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