Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer July 15-21

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 July 21, 2014 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Freelance health benefits information video

Freelancers who are thinking about getting extended health insurance should take a few minutes to watch this video, which was recorded at a recent CMG Freelance info session about the ACTRA Fraternal Benefits Society (AFBS) health benefits plans for freelancers:

AFBS is a not-for-profit, member-owned company that offers financial services exclusively to people working in the arts. The company’s mandate is to provide financial security for people in careers where financial stability is rare. No medical exam is required to sign up for an AFBS benefits package.

For more information on the health plans available to CMG Freelance members check out this post on the CMG Freelance site.

And for more information about CMG Freelance membership, you can contact freelance organizer datejie green at datejie@cmg.ca.

 

Posted on July 15, 2014 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer July 8-14

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 July 14, 2014 at 9:05 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

The Born Freelancer on the Merits of Unplugging

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. 

 

This blog’s recent hiatus reminded me of the importance (to me anyway) of occasionally unplugging from the internet in order to properly recharge.

Some of you may find this a completely heretical suggestion to make. To you, I offer no apologies but understanding of your addiction. It afflicted me once too.

As freelancers, we are in the unique position of being able to choose the how and when of our work life. Nine to fivers do not share this luxury. And so at least once a year (summer time is ideal) I choose to exercise that ability and unplug to reassert my independence from the net.

At least for a week or two.

It enables me to feel that I have redressed (to some degree) my dependence upon it. A delusion? Perhaps. As freelancers, the internet is our lifeline to employers, potential employers, colleagues, resources, etc. But that very dependence can feel counter-productive when it relentlessly seems to control us rather than the other way around.

To me, it is all about rebalancing internal boundaries and priorities. And that is no delusion.

First, a bit of history.

I did not arrive at my annual sabbatical from bits and bytes overnight.

It began slowly.

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Posted on July 11, 2014 at 9:01 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Freelancer Stephen Leahy on crowdfunding his environmental journalism

copenhagen-press-passby Rachel Sanders

Stephen Leahy was at a conservation conference in Mexico five years ago when the dire state of freelance journalism became clear to him. After the event, he spoke with several other freelancers, all of whom had received travel awards to attend the event. Most of them had not been able to sell a single story about the conference.

“These other freelancers were supremely experienced. The former bureau chief from Asia from the New York Times, the former chief of some bureau at Reuters AFP, all these guys had really impressive credentials. And they couldn’t sell any stories as freelancers,” Leahy told Story Board during a recent phone interview.

“And one of the big pronouncements there was the need to protect 50% of the planet. Which is a number that is outrageous and had never ever been uttered before. And I was like ‘wow that’s a really good story.’ But they couldn’t sell any stories. I was the only one who had sold two or three stories.”

Leahy, who is based in Uxbridge, Ontario, says that several of those journalists quit freelancing after this dismal experience. Some made the switch to PR. But he wasn’t prepared to give up.

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Posted on July 9, 2014 at 6:00 am by editor · One Comment · Tagged with: , , , , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer July 1-7

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 July 7, 2014 at 9:05 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Money in the bank: tips for freelance accounting

by Hannah Hoag

Not long ago, one of my regular clients had some hiccups with their accounting procedures. Every month or so, I’d have to contact the department to inquire about a payment and track down the source of the problem. Sometimes the payment had never been processed. Other times the cheque had been lost in the mail.

It was incredibly frustrating, but I always got paid in the end. In part because I’ve been treating freelancing as a business from the get-go and it was easy for me to identify the missing payments and follow up on them.

Sometimes freelancers are too eager to jump into the thrill of the assignment without giving much thought to the business side of freelancing. It doesn’t have to be painful. The basics are simple: Track your work, get paid, pay your taxes, pay yourself. You just have to avoid making it a time suck.

