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Stringer blues

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Bob Smith, Jan 3, 2020.

  1. Bob Smith

    Bob Smith Member

    What is a way around the new law in California as a result of AB5, limiting stringers to 35 stories per year? Any advice?
  2. SoloFlyer

    SoloFlyer Well-Known Member

    To be clear, it's 35 stories per outlet.

    If you're writing more than that for an outlet, it's time for them to either add you on staff or at least pay you part-time for the amount of work you're providing.

    I believe there's also been talk that if you can set yourself up as an LLC or corporation, you might be able to get around it.

    But the idea behind this law is to force companies to pay up instead of abusing freelancers. If companies value your work so much, they should provide you with the appropriate salary and benefits.
    RonClements and wicked like this.
  3. Roscablo

    Roscablo Well-Known Member

    I don't know. That's not even a story a week. Is 35 a lot for one outlet? Maybe longer form for magazines or something of the like, but in my stringing days for a daily newspaper I certainly went over that with a single outlet and honestly would have never considered myself to be doing enough there to be doing part time. Sort of ebbed and flowed how often it was anyway. I know times have changed and who knows how you quantify anything any more, online, print, whatever, but 35 doesn't seem a lot in a daily or shorter publication sense (if those even exist any more!).
  4. SoloFlyer

    SoloFlyer Well-Known Member

    In my opinion, freelancing was best served as a way for longform magazine writers to contribute to multiple publications. Similar to how short story fiction authors and poets would submit their work to various outlets depending on the format or content.

    Daily publications took it and abused it. It happened throughout the country.

    This is the chickens coming home to roost in an industry in which major outlets are still trying to get by with $50 for a substantial story and Podunk places are paying a laughable $25.

    wicked likes this.
  5. Danwriter

    Danwriter Member

    The IRS rules around what constitutes a freelancer (a club I'm a lifetime member of) have been in place for years and are still applicable. What AB5 does is put the onus on the corporation to prove that the writer doesn't qualify for employee status. This would have been a great thing to have had in place 20 years ago when magazines and newspapers began putting those damned WMFH clauses in their contracts. Now, it's just ironic, since many journalists have been compelled to resort to ride-share driving to make ends meet, the very cohort that prompted AB5.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2020
  6. SFIND

    SFIND Well-Known Member

    That's a pipe dream. They'll choose to go without instead of adding a new position.
    Liut likes this.
  7. JimmyHoward33

    JimmyHoward33 Well-Known Member

    We have a retiree freelancer who averages about 2.5 stories a week. If we told her she has to come to the office to be paid part time because “we value her service” she’s tell us to pound sand. Some people actually do want to work at their own pace/location.
  8. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    At least in Rhode Island, where I used to live, you could be part-time and still not work at the office. I worked as a part-time cops and courts reporter - 25 hours a week, basically five hours a weekday to scoop up the daily logs. I'd pop in once or twice a week.
  9. SoloFlyer

    SoloFlyer Well-Known Member

    Why would she have to come into the office? Digital time cards exist. She can clock in if she knows she'll be working on a story. It'd be no different than someone working in retail.

    At times, the certainty of no work is better than being abused for low pay.
  10. JimmyHoward33

    JimmyHoward33 Well-Known Member

    Why would you pay someone hourly as opposed to per story if they werent working on site?
  11. SoloFlyer

    SoloFlyer Well-Known Member

    Reporters work away from the office and collect hourly pay all the time.
    sgreenwell likes this.
  12. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    If you're an employer, of course you don't want to pay hourly. If you're a reporter, well, hourly is usually better because it accounts for the actual time you spend on a story. It's not like editors volunteer to pay you extra because a game went to double overtime, or because the losing coach spent an extra 30 minutes in the locker room with their team, and so on. I'm not sure why on-site vs. off-site matters - It's 2020, almost everyone has the ability to file off-site. All full-time reporters did it at my last stop, because you wanted the copy into the editing pipeline ASAP.
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