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New alliance to fight for rights for freelancers

A national media union and an agency that represents independent journalists have joined forces to advance the interests of freelancers who provide content to Canadian media organizations. The Canadian Media Guild and the Canadian Writers Group are working together to represent individual freelance writers and to advocate for all freelancers on issues such as rates, copyright and digital and re-use rights.

“I’m proud to be a partner in this alliance,” says Derek Finkle, an independent journalist and founder of the Canadian Writers Group. “The agency has already made important strides in expanding our writers’ client base and has worked hard to make sure our writers are compensated properly and signing the fairest contracts possible. With the support of the Canadian Media Guild, our writers will be marketed in a more sophisticated way, and freelance journalists will have an effective way to negotiate more collectively when it comes to publishing contracts that are increasingly less favourable to contributors.”

“After years of stagnating rates and contracts that haven’t kept up with the digital realities, this is a true opportunity to improve the economic situation for media freelancers,” adds Lise Lareau, national president of the Canadian Media Guild. “Many groups, including trade unions, have been struggling for a long time to represent freelancers effectively. This alliance is a new model that is already starting to bear fruit.”

The launch of the alliance will be celebrated at Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen St. West, near Dufferin) from 6 to 8 pm on Tuesday December 7. There will be a brief presentation and Q&A at 6:30 pm. Please RSVP by sending a message to rob@canadianwritersgroup.com.

In addition to negotiating individual contracts, the two organizations have begun meeting with publishers with a view to introducing new standards for contracts with freelancers that allow writers to benefit from additional revenue their work generates in digital and other new platforms and that protects their copyright and moral rights.

The alliance has launched two websites:

www.canadianwritersgroup.com profiles the writers represented by the agency and can be used by editorial publishers and corporate clients to find writers for their projects.

www.thestoryboard.ca is an online community for Canada’s independent journalists, complete with the latest news, advice and opportunities for freelancers.

The alliance is also backed by CWA/SCA Canada, the parent union of the Canadian Media Guild. For more information on CWA/SCA Canada, visit www.cwa-scacanada.ca.

The Canadian Media Guild is a union that represents 6,000 media workers across Canada at CBC/Radio-Canada, The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters, TVO, TFO, Shaw Media and ZoomerMedia. The Guild has represented freelancers at CBC and Radio-Canada (outside of Quebec) for 16 years. Freelancers interested in joining the CMG’s Freelance Branch should write to freelancemember@cmg.ca.

The Canadian Writers Group is an agency founded in 2009 that currently represents some 75 established writers and plans to expand to 150 writers by mid-2011. Writers represented by the Canadian Writers Group automatically become members of the Guild’s Freelance Branch.

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