Freelance reporters in war zones can earn crappy pay

September 9, 2014
Category: Uncategorized

NBC News | The Daily Beast

Major media organizations may not pay freelancers in war zones very well, Martha C. White reports: “Per story can range anywhere from 50 bucks to several hundred,” a freelancer named Steven Dorsey tells her.

“I get paid more to do a PR job in the U.K. than to go somewhere like Gaza,” photojournalist Alison Baskerville tells White. “In Gaza, I’d be lucky to get 300 pounds [$483 U.S.] a day, maybe less. It’s a daily rate.”

Freelancers often have to provide their own body armor and other protective devices, and some news orgs don’t provide health insurance. “I remember trying to get affordable insurance through international reporting organizations — and couldn’t, because I was an American. It would only cover you if you were Canadian or European,” Dorsey tells White.

Ben Taub wrote on Sept. 2 about how a fixer employed by murdered American freelance journalist Steven Sotloff may have had his identity compromised by a Canadian photographer. That photographer, who he calls Alex, kicked off a planned self-assignment in Syria by informing other fixers via email that he planned to use the services of a fixer Taub calls “X” instead.

The Canadian left Syria after receiving a tip that some people knew he’d be traveling with X. Sotloff later used the same fixer; they were kidnapped together.

By that point, I had left Kilis and was pleading with the Canadian photographer to share the list of Syrian strangers he allegedly contacted while trying to make his own arrangements to visit Aleppo, as well as his communications with them. Perhaps X and the people working on Sotloff’s abduction case could identify the ISIS informant from those conversations.

But suddenly Alex grew reluctant to talk. His final message before blocking me on Facebook in late August last year read: “I don’t have time for that, stop bothering me, I have nothing interesting for you anyway.”