My Dad swore that, at the very moment I emerged from the womb, I opened my mouth and howled, “IT’S. NOT. FAIR!!!!!!”
At some point during my childhood, my overdeveloped sense of justice became so irritating to my parents that, “IT’S. NOT. FAIR!!!!!” went on the banned list of phrases – along with, “BUT. I. WANT. A. PONY!!!!!!”
I don’t think I’m a particularly effective feminist – Leslie Cannold and her ilk put me to shame – but I still have a very strong adverse reaction to things that aren’t fair.
I didn’t think it was fair when Catherine Deveny was attacked for ‘taking over’ Q and A recently. Fortunately, the transcript backed me up and I was able to show that Deveny did not dominate the show, nor did she interrupt more than her nemesis, Archbishop Peter Jensen.
Analysing the transcript of Q and A is a tedious and laborious job and I swore I wouldn’t do it again. But, when Kate Ellis faced a pack of slavering chauvinist wolves on a subsequent episode, I pulled another all night stint to expose the injustice.
On the strength of those two blog posts, I was recently invited to undertake a project for the King’s Tribune, an independent magazine which focuses on politics, media and pop culture. I should have been thrilled and honoured – and I was. But, my first inclination was to say “thanks, but no thanks”.
The thing is, I knew how much work the two Q and A projects involved. What Jane Gilmore, the editor of the King’s Tribune was suggesting was on a far greater scale altogether. It was a fascinating project but, as I replied frankly to Jane, as a struggling writer, I just couldn’t agree to commit the amount of time needed for the project without getting paid.
It’s come down to this. I just can’t go on spending hundreds of hours researching and writing while I pay our handyman/gardener $30 an hour to do things I could be doing myself if I wasn’t spending so much time on the computer! At some point you realise, you’re not just writing for nothing – it’s costing you to write for nothing! Costing a lot!
It’s particularly annoying when you know some people who are putting out online journals are making a living out of it, but the writers who supply the content often get nothing – not even a token fee.
There are very few online journals that pay writers – and those that do, pay much less than you might expect. And that’s a shame because, while people like me are often happy to clack out a couple of thousand words every so often on things we feel strongly about, ultimately, writers have bills to pay too!
I have to admit that I didn’t know a lot about the King’s Tribune when Jane approached me. My friends Shelley Stocken, Jo Thornely, Mike Stuchbery and Ben Pobjie are regular contributors so I knew it was a quality magazine, but I hadn’t been nosey enough to ask them if they were paid for their articles.
So, when Jane emailed back to confirm that “Yes” the King’s Tribune pays writers and would pay me for my time, I was surprised, and thrilled, and, even though the fee offered wasn’t astronomical, it was something and I appreciated the goodwill and respect that signified. In short, it was FAIR.
‘The project’ Jane had in mind was inspired by a newspaper article, “Why is British Public Life Dominated by Men?” , by Kira Cochrane from the Guardian newspaper and subsequent research undertaken by UK advocacy group – Women in Journalism. Both Cochrane’s original research and the follow-up WiJ study found that women are extremely poorly represented – both as journalists and as news subjects – in the British media. Similar international and US studies reached similar conclusions; women journalists, and women in general, simply weren’t being treated fairly or equally in the media.
But what about here, in Australia? Is our media the exception or the rule? In a country led by a female prime minister and a female governor general – a country in which Michelle Grattan is a household name – surely the media is more enlightened than the British tabloids and their infamous ‘page three’ girls?
The project took a month – pretty much full time – to research and write. It’s the kind of project that probably wouldn’t have been done if someone hadn’t been willing to pay for it. The King’s Tribune was. And, this is my (and their) point:
If we want good writers to undertake serious, time-consuming projects like this, then we have to value their work and pay them. For independent publishers – the only way to pay writers is either to take advertising (which may compromise their independence) or to charge readers for access.
All of which is a long winded way of making two important statements.
The first is that my first (and hopefully not my last) article for the King’s Tribune, “The Blokeyness Index: blokes win the gender war in Australia’s 4th Estate” is the lead story in the King’s Tribune December issue; available both online and in printed form. But, to read the whole article you will need to subscribe ($5 for a single month’s subscription) or order a printed copy of the magazine to be mailed to you ($8.95). That means you won’t just get my article, but all the other great articles in the December edition of the magazine.
The second point is, that in order to continue paying good Australian writers, the King’s Tribune needs more than just subscribers for this one edition. They could really do with your ongoing support. So, if you can manage it – either before or after you get your hands on the December edition – please consider taking out a one year, six month or three month subscription. If you have friends or relatives who value good quality writing on topical subjects – think about a gift subscription. And, if you have had a particularly good year and you’re feeling all welled up with Christmas spirit and goodwill towards us starving scribes – perhaps you might consider making a ‘one off’ contribution to help the King’s Tribune stay afloat.
Here’s editor, Jane Gilmore, talking about the history of the magazine and why you should think about supporting it.
As Jane says in her September article, “On Paying Writers”:
“… ultimately it’s the readers who need to know that the service they are getting is valuable. Ten or more years of free content online has inculcated everyone with the idea that good writing is a valueless service. It’s not. But paying writers what they are worth is not going to happen until that ingrained attitude changes.
Finding good writers is far more difficult than you would imagine. Finding good writers who are an incentive to paying customers is even more difficult. But the solution to this is not just up to publishers. Everyone has to join the dance.”
You can read the introduction to “The Blokeyness Index” here. But, to read the whole thing, you’ll need to subscribe – either to just the December issue ($5) or in one of the ways listed on the link above. Please consider subscribing (either short-term or long-term) in order to read the full article and, if you enjoy it, encourage your friends to do the same.
Yes, they’ll have to pay a small fee but, come on, isn’t that only FAIR?