Writers speak out against The Walrus’s new freelance agreement

Last fall, The Walrus’s contributor agreement came under scrutiny during what is referred to by many freelancers as “the Alex Gillis affair.”

The incident – which you can read about in detail on Canadaland – led to a discussion on the Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers listserv about kill fees and “idea appropriation.”

Literary agent Derek Finkle weighed in on the subject on TFEW, commenting that “Writers should be paid in full for changes in direction outside of their control” and that the language in The Walrus’s kill fee clause contributes to “condescending behavior” towards freelance writers.

Finkle’s note was followed by a message from Walrus editor-in-chief Jonathan Kay, who invited Finkle to meet with him and discuss his concerns.

Finkle met with Kay to discuss the contract. But although Kay assured him he would contact him again once a new draft was prepared, Finkle said he never heard back about the changes Kay intended to make.

At some point this year – it’s not clear precisely when – The Walrus began offering an updated freelance contract to its contributors. Some aspects of the supposedly improved Walrus agreement once again have Canadian freelancers speaking out against contract clauses that infringe on their rights.
Read the rest of this post »

Posted on June 29, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · 2 Comments · Tagged with: , ,

Another freelancer alleges “idea appropriation” by The Walrus

During the past year, management at The Walrus magazine has been accused of poor treatment of staff and freelancers. This month, another freelance writer has come to Story Board with new allegations.

Ontario writer Ann Silversides told Story Board that she pitched a story about a new business to The Walrus last July. The magazine told her that her pitch overlapped with a story they had already scheduled for an upcoming issue.

Several months later, Silversides, a former reporter with The Globe and Mail, discovered that the exact same small business she had pitched – a biocremation facility in the town of Smiths Falls, Ontario – was the focus of The Walrus’s February cover story.

“Their message back to me said there were overlaps, and I thought: ‘Oh, they’re doing something about green cremations.’ You know there’s a big deal these days about burying people in shrouds and under trees and this kind of stuff,” Silversides told Story Board during a recent phone call.

“And that was why I was so angry when I saw their cover story. Because it wasn’t about overall green cremations. It was about biocremation and specifically this place in Smiths Falls,” she said. “I didn’t pitch a topic. I pitched something very, very specific. And that was very, very specifically what The Walrus cover story was about.”

The biocremation facility, said Silversides, who lives approximately 20 kilometres from Smiths Falls, had seen hardly any media coverage at that point, only a few small pieces in local newspapers.

“It all feels very mucky to me. My first thought was just ‘What do they think, I’m just a rube because I live in the country and so they can do what they want with my pitch?’ I don’t know what happened, but that certainly occurred to me,” she said.
Read the rest of this post »

Posted on June 28, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · 3 Comments · Tagged with: , ,

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

MediaFreeLogo.2 SB

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

CBC Advises Freelancers on How to Get Paid in the Event of a Canada Post Labour Dispute

There may be a disruption in postal services across Canada as soon as July 2nd, 2016 and the CBC has advised us on some options aimed at making sure freelance contributors who currently receive their paycheques in the mail can make alternate arrangements.

The options, explained below, include arranging for direct deposit, having cheques sent to a CBC location of the freelancer’s choice, or having a cheque couriered to them at their own expense. 

If you have any questions, please direct them to Freelance Branch President Don Genova at freelance@cmg.ca.


 

Note to Freelance Contributors from CBC/Radio-Canada

Re: Postal labour dispute

In the event of a Canada Post work stoppage, there are a few options you should be aware of:

Posted on June 23, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

The 5-Minute Freelancer Q&A #30 — M. Jay Smith

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. 

 

652de3808156bd184365c6088846d785M. Jay Smith is an Edmonton-based writer of non-fiction and poetry. Her writing has been published by such outlets as Reader’s Digest, Adbusters, the Los Angeles Times, and Canadian Running magazine.

In the fall, Jay is quitting freelance writing to go to law school. She took the time to speak with Story Board recently to share some of the wisdom she’s gathered during her decade as a freelance writer and to offer a few words of parting advice.

What kinds of stories inspire you as a writer?

I really enjoy writing about art and writing about books because I enjoy the idea of participating in public discourse about art and books. I don’t know if we do enough of that anymore.

The majority of my income has been freelance for the past 10 years. And when I started out, local newspapers had local people on staff to do movie reviews and book reviews and now they don’t. It seems like there’s a paucity of public discourse about the things we create in our society

In terms of my feature writing, I’ve always enjoyed stories about social issues and stories that really challenge people to look at things closely. And that aren’t necessarily an easy read. Stories that challenge how comfortable you are with yourself.

What’s the most important thing you’ve done over the years for your professional development?
Read the rest of this post »

Posted on June 22, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

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

MediaFreeLogo.2 SB

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

Mixer for factual TV workers in Toronto

The Canadian Media Guild is holding another mixer in Toronto for factual television workers.

The event is next Wednesday, June 22nd from 5:30 to 8:30 at the Roxy Bar (19 Charlotte Street) in Toronto. Snacks and drinks will be served.

Drop by to socialize, network with colleagues and pick up a copy of the updated Guide to Working Canadian Factual TV Production.

The event is free, but don’t forget to register for your spot on this Eventbrite page.

Posted on June 16, 2016 at 10:03 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

The Born Freelancer on Working for a (Possible) Sociopath

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. 

 

“I just like f***ing with your heads”.

That was the undeniably truthful but totally unexpected explanation I received once upon a time from an employer who had exhibited increasingly incomprehensible and contradictory behavior.

True, we freelance creative staff had almost unlimited freedom. And the money was very good.

But to balance that, we constantly found their verbal promises to be worthless.

Support staff were routinely verbally abused and always within earshot of the creative staff.

Writer-friendly contracts were frequently later found to contain writer-unfriendly loopholes.

Our work was never quite good enough. It was always accepted but we were made to feel that it had somehow failed to reach the ever-shifting required standard.

Meet the boss

Read the rest of this post »

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

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

MediaFreeLogo.2 SB

From Canada:

From The U.S. and beyond:

Last week on Story Board:

  • Advice on finding work and selling your skills from the Beyond Journalism panel: Last week freelance journalists came together at the Page One café to discuss life beyond journalism. The event, put on by CWA Canada and CMG Freelance, saw panelists discuss the importance, in the ever-changing media world, of using journalism skills in careers within and beyond media…
  • Freelancers represent at the 2016 CMG convention: Last weekend media workers from across Canada came together in Toronto to discuss working conditions and the future of our industry. The biennial Canadian Media Guild convention took place on June 4th and 5th at the Holiday Inn Yorkdale. And freelancers, as always, were part of the event…
  • CMG plans to raise freelance issues at Vice Canada bargaining table: A staff representative from the Canadian Media Guild says the union plans to address the working conditions of freelancers and temporary workers at Vice Canada when collective bargaining negotiations begin…

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 June 13, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Advice on finding work and selling your skills from the Beyond Journalism panel

by Jennifer D’Agostino

Beyond Journalism 1

Errol Salamon introduces Beyond Journalism panelists Angela Misri, Veronica Simmonds, Josephine Basch and Buffy Childerhose. Photo by Jennifer D’Agostino.

Last week freelance journalists came together at the Page One café to discuss life beyond journalism. The event, put on by CWA Canada and CMG Freelance, saw panelists discuss the importance, in the ever-changing media world, of using journalism skills in careers within and beyond media.

Journalists were able to hear advice from a panel that consisted of four talented journalists who have all created multi-dimensional careers as writers, authors, radio producers and television producers.

A little bit about the panelists:

Read the rest of this post »

Posted on June 10, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , , , ,