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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Getting it in writing

My good friend TJ Sullivan has done a fantastic job of getting to the heart of freelancer issues in his Native Intelligence column on LA Observed.

TJ writes:
What's really going on here is the logical progression of media budget battles from the newsrooms of publication companies to the dining rooms of freelance writers and photographers.

With his own host of contract horror stories, including one that broke at the same time as the SPJ/NGS saga, resulting in his walking away from a paying gig, TJ writes poignantly about how the struggle for rights is a David and Goliath scenario. Certainly it's nothing new to independents:
It doesn't take long to imagine the logistical nightmare large publications would face if they allowed each and every independent writer or photographer to negotiate their own contract terms. For that reason, the one-size-fits-all agreement has been used, and verbally abused, by independents for years. But now, with more and more highly trained journalists being cut out of newsrooms and thrown on the freelancer woodpile, there might just be enough friction to light a fire. Already, many former full-timers have realized what their independent colleagues have known for years, that out here the rules are different.
(Bold is mine.)

He writes eloquently about the shift in trust that naturally occurs when you move from staffer to independent, an unwelcome change for most writers and, I suspect, many editors. He writes of the exhaustive time it takes to negotiate contracts and make even the simplest of changes, and he ponders how thousands of independents can effect meaningful change. Any suggestions?

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