Freelance Meeting: Oct 25 2010 – Contracts and other issues

We now have a venue for our October 25 meeting to discuss all the issues: unacceptable contracts, copyright, poor or even laughable rates, late payment of invoices, even whether the journalists’ union can really help freelances.

Date: October 25
Time 6.30pm 8.30pm
Place: Lord Roberts Hotel, corner of Riley St and Stanley St, Darlinghurst

The venue is a short 10 – 15min stroll from Museum Station, along the route of the No 389 bus from Circular Quay to North Bondi and has a pay car park virtually next door. We have booked a private room for the meeting and propose those coming kick in $5 each for snacks and buy their own drinks. Hope to see you there.

Those who have confirmed they will attend the meeting need do nothing more except turn upon the 25th.
If you are coming but have not yet confirmed: RSVP to


Northside coffee

Local (and travelling) freelancers all welcome to the next northside freeline get-together:

When :  Friday, October 15 2010, 10am

Where:  The Beach Kiosk, South Curl Curl

What:   Lively discussion at a great spot with good coffee and plenty of parking.

RSVP / More details:  Libby Harkness,

Local Coffee Meeting: Eastern Suburbs

Freelancers are welcome to join us at the Eastern Suburbs freeline coffee meeting on Friday 20th August at 10:30 am.  Meet at Jones the Grocer, Moncur Street, Woollahra. There’s plenty of parking and it’s a short stroll  from Oxford Street Paddington if you’re catching a bus, or the 389 bus also runs past Jones.  Time 10.30.  Further details, contact Emily Chantiri via freeline.

Photographers Rally against bad Australian laws

Australian photographer Ken Duncan is organising a rally next Sunday 29 August at 10am at Campbell Cove to raise awareness about the eroding rights of photographers in Australia, thanks to laws that prohibit photography without a permit in many public places around Australia.

This has implications for any freelancer shooting pics in many public areas – Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and Waverley Council for example have quite nasty restrictions. [oops! I could have been very seriously busted a few times recently!]

Duncan chairs an umbrella body, Arts Freedom Australia, which represents Australia’s major photographic associations as well as many individual photographers, is protesting the growing laws that restrict photography.

Duncan (who made his fortune before today’s regulations were put in place), says that these days, Australian photographers (professional, part-time or amateur) can risk getting a criminal record for taking a picture of a rock.

AFA recently completed a comparative study of legislation and policies imposed on photographers and film-makers within Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America and found Australian photographers and film-makers were seriously affected by a myriad of rules and regulations that impose prohibitive restrictions, high fees, and bureaucratic application protocols.

More information here:

2010 Finalists: Good Editor and Good Corporate Editor Awards

Congratulations to the following Finalists, who were nominated by Freeline members in appreciation of the dignity, respect and  professionalism that these editors show to freelance journalists:

Good Editor Award 2010

Editor Publication
Alan Johnson Manufacturers Monthly – Reed Business
Brian Crisp Escape (News Ltd’s national travel liftout)
Chris Ord Outer Edge
Claudine Ryan ABC Health & Wellbeing (based in Brisbane)
Fiona McGill Sydney Morning Herald, deputy editor, special projects
Helen Anderson Traveller, SMH & Age
Keith Austin Good Pub Food Guide
Liz Graham Yoga Journal Australia
Mara Lee Practical Parenting
Marge Overs Australian Rural Doctor
Natasha Dickins Handyman Magazine
Peter Simcock Fairfax Community
Rick Allen Parramatta Advertiser
Rod McGuinness New Matilda
Sandi Gauvin alive Australia
Sandy McPhie Way2Go
Stephen Scourfield Travel editor, The West Australian
Susan Kurosawa Travel & Indulgence section, Weekend Australian.
Tamsin O’Neill Green Magazine
Tania Gomez & Sarah Oakes Cleo
Terri Cowley RM Williams “Outback” magazine
Tracey Evans Connexus magazine
Vita Palestrant Sydney Morning Herald, Money section

Good Corporate Editor Award 2010

Editor Publication
Christina Sampson Princeton Publishing
Diana Simmonds Sydney Alumni Magazine
Guy Sigley BRIGADE
Melissa Cranenburgh Big Issue
Mick Paskos Law Institute Journal (LIJ) Victoria

The winners will be announced on August 12th at the Freelance Stream of the 2010 Walkley Media Conference

Northern Sydney Coffee Meeting

Local (and travelling) freelancers all welcome to the first north-based freeline get-together:

When :  Friday, August 6, 10am

Where:  In Situ cafe,  1/18 Sydney Road Manly NSW

Getting there:  This cafe is attached to The Corso, just around the corner from the Steyne Hotel. Two-hour free parking under Coles and a short few-hundred metre walk across The Corso to the cafe.

RSVP / More details:  Pam Wilson,

Public Interest Journalism Foundation

Margaret Simons, freelance journo who writes for Crikey, has asked the Sydney Freelance Journalists Group to pass on the details of two upcoming projects for the Public Interest Journalism Foundation.

The Public Interest Journalism Foundation, established at Melbourne’s Swinburne University of Technology, explores positive uses of new technology for journalism that matters.

