Organizations that Support Freelancers
Labor Day. No, it’s not just a holiday that marks the end of wearing white. It’s the holiday that began September 5, 1882 commemorating the United States’ struggles for sound working conditions such as eight-hour workdays.
Now that I am a freelancer who volunteers for the Chicago News Guild’s Working Journalists Unit, Labor Day has a new meaning for me. I look around and I see a lot of freelancers complaining about not getting paid well, not getting paid on time, not being able to pay for health insurance, retirement or other necessities to keep themselves healthy and happy.
Sure, this long weekend will be much welcomed. It’ll be a time when families and friends gather for good food and better laughter. But it’s also a time when I’ll, in part, be reflecting on the state of our industry. One of my former clients, Pacific Standard magazine, recently shuttered after its philanthropic funders pull the plug on the beloved publication.
The bloodbath has continued across the industry. Per a July 2019 Pew Research report, the decline of journalism jobs has hit newspapers the hardest. The report found that the number of newspaper newsroom employees declined by 47% between 2008 and 2018, from roughly 71,000 workers to 38,000. But on the other hand, digital-native jobs have been a source of growth in the industry.
It’s hard to look at our industry as anything but unstable. However, there are a number of organizations aiming to better the lives of freelancers, whether they chose to become freelancers or were simply pushed out of their full-time jobs. For freelancers seeking resources, here are a few organizations that aim to support independent media professionals:
Study Hall (Full disclosure: I’m a member)
The News Guild - CWA (Full disclosure: again, I volunteer for the Chicago News Guild)
The Balance and Carol Tice’s Make A Living Writing blog each have more organizations that cater to a variety of niches. As more journalists become freelancers by choice or not, it’s important to know the resources available to freelancers as they make a living and a career.
Which organizations have been helpful to you in your freelance career? Have they helped with late payments, advocating for better wages or finding work? Tell me in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.