The state of the unpaid internship

by Rachel Sandersfb_event_284333455103823_jpg_615x9000_q95

“Don’t devalue yourself.”

That’s the number one piece of advice that Claire Seaborn offers young people looking for work these days.

It’s kind of the opposite of the advice offered by the governor of the Bank of Canada last fall. Stephen Poloz’s suggestion that young job hunters should take unpaid work to gain experience caused an explosion of anger online and in the media.

But Seaborn, the president of the Canadian Intern Association, acknowledges that internships are a route that a lot of young people take to gain work experience.

“I think that young people should do whatever the heck they can to succeed in their careers, to make connections,” Seaborn told Story Board in a phone interview last week.

“But unfortunately, [Poloz’s] messaging was the wrong way around. He should be encouraging employers to pay people, not encouraging the vulnerable people to accept unpaid work,”

Seaborn says Poloz’s remarks were born of a lack of understanding about the issues. She also says she was thrilled about the attention that his remarks received.

“I don’t even know why it exploded so much, but I’m so happy it did because it gave us tons of good press,” she said.

And media attention is vital to her organization. The Canadian Intern Association has been working since 2012 to advocate for interns and speak out against their exploitation. And since they formed, the issue of unpaid internships has bubbled up in the media with increasing frequency.
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Posted on January 30, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Open Cinema “connects the docs” with online technology

by Luigi Benetton

 

Want to check out what might turn into the Netflix of documentary filmmaking?

“It’s closer to Netflix plus live engagement options,” Mandy Leith explains. Leith, the Victoria, B.C.-based founder and director of Open Cinema, has been leading the effort to assemble a combination of online technologies to help documentary filmmakers share their work – and work in progress – using multicity screenings. She calls this hybrid screening and participation platform Connect the Docs. Think of it as an online hub that combines a webinar tool, video streaming and other participation tools designed to connect documentary filmmakers with social justice groups, event hosts, audiences and businesses that want to advertise to these groups.

Leith, whose involvement in documentary cinema goes back decades, decided to bootstrap Connect the Docs after she used her Westphalia to conduct her Get On The Doc Bus tour of Canada. “Nobody else has a tool like this,” she says, “and everybody told me to build it.”

The evolution of Connect the Docs continues on Wednesday, January 28 at 7 p.m. PST for Election Day in Canada when journalist and filmmaker Peter Smoczynski previews his upcoming documentary at a live event in Victoria.

Even if you could make it to the physical venue, the screening is sold out. Participate anyway on Wednesday night at opencinema.ca/live. Check the event page for pop-up screenings in Sidney, B.C., Cortes Island, the University of Victoria and Grand Prairie, Alberta. You can also follow the event on Open Cinema’s Facebook page and on Twitter using the hashtag #elxnfraud. Leith plans to post a summary to her Storify account after the event.

Leith gratefully acknowledges support from several organizations, including the Canadian Media Fund, Telefilm Canada, the Canadian Media Production Association, Creative BC and VanCity.

Posted on January 27, 2015 at 2:03 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer Jan 19-26

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?

 

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 January 26, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Growing Your Freelance Writing Business: 4 Must-Haves for 2015

by Miranda MillerMan with Note Pad and Grow Concept

Treating your writing business like a business means getting the supports and resources in place to help you to flourish. We write because we love to write; keeping the books and being our own PR people can be tedious and often falls to the wayside.

For several years, I struggled to expand my writing business. It was difficult to justify outsourcing any aspect of my business, or investing time in areas that didn’t bring an immediate payoff. I felt busy all the time – too busy. I wasn’t making enough money to justify this being a full-time job, yet I was putting in full-time hours and then some.

I was thinking about the business of writing all wrong.

In 2008, I had to get serious about my business. It was the year I became a single mother – writing wasn’t our second family income anymore and I had to make it work. Of course, there were growing pains and with each passing day, I became more acutely aware of just how much I still had to learn about business. A part-time job in a library supplemented my writing income, enabling my return to university full-time. A career writer studying for a Bachelor of Commerce may not make a lot of sense on its face, but those first-year business courses changed everything.

It’s probably not a lack of skill, motivation or opportunity preventing the growth of your writing business. Let’s explore four important areas of your business and how you can grow your business in 2015.
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Posted on January 23, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · 4 Comments · Tagged with: ,

Online courses and workshops for activists

Do you have an interest in activism? Are you a member of CMG Freelance? Our members are eligible to apply for a couple of upcoming training courses and workshops.

