Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer July 19-25

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, publishing, and freelancing—with a Canadian focus—and share them in Off the Wire. Who needs a water cooler?

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From Canada:

From The U.S. and beyond:

Last week on Story Board:

  • The Born Freelancer on Averting Deadline Disaster After Data Loss: For a writer on a deadline it’s probably the worst nightmare imaginable. You have just spent hours honing your latest work. It could be the result of a glitch in your software. Or a sudden loss of household power. Or even that nearby cold cup of coffee suddenly dumping its contents into your keyboard. One moment it was all there on the screen. The next moment (or perhaps a few moments later after a reboot) your work is gone…

Spot a story you think we should include in next week’s Off the Wire? Email the link to editor@thestoryboard.ca or tweet us at @storyboard_ca.

Posted on July 25, 2016 at 10:07 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

The Born Freelancer on Averting Deadline Disaster After Data Loss

This series of posts by the Born Freelancer shares personal experiences and thoughts on issues relevant to freelancers. Have something to add to the conversation? Your input is welcome in bornfreel2the comments. 

For a writer on a deadline it’s probably the worst nightmare imaginable.

You have just spent hours honing your latest work.

It could be the result of a glitch in your software. Or a sudden loss of household power. Or even that nearby cold cup of coffee suddenly dumping its contents into your keyboard.

One moment it was all there on the screen. The next moment (or perhaps a few moments later after a reboot) your work is gone.

You feel nothing but abject panic in the pit of your stomach.

Then you remember you have always backed up – or have an automatic back up protocol in place – and the panic subsides. You can just revert to your last saved draft. Whew!

But what if you forgot to back up? Or what if your back up software somehow malfunctioned? What if you face total data loss?

You now face deadline disaster.

What do you do?

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Posted on July 20, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · One Comment · Tagged with: , , , , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer July 12-18

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, publishing, and freelancing—with a Canadian focus—and share them in Off the Wire. Who needs a water cooler?

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From Canada:

From The U.S. and beyond:

Last week on Story Board:

  • The 5-Minute Freelancer Q&A #31 — David Hayes: In this regular feature, Story Board asks Canadian writers to share a few details about their work habits and their strategies for navigating the ups and downs of freelance life... 
  • There’s gold in them thar trade mags!: As freelance writers, we often overlook trade publications as potential markets—largely because they are not visible. Rarely sold at newsstands, the majority of trade magazines are mailed directly to private audiences—usually to members of a particular trade or profession—be it doctors, pilots, bankers, bakers, embalmers, and truckers…

 

Spot a story you think we should include in next week’s Off the Wire? Email the link to editor@thestoryboard.ca or tweet us at @storyboard_ca.

Posted on July 18, 2016 at 6:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

The 5-Minute Freelancer Q&A #31 — David Hayes

In this regular feature, Story Board asks Canadian writers to share a few details about their work habits and their strategies for navigating the ups and downs of freelance life. 

 

Horizontal headshot logo of David Hayes. (TimFinlan/Toronto Star)

David Hayes (TimFinlan/Toronto Star)

David Hayes is an award-winning freelance journalist who has written four nonfiction books as well as features and articles for publications such as The Walrus, The New York Times Magazine and The Globe and Mail.

A career freelance writer, he shares his expertise through a course in feature writing at Ryerson University in Toronto as well as through the Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers listserv (TFEW) — an email listserv that he co-founded in the late ’90s.

David took the time to speak with Story Board recently about what makes a good feature pitch, the importance of freelance networks and the best opportunities for writers these days.

How did TFEW come to be?

Alex Gillis and I co-founded it. I was teaching at Ryerson full time and Alex was my student. He and another woman, a writer named Siobhan Roberts came up to me and said “it’s so lonely being a freelancer. You’re home alone all the time. You have no one to talk to. It would be really nice if a bunch of us freelancers could get together.”
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Posted on July 14, 2016 at 8:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , , ,

There’s gold in them thar trade mags!

by Sandra Phinney

 

As freelance writers, we often overlook trade publications as potential markets—largely because they are not visible. Rarely sold at newsstands, the majority of trade magazines are mailed directly to private audiences—usually to members of a particular trade or profession—be it doctors, pilots, bankers, bakers, embalmers, and truckers.

In some cases, trade magazines are mailed to corporate stockholders, government departments, agencies, or educational institutions. Others are created as marketing tools by retail giants, and offered at checkouts or mailed to card-holding customers. My guess is there are as many trade publications as there are regular mainstream publications in Canada, so the market potential is vast. 

Where to start  

Remember the old adage, “Write what you know?” Add to that, “Write what you are interested in.” So, for example, if food strikes your fancy, visit cooking schools, food technology centres, processors and restaurants—and get copies of the trade publications they subscribe to.

