Beyond Journalism panel discussion and networking event in Toronto June 2

Students, emerging media workers and freelancers are invited to a free panel discussion and mixer on Thursday, June 2 at the Page One Cafe & Bar (108 Mutual Street)in Toronto from 6 to 9 p.m.

Panel speakers include writer and TV director Buffy Childerhose and digital journalist and novelist Angela Misri. They’ll offer advice on how to use your media skills to find different kinds of work and make an impact in your community.

There will also be plenty of time for meeting and networking with peers and colleagues. Snacks and drinks will be served.

This event is being presented by CWA Canada Associate Members — a free union membership for students, volunteers, interns and precarious media workers — in partnership with CMG Freelance.

You can find details about CWA Canada Associate Membership at www.emergingmediaworkers.ca.

And for more details about the event, or to register for your free ticket, check out this Eventbrite page.

 

Posted on May 25, 2016 at 6:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer May 17-24

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 says goodbye to DNTO: After 22 seasons, what was once CBC Radio One’s weekend pop culture flagship show has signed off the air for the last time…
  • Portenier Human Rights bursary applications open: Applications for the Portenier Human Rights bursary are now open. The bursary provides $3000 worth of hostile environment training to a freelance journalist or independent documentary filmmaker whose work focuses on human rights abuses…

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 May 24, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

The Born Freelancer Says Goodbye to DNTO

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. 

After 22 seasons, what was once CBC Radio One’s weekend pop culture flagship show has signed off the air for the last time.

22 seasons? That’s a great run by any yardstick. Time for an honorable retirement. “The Beachcombers,” by comparison, only made it to 19 seasons.

DNTO – or “Definitely Not The Opera” – was originally named to humorously distinguish itself from the simultaneous operatic programming on what is now Radio Two. It was fronted by several talented hosts throughout its various incarnations. Nora Young and most recently Sook-Yin Lee were arguably its two most beloved and memorable hosts.

DNTO was once to CBC Radio what Q is to it today. That is, it was once CBC Radio’s main pop culture phantasmagoria (albeit weekly); an on-air escape from the mundane into the world of contemporary creativity and inspiration.

But maybe because it was heard on the weekend and produced out of Winnipeg it managed to stay delightfully and defiantly offbeat. It always felt a bit like an underdog; a collective of the nerdy but most interesting kids back in school now passionately making the kind of radio that the grown up mainstream just didn’t “get”. 

It never particularly tried to be cool and as a result probably was.

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Posted on May 18, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

Portenier Human Rights bursary applications open

Applications for the Portenier Human Rights bursary are now open. The bursary provides $3000 worth of hostile environment training to a freelance journalist or independent documentary filmmaker whose work focuses on human rights abuses.

This is only the second year for this new bursary, which is offered by the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma. The organization also offers a number of $2500 bursaries each year as part of the Forum Freelance Fund.

More information about the bursary and how to apply are available on the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma’s website. The deadline for applications is June 30th.

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer May 10-16

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 May 16, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Copyright, libel and kill fees: Negotiating a freelancer-friendly contract

The hottest topic of conversation for freelancers is definitely money. But freelance contracts come in a close second. That’s why we like to offer a regular refresher on the subject here on Story Board.

Publishers have been adding some distinctly freelancer-unfriendly clauses to their contracts over the past few years. And with well-paid freelance writing work getting harder and harder to come by, freelancers are more likely to sign contracts that aren’t in their best interests. The results can be devastating.

We checked in with agent Derek Finkle of the Canadian Writers Group recently to find out what he’s been seeing in freelance contracts and to ask for some advice on negotiating better contract terms.

Copyright

The Copyright Act automatically assigns copyright to the creator of a work, but publishers have started adding clauses to their freelance contracts over the past few years that require freelancers to relinquish their copyright.

Loss of copyright can mean loss of income for freelancers. Especially when contracts claim copyright not only of the published story, but of underlying research materials and raw interview tape as well. If you give that up, you lose your ability to re-sell your work or even more than one story that’s based on the same research material.

And loss of copyright has implications besides loss of income – it can also affect your reputation. Canadian parenting writer Ann Douglas wrote a post for Story Board in 2013 about a clause in her contract with the Toronto Star that allowed them to sub-license her column to third party publishing partners.
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Posted on May 13, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · One Comment · Tagged with: ,

The 5-Minute Freelancer Q&A #29 — Alison Motluk

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. 

 

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Alison Motluk is a Toronto freelance writer and broadcaster.

She has written for CBC programs such as IDEAS and Quirks and Quarks as well as for publications such as the Globe and MailNew Scientist, and The Walrus.

Motluk led a workshop on negotiating strategies last month in a CMG Freelance training session in Toronto. She took the time to speak with Story Board recently to share some of her thoughts about negotiating, professional development, and the many joys and challenges of working as a freelance journalist.

 

What do you like about freelancing?

I like almost everything about it. I like planning my day. I like picking what stories I get to write.

I like working hard when I want to work hard and not working when I don’t feel I can work.

I like working with a lot of different kinds of people but not being in the same room with them all day long.

There’s a lot to recommend freelancing.

What are the biggest challenges?

The number one challenge, I’m sure everyone will agree, is that the pay is abysmal. And it hasn’t always been that way. I started freelancing in ’99 and, honestly, the rates have gone down over that time. So as my electricity bill and my gas bill and my food bill and the TTC go up, my wage has gone down.

I guess it happens in other disciplines, too, but I really find it unbelievable, still, even as I watch it happen. So number one, the actual rates are going down.

And number two, I think because the people who buy our work have less money, the quantity of opportunities, to some extent, has gone down.

There’s so many things that have changed the nature of the business we’re in. But is it that people don’t want to read anymore? No, people still love to read and listen to broadcasts.
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Posted on May 11, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer May 3-9

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 May 9, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Query smarts: how to increase your batting average

Sandra C Phinney

Freelance writer Sandra Phinney

By Sandra Phinney

I’ve heard editors say that upwards of 80 percent of the queries they receive are deleted without reading further than the end of the first paragraph.

Why? It all comes down to three things:

  • writers don’t know the readership of the magazine
  • writers are not tuned into the content, tone and style of the magazine.
  • most queries are about topics; they lack an angle or slant

How to change that? First, source two or three back issues of any magazine you want to write for. You can usually find back issues online, at your local library, or in second hand bookstores.

Then do the following four exercises.

Once you’ve completed the exercises, you’ll be in a position to create the perfect pitch because you will have a clear idea of who reads the publication, the kind of articles that appeal to that readership, and the tone and style in which they are written.

Armed with this information, you will be able to write your query slanted to the readership, in the same “voice” as the magazine. Your pitch will reflect that you are both familiar with the publication and that you are a savvy freelancer.
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Posted on May 5, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

CMG submits application for Vice Canada union

The Vice Canada union campaign reached an important milestone last week — the Canadian Media Guild filed for certification with the Canadian Industrial Relations Board. The labour board now needs to confirm that the union has support from at least 40% of employees. After that, the board will call for a vote.

Employees who haven’t yet signed a union card can still do so at right here.

And Vice freelancers can also be part of the unionization efforts. CMG organizer Karen Wirsig recently told Story Board that she wants to hear from freelancers about their experiences with Vice. She said that once the campaign reaches the collective bargaining phase, the CMG will aim to bargain some improvements for freelancers into the contract — including clauses related to prompt and fair payment.

If you’d like more information or would like to speak to Wirsig in confidence, you can call her at 416-578-1651 or reach her by email at karen@cmg.ca.

 

Posted on May 3, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,