As someone who has written for various publications, I have yet to take a commission, or what is in my mind a bribe, from anyone I’ve written about. I suppose it is an ethical concept that might tragically get twisted and bent once idealistic journalists get out in the real world. But this is one thing that I hope I will never succumb to.
What I’m talking about is deliberately asking a subject to commission them to write. I know a photographer who, sadly, hasn’t received much exposure for his work when it does deserve due accolades. A freelance journalist cum PR agent contacted him for work purposes i.e. his photography. After a bit of back-and-forth, she asked, why doesn’t he commission her to write about him and then she would do so?
Now, I have a problem with this. I have a problem with any so-called journalist who tells someone, give me something and then only will I write about you. For me, wanting to write about a subject is enough. Freelancers do get paid by the newspaper/magazine/supplement/website/whatever when they sell them their pieces (unless of course, you have some sort of standing arrangement to not get paid!!!). Why would you ask the person you’re writing about to pay you as well? It sounds like a bribe to me: pay me and I’ll write nice things about you.
I’m sorry but that is NOT how it works.
You write about something because it is worthy or because it deserves to be pulled down or because the story needs to be told and you get paid by the publication you sell it to. That is IT.
In my opinion, people who blatantly ask for bribes don’t deserve to call themselves journalists.
Quote of the post: “The most essential gift for a writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector” – Ernest Hemingway