WEBINAR: Pitching NOT Bitching!

This week, CFG Guelph is proud to present:

Pitching NOT Bitching!
How to make a good pitch about a story and get published
Online Zoom, Tuesday, January 12th, 7pm ET

Pitching is either something you feel challenged by or procrastinate about doing. No matter the type of article you want to write, a good pitch letter will get you noticed by an assigning editor.

You have a good idea for an article, then what? Explore the simplicity of pitching, the instruments to finding outlets to pitch, the opportunities to mine your own life for ideas, and the different perspectives your topic can have.

Successful pitch samples will be shared. Come prepared with your questions. Your presenter is Melody Wren, a food, travel, and lifestyle freelancer with 30 years of experience.

This event is just $5 for CFG members and $15 for non-members using this code to register: CFG2101.

You’ll find more information and the registration form at this link.

Posted on January 10, 2021 at 1:30 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

The 5-Minute Freelancer Q&A #44 — Francesca Bianco

In this regular feature, Story Board asks Canadian freelancers to share a few details about their work habits and their strategies for navigating the ups and downs of freelance life.

Francesca Bianco is a Canadian freelance writer currently living in Germany.

Her Maisonneuve feature “The Hand That Feeds You,” which is about the impact of the pandemic on migrant farm workers in Canada, is one of the winners of the 2020 Dave Greber Freelance Writers Awards.

The piece originally started as a course project for an advanced non-fiction class during her Master of Journalism degree at UBC — a class taught by 2008 Greber Award-winner Deborah Campbell.

Bianco took the time to speak with Story Board recently about the challenges of freelancing during a pandemic, the best opportunities for freelancers just starting out, and the importance of writing about what matters to you.

Why did you decide to report on migrant farm workers in Canada? 

There was a daily news story, it was this report called Beyond Our Plates and it came from one of the migrant advocacy groups. It was personal stories of migrant workers, one of them getting his finger cut off and being told to go back to work, those kinds of things. And it inspired a kind of outrage in me.
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Submissions open for 2021 National Magazine Awards

The 44th annual National Magazine Awards are now open for submissions.

Writers, photographers and illustrators who do freelance work for magazines are all eligible to submit their work for one of the 18 writing and visual award categories, which include feature writing, investigative reporting, fiction, photography and many more.

The gold medal winner in each category receives a $1000 cash prize.

If your publisher isn’t planning to submit your work, you can submit it yourself. The awards foundation offers freelancers a discount on entry fees with the Freelancer Support Fund, which allows freelancers to submit two entries for the price of one.

The call for entries is open until January 28, 2021.

For more information about the categories, rules, and submissions process, check out the National Magazine Awards Foundation’s website.

Posted on December 22, 2020 at 2:41 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

The Born Freelancer Says Goodbye to 2020

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? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.


I can’t imagine there is anyone who isn’t glad to see the end of this horrendous, tumultuous year.

Thinking about it, our first and immediate reaction must be to feel compassion and sympathy for those who have lost loved ones.

We know the toll has been devastating. Whole lives and families have been torn apart, never again to return to normal.

Below that level of profound and irreversible loss, there has also been a superabundance of illness, financial instability, mental anguish, fear, loneliness, anxiety, relationship turmoil, and political unrest.

Additionally, we have all witnessed countless displays of both incredible kindness and complete idiocy.

It is always easier to read about history than to live through it. Living through it offers you no certain ending or easily compartmentalized chapter headings. Living through it means you have to make the best you can of whatever you are given, with no guarantee of outcome.

So some of you might be confounded at first by what I am about to posit:
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Posted on December 9, 2020 at 8:22 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

New study on mental health and resilience for journalists reporting on COVID-19

by Lesley Evans Ogden

On November 19th, the Canadian Journalism Foundation held a webinar hosted by CBC journalist Anna Maria Tremonti, focusing on the mental health risk and injury of reporting on COVID-19.

The webinar discussed the results of a recent study initiated when Meera Selva, director of the journalist fellowship programme at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in Oxford, England, began collaborating with Dr. Anthony Feinstein, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

Their aim was to take the psychological pulse of journalists around the world reporting on COVID-19. Their early findings indicate that anxiety is affecting 25% of the journalists studied, with rates of depression at 20% and overall emotional and psychological distress in excess of 80%.

Feinstein underlined that help is available and there are ways for journalists to boost their resiliency. His list of mental health tips is available here and a condensed summary of the webinar discussion follows.

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Posted on November 26, 2020 at 8:38 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

WEBINAR: Life After Journalism — Use Your Skills to Shine in New Fields

It’s no secret that the number of places to practice journalism has been on the decline for years. Couple media concentration with copyright-grabbing contracts and not-so-suddenly journalism (full-time or freelance) is not an easy place to make a living.

But journalism skills are eminently transferable to a number of different communications fields. Join our panel of former journalists who have all gone on to new and rewarding careers as they discuss how they made the leap and how you can, too!

Life After Journalism: Use Your Skills to Shine in New Fields happens online on Wednesday, November 25th from 7 pm to 8 pm Eastern Time.


