Archive for November, 2008

Don’t get discouraged!

I’ve been reading a lot about layoffs this week, more than usual it seems like. I quite literally gasped this morning when I read The Associated Press, my first employer, will trim 10 percent of its workforce next year. That’s 400 employees.

Perhaps you’ve been laid off. Or you’re like me, anxiously watching everyone around you either lose their jobs or worry they’re going to. It’s so upsetting. Of course we need to be aware of what’s happening in our business, but please don’t get too discouraged.

Remember, all these news stories of layoffs and the economy really are distractions. The anxiety. The ambivalence. All of it distracts us from our determined push toward our professional goals, which presumably are in journalism. They are obstacles, tests of our determination. We are entitled to the anxiety we feel. We should acknowledge it but then move on, resume our push toward our goals. Indulging in our anxiety only clouds our focus.

For six years I’ve worked under the uncertainty of no steady paycheck. I’ve done it armed with the belief that if we work hard, if we work earnestly and in good faith, the money will follow. This belief never has been proven wrong. Clients have come and gone, and when one disappears another always comes along to replace it, usually offering more opportunity.

We will get through this. We always do.

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How much should I charge?

Hi guys, I’m so sorry some of you are having trouble reading this. Here is the link: It’s a pdf, so if you’re computer can’t read a pdf that may explain your problem. Hope this helps! Amy

I’ve seen this circulating a few places and thought it might be helpful.

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Libel insurance?

Hi all, got this message from Eric Francis, a freelancer in North Little Rock, Ark. Francis writes, I moved from newspaper staff to freelance work earlier this year and am still trying to iron out all the wrinkles of working for yourself. Does SPJ have any resource material on what an independent journalist ought to know about carrying libel insurance? Or can you recommend any other resources?

Since this is a frequent topic of discussion among freelancers, I thought I’d weigh in here and invite all of you to do the same. I’ll start by sharing my experience.

Whether this is right or wrong, I don’t carry libel insurance. Never have. I don’t personally know any other freelancers who carry it, either. I am a journalist who specializes in faith and social issues, writing mostly features rather than investigative pieces that might stir stuff up. In other words I’m no Bob Woodward.

But if I did get into trouble here’s what I probably would do. I would consult my accountant, who also is a licensed attorney. I would seek advise from the professional organizations I belong to, the American Society of Journalists and Authors and of course the Society of Professional Journalists. SPJ offers a Legal Defense Fund, an account that can be tapped to provide journalists with legal or direct financial assistance. Julie Kay, chairwoman of the Legal Defense Fund Committee, also is a freelancer in South Florida, and she wrote about the fund on the SPJ freelance blog here.

If you were to get into trouble I would want to know about it, as chairwoman of SPJ’s freelance committee. I would contact SPJ President Dave Aeikens about possibly getting the organization involved on your behalf.

What are some other thoughts? How do other freelancers handle this issue? Please post your comments here.

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