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: , , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer April 26-May 2

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 2, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Chatelaine’s call for unpaid submissions

One of our freelance union members recently brought our attention to a recent call for submissions by Chatelaine magazine. The call-out asks readers to submit full 500-word stories that have not been published elsewhere.

Writers whose articles are selected will not be paid for their work.

In response to Story Board’s request for comment on the magazine’s call for unpaid submissions, Chatelaine’s Editor-in-Chief Lianne George said via email that the series was created as a forum for readers to share stories with a broad audience.

“It’s an experiment in user-generated content and so far we’ve been really pleased with the interest and the range of submissions,” she said.

CMG Freelance branch president Don Genova said this week that the type of submissions Chatelaine is requesting are worth paying for.

“I’m glad that their efforts to obtain free content are going well but it doesn’t really do much to advance the case for good writing in this country,” he said.

“It’s one thing to request letters to the editor in response to things published in the magazine, but to ask people to generate original content that will meet Chatelaine’s publication standards is worth something. Having your submission accepted in a situation like this is like winning a lottery for which there’s no prize aside from getting your name in print. And anyone can get their name in print these days.”

David Hayes, Toronto freelance writer, editor and co-founder of the Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers listserv (TFEW), posted on that message board last week that he doesn’t think Chatelaine should be soliciting free work given the funding they receive from the government.

Chatelaine receives $1.5M in funding from the Canadian Periodical Fund each year.

“Nothing is more tiresome than the way businesspeople in the media pay for everything else in the world relating to the running of their business except when it comes to short-changing, or trying to get away with not paying at all, for content,” wrote Hayes.

Freelance writer M. Jay Smith also posted in the same TFEW message thread.

“Ironically, I was very recently in contact with a Chatelaine editor who informed me that the magazine is not currently soliciting freelance content,” she wrote.

Genova said that he, too, finds the situation ironic.

“Chatelaine claims that it is Canada’s biggest, best women’s magazine that likes to report on social issues and current events, while at the same time doesn’t mind exploiting its predominant female audience to get free content,” he said.

“Why doesn’t Chatelaine commission a story about how women are still making the same amount of money (or less) writing for periodicals as they made 30 years ago?”

Posted on April 27, 2016 at 8:36 pm by editor · 2 Comments · Tagged with: ,

CMG Freelance supporting striking Chronicle Herald freelancers


CMG FL Bug FINAL REDOn January 23rd of this year, the 61 members of the Halifax Typographical Union’s newsroom unit went on strike for a fair deal from the Halifax Chronicle Herald newspaper.

While the picket lines remain up, the members still wanted to tell stories, take photos, and keep Nova Scotians informed of news that matters to them.

They formed an online-only news site called Local Xpress, staffed by volunteers and funded by parent union CWA Canada and the HTU.

When the strike action was launched, Chronicle Herald management hired scab labour, and told freelance contributors they could still write for the paper. Many declined that offer, and some of them took a further step and joined CMG Freelance, a branch created to serve the needs of independent freelance workers as well as those at CBC. These freelancers are all members of the Canadian Media Guild, a local of CWA Canada.

When they joined, CMG Freelance, CWA Canada, and the HTU all agreed that those members choosing to forgo income from the Chronicle Herald could earn some money by submitting stories to Local Express.

It’s the first time that CMG Freelance has been able to offer support to members losing work because of a strike.

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Posted on April 27, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Interning at Unionized Media Companies Pays—Literally

This post is the fourth in a series called “E-Lancer Writes,” exploring the working conditions, rights, and collective organizing strategies of freelance journalists, interns, and other low-wage or temporary digital media workers.

 

By Errol Salamon

Summer internship season is about to begin. But decently paid internships, like jobs, are hard to find. Still, internships are often seen as the pathway to a job in journalism. That’s why media unions in Canada have been leading efforts to help emerging journalists find paid placements. What are unions doing to ensure that students get this vital experience and also get paid?

