The Stickler Weekly Insights 188 – Negative Growth

My longest-running association with any publication is with the Australian Financial Review (AFR). I started with a Friday publication in 1995 and did one crossword weekly until 2000 when a decline in advertising revenue saw the end of the crossword. I was paid $200 per crossword during this time, which was considered OK (by what other publications were paying) when I started, but below par when I finished. I persisted and remained in contact with the right people at the AFR and managed to get the occasional holiday and election special crossword included. This led to my weekly crossword being reconsidered when the AFR decided to go to a weekend edition in 2003, and I’ve been there every week since.
Ever mindful of the fragility of a feature that gets very little feedback and no-one really knows its “worth” to the publication, I set about value-adding by including weekly clue help and worked solutions on my website. The folk at the AFR were very happy for me to do this and included a link to the website by the side of the crossword. Have a guess at how much I get paid for the crossword 22 years after I started? Bear in mind inflation and the additional bits and pieces I do on the website. That’s right, nothing has changed: $200. Using a calculator on the ABS website, that $200 in 1995 now buys $120. Effectively I’ve gone a long way backwards, but I don’t blame the AFR, as they, like most publications, have had to cut back, and I believe staff don’t get many pay rises either. It also might reflect on the popularity of cryptic crosswords, with fewer people solving them than ever before.

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4 Responses to The Stickler Weekly Insights 188 – Negative Growth

  1. Arthur Maynard says:

    Coincidently I spent some time last week looking for extra crosswords (of a decent standard) and tried to access AFR through your link. Being a cheapskate I then tried the library where I found the AFR had been dissected with the crossword nowhere to be found with my man-look.
    What may have been a reasonable payment in 1995 looks very paltry now – when you consider the changes in all elements in our cost of living including the daily newspaper.
    Nevertheless, you are an artist (albeit worthy of wider recognition), and are stuck with what the traffic will bear.
    When I took a golden handshake, I wondered what value you could place on the skills of a used banker. Luckily my (non-banking skills) turned out to be quite useful and I survived well until retirement age.
    Setters and solvers are in a niche market where we care about our language, while the general population is focused on communication regardless of whether it is totally effective. It is easier to patch the holes than to communicate accurately in the first place. OMG raises hackles, but communicates the meaning, but I hope it has no place in a crossword.
    There is still a place for horses in this world even thought the motor car provides faster and more comfortable transport.

  2. Richard Sternes says:

    Me too – Arthur

  3. Andrew Gibson says:

    When I was offered early retirement about 15 years ago I jumped at the opportunity as the workplace was fast becoming not a nice place to be in. As I chose to set myself up into self managed superannuation I needed some form of reference to carefully select which investments to involve myself with and I soon found the AFR WEEKEND. And also to my great delight I found that it contained a very, very good crossword. From that day onward I have not missed an issue. Yes whilst it does give good guidance on things financial the most compelling reason that I spend my $4.00 on it every week is the crossword.

    • Arthur Maynard says:

      Thanks for the endorsement. I must bite the bullet. Good crosswords are becoming a rare commodity.