“They are ruthless, hungry and dressed to kill.” – The Times on bloggers. And a blogger’s eye view on the bad behaviour of some bloggers. Manners cost nothing, that is true.
I was at London Fashion Week in an intern capacity and some of the controversy surrounding the attendance of bloggers has reminded me of a general stress in my life: the way I’m devaluing my own work by participating in the free work culture. The drama boils down to bloggers getting seats at shows and clogging up the press room, drinking the free coffee etc. First things first: a pastry is not a “freebie”, it is a small, kind gesture by the organisers. I refuse to feel bad for eating a danish. Mmm, danish.
Some bloggers feel the medium is being tarnished by those with a purely commercial or silly interest in fashion as a spectcale. Some professional writers and editors are getting increasingly annoyed with the presence of amateurs who don’t play by the rules. LFW is indeed an industry thing and there is a hierarchy – if you are a buyer for example and can make money for a designer, you sit front row so you can see properly. But if the PR company puts a popular blogger in a good seat, that’s just how it is as well. This industry showcase has been glamourised by Vogue et al as an exciting place to be but it isn’t. There’s no one to talk to, the parties are awful and if you don’t have something to do, like an article to write, you just sit there on your own feeling like a lemon.
I don’t disagree that at any decent magazine the standard of journalism is much higher than on any blog. Fact-checking and sub-editing: two elements that should be part of a paid-for news service and that I am concerned are dying out. But a little perspective: bloggers don’t get paid. And while I’m at it, interns don’t get paid and us amateurs find our work perfectly acceptable at many of the same companies those who are criticising work for. Everyone earning a wage in the fashion industry is currently underpinned by someone working for free. A few years ago, entry-level work was paid; now the entire rock-bottom tier of the work pyramid is being done for nothing.
At the moment, I am both a blogger and an intern and despite working hard on whatever I am given to do, my work is valued at £0 an hour. I am at companies, creating content for their websites and publications, on the blog promoting stuff because I like it and at shows covering them for other people for free because I love writing and mouthing off. I know dozens of people doing the same.
My work’s been completely devalued by the interning culture. When I go for interviews the work I did to the same standard as everyone else but with no holiday, no training, no NI contributions and no rights, is viewed as almost worthless. Why would they hire me for a paid position when I’ve only been an intern? At what point do I deserve to step up?
I feel quite degraded by the way I’m being treated by the world of work at the moment and I’ve done and am still doing my fair share of uncushy jobs so I’m not an overprivileged trust-fund kid who wants to walk into a plum role as soon as I stroll out of uni. I just want to be paid minimum wage, as per the law.
Fashion Week is supposed to be glamorous, that’s why people want to go. So I find it bemusing that now the kids are able to actually go, some people are up in arms. Some are blaming the PR companies; FYI, the job of sorting through applications for tickets is usually done by an intern. There’s been a tenfold increase in applications by bloggers since last year so it must be hard to know how to be selective.
I know there’s two different issues at work here but I feel double-scorned at the moment. If I am ever lucky enough to get properly paid for what I do I hope I never get so complacent that I resent those at the bottom eating a free slice of cake.