It’s not easy to say publicly that your work is being ripped off. Even if you know it’s true. For months the website Journo Resources has lifted research from my newsletter Freelance Writing Jobs and I have proof of this which I am now sharing here. I have tried to resolve this matter in private, but have been met with denial on more than one occasion. Despite repeatedly asking for credit for my work several times over the last five or so months, I have never received any.
Journo Resources is a company that aims to help young people break into journalism. It’s headed up by Jem Collins and has a remote team of people working on it. As well as jobs, the website list internships and funding opportunities and they host regular events for students. It’s a very different set-up to Freelance Writing Jobs.
For those who aren’t familiar with Freelance Writing Jobs, it’s a weekly newsletter that I started in February of this year, which lists paying freelance and part-time jobs in the UK. It’s the only one of its kind in the country, which is one of the reasons I set it up. Looking for freelance gigs in the UK also means sifting through unpaid “opportunities” and crappy internships and when I was struggling to pay the bills throughout 2017, this was the hardest part of it. I wanted to turn that struggle into something useful. Now I spend hours looking for the best jobs and the newsletter reaches thousands of subscribers. It helps writers get commissions every single week, and it has an open rate of 70%. Here’s last week’s.
I first called Jem out on her using my research in June, and in a private message she admitted that she does lift jobs from my list — “I wouldn’t want you to think I just rip your stuff every Wednesday! I tend to add the odd one or two I may have missed.” (Quote from a Direct Twitter message on June 22nd), but there has never been any credit. Jem later offered me an advert on the website but I declined for several reasons and simply asked for credit where it was due when my work is used. I’ve been pretty vocal about my feelings on the topic. If it was the occasional listing it wouldn’t be a huge issue, but it’s so much more than that. I felt forced to remove Jem’s email address from the mailing list. It is, of course, easy to sign up with an anonymous email address, but I wanted to make my feelings to Jem very clear. Yet still, Freelance Writing Jobs goes out and then a day or two later there is a flurry of new freelance and part-time jobs on Journo Resources and they are lifted from my email. To be clear, these gigs are public, what I do isn’t rocket science. But it does take effort and hours of research. Job hunting is about the search — and sifting through the crap — and my aim is to make that battle easier for people so they can get on with pitching and writing. The newsletter takes upwards of five hours to put together each week. I’m only interested in freelance and part-time gigs and at the time of writing there were 10 of these roles on the Journo Resources jobs page, I believe that almost half were from my newsletter. This isn’t just one or two on the odd occasion. Of course there is inevitable crossover sometimes, but this isn’t about that.
I’ve been so disheartened by the repeated use of my work, so completely exhausted by it, that I started tagging my links. Sure enough, many of these roles have been listed on the Journo Resources website over the last few weeks, including two that I specifically cited in an email to Jem last week that have not been credited or removed. Here is a selection of those jobs. The screenshots all have hashtagged links at the bottom, with close-ups if they’re a little blurry.
The close-up screenshot was taken a couple of weeks ago (that job has been up for a while, it’s still live). It’s hashtagged with 11.5.19 — the date of my wedding next year. Really excited about the cake.
This one is tagged with my date of birth — 12.11.82. Yes, my birthday was recently! Went to Sussex, had a brilliant time.
From a couple of weeks ago. 761 are the last three digits of my mobile number.
That number - 93007? That’s the end of the number on my Two Together Railcard. (Get one, they’re brilliant.)
Apparently my manicure is Railcard Purple. That’s frankly a ridiculous photo of Tom, future husband.
Got an Art Pass for my birthday. 370561 is the number from the card.
Already used the card at the Pallant House in Chichester. Would recommend.
The next gig on the list? 9268 is the last four digits of the ISBN of the book I published in 2011.
There are more examples, and there are many more possible infringements that I can’t prove. It is not just a one-off occurrence. It’s systematic lifting of my work, and I cannot stress just how much this has impacted my anxiety over the last few months. I am a bundle of nerves the days after the Freelance Writing Jobs goes out. I’ve seriously considered stopping the newsletter for the good of my mental health.
Alongside this weekly deep-dive into my research, Jem recently revamped the Journo Resources newsletter. Usually I wouldn’t be too fussed about someone imitating my writing style, but to do it while you’re also systematically lifting my research is a bit much.
The jobs listings used to look like this:
I really love curating Freelance Writing Jobs. I started it to help other writers and I am genuinely thrilled that it helps so many writers (and editors!). To see it blatantly ripped off each week is horrible. Journo Resources positions itself at the head of opportunity for young people wanting to break into the media industry. Jem talks at length about how Journo Resources is “big on taking a moral stand” but I see no evidence of that.
The sad thing is, I’ve never seen Journo Resources as a competitor to Freelance Writing Jobs — I don’t cover internships, I don’t aim the newsletter at students (despite being one). I also think Journo Resources does some great work and the website could be a valuable asset to the industry, but they’re directly benefiting from my work and my research despite me asking her to stop doing so more than once. I think sometimes people believe that things like this are only bad if they’re actually lifting copy — but we know that research takes time and has value. Not only is this hugely disrespectful, it’s a terrible message to be sending to young people trying to break into the industry.