Interviews for Free and Chequebook Media

Had a chuckle when I read the Sydney Morning Herald’s article Survivor saved by jacket and fishermen.

What an incredible and dramatic rescue! But the line that made me laugh was this one:

The Herald was unable to reach Mr Tsimnadis yesterday. A male relative said he would not be conducting any interviews “for free”.

Well, Michael Tsimnadis is hardly alone is he. There are very few media outlets that publish a story ‘for free’, and the SMH isn’t one of them. The online edition I was reading was littered with ads, as well as links to paid classifieds. In this case it seems Nine had the story (and the quotes around ‘for free’ suggest the SMH is a little annoyed about that).

Media froth about ‘cheque book journalism’ is always amusing (reminds me of the classic Frontline). ‘Man sells story’ is somehow a story? What about ‘Media sells ad’?

The media is a business. If your story will help sell newspapers or magazines, or help persuade people to watch TV or listen to the radio, then perhaps it will run. If not, why should it run? Do you expect the media to help publicise your business for free? There are wages to pay, presses to run – publishing and broadcasting isn’t free. And the media is a business, just like yours.

So think about your story and how make it good enough for someone to have to pay to publish it. That is reality, after all.

To pay its way, your story has to be able to get attention. How can you create a story that helps publishers get attention?

Or even better, how can you create a story good enough for someone to be prepared to pay you for an interview!

Michael Tsimnadis is a survivor, and clearly grateful. Sam Oweck and Nassar Farache were the heroes who saved him. Congratulations Sam, Nassar. There was a moment out on the ocean when something really was done for free.