Sure—writing for some trade journals can be a bit technical and dry. Penning a story about basement waterproofing for a construction magazine or the latest feeding technology for pigs for a farm publication may not appear to be very scintillating. Yet, weave in a little human interest and even dry topics can be a lot of fun. I once had an editor ask if I would write about funeral co-ops. Turned out to be fascinating.

Once you’ve read a handful of trade publications, you’ll notice that they frequently feature profiles. So, for example, if you know of a lawyer who has a penchant for flying kites, it could make for a great story in The Lawyer’s Weekly. Does your pharmacist collect exotic birds? Has your family doctor just come back from doing a stint for Doctors Without Borders? All worth pitching to related professional publications.
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Posted on July 13, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer July 5-11

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, publishing, and freelancing—with a Canadian focus—and share them in Off the Wire. Who needs a water cooler?

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From Canada:

From The U.S. and beyond:

Last week on Story Board:

Spot a story you think we should include in next week’s Off the Wire? Email the link to editor@thestoryboard.ca or tweet us at @storyboard_ca.

Posted on July 11, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

New monthly payment option for CMG Freelance members

exposure tshirtGood news, CMG Freelance members: there’s now a brand new way to pay your dues.

You’ve still got the option of paying the annual fee of $150. But if you’d prefer to pay on a monthly basis, you can pay $15 per month for your freelance union membership.

The monthly dues option gives you access to all of the benefits of membership — except for the CMG Freelance media card. To be eligible for the media card, you’ll need to pay annually because the card’s expiry date is linked to your annual membership renewal date.

Interested in joining our freelance union? You can apply here or check out this page for more information about the benefits of membership.

And if you’ve been thinking of joining, now is a great time to take the plunge. While supplies last, we’re offering a welcome package that includes our “Exposure Bucks” t-shirt, a notepad and pen and some other CMG Freelance goodies.

If you have any questions about membership please feel free to contact CMG Freelance president Don Genova at freelance@cmg.ca.

Posted on July 7, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Freelancers helped invent digital communications tools to build online networks

This post is the sixth in a series called “E-Lancer Writes,” exploring the working conditions, rights, and collective organizing strategies of freelance journalists, interns, and other low-wage or temporary digital media workers.

 

By Errol Salamon RTEmagicC_unfair_logo_EN_01.jpg

Before the Internet and World Wide Web became fully commercialized in the mid-1990s, freelance writers and photographers began using computer networks as organizing tools as early as 1992.

Even before rights-grabbing contracts became the strong concern they are today for freelancers in Europe and North America, and before freelancers launched social media campaigns to resist these contracts, they formed online networks to express their concerns.

Freelancers go online

British and Irish freelancers of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), which has represented freelancers since 1951, launched an electronic communications network in 1992 called NUJnet. The NUJ became the first union in the UK to use online tools to communicate with its members and to encourage members to communicate with each other, wrote international trade unionist Eric Lee in his book The Labour Movement and the Internet: The New Internationalism.

NUJnet was the first online tool to organize freelancers. It was created even before the Mosaic web browser was released in 1993 and helped popularize the Internet.
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Posted on July 5, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer June 28-July 4

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, publishing, and freelancing—with a Canadian focus—and share them in Off the Wire. Who needs a water cooler?

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From Canada:

From The U.S. and beyond:

Last week on Story Board:

Spot a story you think we should include in next week’s Off the Wire? Email the link to editor@thestoryboard.ca or tweet us at @storyboard_ca.

Posted on July 4, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Writers speak out against The Walrus’s new freelance agreement

Last fall, The Walrus’s contributor agreement came under scrutiny during what is referred to by many freelancers as “the Alex Gillis affair.”

The incident – which you can read about in detail on Canadaland – led to a discussion on the Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers listserv about kill fees and “idea appropriation.”

Literary agent Derek Finkle weighed in on the subject on TFEW, commenting that “Writers should be paid in full for changes in direction outside of their control” and that the language in The Walrus’s kill fee clause contributes to “condescending behavior” towards freelance writers.

Finkle’s note was followed by a message from Walrus editor-in-chief Jonathan Kay, who invited Finkle to meet with him and discuss his concerns.

Finkle met with Kay to discuss the contract. But although Kay assured him he would contact him again once a new draft was prepared, Finkle said he never heard back about the changes Kay intended to make.

At some point this year – it’s not clear precisely when – The Walrus began offering an updated freelance contract to its contributors. Some aspects of the supposedly improved Walrus agreement once again have Canadian freelancers speaking out against contract clauses that infringe on their rights.
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Posted on June 29, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · 2 Comments · Tagged with: , ,