CWA Canada Votes to Protect Interns

by Kayla Perry

At CWA Canada’s National Representative Council (NRC) meeting on April 17, voting members unanimously agreed to endorse two documents, both of which aim to protect media interns in the workplace.

The first document presented to the NRC by the CWA Canada Associate Member Steering Committee was a policy statement on the equitable use of interns. This document states that all interns should receive compensation, with the exception of students from an accredited post-secondary educational institutions on a short-term educational placement, and that equitable terms of employment should be outlined in the collective agreement.

The policy also states that CWA Canada has a role to play in advocating for employers to compensate students, and outlines that all interns must receive a signed contract outlining the responsibilities of the intern and employer, avenues of recourse for the intern, the length of the contract, the hours of work, and the requirement of regular feedback and mentoring.

CWA Canada Associate Members—a form of union membership for student, volunteer and precarious media workers—developed this policy out of concern that unpaid internships are making careers in the media inaccessible to people from historically-marginalized communities, place young people further at risk of harassment and unsafe work conditions, and teach emerging media workers not to value their labour.
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Posted on April 24, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

The Born Freelancer Interviews Young Adult & Children’s Author Erin Thomas

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.

 
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Twelve years ago, Whitby, Ontario based freelancer Erin Thomas was a technical writer with a degree in English literature, taking college night courses towards technical writing and editing qualifications.

She says she “stumbled into a course in writing for children and has never looked back”.

An avid reader all her life, “Forcing the Ace,” published by Orca last fall as part of their Limelights series, was her seventh book for children.

What inspires you? What motivates you creatively?

I read widely — lots of contemporary children’s literature, but also adult fiction and a strange assortment of non-fiction. Good writing inspires me; it doesn’t matter what genre. This year I’ve read and loved “Station Eleven”, “The Martian” and “Orphan Train”.

Do you derive any significant inspiration from sources other than books?

I don’t get out to plays and concerts as often as I’d like, but that’s always an inspiring experience. I have huge respect for the work that goes on behind the scenes. When I see someone do something beautifully, I’m not thinking that they’re gifted or naturally talented, although they may well be. I’m thinking about the hours of rehearsal they put in to make that happen. To me, that’s the inspiring part. That’s the interesting thing – the passion that drives a person to become better at his or her craft.

That’s what makes me want to work harder.

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Posted on April 23, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

The 5-Minute Freelancer Q&A #20 — Tom Sandborn

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.

 

Tom Sandborn

Tom Sandborn is a Vancouver freelance writer who also works as a fundraiser and consultant. He has been involved in community activism since the American civil rights movement of the 1960s. He has written about subjects such as labour, health policy and social policy for publications like the Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Sun, the Tyee and the Georgia Straight.

He took the time to speak with Story Board recently about journalism, the labour movement and the importance of living by your words.

 

How have things changed since you started freelancing?

I think that in that period of time, in my lifetime, we saw an enormously exciting emergence of alternative journalism, things like the Georgia Straight here in town. Underground newspapers everywhere, underground radio stations everywhere. Much of that has been tamed and subsumed in the way that the other insurgent impulses of the counter culture were. Exciting expose journalism got turned into shock rock radio and all of the effluvia that’s available online.

I think that the funding base for independent journalism has diminished enormously and media concentration has spiked in a way that works inversely with that. More and more concentrated control by big corporations and less and less funding for independent journalism.
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Posted on April 22, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer April 14-20

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 April 20, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Media Works launch party April 29th

A media/labour project that has been in the works for several months is now ready to go, and there’s going to be a party to celebrate. The Media Works launch party is scheduled for Wednesday, April 29th, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at The Foundery (376 Bathurst St) in Toronto.

Media Works is a project sponsored by CWA-Canada in partnership with CUP and the NCRA. The project has been focused on the creation of a handbook that’s filled with advice for media workers about their rights and how to navigate the world of work as well as tips on how to do great labour reporting. There were also 14 labour reporting articles, audio documentaries and a graphic journalism piece commissioned as part of the project.

The launch event is free to attend and you can reserve your ticket at this Eventbrite page. Drinks and snacks will be served, and there will be a panel discussion with contributors to the handbook about the current state of media work and labour reporting. Copies of the Media Works Handbook itself will be available for free to event attendees.

