Fighting falling freelance fees

ALARMING reports suggest that some rates aren't just stagnating, they're actually falling.

The Times has a Saturday supplement, now known as The Knowledge. What was once a standalone magazine with its own editorial team was made part of an expanded arts and entertainment department in 2005. These changes have been used to "standardise" word rates for arts coverage across the paper - and the trend appears to be downward. Current rates being reported anonymously to LFB's Rate for the Job website suggest per-word rates for features have been replaced with significantly lower piece rates for the same amount of work.

A Knowledge feature of 1000-1200 words would, two years ago, have attracted payment of 40p per word, but features of this length are now being paid at flat rates regardless of length in the £300-350 range. Album and DVD review rates have also been cut by a third. Contributors have been told that these rates are fair because the reviews are shorter than before; but the Saturday section had paid the same rate for reviews through various redesigns that had seen word counts rise and fall.

Other Rates for the Job suggest a less than joined-up approach to payment rates across the Times, with rates reported for 2006 and 2007 varying from 33p to 60p per word.

It seems editors have some discretion to apply a higher rate to those who ask for it. So ask.

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