National Writers Union takes action against Nautilus Magazine for non-payment of freelancers

The National Writers Union is taking action this week against U.S. science magazine Nautilus for non-payment of freelance writers. Nineteen writers say they are collectively owed $50,000 by the magazine. Some say they have been waiting for payment for over a year.

The NWU, an American trade union that represents freelance writers, published an open letter to Nautilus this week. In it, the 19 writers say that with the support of the union they plan to pursue “a group non-payment grievance with legal action if necessary.” The NWU also published a list of stories that Nautilus has published but not paid for.

A number of media outlets have reported on the NWU’s efforts this week, including New York Daily News. The American digital science magazine Undark first reported on Nautilus’s late payment of freelancers back in April. This week Undark published a post called “Freelancers Organize to Demand Payment From Beleaguered Nautilus Magazine,” which contains comments from the publisher of Nautilus and the president of the National Writers Union.

Writers have been tweeting about the issue this week using the hashtag #paynautiluswriters.

Last week, Story Board posted about the NWU’s campaign to help a group of freelancers who say they are collectively owed $85,000 by Ebony magazine.

Posted on December 14, 2017 at 12:00 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

Freelance journalists needed for research study

If you’ve been working as a freelance journalist for 5 years or less — or if you graduated from a Canadian journalism school in the last 5 years — you may be eligible to participate in a research study being carried out at Ryerson University.

The study is looking at both freelance journalists who have completed journalism school and emerging freelancers who have not attended journalism school to understand and compare their professionalization practices. These include freelancers’ journalistic values, transition and preparedness for the workforce, methods of securing paid work, difficulties in obtaining paid work, and the role of personal branding and social media in finding paid work.

Participants of both types must be currently either looking for work or working as freelance journalists. Full-time journalists who are currently employed by an organization are not eligible for this study.

The study’s participants will be asked to participate in one 45-minute interview either in person at Ryerson University, or via Skype or Google Hangouts. Participants will receive a payment of $20 for their time.

All participants in the study will be anonymized when the results are published. The results of the study will be made available to the public.

For more information or to volunteer for the study, contact Maggie Reid at margaret.reid@ryerson.ca. You can see more details about the study on this Facebook page.

Posted on December 12, 2017 at 11:15 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Off the Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer Dec 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:

Recently on Story Board:

  • National Writers Union pushes ahead with effort to get freelancers paid: The National Writers Union has been forging ahead this fall with a campaign to get a group of freelancers the $85,000 they say they are collectively owed by Ebony for work that has been published in the magazine…
  • 2018 National Magazine Awards submissions open: Have you written a great piece of magazine journalism this year? If your publisher isn’t planning to enter it for a National Magazine Award, you should consider entering it yourself… and once again you’ll get a discount on your entry fees…

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 December 11, 2017 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

National Writers Union pushes ahead with effort to get freelancers paid

The National Writers Union has been forging ahead this fall with a campaign to get a group of freelancers the $85,000 they say they are collectively owed by Ebony for work that has been published in the magazine.

Thirty-eight freelancers filed a lawsuit against Ebony in September along with the NWU, an American trade union that represents freelance and contract writers, including journalists, technical writers and authors, among others. The group had their initial court hearing in Chicago in November. Their next court date is scheduled for January 5th.

The union became involved in the dispute after writers started using the hashtag #EbonyOwes to draw attention to the magazine’s non-payment of its freelance contributors. The hashtag saw increased activity again earlier this week after the magazine threw its annual Power 100 gala dinner, inspiring angry tweets from writers who have still not been paid for their work.

You can read more details about the NWU’s campaign in their president’s latest column on the NWU website.

Posted on December 7, 2017 at 11:43 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , , ,

2018 National Magazine Awards submissions open

Have you written a great piece of magazine journalism this year? If your publisher isn’t planning to enter it for a National Magazine Award, you should consider entering it yourself… and once again you’ll get a discount on your entry fees.

Entries for the 41st annual National Magazine Awards opened this week and the Freelancer Support Fund is available for the second year in a row. The National Media Awards Foundation implemented the fund last year to help freelancers with the cost of submission. The fund allows freelancers to submit their first two entries for $50 each — a 50 percent discount on the regular rate. The regular $100 rate will apply to any further submission entered after the first two.

The discounted rate applies to all entries for the National Magazine Award’s 18 writing and visual award categories. The creator of each winning entry will receive a $1000 cash prize.

