online only, so far

Work notes

THE FREELANCE PRESENTS members' jottings on what's out there in the world of work. Please do send us more updates.

  • One prominent consumer weekly is budgeting for a 60 per cent fall in news-stand sales in May. But subscription sales are running at three to four times the pre-covid budget target. Management, justifying short-time working for employed journalists, points to the higher per-copy price on the news-stand. Said staff point out that half of that goes to the distributor and the shops - which is half the reason for bothering to sell subscriptions.
  • On 17 April we heard that UK newsstand sales in general were last week down 58 per cent compared to the same week last year.
  • Vice announced a 90-day moratorium on freelance work - this probably applies to the UK?
  • Mixmag and Kerrang, now from Wasted Talent Publishing, have cancelled their print editions for the next 3 months but continue online. Their editors are seen as "decent people" by freelances and are thought to be honouring commissions up to suspension.
  • A specialist trade mag, where all journalists except the editor are freelance, has been cancelled until September.
  • Future has closed 6 titles permanently and put it about that they're "temporarily reducing their freelance budget in some areas".
  • Kelsey is closing its long-established Boxing Monthly.
  • In New Zealand (an NUJ member stranded there writes) Bauer magazines have shut their operation entirely - including the NZ Radio Times equivalent and the country's leading women's magazine. This appears to be permanent. (Bauer has about 46 mags in the UK.)
  • On 18 April we heard that Johnston Press in the North East has told all their freelance photographers (all two) that there will no shifts for them, at all, until the all-clear is given on Covid-19.
  • On the same day we heard that a Reach local paper had responded to some photos sent on spec: "due to the current pandemic and us having to furlough staff, we cannot justify paying for pictures or freelance copy at this time."

For balance we also offer further individual glimmer of hope:

  • On 20 April we heard that a freelance got paid for a sequence of reviews advance-booked by the Guardian but not done because the events were cancelled.
  • a freelance who had already got into copywriting because the journalism he loves wasn't making him a living any more says it's the copywriting keeping him going still - because his regular clients for that are in gardening and indoor plants, and they're doing terrific business so he's getting £300 a day or a little less several days a week;
  • a British freelance photographer in southern Europe lost all his work, then managed to pick up some online teaching work which will help him get by.

15 April 2020

Children's book authors have been comparing notes. One was "really reluctant to send this and tempt fate" - this being: "So far, I'm still working on several books, with four more to start - and no one has told me to stop. So my days are much the same, but, yes, several of my editors have been furloughed. Some have told me and we've discussed their situations quite honestly, but with others it's been more ominous. I've received emails from new people who have said something like: 'I'm working on your book now' with no mention of the previous editor."

Another asks, in the context of editors being furloughed: "Am I the only one with no new writing projects because my clients have furloughed most of their staff and stopped commissioning? A book series I'd started to write has been postponed indefinitely. I have a few projects coming to the end, and then zilch. Fortunately, I have a half-time academic job so I can still eat food and pay bills. And I'm using the unusual luxury of some spare time to develop a book idea."

And another has "had two 2020 book publications postponed so far, and one project - half-finished - put indefinitely on hold. I do find it hard to concentrate. The whole world seems to be shouting around me, even though everyone is at home."