Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Notice: No Free Interviews List

NOTE 13/4: At present this list is not active (other than the boycott on Sky News) following technical assistance from a supporter.  However newspapers that do not give me free subscriptions should be warned that they may be refused interviews without warning at any time should the problem recur.


This page is a list of media sources to which I am no longer providing most free interviews until further notice.  (See carve-outs below.)

The major reason I refuse to provide free interviews to some media is hard paywalls.  I like being able to see online media stories relevant to my work in explaining polling and electoral themes to the public immediately.  I especially find it absurd if I do a story for a paper and then I cannot see how they have written up the interview without paying for it.

Some newspaper "paywalls" are not actually true paywalls and it is easy to read the material on the pages in various ways.  However in recent times some papers have become much tighter in preventing access.

I do have free access to image files of most newspapers but this is slow and cumbersome, and doesn't help with articles that have not yet appeared in print editions.

Sure, newspapers have to make money, and paywalls are an entirely legitimate part of that.  But exploiting sources by taking their expert comments, making money from the story, and giving the source not even free access back is not - at least, I refuse to be part of it, even though I would otherwise like to help them to improve their coverage of political and polling matters.  It is not viable for me to subscribe to every newspaper I need access to - I would need to do much more paid work to do so, and then I would not have time to do interviews anyway.  

Not all outlets with hard paywalls will be put on the list.  I have from time to time been hired by The Mercury, and am a subscriber to them and through that to all the Murdoch tabloids.   Other outlets that hire me will also not be listed if they happen to have a hard paywall, but those on the list below have never hired me.  Also there are some local rural papers that I don't have cause to read much and may not mind giving an interview to despite being paywalled.  And if I happen to have an easy way around the paywall - whatever it is - then a paper won't be on the list.  

Once newspapers are added to the list I may, for a few weeks of grace period, provide the odd free interview to journalists from said paper who ring me up and are unaware of the boycott.  They will then be told about it and asked to pass it up the line.  

Also, this list applies only to electoral/political/polling interviews.  Interviews relating to my scientific work or chess are not affected (except in the case of chess for Sky News).  

Exemptions may be made in specific cases - these will usually be ones that involve the media giving me something I might not otherwise see, such as full results of a poll.

This list will be edited from time to time.  

On list for hard paywall

Outlets will be removed from this list if they provide me with a free subscription or hire me to write for them.  Note that I do not approach outlets with pitches, but I do accept commissions.  

(There are currently no papers on this list.)

On list for other reasons

Sky News

Sky News was involved in a beatup about an ABC interview about chess and racism that I was involved in.  To be interviewed by me again without payment, Sky News must to my satisfaction broadcast an apology for airing material that characterised an interview I was involved in before it had been conducted, for inappropriately using tournament footage of Tasmanian chessplayers including me as background to its culture war on this matter without the consent of all involved, and for making no effort to present a balanced presentation of facts or opinions concerning the story.

The Mercury

The Mercury is on the no free interviews list as of 17 May for debiting my partner's card $15 for a subscription the day after she cancelled her subscription by phone and was told it was cancelled.  To be interviewed by me again without payment, The Mercury must refund the money with a minimum of further difficulty.  

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