Apr 27, 2012

How Australia’s media giants put the squeeze on freelance journos

Freelance journalists are still being told to sign dodgy contracts nearly two years after the journalists' union won the right to represent them in collective bargaining negotiations

Andrew Crook — Former <em>Crikey</em> Senior Journalist

Andrew Crook

Former Crikey Senior Journalist

Freelance journalists are still being pressured into signing dodgy contracts nearly two years after their union won the right to represent them in wage negotiations.

Standard contracts offered up by our four largest print media organisations and obtained by Crikey show independent hacks continue to confront a range of dubious clauses that impinge on their moral rights, strip them of meaningful copyright, increase their legal liability and force down word rates.

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4 thoughts on “How Australia’s media giants put the squeeze on freelance journos

  1. izatso?

    so, grab some subby crayon and redact yer own contracts …. ? Oh. (what are the subby’s up to nowadays ?)

  2. Gavin Moodie

    Declining to sign a contract isn’t a good strategy since a court is likely to assume that any subsequent work was done in accordance with the unsigned contract. Signing the contract with changes is a reasonable strategy. However, if the publisher resends the original contract the freelancer should return it with the changes again. This leads to the ‘battle of the forms’ which the courts find difficult to untangle which they may resolve by referring to past practice between the parties or to industry practice.

  3. AR

    MEAA, who has 1500 freelance members on its books or about 9% of its total membership base,” so, of the 15,000+ “journos” in their union, how many are PR flacks, for corps or government depts?
    As to HufPo-ism, the non sequitor cartoon in Thursday’s SMH put it perfectly; citizen journalism takes us back to the daze of the pseudonymous contributors to the Thunderer, and gossip about the bien pissants of the over privileged, a private income being essential.

  4. ian neubauer

    Hi Andrew,

    Nice story. Unfortunately you choose the wrong medium to have it published in.

    I am a freelance journalist in Sydney. My stories have been published in many places, sometimes with dubious contracts and limited pay, but always with pay.

    Criky, a publication I otherwise respect, has twice this year accepted stories of mine for publication. And twice your editors have attempted to get me to give (GIVE) you my work for free! FOR FREE!

    I’d be happy to do if — if we lived in a free world. Wouldn’t it be great if everything was free! School fees. The mortgage. Food. Holidays. That’s a great business model you have there. Unfortunately, it’s a scam because even Criky charges people to read their stories.

    Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. ACP and all the others may pay very little, but at least they pay and put value on my work. Why can’t you guys do the same? Hey, maybe ACP or News would pay me to run a story about how Criky takes content off writers for free and then on-sells it to the public?

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