Low rates push freelance into full-time post

By Hamish Mackay

An award-winning Scottish freelance journalist has quit in disgust at the rates being paid by newspapers.

Peter Jones, 50, who has run the Elgin-based Moray Press Agency since 2000, takes up a post as press and communications officer with Moray District Council next week.

Last month Jones won the Reporter of the Year section of the Highlands and Islands Press Awards for the second time in three years.

Jones said: “I am sad to be quitting the profession I have enjoyed so much, but I think we all know the writing is on the wall for operators like me.”

Jones claims he has been paid as little as £10 for a page lead.

“There are a couple of newsdesks that fight for their contributors but most don’t have the mettle. I got fed up chasing payments month after month. I could name names, but instead I have thanked the good ones personally.”

Ironically, Jones is quitting when one of his biggest stories has hit the headlines again. Elgin man Nat Fraser, convicted three years ago of the murder of his wife Arlene although her body was never found, is set to walk free after evidence has emerged which was never made available to the defence at the time of his trial.

Jones said: “When I moved to Moray the first story I reported on was the disappearance of Arlene. The saga has sent my kids to college and has introduced me to newsdesks from Bahrain to New York.”

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