When is a story not a story?


I had asked a veteran of the Vancouver motorcycle scene for an interview. So far, so good.

The experienced gentleman got back to me and was willing to do the interview and be part of the story. I got approval to do the story from the magazine I’d pitched it to. Yes! But the motorcycle manufacturer that this gentleman has worked for asked for something unprecedented in the time I’ve been writing freelance stories for motorcycling magazines. They wanted approval of the final product, control over the story I was going to write, final say on whether it was published or not. So far, so bad.

So, let me get this straight. I would have to go and do an interview, one I was very much looking forward to as I would hear this gentleman’s stories relating to me the history of motorcycling in British Columbia, but I might be wasting my time as the motorcycle manufacturer he has worked for could turn it down after I’d written it. If that were to happen the story, indeed the interview that coined it, would never have happened. Oh yes, I almost forgot…and I wouldn’t get paid.

So I had to turn the respected expert down for the interview. Neither he nor I had been trusted. It was very disappointing.

When I was at CBC Radio occasionally I would have to turn interviews down for the same reason, from people who wanted the publicity, but didn’t seem to give me the benefit of the doubt and wanted control over what I was going to write. To those people I respectfully must say: I am not a division of your corporate communications department.

I’m a freelance writer trying to get a story accepted by a magazine. The magazines I’m pitching stories to generally don’t go for the former employer of an interview subject getting editorial control. Just sayin’.

So it’s back to the drawing board on Monday.

If any freelance writers out there have experienced this, let me know in comments. I’d be curious as to how you fared.

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Author: Trevor Marc Hughes

Trevor Marc Hughes is an author and travel writer. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with his wife and two sons. He rides a Kawasaki KLR650 motorcycle. If he can help it, he doesn't ride his motorcycle in Vancouver; he takes it out of town, where he enjoys exploring the province of B.C. and beyond, and writing about his adventures. He has written for magazines such as Canadian Biker, Rider, Motorcycle Mojo, Inside Motorcycles, and RidersWest. His two books are "Nearly 40 on the 37: Triumph and Trepidation on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway" and "Zero Avenue to Peace Park: Confidence and Collapse on the 49th Parallel".