Paid internships

Some unionized media outlets, such as the Canadian Press (CP) and The Globe and Mail, pay summer interns the equivalent of the entry-level employee rates outlined in their collective agreements. Both internship programs, based in Toronto, are still thriving. While The Globe usually hires up to 20 summer interns, CP normally accepts about six applicants.

At other media outlets such as the Victoria Times Colonist, unions have created paid journalism internship programs. The internship program at the Times Colonist was established in 2002 by the Victoria Vancouver Island Newspaper Guild (CWA Canada Local 30223), wrote local president Chris Carolan in an email.
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Posted on April 26, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer April 19-25

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 April 25, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Forum Freelance Fund applications due April 30

Applications are open for the 2016 Forum Freelance Fund bursary, which provides funding for freelancers to attend dangerous environment training courses. The bursaries are worth $2500 each, and the rules and application process have been simplified this year.

The deadline for this annual bursary competition is April 30th. More information and application requirements are available on the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma website.

The Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma runs the competition in association with the Rory Peck Trust, a U.K.-based organization devoted to promoting the safety of freelancers.

According to a news release from the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma, 21 Canadian freelancers and foreign freelancers working for Canadian media have been helped by the Forum Freelance Fund so far.

 

Posted on April 21, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

The Born Freelancer on the Merits of Becoming an “Expert”

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. 

 

The first time I was introduced in public as an expert on anything it was in front of several hundred university students when I was a guest consultant.

Honestly, my first reaction was to look behind me on stage to see who they were talking about.

At first I felt flattered. I had never thought of myself as an expert. But I quickly realized it wasn’t an attempt to flatter me.

It was in fact a shortcut to selling me – and anything I was about to present – to the students. By describing me as an expert it immediately gave me credibility – and also gave credibility by association back to the course and to the university itself.

It was in that moment I grasped the potential marketing power of being branded as an “expert”.

What is an Expert?

A expert is an authority on specialized subjects. Someone who is called upon to offer informed opinion and context on a given topic. A freelance expert is an independent voice, beholden to nothing except (ideally) a pursuit of the truth.

Be That Go To Guy or Gal

You may wish to become that person. The person others in the media or elsewhere call upon to answer difficult questions in public based upon the body of knowledge you have acquired, absorbed, and can synthesize into qualitative and pithy comments.

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Posted on April 20, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

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

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From Canada:

From The U.S. and beyond:

Last week on Story Board:

  • The 5-Minute Freelancer Q&A #28 — Jane Auster: Jane Auster is a freelance writer, editor and communications specialist based in Toronto. She has written for such publications as Toronto Life, Maclean’s, Canadian Business, and The Toronto Star…
  • The Freelancer’s Toolbox: CMG Freelance has professional development events coming up in Toronto and Vancouver…

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

The 5-Minute Freelancer Q&A #28 — Jane Auster

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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Jane Auster is a freelance writer, editor and communications specialist based in Toronto.

She has written for such publications as Toronto Life, Maclean’s, Canadian Business, and The Toronto Star. She also does corporate and government writing. She won PWAC’s Editor of the Year award in 2015.

Later this month, Jane is holding a pitching workshop at the our day-long Freelancer’s Toolbox seminar in Toronto.

She took the time to speak with Story Board this week about pitching, people skills and keeping an open mind when it comes to the kind of work a freelance writer can do.

 

How long have you been working as a freelancer?

I started fairly young so I’ve been working as a freelancer for about 40 years. After becoming a freelancer, I fell in love with the way of life. And I know other people talk about the freedom — really having yourself, ultimately, as your boss. So I fell in love with all of those aspects, too, and I figure now I’d be unemployable.

I think you develop a “my way or the highway” way of working. And that’s me. And I also work faster than most other people so whenever I’ve had employment contracts, especially with the government, I find that I finish the work in half the time and then I’m wondering what’s next.
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Posted on April 15, 2016 at 9:52 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,