Regional revolt required

A DAILY newspaper paid £3.62 (plus VAT) for 19 lines of copy. That works out at just over 19p a line. Obviously, the payment is a disgrace, and the cheque will probably be framed.

But it highlights the uphill battle faced by freelances in the campaign to establish decent rates in the provinces.

The time has surely arrived to circumvent lineage. One way to tackle the problem, I suggest, is to avoid sending stories "on spec" to any local or regional outlet -- newspaper, TV or radio.

If the news desk want the story, ask for an order and a name to go with it. And then send in your bill. Some regional newspapers are quite prepared to negotiate and agree a fair price for ordered stories -- see here in the Freelance Fees Guide.

There is still the problem of often-untrained "village correspondents" who file mostly for love not money. Perhaps we could do our bit and, where possible, recruit the ones in our patch to the NUJ and help them get their rates up.

Commercial television stations are slowly increasing their payments to around the £15 to £17 mark -- after persistent nagging. One in the West recently upped its rates for the first time in ten years (surely some mistake there?) TV newsdesks will pay at least double the basic for "specials".

But commercial radio payments are still lagging badly behind, considering the profits declared by some independent stations.

Sep/Oct 1998
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