Friday, December 19, 2014

No Means NO!

As a freelance writer, finding clients can be a process of elimination on both sides. There are some services I simply don't provide--I'm not a professional copyeditor, so I say no to those. I won't leave my Skype open all day so you can randomly interrupt me when I'm working for other clients. And, of course, I absolutely will not write a 500-word article for $.50.

I also won't write about topics that go against my values. And that's an issue you face quite often when you work as a writer. I also avoid jobs that involve writing school papers for people (yes, students--particularly college students--pay writers to do that).

One issue that comes up when people find out that I write for a couple of high-profile publications is that they ask me to slip a business name into what I'm writing. Nobody will ever know, they say, and it's something journalists do all the time.

I say no and usually that's it. But occasionally I say no and get a few persuasive emails back. Yes, I said a few. I don't respond after the initial "no" because...what else is there to say?

One marketer stunned me by telling me, as part of his argument to persuade me to slip his client's brand name into one of my articles, that a reporter with a major, nationally-known, well-respected newspaper slipped brands into articles for him all the time. I didn't respond--I was too stunned to respond.

So these journalists risk their salaried jobs and journalistic integrity for a few bucks? It wasn't even about risking getting future assignments from clients. Four years of journalism school and basic moral integrity has me saying no. I'd like to believe that professional journalists have that, as well. So all I can hope is that he was lying to convince me to do this by using basic adolescent coercion...

Has an employer ever asked you to do anything that was against your beliefs? How did you handle it?