Dear National Magazines,

Saturday, 7 July 2012

A journalist from one of you contacted me this week.  You said you wanted to interview me about my makeup collection (I'd responded to an RT on Twitter that I didn't understand, and you emailed me to explain), and you invited me along to a photoshoot too. You said I was "perfect".  I was the right age, had the right kind of collection, and you loved my blog so you really wanted me to take part.


So, in spite of it being a hellishly busy week - it's month end, I'm an accountant, I'm training up a new member of staff, plus we've moved to a new office - I rearranged my day, and gave up the one lunch hour (actually 30 minutes) I've managed to grab in two weeks, in order to do a phone interview with your journalist. I didn't get any lunch in the end. After that, I proceeded to rearrange my weekend plans to fit in your photoshoot.  I inconvenienced a few people, not least of all myself.  But it was okay!  I had a photoshoot in a national magazine to make my excuses about!  People grumbled, but they understood.


I agreed because your magazine was one I felt fit right with my blog.  I'm in your target audience, I have a "don't tell me I can't" attitude, I'm open-minded, optimistic (What?  I am!  Occasionally), and modern in my lifestyle choices. Heck, I'm so modern in my lifestyle choices that I write a blog.  On the internet.  Get me, being all crazy with that new-fangled technology shizzle!  Did I mention I'm down with "the kids"?  They love it when we get all crazy with their hippity-hop slang.  They really do.  Anyway, I'm digressing.  The point is that I get approached by newspapers and magazines quite regularly these days, and I say no to 95% of the offers that I'm made because they don't feel right.  In this case, I thought we were a good match, and that you weren't one of those magazines that take the mickey out of their readers.  I grew up reading my mum's copies of you, and I thought I knew you.


Except, of course, I was wrong.  You've dropped me from your article, and I'm not allowed to be featured, or to go to that "lovely" photoshoot and it's all because my "lifestyle choices" are a little "too" modern for a magazine.

You know why, don't you?  It's because I write a blog. And you "don't want to publicise bloggers".

The day after I gave up my time, and rearranged my week to fit in with your schedule (at very short notice), you rang and told me that you've had a "new editorial directive" and it's about the aforementioned publicising of bloggers.  You said sorry, you were very polite, and seemingly a bit upset at the directive, but it was still a massive smack in the face for me.  

You contacted me!  I didn't email you, begging for publicity, then tell you to bog off after you'd made massive schedule changes at short notice, and sorted everything out, by cancelling on you, with less than 24 hours notice to boot.  No, you wooed me, courted me, made me drop everything for you, then dumped me, even though the thing you didn't like about me at the end was the one thing that made you contact me in the first place!   You found me because I write a blog, and you wanted to feature me because you liked my blog.  But, because I write a blog, you can't feature me, because you don't want to give me publicity?

Sorry, what now?  

Did I even ask you to mention the blog?  I don't think I did, actually.  You mentioned it a lot when you got in touch though, oh boy, didn't you!

Magazines, there's one really big thing that you always forget about bloggers, and that is that we are your readers too.  Our readers read magazines as well.  I love magazines so much I now write for one, part-time, admittedly, and it's only been a couple of week, but still, it's in print and I love it.  My mum will love it too, I don't think she gets the internet, and she's a massive fan of magazines - it's where I got my love of them from. Indeed, from where I'm sitting, right here and now, I can see a pile of magazines six inches high.  I dread to think how many are under the bed.


Now, most magazines are simply falling over themselves to court bloggers, and, whilst it's refreshing to discover one that isn't, let me ask you one thing: why did you bother?  I don't need publicity, really.  Whilst it's always nice to see my name in print, I already get far more attention than a short, fat, bad-tempered, kinda funny-lookin' accountant with three jobs can handle, so I don't really court it  (although, I have taken part in a feature for a national newspaper recently, which I suspect will come back to bite me on the bum at some point. More about this at a later date), and I'm actually too busy living my busy life, making my modern lifestyle choices, and being as "can do" as I can possibly be without being either Pollyanna or a massive walking cliche.


