“This site’s changed my life”

This wasn’t originally going to be a blog entry, it was a reply to MoneySaver Black-Saturn in the ‘New Stats about the site’ discussion who said “you must be proud”, yet after reading through it I thought it worth an entry.

To answer the question, yes I am really proud. I find the sheer scale of the site gobsmacking. I remember setting it up on the kitchen table at home, and getting my friends to look at it – most of whom said “why bother?” and find it staggering that that was just three and a half years ago.

One of the best moments, and beautifully it happens a lot, is when I read comments such as “this site has changed my life”. I’ll be honest, my heart (and probably head too) swells. Yet I think it’s important to say that “this site has changed my life” too, though of course in a different way.

It’s given me a financial independence from other work, (if you’ve not already read it do read ‘How This Site Is Funded’ so you can see how). I now have a team so much more MoneySaving research gets done. Plus the site and my personal profile have grown symbiotically, each benefiting the other – which has helped my career – and pushed my mission to get the whole UK MoneySaving along the way.

Yet in many ways the thing I appreciate most is that I have an unfettered communicative sphere. While TV, radio & papers are great and I love doing them, someone else always has editorial control and choice. Here, because I own the site, have no paymasters, nor advertisers to keep happy – I can say and do what I like, without interference, no matter who it pees off. Plus there’s no shortage of space – so I can indulge myself in some of the more nerdier explanations.

To not have a proprietor or editor saying what to do is a huge luxury as a journalist. Better still (and I’ll be honest, I do do this), it means if I’m doing a programme and they want me to do something I disagree with then I say “sorry I can’t because it’d be inconsistent with what I say on the site”. Thus it gives me the strength to maintain that integrity and independence through my work. Plus, ultimately as I no longer ‘need’ TV or radio – if it gets to a conflict I have the ultimate sanction of ‘walking out’ without worrying about keeping food on my table.

Within the last six months (and I won’t name names) I was doing a piece and I didn’t agree with one of the voice-over lines – it conflicted with what my usual advice is – so I refused to say it. The producer (as is their job) said “why don’t you do it your way, then do it my way and then we’ll use which one fits?” Now I made this mistake once before and of course they always use ‘their way.’ So I refused and only laid down my version. When (s)he said to me “what if the powers that be don’t want it? They might not show it”. I was in the very lucky position to be able to say, “then perhaps it’s best you don’t run it and you needn’t pay me” as I’d prefer a film not to be shown, rather than to be seen/heard giving out info I don’t believe in. Years ago I wouldn’t have had the bravery or security to stick with what I believe in, but “this site has changed my life.”

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