Freelance

Freelance journalism is no longer an “atypical” form of work. In many countries the majority of journalists are freelancers. Many are journalists who would prefer traditional employment and have been forced into what we call “fake freelance” positions by employers who break local rules on employment by using freelances to fill full-time posts while avoiding state welfare and social charges.

Some appreciate the freedom, variety and flexibility of independent employment and feel it is increasingly the natural mode of work for journalists. The challenge of a freelance future is a test for journalists’ unions in Europe and around the world.

Contracts and fees, training, authors’ rights, and professional standards are all key issues for the freelance community of journalists. Innovative financing models, which can give freelance journalists new possibilities/niches in media, are being explored by the EFJ and its affiliates. The EFJ Freelance Expert Group recently organised a webinar on entrepreneurial journalism.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) Authors’ Rights Expert Group (AREG) and the Freelance Experts’ Group (FREG) strive to defend and to promote freelance rights. We say to our staff colleagues: in order to defend your rights and conditions of work, you can do nothing more effective than to promote the highest standards for freelances.

The Freelance Experts’ Group’s focus for the coming years’ is based on the EFJ’s working programme:

  • Relaunch the Charter of Freelance Rights and promote it at national and European level;
  • Continue to organise webinars on issues important to European freelances;
  • Organise training seminars, including on safety, if funding is available, with the help of EFJ secretariat and cooperate with the Rory Peck Trust ;
  • Collect information on business models and new ways on how freelance journalism is paid for;
  • Monitor EU legislation and advocate for protection of freelance working conditions and decent fees, the right to organise freelances in trade unions and the right to do collective bargaining including for freelances;
  • Support the EFJ Unfair contract campaign;
  • Consider recruitment of freelance journalists in all media as an important angle in all discussions (see EFJ project work);
  • Support journalists’ organisations in fighting for equal rights including accreditation throughout Europe, with a recent focus on Belarus (Get Freelancers into Law http://baj.by/en/node/25104)

Links to freelance sites of our unions


Actions

Media censorship in Belarus: “it is time for the EU to react”

Freelance journalists in Belarus face increasing threats, pressure and censorship and this is a concern Europeans should share, said Belarussian journalists Larysa Shchyrakova and Volha Chaichyts at a press conference held in Brussels, on Tuesday 18 September. The event was jointly organised by the International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) together with their affiliate the Belarus Association of Journalists (BAJ). Larysa Shchyrakova and Volha Chaichyts are two Belarusan freelance journalists, working for Belsat TV, a ten-year-old television channel based in Warsaw, Poland. During the conference, the two female journalists exposed several problems they face in their country that they name…

Press Conference: Freelance Journalism in Belarus | 18 September

The latest developments in Belarus raise strong concerns on media freedom and journalists’ working conditions. New updates to the National Media Law now prohibits journalists from contributing to any foreign media, as one of many restrictions introduced in June 2018. Cases such as “BelTA” case, increasing arrests, surveillance, libels and fines against editors and journalists are becoming a part of everyday working conditions in Belarus. The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ-IFJ) and the Belarus Association of Journalists (BAJ) invite you to a press conference to discuss the increasing threats against freelance journalists and state of media freedom in Belarus with journalists, experiencing the situation first hand. Speakers: Larysa Shchyrakova, a…

WPFD : Statement of solidarity with prosecuted Belarusian journalists

On the eve of the World Press Freedom Day 2018 (WPFD), the European Federation of Journalists expresses its solidarity with prosecuted journalists in Belarus. Unfortunately, the working conditions for journalists in Belarus cannot be regarded as free at all nowadays. Since 2015, the Belarusian official authorities have started a repression campaign against freelance journalists, who cooperate with foreign media. As a result of this campaign, the Belarusian journalists were fined 69 times for the alleged illegal production of mass media products in 2017. The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), which is a local member of EFJ, has always considered the…

Exploitation of freelance journalists is a threat to our democracy

By Renate Schroeder, Director of the European Federation of Journalists The gap between the incomes of the diminishing number of journalists with stable contracts and the growing band of freelances in Europe is getting bigger. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and its Freelance Expert Group (FREG) are appalled by this worsening situation. Such unfair pay practices cannot continue, since an increasing proportion of editorial content is written and produced by freelance journalists. This has an impact on the quality of journalism and, in the end, on democracy itself. That is why the EFJ has been supporting the ETUC’s PayRise…

Council of Europe Culture Committee asks governments to strenghten the status of journalists

The Culture Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has adopted a draft resolution asking European governments to do more to protect media professionals, revising laws if necessary, as they state that media freedom is a “key prerequisite for the existence and development of a democratic society”. At a meeting in Bucharest on 4 December 2017, PACE Committee recognised the precarious nature of the current journalism profession, and the threats to journalistic values and freedoms. In response, PACE Committee unanimously adopted the draft resolution, asking governments of member states to assume their obligation to protect media professionals, to…

European Court: holiday pay for freelancers and bogus self-employed

On 29 November 2017, the European Court of Justice ruled in favour of paid annual leave for self-employed and bogus self-employed workers. Now, anyone who has been bogus self-employed can demand additional payment for annual leave. Article 7 of Directive 2003/88/EC of the European Parliament and Council of 4 November, 2003, provides 4 weeks of paid annual leave for every worker, and the European Court has said that this must not be thwarted by employers. The case came to the European Court after a British case in which Mr King, retiring after 13 years of employment, sought to recover payment…