Journalists follow up each other’s work all the time. But Bauer Media is offering to pay journos for their tip-offs.

This morning the deputy editor at News Corp’s Townsville Bulletin, Damien Tomlinson, tweeted a screenshot of an email sent to someone at the paper on July 20. In it, a feature writer at Bauer’s Take 5 wonders if the journo would be interested in making “a little extra cash”.

“We are always on the lookout for great Aussie real-life stories — from hard-hitting crime and unusual love stories, to quirky and inspirational reads.

“I’m sure that working for the Townsville Bulletin you must come across these types of stories all the time. All I would need you to do is get in touch whenever you have a story that you think might be of interest to us and put me in touch with the case study. We’d do all the writing ourselves.

“If we run the story as a single page in Take 5, we would give you a $200 tip-off fee upon publication of the article. If the story makes a double page spread for us, we’d send you $400. I think you’ll agree, it’s pretty easy money!”

Tomlinson wasn’t impressed, tweeting that the mag was offering “real journos $$$ for yarns”.

damientomlinsontake5

Women’s mags have a long history of paying for stories, often quite openly through ads soliciting yarns from their readers. But a mag veteran we spoke to this morning said it was the first time they’d heard of a mag approaching other journalists with the offer of a finder’s fee. Journalists often follow up each other’s stories and will sometimes email each other to pass on contact details. But money rarely changes hands.

take5

Paul Merrill, the editor-in-chief of Bauer Media’s Real Life magazines (the section that includes Take 5) told Crikey the email Tomlinson posted wasn’t unusual.

Take 5 has more real life stories than any other magazine in Australia. We get loads directly from our readers, chase others that we see elsewhere and, yes, we pay journalists for getting us stories, like any other publication.

“We have a team of freelancers who pitch real life to us each week, and some reporters on papers let us know if they have something they think we might like. As far as I know, magazines have always paid for stories! I should make it clear that we always interview the people we feature and get their consent to publish their stories. We’re very open that we pay our readers for sharing their stories in the magazine.”

If your correspondent came across any suitable yarns, Merrill added, she too should get in touch.

Peter Fray

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