Journalism is more civilised now than it used to be. Editors who make their staff quake with fear are a rarity these days.
People doing our NCTJ diploma courses shake their heads with disbelief when I describe the ‘good old days’ of public humiliation and four-lettered insults by everybody, from the editor to the news editor or chief sub.
That doesn’t mean that newsroom staff are as polite as the Queen though. Freelance journalists and PRs soon discover this when they pitch a story. It works like showbiz: 'Don’t ring us, we’ll ring you!'
Our NCTJ course students sometimes get upset when they submit their prized work for publication and don’t even get an acknowledgement.
But why should they bother? If the answer’s ‘no’, then inactions speak louder than words.
You might think this is rude or discourteous, but that’s how it is.
A guy on one NCTJ course said that banks and retailers don’t treat their customers like that. Really?
He’s obviously never banked with Santander or shopped in Poundland!
Banks and retailers don’t have 24-hour news output, hourly deadlines and literally thousands of emails to process. And in any case, freelance journalists aren’t customers.
They’re a pain, another email to answer, to phone call, to pick up – unless they have a great story.
The only way to attract a news/content editor’s attention is to send them something fantastic. If you do, you’ll soon hear back.
Magazines are sometimes a little more polite – you might even get an autorespond reply.
But otherwise, curt-esy is the norm. With the emphasis on curt.
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