Archive for July, 2006

Survey results

Thank you for your responses to the freelance survey. Here are the results, which have been included in my final report to the national board:

Prepared by Wendy Hoke: Freelance Committee Chair
Membership Manager
Survey sent via e-mail and posted to Independent Journalist blog on Friday, July 21, 2006
Number of recipients: 162
Number of respondents: 58

There is overwhelming support for a membership card that can also function as a press card. The few negatives were from those who felt a news agency issued card was the only kind that would be honored.

We have an opportunity to create some original programming that could be replicated across chapters. At the national level, I feel very strongly that the freelance programming must be of a higher level. We have very few beginners among our ranks and I’ve heard complaints about the national convention programming for beginners. The programming needs are fairly evenly distributed between how-tos, craft and expanding visibility. I’d like to see the committee create more opportunities for editors and writers to interact.

There are also a number of services that would be useful to freelancers, namely discounts where we spend the most money (bookstores, office supply stores, subscriptions, etc.). We have the room on the freelance section of the SPJ site to set up a referral network for professional services (financial, legal, editing, Web design). We can discuss whether or not this is a revenue-generator or simply a good trade service.

Finally, there is an expectation among freelancers that their membership will translate into paying work. Perhaps we can link to the freelance section of the Job Bank and more actively post opportunities.

In an effort to better understand and serve SPJ freelancers in the coming year, please provide the following feedback.

1) Would you consider a new, plastic SPJ membership card with PRESS screened back a good solution for a press card?
48 — yes
4 — no
5 — no opinion

2) What kind of programming would you find useful?
28 — marketing
32 — interaction with editors
25 — breaking into new markets
20 — writing as craft
24 — networking
21 — speaking opportunities at the local and national level
15 — teaching opportunities
— other (please specify)_________________________________
• chapter-level writing groups
• high-level craft workshops (i.e. how to sell investigative piece)
• how to use tech tools such as Excel, submission trackers to improve efficiency
• reader interest seminars
• one-on-one writing feedback from industry leaders
• asking for more money, better contact, etc.
• dealing with problem editors
• sharing experience with specialized outlets (how to break in)

3) What kind of services would you find valuable as a freelancer?
26 — coupon for subscription
30 — discount at bookstore (Barnes&Noble, Borders, Amazon)
37 — discounted office supplied (Staples, Office Depot, Office Max)
30 — professional services referral network (accounting, legal, editing, Website design)
— other (please specify) ________________________________
• health care
• libel insurance
• group Lexis-Nexis subscription

4) What types of information would be useful in Quill columns?
18 — how-tos
8 — personal war stories
29 — resources (writing, legal, financial, Web, networking, time managment, etc.)
25 — mixture of everything
— other (please specify)______________________________
• building an effective Web site
• narratives from writers who’ve done excellent reporting job (detail the process)
• ethics for freelancers (we’re not all Robert Novak)
• Negotiating fees, rights and contracts
• how to get new writing gigs
• writing across generations
• making freelancing a real business
• herd instinct of journalism
• the 21st century journalist
• freelancer finances (tax deductions, savings tips, budgeting, etc.)
• humor in journalism
• print on demand: a good publishing idea but not a good way to make money
• power of being obnoxious, don’t be afraid to ask for work
• challenge in journalism higher ed: why PR is not journalism
• balancing freelance writing with stay-at-home parenting

5) Would you be willing to pitch and write a Quill column gratis?
16 __ yes, here’s my idea
20 __ no

6) Tell us more about yourself:

The average experience of full-time freelancer was 12 years with the longest being 40 and the least being 1
— I have been freelancing fulltime for ____ years
The average experience for part-time freelancer was 10 years with longest being 40 and least being 1
__ I have been freelancing on the side for _____ years

— I visit The Independent Journalist blog
4 __ daily/RSS
1 __ weekly
6 __ several times a month
17 __ monthy
27__ never

— I joined SPJ because of its Freelance Committee
4 __ yes
45__ no
6__ partially

— I have stayed in SPJ because of the Freelance Committe
8 __ yes
29__ no
19 __ partially

— I prefer to receive news and information about Freelance resources
2 __ posted on The Independent Journalist blog
29 __ via e-mail group list
21 __ both ways
1 __ I prefer not to receive news and information

— SPJ Chapter Affiliation
40 __ I am a member of _____________________ chapter
15 __ I am a national member only
2 __ I am not an SPJ member

5) Would you be willing to provide a testimonial for use on SPJ Web site or in printed materials that encourages SPJ membership for independent journalists?
19 __ Yes, I will send it to wendyhoke
31 __ No

Thank you for your time. Your feedback will help to guide the committee’s activities.

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