Jean WesoNUJ Netherlands branch member Jens Anders Wejsmark Sørensen was born in Copenhagen and grew up in Copenhagen and Paris. He has lived and worked in the Netherlands since 2009. In April, Jens published his first book, a thriller called The Amsterdam Sniper, under the pen-name Jean Weso. He sat down with the Branch for a short but friendly interrogation regarding his new life of crime.

To start, what is your professional background?

I’m a trained journalist from the Danish School of Media and Journalism. After working for several years in Denmark and England as an editor, I became an independent contractor in 2005, working as a journalist, correspondent and creative agent. Since moving to Amsterdam, I’ve worked as a foreign correspondent covering events in text, sound, photo and video. I’ve also specialised in online presentation and communication – both as a webeditor and webmaster.

I had been thinking about turning to fiction writing for many years, and in 2017 I finally decided: now or never. The comparatively low threshold to entry offered by self-publishing was an important factor for me.

In recent years Scandinavian crime fiction has become very popular worldwide. Do you identify with this genre?

Being Danish, a nordic noire dimension to my work is inevitable. But in terms of major influences, the British crime fiction tradition is for me more important. I’m a big fan of Colin Dexter (Inspector Morse), Ian Rankin (Inspector John Rebus) and also the South African author Deon Meyer (Inspector Benny Greissel). As I write in English, I can hardly consider myself a true “Scandinavian” noire author.

jean weso Your book is set in Amsterdam.

Yes! This beautiful city provides an excellent backdrop for my stories. In The Amsterdam Sniper, I make great use of the interior and exterior of the many beautiful churches here. For my next work, Amsterdam Strangler, I’m situating events in the many great parks we have.

What does your workflow look like?

I set myself a goal of writing 1,700-1,800 words a day. When I’ve finished the first draft, I send it to four alpha readers, from whom I get many excellent suggestions. I then rewrite the manuscript, adding and removing bits, strengthening the narrative where needed. The second version goes to my copyeditor. As we all known proofreading your own text is virtually impossible. You really need an extra set of eyes at this point. Also, I recommend using a professional illustrator for the jacket. Don’t judge a book by its cover, but...

Writing fiction has a steep learning curve. There’s a lot of research involved and considerable concentration required when you spread yourself over several hundred pages. I’ve decided to dedicate myself to this; I’m not doing it on the side.

You've gone the self-publishing route. Tell us about that.

The Amsterdam Sniper is available via the self-publishing facilities of Amazon, under my own imprint, Jaws Media, both as a Kindle eBook as well as a print-on-demand paperback. It’s important to have your book out on as many platforms as possible, so I’m now looking into producing an audio version as well.

In addition, I’ve had a hundred copies printed here in the Netherlands. These I’m placing at booksellers like the American Book Center and Waterstones in Amsterdam along with the bookstores at Schiphol.

One important lesson I’m learning is that you need to keep the momentum up. My second book will be out in August, and my third (Amsterdam Stalker) in November.

See further

 


NUJ Netherlands is supporting a crowdfunding campaign to bring aid to journalists in Caribbean countries affected by Hurricane Irma. It focuses primarily on journalists in the Dutch territory of St. Maarten which was hit hardest by the hurricane. The initiative is part of a wider effort launched by the Association of Caribbean Mediaworkers (ACM).

Marvin Hokstam, editor of Amsterdam’s AFRO magazine said: “There are fellow journalists I know back home in St. Maarten who have lost everything. They’re doing what journalists do best, placing the story first, but of course, as we often also do, without thinking of themselves”.

See: Caribbean Journalist Relief
 

This weekend thousands of Poles took to the streets to oppose their government's plans to restrict media access to parliament.

The delightfully Orwellian irony is that the plans being proposed by a governing party which calls itself the Law and Justice party (PiS) appear to be contrary to the Polish constitution, which grants access to parliament.

Under the proposals only five selected Polish TV stations will be allowed to record or broadcast parliamentary sessions. The new rules will also limit the number of journalists allowed in the building to a maximum of two accredited parliamentary reporters for each media outlet.

As Poland's human rights ombudsman Adam Bodnar pointed out: "The role of journalists is not only to follow computer screens, but also to seize the opportunity to talk to politicians and to do real-time checks of what's going on".