I've had a troubled relationship with magazines for a while now, ever since a (former) idol of mine wrote a blog post about how dreadful bloggers were (oh, the irony! Using a blog to slag off other people with blogs!), calling us hairy-armed blaggers and there was a cacophony of beauty editors literally falling over themselves to chime in with how much they agreed with the article, and patting the author on the back for "telling it like it is".  There was an air of "they had it coming, those uppity bloggers, let's give it to them".  Nice. Ironically, I've worked for several national newspapers, which is far more media experience than some "journalists".  Does it make me a better blogger?  Not really.

The author (and former idol, did I mention that?) then turned it back on the bloggers who had an issue, suggesting that the only bloggers who would have a problem with it were those self same "blaggers".  Actually, very much not true, whilst there are undoubtedly bad bloggers around, suggesting that the only good bloggers around are those who have been journalists first is not only fallacious, it's egregious.  Some of the best writers around don't even want to be journalists, why should they be?  

As a result of all this, I even considered giving up the blog.  These were people I respected and have looked up to for a long time, and if they can think that about their bloggers - of whom I am one by choice, as well as by inclination, and yes, I do consider myself a "blogger" rather than an "online writer" or whatever we're supposed to call ourselves this week - well, what am I doing with my life?  It passed, but, every now and again, I have my doubts about why I do this.


I'm digressing (slightly) again.  It was a distasteful episode for a variety of reasons, and I lost a lot of respect both for the author of that article, and the beauty editors who cheered the author on.

It was distasteful because some of those beauty editors work for magazines which run those "best beauty blogger" award schemes, which usually involve the "winning" bloggers getting an opportunity to write for the magazine!  For free, of course.  But first, those self-same bloggers are "gently encouraged" to write articles about the awards begging their reader to go and vote, thereby giving the magazine tonnes of free publicity!  Oh, and linkbacks to the voting pages of the magazine, lets not forget those. Lots of nice SEO links for the magazines there, lots of nice (free) publicity for the magazines, lots of traffic to the magazine website from the bloggers readers and hey, at the end of it, guess what?  Free content for the magazines!  Again, nice. For the magazine.  The blogger never gets much out of it other than a byline on an article (online-only usually), but hey ho, it's nice that the magazines do something for us, eh?


Meh.


The magazine who wooed me and dumped me this week wasn't one of those magazines, which is why I thought it would be good to work with them.  I was wrong, there's just as much contempt for bloggers in the magazine-world as I thought there was last year.  They just hide it better.


Let's get a couple of things straight.  Movies didn't kill off the radio.  Television didn't kill off cinema. The internet hasn't killed off TV.  None of those things killed off books, and blogs won't kill off magazines and newspapers.  Yes, some of those industries have had to adapt to survive, and none of them are really in their heyday any more.  Bloggers aren't really going anywhere either, and barely any of us have any plans to "replace" magazines.  We're doing something magazines either can't or won't.  There's room for both.  And when the thing that replaces blogging as the next "big thing" comes along, us bloggers will have to adapt to survive too.  You'll get your laughs in when that happens, national magazines, oh yes you will, just you wait.


In the meantime, I'll be sending this national magazine an invoice for my time and inconvenience.  You betcha.  I won't, however, be buying a copy of it ever again.  And I'm going to tell my mum on you. So there.


Love and kisses, 


Lippie.

This post originated at: http://getlippie.com All rights reserved.

31 comments:

  1. What is it with people looking down their noses at bloggers? Sneering or deciding that all we want to do is promote ourselves? As you say, we are their readers too.

    This is a shocking way to treat somebody and, like you, I would be massively hacked off having rearranged my weekend to be dumped.

    Make sure you send that invoice.

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  2. I am in love with this post. Thank you for 'telling it like it is' but without referring to the editors as hairy armed. I am happy you turn down work with magazines who dot respect or understand bloggers. It shows a level of integrity that a lot of bloggers lack.

    Great post as usual x

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    1. Thanks, Pixie! I do appreciate your comment. I'm not perfect (like I said, I think the national newspaper thing will bite me on the bum at some point), but, I do TRY.