Our panel is moderated by Karen Tankard, a former CBC reporter who now makes her living as a digital campaigner, communications professional and educator. She founded the Canadian versions of ‘Life After Journalism’ groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.




Lesley Pritchard is the Director of Communications for BC Emergency Health Services, and has worked in media relations and issues management at the Provincial Health Services Authority and the Law Society of BC.

Prior to that Lesley spent more than 20 years as a journalist with the CBC in various parts of Canada including Yellowknife, Halifax and Vancouver.


Samantha Falk is the Director of Communications at Nature’s Path, North America’s largest certified organic breakfast and snack food company.

Previous to Nature’s Path, Sam worked in communications for Hootsuite, the global leader in social media management. Samantha honed her communication skills after two decades in broadcasting as a reporter and anchor at both the local and national level.


Ann Gibbon was a reporter with the Gazette in Montreal before working for a decade as a reporter with the Globe & Mail’s Report on Business.

She left journalism to work with a large national PR agency, then formed her own consulting business, working with a broad range of clients. She co-authored the award-winning book, Steinberg: The Breakup of a Family Empire.


This webinar is free for CFG members, and $25 for non-members. It is part of our Business of Freelancing webinar series.

You can register for the webinar right here. And you can find more information about the cost and benefits of membership in the CFG on this webpage.

Posted on November 17, 2020 at 7:30 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT

CFG’s first Annual General Meeting scheduled for Saturday, February 6, 2021

NOTE: This event was postponed and has been rescheduled. It was originally scheduled for Nov. 28, 2020. 

In early February of 2020 members of the PWAC and CMG Freelance executives gathered in Toronto and over just two days hammered out the framework for what has become the Canadian Freelance Guild. We now have an active, vibrant Guild with an ever-increasing membership.

To be sure there have been growing pains. And to be sure we’ve needed the guidance of our members as we moved forward with the organization. To continue that process we would like to cordially invite all members to the first ever Canadian Freelance Guild Annual General Meeting:

Saturday, February 6th, 2021

1pm Eastern Standard Time

via Zoom Webinar

Yes, it’s a virtual meeting to go along with these pandemic times. We’re confident in our ability to conduct the business of the CFG in this fashion and we have a system that allows you to vote on motions anonymously.

More details will follow in the days ahead, but members can expect to be asked to comment and vote on our bylaws. You’ll get an update on our membership figures, budget, and strategic planning, and we will then open nominations for the election of our first CFG executive.

Please register now at this link. The deadline to register is 9pm ET on Feb. 4th, 2021.

Posted on November 10, 2020 at 8:00 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

2021-2022 Canadian Nieman Fellowship open for applications

Applications are now open for a year-long fellowship that gives a Canadian journalist the opportunity to study at Harvard University.

The 2021-2022 Martin Wise Goodman Canadian Nieman Fellowship is open to applications until December 1, 2020.

Applicants must be Canadian citizens and working journalists with at least five years of full-time or freelance professional media experience. Photojournalists, editorial cartoonists, columnists and broadcast producers are also eligible to apply.

Details about the application requirements are available on the Canadian Nieman blog. Canadians should use the International Nieman Fellowship application to apply.

For more information, email canadiannieman@gmail.com.

Posted on November 5, 2020 at 8:00 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

The Born Freelancer on Best Advice Received, Ever

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? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.


One of the best pieces of advice I ever received when I was starting out as a rookie freelancer came from a veteran writer and broadcaster, a distinguished older colleague who had served with distinction in the military. We spoke briefly, only once.

Being young and inexperienced I didn’t understand it right away. Indeed I don’t remember even asking for advice, being so young and inexperienced I didn’t know I could or that I should.

I was interviewing him about his wartime experiences. Then I made some flippant remark about how freelance writing and broadcasting required a different set of skills to survive.

He paused, considering my question with greater solemnity than I had expected (or deserved). He replied that on the contrary, many of the lessons he had learned in wartime were still relevant. By way of illustration, he quoted an old military axiom, perhaps the only one ever to lodge unbidden in my brain:

“Time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted.”

The arcane words meant nothing to me. Doubtlessly, I pressed on for additional wartime anecdotes, oblivious to the gift of gold he had laid before me.

Fast forward several months

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Posted on October 28, 2020 at 7:30 pm by editor · One Comment · Tagged with: , ,

How to avoid editors’ pet peeves

By Monte Stewart

The dreaded phone call usually comes when Mark Reid is right in the middle of doing something.

Canada’s History magazine editor Mark Reid

“[After] 45 minutes,” said Reid, editor of Canada’s History magazine, “we’re still talking, because you don’t want to be impolite, and the conversation always ends with: ‘Okay, now, can you send me an email about this?’”

Such unproductive calls out of the blue rank among the biggest pet peeves that Reid and other editors have when it comes to receiving freelance story pitches.

He and his peers discussed their peeves with Story Board in the hope that freelancers can sidestep them – and improve their chances of getting more stories published.

The common theme? If you’re wasting an editor’s time in this era of hectic schedules and reduced resources in the media industry, you’re also wasting your own time. Chances are, the story will not get published.

Get to know publications

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Posted on October 22, 2020 at 8:32 pm by editor · One Comment · Tagged with: ,