Read more: Polish government to restrict journalists’ access to parliament

 

Journalists and civil liberties groups have denounced UK government plans to replace the Official Secrets Act with an Espionage Act which would increase the potential penalty for journalists receiving leaked official documents from two to 14 years in jail.

Such documents could include for the first time sensitive information about the economy such as a report on the economic consequences of Brexit.

Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship, said: “The proposed changes are frightening and have no place in a democracy, which relies on having mechanisms to hold the powerful to account.”

Read more: Journalists who obtain leaked official material could be sent to prison under new proposals

English-speaking journalists working in the Netherlands are today highly likely to be self-employed. As such they are more vulnerable than ever to exploitation and changes in the labour market. Their need for protection from a trade union is therefore greater too.

Even if your work is primarily for Dutch employers you can expect support from the NUJ if you get into trouble.

Continental NUJ members working in Continental Europe no longer pay reduced subs and so must get equal treatment. As one national officer once said representation is like being pregnant you either are or not; there can be no half measures

Like everywhere issues are taken up on a case by case basis but there is no reason to expect a request for help to be rejected because you work on the Continent.

At the same time NVJ membership, even the basic rate, is a good investment to given its expertise and knowledge of Dutch employers.

But you don’t need to wait until there is a problem. There is a whole range of help that but the NUJ and the NVJ offers for working journalist every day.

NUJ Headquarters

These are your national officers for freelance members’ phone numbers and emails

National Organiser (Freelance and Wales) – John Toner
T: 0044 20 7843 3706
M: 0044 7867357866
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Assistant Organiser – Pamela Morton
T: 0044 20 7843 3706
M: 0044 7921 700913
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For general information check out: https://www.nuj.org.uk/work/freelance/

This includes help with matters such as late payments and copyright plus ten reasons for freelancers to join the NUJ.

The NUJ’s Freelance Industrial Council

There is an industrial council for each industrial sector of the membership in England and Continental Europe. These include the Freelance Industrial Council.

Freelance Industrial Council members are elected from geographical constituencies, including continental Europe, so every freelance has a representative voice from their area. www.nuj.org.uk/contacts/industrial-council-contacts/freelance/

We have a “continental” representative, the Brussels-based journalist called Vic Wyman.

But Guy Thornton our branch vice –chair also attends FIC as a representative of disabled members. Could ask him to take up issues or mention them directly to Vic . To contact a member of the freelance industrial council, please email:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The FIC produces a very useful and comprehensive Fact Pack covering issues such as professional matters, business matter, well-being, subscriptions, copyright and e-communication: https://www.nuj.org.uk/work/freelance/freelance-fact-pack/

Freelance Directory

You can advertise yourself on the NUJ’s Freelance Directory. Here is the URL for the Freelance Directory where you can place your details: http://www.freelancedirectory.org/

Rates of Pay

If you want information on current rates of pay being offered in the UK which should be comparable with Dutch rates who can try the London Freelance Branch. It is one of the largest freelance branches. Its website and branch newsletter which is delivered with comes with the Journalist is well worth checking out. It includes a Rate for the Job section. Its website address is: http://media.gn.apc.org/lfb/index.html

It also offers specifically a Freelance Fees Guide: www.londonfreelance.org/feesguide/index.php?language=en&country=UK&section=Welcome

The NUJ’s guide for photographic rates can be found at: https://www.nuj.org.uk/documents/nuj-guide-charging-digital-imaging-editorial-photography/

Search Engines

Freelancers without the backing of a large media organisation can today benefit enormously from online searches. One example is the Google News Lab where the NUJ has combined with Google to help journalist use Google as an investigative tools. The news labs are free. One is currently in the pipeline to be held in Paris others have been held in London, Manchester, Cardiff and Belfast. Check out them out at the NUJ’s website including a video: https://www.nuj.org.uk/news/how-to-use-google-tools-as-a-journalist/

NVJ

For those who are also members of the NVJ its freelance section is very active is currently conducting a survey of freelancers focused on rates of pay. Its magazine Villa Media has articles on freelancing such as in April on changes in the VAR law.

Obviously if you are working primarily for Dutch employers then the support you can call upon as a freelancer is much better. This may be worth the investment even in the basic NVJ membership.

The “Freelance Secretary”at the NVJ is Rosa Garcia Lopez, 0614499619, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. @rosagarcialopez

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