 

Track your assignments

Deadlines belong in a calendar, not on a scrap of paper or in an email. My online calendar holds final deadlines and individual interviews, but I monitor the money side of the freelancing equation in a spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet is the pulse of my business. It lets me stay on top of my assignments and anticipated income. It ensures that I set enough money aside for overhead expenses (Skype, airfare, external hard drives, etc.) and taxes, and forces me to put money away for retirement. With a glance to the spreadsheet, I know if I’ve got to hustle and send out some pitches, or if I’ve got more than enough work on my plate. I also stay on top of late payments or if I receive an amount that doesn’t match my records.

Here’s a fictitious example of what it looks like:
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Posted on July 4, 2014 at 8:13 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

Observations of a freelance writer/broadcaster at the NPAC Photojournalism Conference

 

by Rebecca Hass

Rebecca Hass speaks with a photographer at the NPAC conference last month in Vancouver.  Photo courtesy of Andy Clark

Rebecca Hass speaks with a photographer at the NPAC conference last month in Vancouver.
Photo by Andy Clark

While my friends and colleagues in the writing and broadcasting world were at the Toronto Canadian Media Guild conference this past May, I was in Vancouver manning a table at another media conference: The News Photographers Association of Canada (NPAC) Photojournalism Conference.

My own photographic ability is limited to birthdays and holidays with the odd flower in my garden thrown in for good measure, but I’m a fan of story telling through photojournalism, so I was excited to be there.

I was there to represent the Canadian Media Guild, and showcase the services the Guild offers media freelancers. With the large number of recent lay offs for photo journalists from the major employers like Reuters and The Associated Press, I assumed I would meet a number of people new to the freelance lifestyle and I was  excited to discuss the rich world of freelance. I was prepared to talk about resources offered through a CMG membership — contract advice, tax implications, extended health benefits and the like. Armed with a plethora of pamphlets I was ready for anything. Or so I thought.

The conversations I had with photojournalists attending the conference surprised me.  There was everything, from gallows humour and reflections on the death of the art form, to cautious optimism about the future.

For those who had spent a lifetime cocooned in the model of full time employment, freelancing seemed as reasonable a suggestion as running off to join the circus.  Overall, the photojournalists I met looked at the future as if it were a cloudy glass.  The future looked murky and mysterious.

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Posted on June 24, 2014 at 9:05 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

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

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 June 23, 2014 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

The Tyee’s David Beers talks hiring, growth and the value of freelancers

 

by Rachel Sanders

David Beers says Canadian imgres-1journalism is richer because of its freelancers.

The former Editor in Chief of the Vancouver-based independent online magazine The Tyee has moved into an executive editor role and the magazine is seeking a new Editor in Chief to bring fresh perspective and energy into the ten-year-old publication.

Beers says The Tyee was originally conceived as a way to bring in some of the voices in the province that weren’t being heard.

“But we also set a rather difficult goal for ourselves, which was to pay our writers,” he said during a phone interview with Story Board this week.

“It didn’t seem like a radical notion at the time, but increasingly our competitors don’t pay. I don’t understand why people write for nothing. But I guess they feel they have to. The Tyee doesn’t pay huge amounts, obviously. But I’m told we’re competitive with Postmedia and other places. I’m not sure that’s much to brag about, but that’s where we are. And so we’ve always been a place where freelancers could write and find an audience and be paid,” he said.

Beers lamented the state of online publishing, where sponsored content has crept into news magazines and writers are often expected to work hard without pay. And he says these trends make his job more difficult.

“Because I’m constantly trying to make the case that media costs money. And I’m making it to our readers, who have been very generous in ponying up,” he said.

The Tyee’s fundraising effort last fall raised $100,000 in 21 days, allowing the magazine to expand and solidify its coverage of national issues.

“Then meanwhile there are other websites that claim to be covering national issues or conducting the national conversation and they don’t pay. So from my perspective it’s harder and harder for people like me to make the case that we need money to do good reporting,” said Beers.

 

Part of the solution

Beers’ experience in a corporate newsroom and his work as a freelancer gave him a dual perspective on publishing.
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Posted on June 20, 2014 at 9:10 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,