Freelance Round-Up: This month in writing

Mentoring scheme launched for young journalists

The John Schofield Trust has launched a new mentoring scheme for journalists in the early stages of their career.

The charity was set up to commemorate John Schofield, a young journalist who was killed in the war in Croatia in 1995,

Under the scheme, up to 25 applicants will have the opportunity to be mentored by high-profile journalists including Evan Davis and Sian Williams. The programme is aimed at offering those already working in journalism (online or broadcast) further access to the broadcasting industry and “the kind of insight into the news industry normally only available to staffers”.

Find out more and apply for the scheme here.

Should journalists be licensed?

A recent shadow minister’s speech has sparked a debate on whether journalism could and should become a licensed trade.

Speaking at the Labour Party Conference recently, shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis called for journalists found guilty of gross malpractice to be “struck off”.

He praised the journalism which uncovered the phone hacking scandal and said a free press in the UK was “non negotiable”.

However, he added: “But with freedom also comes responsibility. Neither the current broken system of self regulation or state oversight will achieve the right balance. We need a new system of independent regulation including proper like for like redress which means mistakes and falsehoods on the front page receive apologies and retraction on the front page. And as in other professions the industry should consider whether people guilty of gross malpractice should be struck off.”

Speaking on Radio 4, the Independent’s editor Chris Blackhurst supported tighter rules, saying he would potentially support individual journalists being licensed in the same way as doctors and jockeys. He commented: "The Jockey Club bars jockeys from riding horses – why can't we bar journalists from writing articles?" However, he admitted that a number of details would need to be considered such as which body would licence the industry.

Guardian journalist Roy Greenslade wrote a blog post against the suggestion, saying there was a danger of ending up “with unacceptable constraints on press freedom.” He added: “This would be against the public interest and would therefore undermine democracy.”

A peek behind the scenes at the New York Times

A new film about journalism which is out at the moment looks well worth a watch. The ‘Page One: Inside the New York Times’ documentary was made over a year at the world-famous newspaper.

Film-maker Andrew Rossi gets to follow, among others, journalist David Carr, a former drug addict who still firmly believes in old-school journalism. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but should be fascinating for writers on both sides of the pond.

You can watch the trailer here.

Blogging rates questioned

More and more businesses are starting up blogs to drive traffic to their site and connect with customers but many writers will have come to realise that, for whatever reason, rates for blogging are often lower than for other types of writing. Alastaire Allday, a freelance copywriter, has questioned why on his blog.

He too has found that many clients simply don’t value blog content in the same way as other web copy, despite the fact that may not make any real sense. In one case a client offered him 66% less for blogging than other web copy.

Alastaire poses the interesting questions of whether “premium bloggers” need a new name to differentiate themselves from the “penny-a-word hacks” and whether “if the going rate for a blogger is 50% less than a copywriter’s equivalent hourly rate, is there any point in a copywriter offering blogging services at all?”

Alastaire has had some interesting comments from writers already. It would be really good to get some honest feedback from clients too on just why they think blogs are worth less.


13th October 2011

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