Information gap is international

Like Carole Woddis ( Department of No Help, Jan/Feb 97), I have faced widespread discrimination because I'm a freelance. I cover Nordic news and so am in contact with companies, organisations and government ministries throughout the Nordic countries.

In Denmark, some government ministries promise to put me on their lists, but then forget after the first mailing. The Prime Minister's office refuses on the grounds that their mailing lists are "too long already". Some don't even bother to reply to my request. In Sweden, however, the prize must go to the foreign ministry for open information. It issues press releases on anything and everything. Recent offerings include 16 pages on government foreign policy (in Swedish and later in English), on financial support for peace and reconciliation in the Balkans and comments on every trouble spot in the world. One drawback is the noise from faxes at all hours! Many others seem to regard freelances as a bit second rate. A Danish company told me to "read our news on Reuters" -- not useful when you don't have Reuters beamed into your home!

Andrew Draper

Ed: In many countries on the mainland, the concept "freelance journalist" is simply less well understood than it is in Ireland and the UK -- article available on request.. .

Mar/Apr 1997

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