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Journalists: Have you ever lied to boost your portfolio/ CV?

(11 Posts)
Laugs Thu 05-Feb-09 08:52:22

I'm a freelance writer trying to break into national magazines. I've done loads of work regionally, but only written one article each for four national mags, over a few years.

While updating my CV I've discovered that 3 out of the 4 magazines no longer exist. The biggest of the magazines also gave me the wrong name in the byline. Partly because I feel like this makes me look like I'm lying anyway (choosing defunct publications or not have my name on the work), I'm tempted to make it look like I've done more work for them than I have.

Have you ever done this? Did anyone ever question you on it? Or is it par for the course in this industry?

thisisyesterday Thu 05-Feb-09 19:48:46

i wouldn't, personally. after all it isn't going to be hard for them to discover it's a lie... and then you'll never convince them that what you've actually done is real

averyboringname Fri 06-Feb-09 23:27:27

Not a wise move. If they like your idea and the way you've written your pitch they'll take it anyway.

(Am assuming you're trying for freelance work rather than a staff job?)

edam Fri 06-Feb-09 23:38:01

really, really, really bad idea. Am freelance, have been a commissioning ed and from both perspectives I would say NO! Not ethical and very dangerous.

Carmenere Fri 06-Feb-09 23:42:37

No, absolutely not the done thing in the industry.

Laugs Sun 15-Feb-09 11:14:23

Thanks for your replies, sorry I've only just logged on as have been away.

Not really sure what got into me last week, as I never lie, am a crap liar, and would get found out really easily if questioned on my CV. Desperate times... Thanks for not flaming me. blush

I feel as though I am pushing away and not getting anywhere and maybe that's because I'm not selling myself well enough. I know a lot of people do just never get anywhere, but I'm not prepared to accept that for myself (yet).

Edam, if you don't mind me asking, when you were a commissioning ed, what were you looking for in a pitch from someone you hadn't worked with before? Was it a really good idea or was it more about the writer's credentials? If you liked the idea but didn't know the person pitching it, would you ask to see a draft or would you dismiss it as unlikely to be fruitful?

I know that the two editors I normally work for pass me a lot of work because they know and trust me, not particularly because I know anything about whatever the subject matter may be.

edam Sun 15-Feb-09 11:24:38

This might sound depressing, sorry, but an idea from an unknown writer would have had to have been stunning before I'd have taken a risk on it.

I wanted people I could rely on to deliver the right number of words, to deadline, with brilliant effect. Who would understand and execute the brief, turning out sparkling copy that was perfectly judged for my title and my readers.

Someone I didn't know, who hadn't worked for anyone I did know, or any titles I did know, would have been a risk. And I didn't have the time to muck about.

I hope there are much more open commissioning eds than me out there! (Actually have been thinking about my first job as editor which was a very specific title with its own way of doing things. My second job, I did try out people with good ideas and sometimes it worked. So maybe it depends on the title.)

lalalonglegs Sun 15-Feb-09 11:44:26

I used to commission on national papers and I would take good ideas from complete unknowns and people who had never written anything before. I felt if the idea was strong enough, I could probably rewrite it if what they filed was completely hopeless. I think papers are easier to write for than mags - now that I am freelance, I send out ideas by email and simply say at the end, I would be happy to send links to recent work. So you could say at the end of your ideas: I have written for national newspapers magazines and would be happy to provide links/send cuts if you require them. No lying involved.

Laugs Mon 16-Feb-09 09:37:15

Hi, thanks for your help. Edam, that is fairly depressing, but exactly what I expected to hear. I will persevere anyway. Lala, you have made me feel slightly more optimistic!

When pitching, do you think it's worth sending pdfs of published work as an email attachment, or does this just clog up vital inbox space? Would you actually have had the time to read them?

Also, in my experience so far, there is a very small window of opportunity when an editor has time to consider anything other than the issue in hand. At my staff job this was something like 5 days before a publication date (for monthlies), which is what I've been trying to aim for with nationals. Is this the same time scale I should be working to?

Thnaks for your feedback, it's very much appreciated.

lalalonglegs Mon 16-Feb-09 11:29:04

I wouldn't send the links/pdfs unless requested - as you say, it just makes the email too chunky. Brevity in all things. I don't know about a five day window of opportunity - that might be putting a rather kind spin on things; I found I could read and respond to emails even on press days (unless it was a horrendous week). I think you just have to accept that some people are extremely rude and won't bother getting back in touch, it's infuriating but unlikely to be personal.

Laugs Mon 16-Feb-09 14:02:20

Oh, I wasn't thinking there was a 5-day window of opportunity. I just meant that with the editor I mostly work for now (my old boss), I know that there are maybe only two days a month that he is actually open to ideas, and that's generally from the day after the final page has gone down (around 5 days before publication). This might just be him, but I know that even though I work for him every single month, there is no point contacting him except at certain times. I finally have his monthly cycle sussed!

Of course, deep down I know that people are not getting in touch because they aren't interested, but I am hoping there is a way I can change this! (It makes me feel better)

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