Survey on contemporary journalism in Canada

Three professors and media researchers are conducting a national survey to gather information about current conditions in Canadian journalism.

Professors Edward Comor and James Compton of the University of Western Ontario, along with Nicole Cohen, assistant professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga, are conducting the anonymous and confidential survey to collect information that will aid in “shaping policy responses that could improve the working lives of journalists in Canada.”

“We are interested in learning about what it’s like to work as a journalist amid changing industry conditions and transformations in digital technologies,” said Cohen this week via email.

“The higher our participation rate, the better understanding we will have of contemporary working conditions,” she said.

Cohen encouraged Story Board readers to participate in the survey, noting that the results should be of great interest to Canadian freelance journalists.

More information about the survey can be found on their website, and the survey itself can be found here. It takes 15-20 minutes to complete and will run until October 4th.


Posted on September 10, 2013 at 9:08 am by editor · · Tagged with: , ,

4 Responses

Subscribe to comments via RSS

  1. Written by Jake
    on September 10, 2013 at 5:25 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Took the survey, it seems well intentioned but won’t accurately reflect the nature of freelance work. Too many questions about “primary employers” and things like that. Too bad, it’s still stuck in outdated thinking.

    • Written by editor
      on September 10, 2013 at 8:19 pm
      Reply · Permalink

      Thanks for the comment, I’ll pass along your feedback. I think many freelancers do have primary employers, though. There have been various periods in my own freelance career when I’ve earned the bulk of my income from one particular media outlet.

      • Written by Jake
        on September 11, 2013 at 11:25 am
        Reply · Permalink

        That’s a good point.

        I do tend to write mostly for the same handful of publications, it is easier to pitch to an editor after they’ve already accepted an earlier pitch – and to pitch to other editors once you’ve written for the publication. And when you have a good relationship with an editor, you often want to share your best ideas with them first.

        But most freelancers I know – especially those of us who do it full time – write for multiple publications (even if we keep going back to the same couple publications most of the time).

        My biggest concern is that the survey authors don’t really seem to understand the myriad of ways that freelancers currently work. I don’t blame them for this, the world is changing quickly.

        To give you an idea: I do a lot of traditional freelancing – pitching stories to publications, who pay me based on the assignment/word.

        But I also work for a newspaper as a “freelancer” remotely, and am expected to work a couple hours every day, for which I’m paid hourly.

        I also write stories for that publication that are paid by the word.

        Lastly, I write for a website that pays me by assignment and page views. For them I’m expected to write at least a certain number of stories per month.

        It’s crazily complicated and it seems to be only getting more so.

        Also, I think it’s quite dangerous for freelancers to think of a specific publication as a primary employer. In the past year, publications that I worked for regularly have been cut back or completely shut down. In the current environment, counting on a single publication for steady (or even regular) work is a sure path to failure.

        • Written by editor
          on September 11, 2013 at 11:45 am
          Reply · Permalink

          All very true and I agree with your final point in particular! Always a nasty shock to lose a steady gig. You can’t get too comfortable if you want to be a freelancer. Our complex work situations are difficult to glean from a short survey, especially if it’s also meant for staff writers. I’ve passed your comments on to one of the researchers and they’re happy for the feedback.

Subscribe to comments via RSS

Leave a Reply