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.