Serving professional journalism since 1912

Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

A lifeline for members

Freelance work always gives a buzz to writers and journalists – especially if such commissions constitute the bulk or indeed the entirety of their output. Jeffrey Bernard (always a freelance) famously observed that his Spectator column, Low Life, though popular – and even giving rise to a West End play – was not really a living. He was also sceptical of those who would reward him, not with a fee, but with a bottle of vodka. “I can’t take that to the bank manager at the end of the week,” he once remarked!

Freelance work can have its downside. Sometimes you suffer from a mental blank; at other times, there may be thin pickings. It could even be that a magazine or newspaper upon which you rely suddenly changes editor, changes management – or location, or closes down entirely. At that moment, bonhomie at the bar goes out of the window, holiday plans are abandoned and you find yourself confined to quarters. Just where is the next cheque coming from?

Fortunately, in the Chartered Institute of Journalists, lifelines and lifeboats are available if the drought continues or life’s difficulties begin to overwhelm. For many years, our organisation has set down a solid foundation for charity and for benefits – and benefice – for members. Thanks to careful stewardship, investment and husbanding of our funds, the General Secretary and Council have provided the Institute with its own welfare state: a useful safety-net if you find yourself facing the farewell state! Hardship can be reduced by a simple application to Headquarters, perhaps a small payment to see you through, or an interest-free loan if you are confident that the creative and financial juices will soon flow again.

The Institute looks after its own, young or old, pensioner or writer still engaged in the life of journalism. And it is this spirit which, surely, sets this Institute out from the crowd. With such a positive and caring outlook for our members, we need to spread the good news about membership and participation.