Remember, fees paid for award submissions are a freelance business expense and are therefore tax deductible. The submission deadline for the National Magazine Awards is January 22, 2018. For more information, check out the National Magazine Awards website.

Submissions also opened this month for the National Media Awards Foundation’s 3rd annual Digital Publishing Awards. This year there are 24 categories, including three new awards for individual creators — best fiction, best science and technology story, and best photo storytelling. Gold medal winners in all individual categories will receive a $500 cash prize.

The Freelancer Support Fund is also available for Digital Publishing Awards entries. The deadline for submissions is February 2, 2018. More information about the awards can be found on the Digital Publishing Awards website.

Posted on December 5, 2017 at 8:00 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Off the Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer Nov 28-Dec 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:

Recently on Story Board:

  • The Born Freelancer on Drawing a Line in the Sand: Every working freelancer will eventually confront employer demands so egregious, so patently unfair, that they will be forced to draw a line in the sand and say “no.” Most of us are hesitant to do so for fear of the consequences…

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 December 4, 2017 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

The Born Freelancer on Drawing a Line in the Sand

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? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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Sooner or later it will happen.

Every working freelancer will eventually confront employer demands so egregious, so patently unfair, that they will be forced to draw a line in the sand and say “no.”

Most of us are hesitant to do so for fear of the consequences.

I am here to argue that the power it gives you will set you free – and that is worth far more than any imaginable so-called consequences.

Some background

Like many of you, I have been offered freelance working conditions in radio, television, film, print and online that seemed patently unfair but that I was afraid to reject. I wanted to work.

I can even recall contracts requiring me to surrender all my rights forever, in any medium ever to be invented, in any jurisdiction ever inhabited by man.

Once I was so taken aback by the audacity of this robber baron-esque mentality that I called the corporate lawyers.
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Posted on November 30, 2017 at 9:00 am by editor · One Comment · Tagged with: , , , ,

Off the Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer Nov 21-27

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:

Recently 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 November 27, 2017 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Reaping what you sow: Five writers talk about their websites

by Steven Threndyle

For most of us, writing is a business. And if you’re a businessperson, you need some kind of online presence where, at the very minimum, you can post your published clips to prove to a prospective editor or client that you are, in fact, a professional.

In today’s post, we talk to five writers with very different looking websites or blogs. John Lee is a Vancouver-based travel writer who roams the world and tweets about it to his 12,500 followers.

NYC-based Caitlin Kelly’s Broadside blog features often-brilliant essays on travel, aging, finances, and the writing life.

Daphne Gray-Grant is a former Vancouver Sun editor who now coaches writers—both neophyte and experienced—from her Publication Coach website.

Christine Thompson is a White Rock, BC-based travel writer and corporate scribe who specializes in advertorial and sponsored content at Jellybean Communications.

And Eve Lazarus is a former Vancouver Sun reporter who shines a light on hidden, sometimes sordid, tales from Vancouver’s past on Every Place Tells A Story.

It’s worth noting from the outset that often writers will refer to stories as being “up on my blog” or “posted on my website.” Most writers have blogs, but not all writers have websites. As Daphne Gray-Grant says, “I do not use the terms interchangeably. The blog is the one section of my website that brings me the greatest number of readers.”

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Posted on November 23, 2017 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , , ,

Freelancers’ concerns highlighted at Democracy Project journalism summit

by Rachel Sanders 

The “Investigations for Small Newsrooms” panel at the Democracy Project summit in Banff.

Journalists from across North America gathered in Banff last month to discuss the importance of deeply researched journalism in the era of alt-facts. And at panel discussions populated by major publishers and established journalists, freelancers made themselves heard.

The Democracy Project journalism summit happened at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity on October 20 to 22. It followed a week-long intensive investigative journalism course taught by journalists Patti Sonntag and Rob Cribb. Of the twenty participants in the intensive, over half are currently working as freelancers.

As newsrooms continue to shrink and cut staff, freelancers play an increasingly important role in journalism. At the Banff summit, several spoke out about challenges such as harsh contracts, low pay, and lack of support in the face of online abuse.

Contract concerns and online abuse

At a Saturday morning panel called “When Social Media Is the ‘Paper of Record,” editors from Vice, The Walrus, The Atlantic and CBC-Radio Canada talked about their efforts to reach a fragmented audience and the importance of bringing in diverse voices. During the following Q&A session, freelance science journalist Lesley Evans Ogden rose to question the panel about their contracts.
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Posted on November 22, 2017 at 12:43 pm by editor · One Comment