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    2. Couldn't have said it any better myself Pixie. Great post X

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  3. I've definitely read something about style bloggers in a well-known magazine (probably the one with a French name) in the last few weeks. Whoever turned you down is missing out - there's room for both and I think it would be a great idea for all the diferent media to work together!

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  4. Brilliant post. I'm not surprised you are upset and annoyed.

    A new directive not to publicise bloggers?


    That may bite them in the arse

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    1. Well, it means bloggers won't publicise them - if they don't need the bumps in circulation that blog posts can provide, well ... ach, there are worse things that could have happened, but there are a few points in this post that I've been brooding on for a while, you might be able to tell.

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  5. Dear gods, the hypocrites, we love your blog so want to feature you, oh wait we don't want to advertise bloggers... um what?

    When you invoice them make sure you charge them for weekend rates ie double time,as your weekend has been ruined.

    I love reading blogs, I many not always comment, but I do enjoy them. I don't like magazines much anymore, they seem to want me to do everything just to keep my man. I manage that on my own thanks!

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  6. Eh?! This makes about as much sense as erm... I'm struggling to come up with anything as idiotic as that magazines excuse. What a shitty thing to do to someone! I will confess, I've been boycotting magazines for about 6 months now. Not because of the issues mentioned in our post (although they certainly play a factor) but because I think most of the magazines I used to buy have such a negative attitude to women ("oh she's to fat/thin/drunk/boring. Let's all judge others for making life decisions like going back to work after having a kid and god forbid someone steps out without their war paint on"). I haven't the foggiest idea which magazine you are talking about but it sounds like maybe it was one that didn't have these archaic attitudes? Well all the more shame then that they fudged up so badly with you. Rant over. I'm sticking with reading blogs (hairy arms or no hairy arms ;)

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    1. I hate all those "how to keep your man via diet/lipstick/diet/clothes/diet/handbag/diets and being very, very thin" articles. I shall never write one.

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  7. As an avid reader of magazines and select beauty blogs I would like to pass my totally uncalled for judgement! The problem as I see it with any editorial content in a magazine about a product is that it is always ALWAYS a paid one there is always that conspicuous advertising placement within the covers which means that the opinion is worthless and that is what has made beauty blogs so amazing, the ability to read a blog, build a relationship and then proceed to trust the opinion of the blogger. You still cannot satisfy my lust for a glossy page of luxe items I cannot and will not ever be able to afford but that is not what I come to you for, I come to you for your opinion and I don't think that magazines have yet grasped the concept of gaining client trust yet ;)

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    1. That's why I read magazines too! They provide the escapism - which is wonderful - and blogs provide the realism. One shall never replace the other.

      I started the blog because I got sick of trying to find the limited editions magazines promoted (after they sold out), and never being able to find out if the products were "good". It's been over three years now, and I'm still here. A magazine being a bit rubbish isn't going to make me stop.

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  8. Amen! The only reason I buy magazines anymore really is for the free gifts. Otherwise I buy one and it's just page after page of advert. Some hidden, some obvious, and it's just tiring. I'd much rather read a blog and read some honest reviews. How they treated you is horrendous and I recall some similar-ish things happening to BritishBeautyBlogger. It's very kind of you not to name the publication, although I'm not sure they deserve such kindness. Great post, hun. xxx

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    1. I wouldn't go as far as horrendous! It's been an annoyance, for sure, but ... meh. That's a reader they've lost, put it that way!

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  9. Sorry to hear that you've been mucked around. In my experience a lack of common courtesy always comes back to bite you, so let's hope this is the case here. As with a previous poster, I rate bloggers' opinions way beyond any editorial other than the truly independent (Sali Hughes and Kate Shapland being the two independent reviewers that spring to mind). Off now to stroke my hairy arms, innit?

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    1. Sali and Kate are indeed the best beauty journos around, if you ask me. I'd add Alex Steinherr from Glamour too, for all that she's not quite as independent as the other two, I've always respected her integrity.

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  10. Oh dear they have really shot themselves in the foot, I sorry for all your inconvenience, that lost time will never be recovered.

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  11. Sheer brilliance in this post.I rely on your blog and many others to give great advice on products and not magazines!

