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The Born Freelancer Asks, Do We Dare Ever Take a Holiday?

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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Aside from asking what should I charge, it is probably the question I hear the most often (especially around this time of year) from novice freelancers:

“Do I dare ever take a holiday?”

It is certainly one of the key questions I continually asked myself for far too many years when I first started my professional life as a freelancer.

The fear most paramount in our minds is, of course, that during any holiday an offer of work will come up and by missing it we will lose a new wonderful revenue stream or even worse, that life changing-career making break that will win us that much sought after Pulitzer or Academy award that we secretly dream about night after night.

Reality check! It is much more likely that you will miss no such opportunities. In fact, the chances are much greater of inflicting upon yourself negative consequences regarding your health and creativity as a result of living a freelancing life consisting of all work and no play.

This truth I have learned through a lifetime of painful trial and error. In sharing my experiences I am hoping to spare you some of your own.

My evolving attitude towards holidays

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Posted on August 14, 2018 at 10:00 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , , ,

Off the Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer Aug 8-13

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, communications, 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:

  • Media lawyer advises freelancers to beware of indemnity clauses: As indemnification clauses continue to appear in freelance contracts, one media lawyer advises freelancers to be careful what they sign. Daniel Burnett, with Vancouver’s Owen Bird Law Corporation, said the potential consequences of indemnifying a publication against expenses that might arise from a defamation lawsuit could be devastating…

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 August 13, 2018 at 6:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Media lawyer advises freelancers to beware of indemnity clauses

As indemnification clauses continue to appear in freelance contracts, one media lawyer advises freelancers to be careful what they sign. Daniel Burnett, with Vancouver’s Owen Bird Law Corporation, said the potential consequences of indemnifying a publication against expenses that might arise from a defamation lawsuit could be devastating.

“Indemnity for a possible lawsuit that might arise from something a freelancer writes, to a typical freelancer, would be like their life savings, potentially. Because litigation is so expensive,” he said.

Burnett has been practicing media law for close to 30 years and is among the most prominent lawyers in the country in the areas of freedom of expression and media law. He has served as lead counsel on landmark cases in the Supreme Court of Canada. Although he is not involved in either the publisher or freelancer side of negotiating freelance contracts, he has heard about the increasing prevalence of indemnification clauses. He has not seen specifics, but says the trend is concerning.

“If a media publisher got an article written by a freelancer and had the freelancer sign an agreement indemnifying them in the event of any legal action, that would mean indemnifying them for the cost of the action, win or lose,” he said. “A lot of times with libel suits, the fees end up well in to the six figures. And a freelancer, for the sake of one article paying a few hundred bucks, might be potentially risking personal bankruptcy.”

Potential risks of liability

Burnett said that although there are some stories and articles that carry virtually no risk, he would consider most freelance assignments to have some potential risk of liability. A sophisticated freelancer, he said, will usually have some idea which stories pose a risk.
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Posted on August 9, 2018 at 8:21 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Off the Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer July 31-Aug 7

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, communications, 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 August 7, 2018 at 6:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Mid-Summer Salvo from CMG Freelance President Don Genova

As freelancers wend our way through summer I hope everyone has some sort of opportunity to take time for yourself and not your clients.

I know, I know, freelancers never take vacation! But seriously, for your physical and mental health, take a break.

While you’re resting, just a few items to bring you up to date on the CMG Freelance world.

CBC Temps and Freelancers

The first item is so complicated it’s hard to get down in less than a thousand words. So I’ll give you the ‘elevator pitch’ version: CBC’s Business Affairs department suddenly issued an edict a few months ago that would have forced people who both temp AND freelance at the Corporation to choose one form of employment or another.

This is all tied up in concerns with the Employment Standards Act, CRA, and a perceived conflict of interest in a freelancer using their temp status to secure freelance work. Like I said, it’s complicated. What Business Affairs didn’t realize is that this ‘new way’ of doing things was causing considerable upheaval and stress for temps, freelancers, their supervisors and the admin folks responsible for administering payments.
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Posted on August 2, 2018 at 10:37 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Associate Members program welcomes new coordinator

Canada’s free union membership program for media students, volunteers, and precarious media workers has a new leader at the helm.

