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.

Moderator:

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.

 

 

Panelists:

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 November 28, 2020

NOTE: This event has been postponed. The post will be updated with a new date when one has been set.

In early February of this year 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. Ten months later we 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, November 28th, 2020

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 the 27th.

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: ,

Webinar: How to Find Work

If you’re looking for more work opportunities these days, hurry and register for the CFG’s upcoming webinar How to Find WorkThis online event happens on Wednesday, October 21st from 7:30pm to 8:30pm Eastern Time.

One of the first member benefits the Canadian Freelance Guild established after being formed in April of this year was The Job Bank. CFG members Robyn Roste and Rachel Sanders scour their sources for full- and part-time work, contracts, gigs, calls for pitches, remote working opportunities and more, covering the many different fields in which our members work. They have already posted 40 pages of possibilities to The Job Bank since the middle of April. They will share their search techniques and provide some advice on responding to the opportunities found in The Job Bank.

Lesley Evans Ogden is adept at seeking out international clients for her ideas and will share tips on how to find and appeal to those clients.

This webinar is also your opportunity to share both your successes and the challenges you’ve had during these rapidly changing times.

Rachel Sanders has freelanced in print and audio journalism for nearly two decades. She has written about Canadian arts and culture, education, labour, and the environment for CBC News, CBC Arts online, The Toronto Star, Postmedia News, The Tyee, and The Georgia Straight. She has won and been nominated for a number of awards, including the Canadian Journalism Foundation’s Landsberg Award for reporting on women’s equality issues in Canada.  She has been the editor of Story Board, the CFG’s blog for freelancers, since 2012.

Robyn Roste is a professional writer, marketer and podcast editor. She has spent more than a decade working at an international non-profit, first as a blogger and now as a marketing manager, where she also oversees a media agency. In addition, her freelance writing business provides content marketing and journalism services, with clients ranging from agencies, newspapers, and small businesses to authors, bloggers, and entrepreneurs.

Lesley Evans Ogden is a freelance multimedia science journalist based in the burbs of Vancouver. Producing work internationally, she writes about everything from deadly viruses to dinosaurs, often probing the intersections of environment, health, human rights, and policy. Her by-line appears in BBC Future, Natural History, Scientific American, Aeon, BioScience, New Scientist, National Geographic and many others. She was also the creator, writer and co-director of “Stay at Home Animal Dads,” for CBC’s The Nature of Things.

 

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

Register for the webinar How To Find Work right here.  

You can find more information about the cost and benefits of membership in the CFG right here.

The link to the Zoom webinar will be sent to you via email about half an hour before the start time. Please check your spam or junk folders if you can’t find the email, and contact organizer@canadianfreelanceguild.ca if you haven’t received the link 10 minutes before the scheduled start time. 

Posted on October 18, 2020 at 3:30 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Nonfiction Book Publishing: Tales from the Trenches

CFG and King’s College present:

Nonfiction Book Publishing: Tales from the Trenches

Sunday, November 15 from 3 pm Eastern Time on Zoom

Join Karen Stiller, Tyler LeBlanc, Christian Smith, Catherine Fogarty and Leslie Marion as they share their experiences as recent first-time nonfiction book authors. They’ll offer thoughts and lessons learned on all aspects of the process, including developing an idea and crafting a book proposal, finding an agent, research and writing, working with an editor, and more. Marion, who self-published, will give advice on how to decide if self-publishing is for you.

Moderated by Kim Pittaway, executive director of the MFA in Creative Nonfiction at the University of King’s College, and co-sponsored by King’s and the Canadian Freelance Guild.

This event is free, but you must RSVP to kim.pittaway@ukings.ca (please use the subject line: CFG King’s Panel) to reserve a place and be provided with a Zoom link. Spaces are limited.

CFG members have exclusive access to register first until October 12, when registration will be open to the general public.

 

King’s MFA Meet & Greets

Do you have a book in you?