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  12. Definitely invoice the ill-mannered mothers'-sons. If their chain-of-info was poor enough that they didn't clearly communicate the "no-bloggers" policy

    It's an industry-gentrification thing. The folks who were there previously get upset - justifiably so - with the rude persons with a sense of entitlement, who happen to be associated with this new thing. The new-guard irritants are not bad because they're part of the New; they're bad because they don't know to conduct themselves professionally in what is a professional setting. They've never been taught: here's the boundary between just messing about, and being a respected participant in this industry. It's the blessing and the curse of any industry that has both a pro and an amateur base, and almost no barrier to entry. But it's too difficult to figure out which bloggers are going to be professional and respect that this is not just a blow-it-off hobby with magical presents. It's easier to say "All bloggers are childish, are playing games, and aren't worth the trouble to recognize as being a potential reader, let alone someone other readers may be interested in."

    Blogging is a "modern" lifestyle choice? "Modern"? Dude - do they still have ditto machines in their offices?!?? Or are the really progressive folks in their office wearing pagers?

    Jeebus.

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  13. I think I'm going to lose a lot of Twitter followers (and I don't have many anyway) with this post. I also think a little 'get over yourself already' is required. I've worked on magazines. Even edited a few. I've worked on newspapers, too. And this kinda thing happens alllll the time. Seriously. I've had to be that bitch on the other end of the phone telling civilians - yes, actual real live people, otherwise known as readers - that we can't feature their story after all. Sometimes it's been because the brief has changed - it's the nature of the beast when you're dealing with topical issues. Sometimes it's because the feature has been shelved altogether. Sometimes it's because we've found out what the interviewee looks like and she doesn't fit the bill - too many tats, too much weight (difficult to style with those bloody sample sizes) or maybe just too weird looking. (You can rail all you like, but we all buy titles with which we identify and consequently expect to see people inside who look like us - that's what keeps on coming back from all those focus groups, ie, readers themselves, on which print titles spend so much money.) I’ve even had to do it after I’ve spent ages getting to know someone - which is pretty crap when I might have been interviewing them about their child’s death, for instance. So the brief changed. What's the big deal? Why does it have to be about the print world being all nasty to poor lickle bloggers? Equally I've had readers/experts/celebrities who've wanted to be part of a piece pull out and leave me dangling with weeks of organisation wasted and photographers/make-up artists/studios/stylists booked. As a journalist, I've slaved over stories that didn't make it in because a big story broke/loads of ads came in/an editor changed their mind - quite often then not even getting paid, which is a darn sight worse than losing a lunchbreak. Shit happens.

    And, by the way, being a journo I've got a thing about facts and evidence and I would like to ask this one question: on what basis is anyone saying there's room for both in this game?

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    1. Interesting points, and I actually agree with a couple of them. If the brief had changed, or there was a problem with my dress size, or they had killed the piece for any of the usual reasons, there wouldn't have been an issue, and there would have been nothing to "get over myself" over.

      However, the fact remains that they found me as the subject for the story because of my blog. They selected me because of my blog, put me to a lot of time and effort to help them out, and then, the only reason they give for killing the story was ... because of the blog. Why, if you have an editorial policy not to publicise bloggers, would you go all out to contact many - not just me, by the way, I know of at least five others who were approached - BLOGGERS?

      As for: "And, by the way, being a journo I've got a thing about facts and evidence and I would like to ask this one question: on what basis is anyone saying there's room for both in this game?"

      On what basis? Well, blogs and magazines both exist, don't they? I think that's all the basis I need to make that statement.

      Are journalists really SO scared of bloggers they fear that magazines will cease to exist? REALLY? Never. Gonna. Happen. Please re-read the second-to-last paragraph of the post, and read the comments from my readers too. Magazines fulfill a need in readers that blogs cannot and will not ever be able to satisfy. The reverse also applies, we're not, actually, doing the same things, we just happen to cover a lot of the same subjects. There is room for both, in the same way that there is room for TV/Radio/Cinema/DVDs/Books and Magazines.

      Will the internet kill off all of those? No, I really don't think so. As a magazine reader and subscriber, long may they continue. But, bloggers aren't out to get you, we're just doing what we do.

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  14. Brilliant post. You have made your point in a respectable, classy manner and I highly commend you for that.

    I am a regular magazine and blog reader and I agree that there is plenty of room for both.

    What a shame that your time was wasted like that! You most definitely should invoice them for wasting your time. They are not the only ones who put in hard work and effort and perhaps it's about time someone opened their eyes to that fact.

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  15. Kudos to the way you've written this article and the reply to the 'get over yourself already' grumpy person,

    I read a LOT of blogs and cannot emphasize enough how much you influence/affect my choice in day to day life. I grow as a person whn I read all these blogs. It seems insane that anyone would jut dismiss all this effort with the flick of their hand. It seems very foolish from their end.

    And lastly, I hope the person who contacted you reads this post ON YOUR BLOG, and comes to their senses and realizes what they've messed up now.

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    1. Well, they certainly didn't respond to my "thank you very much for the opportunity anyway" email yesterday, AND they stopped following me on Twitter pretty much immediately after the story was killed (I tried to send them a "thanks" DM, which is how I found out), so I suspect I'll never hear from the magazine, or journalist who arranged it all ever again.

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  16. Being a journalist and therefore knowing how magazines work and having been the person on the other end of the phone, I can tell you that very, very often, I lied about the reason why an interviewee was being dropped. Do you think I ever told someone it was because of their tats or their weight? I've just been told by one commissioning ed to tell a PR that a story won't go in because management has changed and therefore editorial direction has, too. That's how it works in media. So I wouldn't go focusing on the bloggers block. It might have just been the kindest excuse the journo could make up. I've had a celebrity interview dropped just because a deputy editor took a dislike to the celebrity for being smug - even though, in that case, it cost the title my payment. What happened to you happens all the time. All the time.

    But as a journo, if I'm grumpy it's because I have to give a right of reply to the other party. I have to be balanced in my reporting (yes, I know many aren't, but it is a legal requirement). The biggest difference between print and blogs is that bloggers do not have to abide by the same rules. And this kind of post, without any reference to the other side (which is exactly what I'm trying to provide) adds to the feeling that journos have a downer on bloggers - as evidenced by the responses. I'm not sure it isn't the other way round. Especially with such a fulsome and sorely miffed blog post that is, essentially, about a disappointment. Disappointment suffered by the tons of readers/experts/journos getting dropped by all media all the time. Me included (as the subject of those 'lovely' photo shoots as well as as a writer) with all those busy doctor experts, mothers of dead children, readers who've put on weight. And, yep, they were generally people I searched out, I went after, I persuaded to give me their time and sometime open their hearts. That doesn't mean jack when it comes to the vagaries of the market in which media operates - bigger stories, ads coming in that reduce editorial, moody editors.

    Really, I wouldn't take it so personally.

    As for print vs bloggers... Exactly because bloggers don't have to answer to advertisers/the PCC/shareholders/wholesalers/newsagents/printers they can say what they like. That gives them a specific value. And the more the market is split between traditional print titles and bloggers, the more traditional print loses readers - there's only a finite number of them out there. The more advertisers start spreading their ad spend, the less able print is to pay its trained journalists/designers/photographers/make-up artists/cleaners. It is naive to claim that circulations won't be affected by the millions of blogs that are out there to read instead. And we'll miss print when it's gone.

    That's not why I'm writing this. I'm not having a go at bloggers (bit weird that you say you're not out to get 'me' when I never suggested you were). I'm trying to provide perspective, balance. I think this blog post was having a pop at magazines, though. And therefore substantiating the very situation it's railing against - this apparent battle between bloggers and print. It comes across as really quite sensitive that bloggers are so peeved that someone might have a negative opinion about the hairy armed among them, which therefore must prove print hates blog, while having a go at all magazines. It really probably isn't the case here (although we won't find out because the journalist described hasn't been given a right of reply). In fact, it was probably a simple commercial decision - if they depend on their beauty advertising, why on earth would they publicise a competitor?