CWA Canada’s Associate Members program has brought Nasr Ahmed on board as its new program coordinator. He comes to the role from CBC in Toronto, where he worked for close to six years after starting out as an intern at CBC Sports.

Ahmed said he became a labour activist long before he was actually a member of a union. The Associate Members program’s focus on youth is what attracted him to his new job.

“Something that I always found troubling about the labour movement was that there wasn’t really an avenue for young voices to be heard,” he said. “There’s not really any kind of plan for people to get into the union at a young age and for there to be any kind of succession plan for the old guard. And I think the Associate Members program is a great way for young people to understand what a union is on a very baseline level and then to actually participate in the union.”

Because the membership is non-dues paying, said Ahmed, it allows young people to get involved and learn about the value of unionization early on in their careers.

“It gets them familiarized with a union, what it can do for you, what you can contribute to the union as well. It’s just a great kind of starting point for people,” he said.

Know your rights

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Posted on August 1, 2018 at 10:06 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

Off the Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer July 24-30

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, communications, 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 July 30, 2018 at 6:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Travel writing tips from writer and editor Jennifer Bain

by Monte Stewart

Jennifer Bain was a travel editor at The Toronto Star before she took a buyout in April. She is currently freelancing as a travel writer and completing a master of fine arts degree in creative non-fiction.

In this Q&A, she discusses some of her experiences as a freelance writer and travel section editor and provides tips on how freelancers can get travel stories published.

What are editors looking for in travel story pitches? 

Every editor and every publication is different. There’s no one answer fits all. Analyze every publication and learn every editor’s quirks. But the starting point: Why this story, why now, why you. I’m big on transparency. I attach a resume and links to recent clips. I say where I am based, when I travelled or expect to travel, and whether the trip was self-funded or a press trip that I have a spot on or need an assignment to secure a spot on. You’d be shocked at how many people ignore these basics.

What makes a good travel story?

Every story needs characters. It needs real people and quotes and colour and detail.

How did you get started in travel writing?
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Posted on July 26, 2018 at 10:01 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

Freelancers: “Level up” at the PWAC & CMG Freelance conference in Toronto September 20-23

Freelance writers, mark your calendars for the Professional Writers Association of Canada’s “Level Up: The Conference,” scheduled for September 20 to 23 in Toronto. For the first time, PWAC’s annual conference is being co-presented by CMG Freelance. The schedule of events is packed full of useful professional development and networking opportunities.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Freelancers Level Up” and the panels and workshops are aimed at helping freelancers reach the next level with their writing businesses. Subjects of this year’s panel discussions include contracts, collaboration, book writing, and social media, among others. The weekend will also include a “working tour” of the St. Lawrence Market and Kensington Market, which will give participants an opportunity to find story ideas while sightseeing, as well as a speed networking and mentorship session.

CMG Freelance branch president Don Genova will be leading several sessions, and will be joined for a workshop on contracts by independent journalist Alison Motluk. Tassia Poynter, an employment and labour lawyer with the CMG’s law firm, Cavalluzzo, will also be presenting during the conference.

At the end of the weekend, observers are welcome to attend PWAC’s Annual General Meeting, which will be held on Sunday, September 23.

For more information or to register for the conference, check out the 2018 conference program on PWAC’s website. And check back over the next few weeks as more speakers and panelists are confirmed.

Don’t wait too long to register: Early Bird registration ends on August 16.

Posted on July 24, 2018 at 11:00 am by editor · One Comment · Tagged with: , , ,

Off the Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer July 17-23

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, communications, 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:

  • It’s time for government to act on a growing abuse of workers: As Ottawa considers revisions to federal labour standards, it’s time for a reckoning: thousands of workers in this country are wrongly and deliberately misclassified as ‘independent contractors’ and they’re being ripped off. And so is the federal government. Tax coffers are likely out millions of dollars because of the sham…

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 23, 2018 at 6:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,