The first is a six-week online course offered by the Canadian Labour Congress. It’s designed to help young workers develop leadership and organizing skills and give them a better understanding of activism. The program runs from February 24th to April 15th and is open to members under the age of 30. Courses will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Space is limited, so if you’re interested email education@cmg.ca by February 4th to apply.

The second opportunity is a series of election preparation workshops being run by the Canadian Labour Congress in various cities across the country between January 23rd and March 21st. The free workshops will teach skills such as advocacy and effective campaigning in the lead-up to this year’s federal election. Check out this link to find out when the workshops are coming to your city or to register.

Posted on January 22, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer Jan 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?

 

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 January 19, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

The Born Freelancer on More Essential Traits for 2015

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 the comments. 

 

A Happy and Healthy New Year to you!

To begin 2015, I thought I would conclude my previous post with a few more essential characteristics for successful freelancing. These are traits that I would posit most freelancers should possess or work towards developing in order to become more successful. Again, I list them in no particular order.

LOYALTY

This may seem jarringly out of place in the cold, cruel world of 2015 but it still has an important place on my list.

In the old days, loyalty was probably to an employee-friendly company or organization. Do they even exist anymore? Today it is all about loyalty to individuals. If an editor knows a freelancer can deliver well and on time, they will probably offer more work after they move to another company. And in turn, a freelancer must sometimes take a chance on editors or producers. If I’ve worked with an editor who I know is a good person I am much more likely to take a chance on any new endeavours with which they are now associated.

Job definitions and boundaries are so much more fluid today. Even fellow freelancers know that they may be giving you work one day and asking you for work the next. So personal loyalty amongst your peers is also paramount. Finally, I would posit loyalty to yourself is also important. Freelancing is an obstacle course that can make you question your own abilities and intentions and basic common sense. Always be loyal to yourself, to your passions and to your dreams. If you aren’t, how can you expect anyone else to be?

LOVE OF SOLITUDE

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Posted on January 16, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

A freelancer’s report from CBC’s The Doc Project

by Willow Yamauchi

Deaf Jam

A screenshot from the ASL version of Willow Yamauchi’s documentary Deaf Jam.


For the last four years, I’ve been a CBC freelancer. Being a self-taught journalist worked up to a point, because storytelling is innate. But there’s more to the work than that. 

I had been pitching and producing for a while, but was mostly limited to short and simple stories.  Long-form docs, with multiple tracks, layers of sound effects, and music, were beyond me. 

I also struggled with voicing. Turns out, I didn’t know how to read a script. Improvising into a mic came out sounding natural enough, but with words in front of my eyes: Robocop.

I needed to up my game.

Last September, the CBC posted a new initiative on Facebook. The Doc Project would support radio development by pairing emerging freelancers with established producers in a mentor/mentee relationship – exactly what I needed.

I had been kicking around an idea about deaf musicians. I’m half deaf myself, or profoundly unilaterally deaf, if you want to get technical. 

Years ago, I was in a band. After a terrible gaffe on stage where I wound up out of sync with the other musicians, I quit, suspecting that my hearing was to blame. 

But I also kept hearing (unilaterally) these stories about deaf musicians. Actual, fully-deaf-not-hard-of-hearing-like-me deaf people, playing music. Professionally.

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Posted on January 13, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer Jan 6-11

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?

 

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 January 12, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Good news from the magazine industry: business media’s thriving

by Rachel Sanders

Good news about the publishing industry is rare these days. So when Don Genova heard some, he came straight to Story Board to share it with his freelance colleagues.

Genova, a freelance food and travel writer and president of the Canadian Media Guild’s Freelance Branch, had run into an old friend – an editor he used to work for – in an airport. This editor had become the publisher of a small niche trade magazine and was on the verge of starting up another one.

“How are things going?” Genova asked his friend, bracing for the kind of gloomy report that’s standard in publishing lately.

But gloomy news didn’t come.

“He said trade magazines don’t seem to be suffering at all, in fact they’re doing quite well,” Genova told me in an email later that day.

“So…why are the trades making it and should more writers be targeting their pitches there?” he asked.

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Posted on January 9, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , , ,