – I was trying to build up a portfolio. I believed this was normal? I thoroughly intended to get paid – however, its been harder and harder to get an money out of anyone. Certain (national) publications say that because it’s travel- its a perk, a “holiday” (and there will always someone else will to do it for free). This does not consider the quality of the writer ( I’ve been on trips with non journos) or that you have to take a week or so off, then spend several days writing the piece- with no money. I’m not asking for much- but I need to pay the bills!
But now it would seem I’m getting *a taste of my own medicine*
Some may say- well it’s only travel- get a worthwhile “proper” job. I have tried- especially in Chamonix. It’s also not that easy as people ask me:” why do you want to do this job when you’ve done all that?”etc etc. I’ve tried to PR path- but gone are the days when being a journalist was enough to get you a job in PR. I’d need to become an intern again. Same problem as above- plus I’m possibly too old to become an intern?!
Anyway- I read the article on Philip Hensher with interest. Once I’ve finished my last round of TRAVEL articles- I will no longer be working for free. If that’s in Chamonix, a climbing destination( more on this soon) or back in South London remains to be seen…..