Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer August 25-31

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 SBFrom Canada:

 

From The U.S. and beyond:

 

Last week on Story Board:

  • The Problem of Press Trips: Freelance writers are masters of ingenuity. We have to be. Decreasing wages and increasing demands have made full-time freelance writing a losing proposition. Those of us who wish to remain in the field quickly develop strategies to make it work: We stack assignments, boost our incomes with part-time jobs, and network like crazy…

 

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 August 31, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

The Problem of Press Trips

by Keph Senett

Freelance writers are masters of ingenuity. We have to be. Decreasing wages and increasing demands have made full-time freelance writing a losing proposition. Those of us who wish to remain in the field quickly develop strategies to make it work: We stack assignments, boost our incomes with part-time jobs, and network like crazy. It’s part of the job now, like photography or social media management. One tactic, though—working press trips—draws a particular brand of condemnation, and this censure may be hurting readers as much as writers.

I write for my living, but even though I have no dependents and no debt, I struggle to pay my bills. When I began as a freelance writer, my specialties were human rights and grassroots soccer—two niche topics not typically commanding robust per-words, never mind travel budgets—but by adding travel writing to my areas of expertise I was able to expand my reach. The way it works is simple. I partner with a tourism bureau or destination management organization and they fly me somewhere and show me some things. In return, I produce and place well-written travel articles in various media. And while I’m there, I extend my trip (on my own dime) to interview soccer players or activists, or attend an event or do whatever it is that I need to do to get the story I’m after. It’s a win-win—but it depends on the press trip, and the press trip is considered…vulgar.
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Posted on August 26, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer August 18-24

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?

From Canada:

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From The U.S. and beyond:

Last week on Story Board:

  • Digital newsrooms moving towards unionization: It’s been a big summer for unions and new media. The past few weeks have seen a string of stories about digital media workers organizing…
  • Goal setting for freelancers: Whether or not you’re getting ready to go back to school this fall, there is something hardwired in us about September. It’s the season of clean notebooks and a new teacher. We get a fresh start. That may explain why September is such a hot mess of resolutions and goal setting…

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 August 24, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Digital newsrooms moving towards unionization

It’s been a big summer for unions and new media. The past few weeks have seen a string of stories about digital media workers organizing — employees at Gawker, Salon, Vice and The Guardian US have all voted to unionize since the beginning of June. This week, BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti told his employees that he doesn’t think unionizing would be good for them or the company. A sign, perhaps, that the urge to organize is still building.

The Canadian Media Guild’s Karen Wirsig wrote about the digital newsroom unionizing trend on the CMG site this week. She says that Canadian digital media workers, too, are at the mercy of the fast-changing priorities of their employers.

If you work for a digital media organization, you can read Wirsig’s post on the Canadian Media Guild’s website for more background as well as information about organizing your workplace.

And freelancers, you can read about the benefits of independent union membership on the CMG Freelance site.

 

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

Goal setting for freelancers

by Rebecca Hass

 

Whether or not you’re getting ready to go back to school this fall, there is something hardwired in us about September. It’s the season of clean notebooks and a new teacher. We get a fresh start. That may explain why September is such a hot mess of resolutions and goal setting. Forget New Years, the day after Labor Day holds the future you.

Now is the perfect time to create your vision for the life you want to be living. Where do you want your freelance career to take you? Living on the beach and writing travel pieces? Covering exciting stories in urban centres? What is your goal in life and work?

Be S.M.A.R.T. but with a twist

In the world of business they have goal setting down to a science. For a goal to succeed, they say you need to use the acronym S.M.A.R.T. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic and Time-bound.

But for freelancers (and, I’d argue, pretty much for everybody outside of the world of selling widgets) that acronym does more harm than good. I’m keeping the first three (Specific, Measurable and Accountable) but tossing the last two. Your goal needs to speak to you so that you have the fuel to chase it. Choosing a goal that is first and foremost ‘realistic’ is like letting Eeyore book your holidays: predictable and unexciting.

But don’t take my word for it, here’s Jim Carrey on being ‘realistic’:
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Posted on August 19, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer August 11-17

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:

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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 August 17, 2015 at 9:05 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Yellow Pages Canada offering content mill rates for app writing work

IMG_1795CMG Freelance is advising freelance writers across Canada not to accept work from Yellow Pages that pays in the range of 6 to 9 cents per word.

Story Board has heard from several highly experienced writers who were approached by Yellow Pages Canada last week with an offer to write “Smart Lists” for Yellow Pages’ digital properties. The work involves compiling lists of recommended businesses for the YP Dine app and other Yellow Pages apps.

Each “Smart List” consists of up to 850 words covering 10 different local businesses. Writers are expected to cover businesses with which they have personal experience, as well as businesses that they research online. For each list, Yellow Pages is offering a flat fee of $50 plus “great exposure through our site, apps and other marketing channels.”

In case you thought Yellow Pages was a dinosaur medium, the company’s digital platforms accounted for nearly half a billion dollars in revenue in 2014.

Story Board contacted Fiona Story, Yellow Pages’ Director of Public Relations, to inquire about the reasons behind the low fees being offered for their digital content. Ms. Story responded via email.
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Posted on August 14, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , , , ,

Levelling Up as a Freelancer (or How to Spot a Turkey)

How to quickly evaluate every freelance opportunity  

by Miranda Miller

Levelling Up as a Freelancer

 

Do you know when to turn down a contract?

Wait. Turn down? What?!

If the very thought of turning down work seems outrageous and counterproductive, you need to read on.
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Posted on August 12, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer August 5-10

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:

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From The U.S. and beyond:

Last week on Story Board:

  • The Deadly Sins of Freelancing: Relationships. Every successful freelancer knows that healthy professional relationships are everything. So if things aren’t going so well, perhaps it’s time to take a close look at whether you might be doing something that is annoying your editor/producer/client…
  • Content Creators Coalition making inroads for artists’ rights: The Content Creators Coalition, an American organization that advocates for “creators of cultural content,” has had some success over the past few weeks with its campaign for artists’ rights…

 

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

Content Creators Coalition making inroads for artists’ rights

The Content Creators Coalition, an American organization that advocates for “creators of cultural content,” has had some success over the past few weeks with its campaign for artists’ rights. In mid-July, NPR dropped out of the MIC Coalition — a group that is allegedly lobbying to reduce payments for music use — after pressure from the Content Creators Coalition and the musicFIRST Coalition.

The Content Creators Coalition’s response to NPR’s withdrawal states that the organization wants to develop a partnership with the broadcaster to develop “innovative methods of licensing that will benefit music performers, music creators and NPR listeners.”

Amazon also withdrew from the MIC Coalition in June over its focus on music pricing.

The Content Creators Coalition is now working with musicFIRST to support the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, which was introduced in U.S. Congress earlier this year. The Act would require terrestrial radio stations to pay royalties to performers as well as songwriters.

You can follow the Content Creators Coalition on Twitter or like them on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest news on artists’ rights and compensation.

Posted on August 6, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: