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Want to be a foreign correspondent? Get a partner with a good job

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According to Poynter blogger Fons Tuinstra the only reason many foreign correspondents survive is because their partner has a decent job. Fons talks about the state of Dutch foreign correspondents in the light of a recent report in De Journalist (in Dutch) - a magazine for the NVJ union for journalists - or translated into English here. It's not a pretty pictures says Fons,
The hard part is that these days freelancers work for shockingly lower rates. "My income halved when I moved abroad," NVJ quoted one correspondent as saying, "so we keep the cost low to make a living." NVJ didn't provide figures, but in China the going rate for English-language journalists is 15 cents/word (U.S.) -- and that actually looks nice because the U.S. dollar currently is so low. I have met (and, I must admit, hired) journalists for less. Chinese journalists would refuse to work for those rates; American journalists need a few years of experience before they accept them; and Europeans are the cheapest in the market. How to survive? I decided to quit the foreign correspondent business and have started a speakers' bureau. In financial terms, that's a bit of a different league. Today, many foreign correspondents survive because their partner has a decent job. I'm not sure that is a sustainable strategy for quality foreign coverage. link


Fons Tuinstra | March 3, 2008 5:51 PM

Thanks for the link, but there are still some decent jobs, as I try to explain in my entry. There is a small section of top-end publications (NYT. FT, DJ, WSJ, WP) and there are the verticals. When you really want to focus on plastics, you can make a decent living. Having a well-earning partner is always a plus.

Anonymous | March 3, 2008 9:35 PM

Not just plastics, water was another I used to get hassled about a lot when I was based in Asia... I agree that it's not all gloom and doom, quite the opposite in many ways. This post


and this follow up magazine article, A new kind of foreign news coverage, are (IMHO) a good summary of where things are and are likely to go in the near future re: foreign correspondents,


Would love to know your thoughts...