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    1. I'm going to jump in because I'm both--a journalist and a blogger. I think two different things are being discussed here. The disappointment of being dropped is something that we all face (bloggers and journalists alike). As a blogger, though, the very brands and magazines we often provide free publicity for (in fact, when I purchase and subsequently write about a product I'm paying to advertise for them) turn around and make snide comments. If you think there isn't room for bloggers and magazines that's proof enough that a very real bias exists.

      What frustrates me, above all else, is this constant need to remind bloggers that they "are not real journalists." Bloggers know this. That's the point. If you read the comments above no one has alluded to the fact that they cast magazines aside when beauty blogs became important to them. They serve very different purposes. Blogs take the place of the group of women who meet at the beauty shop, the friends calling each other to rave about skin creams: we are real women writing about real experiences. If magazines are threatened by what amounts to glorified word-of-mouth then they're wasting their time ... that kind of "threat" as you seem to imply has existed for decades ... simply in a different form.

      I didn't start a blog to gain journalistic fame and fortune, nor did I begin writing my blog from the belief that I am a makeup artist. I did it because I personally enjoy purchasing and testing products (a love that, my goodness what a shock, was born from reading magazines) and wanted to share that love with others in a community. I live in a country where magazines and brands seldom do contact bloggers, even the successful ones, and I'm certainly not bereft at the fact that my name is not yet in lights. I'm having a wonderful time!

      Louise, I've been a silent fan of your blog for years and what you did in writing this is brave. Even journalists and writers are discouraged from opening up about professional disappointments: no one should feel poorly about having an emotion, it makes better writers! Admitting that you were disappointed and justifiably hurt is not wrong, nor do I believe you need to "get over yourself." You are honest and THAT is what readers admire and love about bloggers. THANK YOU.

      Jessica

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  17. As a former journalist, I know it's what it's like to have the editor change his/her mind about a feature at the last minute. In case you don't know, it doeS happen quite a lot in print journalism. It's nothing personal towards you, I'm sure, and I doubt it was the journalist's fault who called you, either. You're very lucky to have such opportunities as a blogger and I think it's unfair how you insult most journalists by saying they've not had much experience working on newspapers. Yes, sometimes publications are not as forward-thinking as they might be when it comes to bloggers and blogging as a whole, but I doubt this was a personal attack, and just a run-of-the-mill everyday occurance due to deadlines/pressure in the news room. Journalists train long and hard to get into the profession and they earn their right to be where they are. I understand it may have been disappointing for you but it's just one of those things and the nature of the industry.

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  18. I really do applaud you for this post, it is good to make a stance and ask to treated cordially and with respect though it is the nature of the beast and does happen, certainly happens to us freelancers with job dates moving after being confirmed or being cancelled for various reasons and unfortunately we don't always hear the true reason even though we've turned down work to try to commit to this one job. In your case, it is somewhat insulting when the initial contact was set upon your blog, they could have dealt with this with more thought. I agree with some points made earlier that, yes, the editor can change something last minute for whatever reasons; often something else has taken priority or they have similar case studies.
    On the subject of bloggers, I wish people would get over it, over themselves and try to work together, some industries are saturated with the good and bad and you don't hear them droning on all the time. Louise, you do a sterling job and that is what matters!

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  19. I think you've expressed your opinion in a very articulate way, considering you must have been seething. Reading all the comments I feel some of your statements have been a bit misinterpreted - you're not intending to have a massive pop at journalists or belittle them, just express your frustration at being left high and dry after doing your best to accommodate them. Even if it is a usual occurrence for briefs to be changed last minute, that doesn't make it ok and this is obviously how this makes people feel. I think magazines and journalists maybe just need to recognise and respect that? Everyone works hard, in many different ways, so it's important to ensure this goes both ways. I do feel that people sometimes for get that bloggers often have a full-time job, lives and other opportunities to balance - before we even start typing! Regardless of the reason behind cancelling the shoot, I'd have felt as miffed as you!

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  20. Have I ever told you how much I love you? I have? Well I'll say it again. I love you. I love you for writing this, I love you for being articulate. I love you for saying "...blogs won't kill off magazines and newspapers". Thank you for this excellent post. And I'm so very sorry about the circumstances that led you to writing it.

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