Fines proposal leaves freelances in stitches

That strange sound you can hear is the hollow laughter of freelances around the country. They’ve just heard of the threat by some IPC magazines to impose “fines” on contributors who file copy after their deadlines.

The irony is almost too beautiful, they’ll be chuckling to themselves as they yet again chase a payment that should have been made six weeks ago.

When the laughter fades, they may like to formulate a few fines they could impose themselves:

Commissioning editor changes mind at 11th hour: £50.
Sub-editor re-writes intro, but misses out key fact: £30.
Byline spelt incorrectly: £20.
Editor ignores your ideas pitch, then writes the same piece himself: £60.
Accounts “lose” your invoice: £40.
Features editor sits on your copy for six weeks, then rings while you’re on holiday to ask if you could send it again by 10.30am: £40.

Chance to hit spin for six

With Shane Warne flying back home from the cricket World Cup after testing positive for a banned substance, the quote seems apt: “This is an opportunity to see off spin once and for all.”

But Tony Wright, Labour chair of the Commons Public Administration Committee, is not referring to England’s chance of grabbing some glory in South Africa. He’s talking about the Prime Minister’s belated decision to review the Government information machine.

Lobby correspondents have been grumbling about it for years. With Jo Moore’s infamous “chance to bury bad news” e-mail on September 11, the grumbles became a national cry, and by the time of the mishandling of Cherie Blair’s dealings with conman Peter Foster the cry had become a roar.

Now a full review will give journalists from all media their chance to forcefully state their case: that information about Government departments and ministers must be clearly separated from party politics. By at least the distance of a Brian Lara “six”.

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