You can see some of the articles at the Media Works website, or check out the event’s Facebook page for more information. Two Media Works pieces have been published right here on Story Board over the past few weeks: Zoe Melnyk’s post on the moral dilemma of unpaid internships and Sara Tatelman’s piece about the current state of internships at Canadian journalism schools.

 

Posted on April 16, 2015 at 6:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Unpaid internships: A moral dilemma for journalism students and the media community

by Zoe Melnyk

 

Journalism students across Ontario are struggling with the moral dilemma of participating in unpaid internships while trying to build experience for their portfolios.

Journalism students are being taught that simply having a degree isn’t enough to get a job anymore. Students are being pushed into doing internships and the majority of the time these internships are unpaid.

Many students have accepted the idea that paid work must be earned and that unpaid internships are just part of the career. Jessica Vomiero, Ryerson University journalism student, believes in the use of unpaid internships up until the point of graduation.

“We all have to be willing to do a little bit of free work in order to build our portfolios,” says Vomiero.

Ryerson University journalism student, Salmaan Farooqui, also believes that unpaid internships are necessary in order to give students the opportunity to gain experience for their resumes. Although, he says, “right now, a lot of internships are literally the job,” meaning that journalism students are performing the duties of a paid employee, yet students are still expected to take the job without pay in the beginning stages of their career.

“It’s more about proving yourself,” says Farooqui.

The idea that journalists should earn the privilege of being paid is not uncommon amongst students. Many believe that it is a step that everyone must take in order to build a successful career.
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Posted on April 14, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer April 7-13

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

The Born Freelancer on Nurturing Your Inner Terrier

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.

 

bornfreel2I was clearing and sorting through my archives this week: so many hard copy reports, stories and scripts. I’m not being unduly immodest when I tell you I’ve written – and sold – a lot of good words over the years. Some very good indeed.

I’ve never been rich nor famous but I’ve always made a living as a freelancer throughout many ups and downs of the economy by reinventing myself and energetically throwing myself into different media and various genres. It was refreshing to be reminded of all the scripts and stories I’d written; I’d probably forgotten 80 per cent of them.

But looking back over my accumulated work, I was reminded again and again of lots of early lost opportunities – awesome scripts that almost sold but didn’t; pitches that seemed so promising but never took off. Early on in my career I could never understand why. It took me many years to realize the answer. I’d like to share it with you today.

It came to me while watching a small dog at play.

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Posted on April 10, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

SABEW Canada’s inaugural Best in Business Awards Night

SABEWCANADAFBThe Canadian chapter of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) is holding its inaugural awards night next Wednesday, April 15th, at Valdez (606 King Street West).

Among the 26 finalists for the awards are a number of independent and freelance journalists, including Trevor Cole, who is nominated in both the long-term feature and profile categories. The full list of nominees is available here.

Tickets are $10 for SABEW members and $30 for non-members. Cocktails and food will be served starting at 6 p.m.

You can pick up your ticket for the event on their Eventbrite page. Check out SABEW Canada’s website for more information, or contact them via email at sabew@canada.org.

 

Posted on April 9, 2015 at 4:14 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

How Many Hoops Are You Willing to Jump Through?

By Ann Douglas

My friend Jen went through a series of 25 interviews before she was ultimately named editor-in-chief of a major consumer magazine. That’s a lot of hoops to jump through in the hope of landing a job—but, then again, it was a pretty nice job, complete with a rather droolworthy salary and a skyscraper office with an amazing view.

But what if the job you’re applying for doesn’t offer the potential for that kind of payoff—or at least not anytime soon? How many hoops are too many to jump through when you’re applying for a part-time or contract freelance writing gig?

It’s a question I started mulling over recently, after stumbling across a rather over-the-top writer/editor recruitment ad on a marketing agency website. Not only did the company in question expect writers and editors to bring “intense joy, abundant love, and infinite gratitude” to the job application table. They also expected them to “pay their dues” by going through a rigorous, six-step job application process, one that involved…

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Posted on April 8, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · 7 Comments · Tagged with: ,