“Every freelancer deals with the stress of worrying that ‘If I ask for this expense to be reimbursed, are they going to stop working with me? Is there someone else out there willing to eat all their own costs and his work is good enough?'”
Peter’s concern that less experienced journalists are willing to report from hostile regions and demand less from budget-conscious news outlets is a very real one, says Smyth, given the shifting media landscape.
“What’s changed is that there is a shared interest between startups and aspiring young journalists to want to get news covered that wouldn’t otherwise be covered,” Smyth said.
“These aspiring freelancers just want to get published … so they can’t go to the outlet and say, ‘I want you to publish me and I want equipment, insurance, and training.’ The outlets will go to someone else.”
If freelancers were just getting shafted by “startups,” I don’t think I’d have as much of an issue as I do (though, if you can’t afford to protect someone in a war zone, you can’t afford to have someone in a war zone). I’ve seen freelancers get hosed by newspapers and magazines that have been around for decades, that have no excuse other than parsimoniousness.
And if you’re owned by Ariana Huffington, for example, you need to goddamn pony up.