First off, a big thank you for reading this, and for following me on twitter during the opening statements for the Hacking Trial. lt was an honour to be there and report it (even if my keyboard and carpal tunnel says otherwise). I attended many of the pre-trial hearings, and obviously know a lot of background to the saga from researching my book – but being there in court was as electrifying as it sounded. I know I got some names wrong, and had to trim a lot of quotes to fit into 140 characters – but I felt immediacy trumped comprehensiveness in the circumstances.
Maybe it’s my histrionic background as a dramatist, but I wanted you to feel like you were there too.
Throughout my covearge I also have tried to be impartial, and actually tweeted more quotes per minute from the Coulson’s defence barristers opening statement that Edis. However, though impartial, I can’t pretend to be neutral – who can if they care about journalism? No criminal actions in this case have been proven, but the ‘agreed facts’ still constitute one of the biggest media scandals of our age.
But we also live in an age of radically downsized media organisations, and I would be less than honest if I did not explain the constraint on my time in the Old Bailey is economic.
As a freelancer I have no retainer to cover my time there. I get paid per piece, and with a likely offer of one piece per week being published for the remaining months of the trial, £200 per week will not cover my living expenses in London. Actually, given the cost of living here, they barely cover a day,
It’s a sad reflection of the parlous, indeed perilous, state of journalism that this has been true for the last two years of writing my book, and at least 100 articles for the Daily Beast. Prior to the trial, without having to be in court all day, I’ve managed to cross-fund the time through other work and dip into my savings. But now I’m broke (mortgage defaulting broke to be honest) and so will have to seek other work in the months ahead.
This is not a pity plea or pitch. There are others who survive on much less than I do. But it is worth noting for those who celebrate the ‘everything for free’ era of Google.
If you’ve followed me in recent days hoping for continual live tweeting, I won’t be at all offended if you unfollow. Until yesterday, I had no idea Justice Saunders would allow live tweeting beyond the prosecution’s opening remarks. It’s been a ball – with some many fascinating comments and feedback: social media at its finest.
Some kind soul sent me some money through paypal through my firstname.lastname@example.org account just so I would continue live reporting. I haven’t figured out how to return that, so I might just email back and offer to do a Q&A for that person, or attend a session of their choice. Some other tweeters have kindly offered to set up a crowd funding account. I’m neither a saint nor a martyr, and given the importance of this trial for ‘British justice’ as the presiding judge put it, I will not ignore further requests. If there’s a popular demand for more coverage, I will respond and carve out as much as time as possible to return to the court. However, there are many fine journalists attending the Old Bailey: I’ll continue to retweet them and comment from my background knowledge
Thanks for joining me on what has been quite a crazy, sometimes grim, but exhilarating ride
UPDATE; putting pride aside for public demand, I created a crowd funding page at IndieGogo in order to cover the trial till at least Christmas. An amazing response in the first hour or so. At his rate, as Arnie says
I’ll be back