The first project – YouCommNews – is within weeks of launching. It will be an audience-driven commissioning mechanism that will allow a direct relationship between audiences and journalists, without the necessary intervention of Big Media – although there is no reason why traditional media organisations can’t be part of the experiment, and the PIJF hope they will.

The YouCommNews website will allow members of the community and journalists to pitch stories they would like to see investigated, and to “crowd source” the funds to allow the journalism to be done. To learn more scroll down to the relevant post on Margaret’s blog

The second project is new – a two day conference, New News 2010, to be held as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival on 2 and 3 September this year.

There are some very interesting, top notch freelancers involved with the PIJF, so take a look at what they are up to and get involved.

You can read more about the PIJ foundation here.

2010 Good Editor Award and Good Corporate Editor Award

As all freelancers know, a good editor is worth their weight in gold. The Sydney Freelance Journalists Group wants to recognise those editors whose professionalism and love of good work enhances our industry. Our 2009 winner, Roger Fox, gardening editor for Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, is the sort of editor we would all like to work for. Read about his editing style and the team of freelancers he manages here.

We are currently calling for nominations for our 2010 Award.

There are two categories in this competition – the Good Editor and the Corporate Editor.

The Good Editor Award is for editors of publications / programs that fall under the category of journalism i.e. that do not exist to serve the interests of a company or organisation.

The Corporate Editor Award is for editors of publications / programs that do exist to serve the interests of a company or organisation i.e. they publish / broadcast stories that fall under the category of corporate / organisational media.

Criteria for the Good Editor / Corporate Editor Awards

* shows respect for freelancers’ work
They don’t over-edit, they phone or email freelancers to discuss major changes. They don’t under-edit or allow typos and bloopers to slip past.

* shows respect for freelancers’ time
They don’t ask for the world with no notice, they pass on any contacts they have and show general business etiquette. They don’t change their mind and want a different angle for stories / pictures / work after it has been submitted.

* knows what they want
They have a solid grasp of their publication or their particular department, so they are able to clearly explain what they want when they commission work. They can explain why a pitch is or isn’t a good fit, and if it’s the latter, make suggestions for changes that would bring it on target. Such knowledge also enables them to give constructive critiques.

* is able to facilitate fair and timely payment
Editors should not be the friendly face of publishers or broadcasters who do not pay or underpay freelancers.

* is an impermeable barrier between advertising and editorial
There is a difference between journalism and advertorial. Good editors know and respect that difference.

Good Editor Award nominees must satisfy all five criteria, while Corporate Editor Award nominees must satisfy the first four (there is no need for a barrier between advertising and editorial in corporate media).

The committee of the Sydney Freelance Journalists Group will decide which category nominees fall into. As a guide, publications and programs that sell advertising, or public or community funded broadcasters or publishers are within the category of journalism.  Publications and programs that are in-house or exist to distribute information about a company or organisation are within the category of corporate / organisational media.

Email your entries to Entries close COB Friday 19 June 2010. The winner will be decided by the Sydney Freelance Journalists Group committee and announced at the end of June.

Freelancers from all media are encouraged to nominate editors who fulfill all of the relevant criteria.

Nominate your favorite editor today!

Meeting of freelancers who write for Pacific Publications

Pacific Magazines, a major local publisher in the Seven stable which publishes titles including New Idea, marie claire and Better Homes and Gardens, has issued a new contributor contract for freelancers requiring they sign away all future rights including online. The company is also seeking to strip legal protections from writers with an indemnity clause shifting liability from Pacific Magazines to freelancers should there be legal action arising from a freelance contribution.

The MEAA strongly advises all freelancers NOT to sign the contract- note the Alliance is currently in negotiations with Pacific Magazines management for a new agreement for permanent staff.

The Alliance is convening urgent meetings for freelance writers (members or non-members welcome) in Sydney and Melbourne to discuss the Pacific Magazines contract.

Just turn up – or for more info – contact Alliance organiser Claire O’Rourke at or 02 9333 0935.


Sydney: Thursday, February 11, 6pm, Alliance office cnr Chalmers and Redfern streets, Redfern. RSVP to

Melbourne: Wednesday, February 17, 6.30pm Melbourne Central Lion Hotel, Lvl 3, Melbourne Central Adjacent to the Hoyts cinema box office . RSVP to

What do Australian freelancers get paid?

Prominent Australian freelance journalist and academic Margaret Simons has posted a request on her regular Crikey blog for freelancers to email her with the current rates they are paid.

The 2010 MEAA freelance rates, available as a PDF download on the MEAA website here, suggest that the minimum rate for a freelance journalist should be 89c a word (with $890 paid for any article of 1,000 words or less).

There are certainly publications in Australia which pay more on a per-word basis; eg The Monthly, Griffith Review and Reader’s Digest all pay around $1 a word – and there are many other corporate and trade publications  which pay that or more.

However, metro daily newspapers generally pay around 65c per word – way less for travel – and plenty of Australian magazines still pay just 50c a word or even less.

We would love to see freelancers contact Margaret with their current pay rates – she’s promised anonymity.

We have regular discussions about pay rates in our Freeline google group – if you’re an Australian freelance writer, you’re welcome to join the discussion online.