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"Write something worth reading or do something worth writing" A blog by Amy Willis, a multimedia journalist based in London

The perils of saying you are a freelancer

It really frustrated me this morning when I opened the newspaper to see my story idea in all its glory with someone else’s byline. I know it is a well- documented problem among freelancers whose story ideas have been pinched by other journalists but this was nothing to do with this kind of bad luck. It was to do with the people I contacted during my research.

In preparation for an interview in Yorkshire I have been preparing a news list and trying to think up some interesting story ideas that might impress them. Not wanting to be presumptious I have been introducing myself as a freelancer rather than assuming the title of journalist for the newspaper I am interviewing for.


Anyway, one of my ideas was to see if the Archbishop of York had any advice on using communal holy water and the shared chalice after recent hygiene concerns following the swine flu outbreak (a bishop in Chelmsford had already raised these concerns a few days before). So being the eager journalist, I phoned up the Archbishop’s office and spoke to the PR manager – who will remain nameless – to see if the Archbishop would be interested in making some comments. The PR manager told me the Archbishop was not making any comments at this stage but would of course get in touch with me if he changed his mind. So I left my number and my email address for him to let me know.

This was yesterday morning. This morning, I opened up The Times and low and behold there was a fantastic article on page eight about the Archbishop’s advice on sharing the chalice. Thank you very much PR manager for not getting back to me.

The problem is’, why phone back some eager freelancer when someone with as much clout as the Archbishop can go straight to The Times? It does seem a little catch 22 – but how can you research article ideas properly if this kind of thing is going to happen all the time?

If someone has the answer then please let me know. Until then I will be keeping my story ideas close to my chest up until the last moment. But you would have thought the Archbishop’s office would have a little bit of integrity.


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