If you have an idea for a nonfiction book, we can help you get it onto the page—and you can do it from wherever you live.
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Posted on October 7, 2020 at 7:00 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , , ,

A refresher on indemnity and liability in contracts

by Don Genova

One of my roles as Organizer for the Canadian Freelance Guild is to help members interpret and negotiate contracts they’re asked to sign for the work they are about to do. (Lesson One: Agree on the contract before you start doing the work.)

With each contract I review, it’s almost a certainty that it will contain clauses which are either patently unfair to the freelancer, or leave them open to legal action that would cost them far more to deal with than the value of the contract they’ve signed.

Most of this comes down to the clauses about indemnity and liability. Many of them suggest that you, the freelancer, absolve the publisher from any responsibility for problems created by the work you produce, even though most of the time your end product is a co-operative effort between you and an editor or producer or an entire editorial team.

This acceptance of responsibility can happen even though the publisher has also asked you to give up your copyright and moral rights to your work. Giving up your moral rights means the publisher can make any changes to your story without having to consult you. So what happens if they make changes and end up making your original work ‘actionable’?

While going through the Story Board archives, I came across a post written by Story Board editor Rachel Sanders nearly two years ago featuring advice from Vancouver lawyer Dan Burnett, who has been practicing media law for close to 30 years. In re-reading it, I discovered Burnett’s sound advice of two years ago is still applicable to contracts freelancers are being asked to sign today.

Some highlights:

– “If a media publisher got an article written by a freelancer and had the freelancer sign an agreement indemnifying them in the event of any legal action, that would mean indemnifying them for the cost of the action, win or lose,” he said. “A lot of times with libel suits, the fees end up well in to the six figures. And a freelancer, for the sake of one article paying a few hundred bucks, might be potentially risking personal bankruptcy.”

– “If it is a clause that is actually saying I’m financially indemnifying you for any legal action over the story I’m writing, I would want to see that struck out.”

– Burnett also recommends that freelancers inquire about the status of the publisher’s insurance. He said if he were a freelancer he would want a clause included in the contract stating that the freelancer is considered an insured under the publisher’s insurance contract. Asking to be covered under the publication’s insurance, said Burnett, “would not be that big an ask.”

– Burnett also said a publisher might be risking its own reputation by not protecting its freelancers in the case of a defamation lawsuit.

“It isn’t just the freelancer who decides what to publish. Ultimately the editor decides what is going to go into print. So it’s a company decision that’s being made. And they want to stand by it and they want to be seen to stand by it,” he said.

To read the entire post for more of Burnett’s observations and advice, click here.

—–

The Canadian Freelance Guild wants to help freelancers be better informed about indemnity clauses and contract literacy. If you have a contract from a publisher that you’re willing to share, please send it to CFG Organizer Don Genova at organizer@canadianfreelanceguild.ca. Your name and identifying details will be redacted.

If you have questions about one of your contracts, keep in mind that one of the benefits of membership in CFG is advice on contracts and negotiating them. And check out this page on the CFG website for more information.

Posted on September 30, 2020 at 7:30 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

CBC Doc Mentorship Program deadline October 16

CBC Radio’s Doc Mentorship Program is once again open for pitches this fall.

Experienced audio freelancers are invited to submit a pitch to the program, which is also open to all CBC employees – staff, contract and temps.

The program is accepting applications for three different mentorships: the Doc Mentorship program,  The Current’s Advanced Doc Maker program and the Emerging Indigenous Doc Maker program.

The program pairs up documentary makers with experienced CBC producers who provide guidance and mentorship through the process of making a radio documentary. Mentors are happy to provide feedback on pitches before the formal application process, so applicants are advised to contact the mentor they wish to work with before they apply.

The deadline for pitches is Friday, October 16th. All work must be completed by January 2021 at the latest.

You can find more details about the Doc Mentorship Program and how to apply, on the Doc Makers website. If you have any questions about the program, please email docmentorships@cbc.ca.

And for information about CBC rates and contracts, check out this page on the CMG Freelance website.

Posted on September 24, 2020 at 7:00 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , , , , , ,