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Tip Sheet Table of Contents

A Complete List of the Guides


FIRE Tip Sheets convey expert guidance to help media outlets and freelance reporters arrange viable contracts for public-interest investigations.


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Part I: Personal Media Insurance for Freelancers

Liability policies for freelancers


Protecting yourself: Media insurance demystified

Should a freelancer buy her own "media liability" insurance? The answer may surprise you


Should I buy my own insurance? 

You may not need personal insurance for the reason you think you do


Can You Afford a Policy? More on the cost of personal media insurance

$7,000 in premiums, $7,000 deductible—how it all adds up 


Buying in: The alluring idea of pooled insurance 

Can a “mutual risk pool” ever make insurance cheaper? 


Insecure Assets: Won't an LLC protect me?

Can my LLC help shield me? (Depends on what it's made of) 


Uncovered: What should I do if I can't afford personal insurance? 

Rule #1: Report only for outlets that indemnify you, if you don't have insurance 


The Back Up: If insured, should I insist that an outlet cover me too? 

Rule #1a: Report only for outlets that indemnify you, even if you have insurance 


Auxilliary Risk: Associated types of insurance for journalists 

Perils beyond the words on the page 


Part II: Securing an Outlet's Protection

Negotiating indemnification


On Your Side: When outlets do the right thing 

With a good story, you may have more options than you think


The Basics: Getting it in writing 

Ask and ask, and you may receive 


FIRE Glossary: Legalese made easier 

What the contract actually says 


The Art of the Ask: Requesting protection from an outlet 

How to talk about liability 


Realistic Vows: Making a safe contractual promise 

What a reporter should “warrant and represent” 


Part III: The Details: Contract language

The liability fine print


Red Light Greenlight: Reading a contract's liability terms

Overview: What to sign, what not to sign: Watching the indemnification signals


Basic Phrasing: Standard protective language 

The magic words: What indemnification looks like in writing


The Next Level: Optimum ("augmented") protection 

Bonus clause: To avoid having to contribute to a claim defense, request this language


If you have a personal policy: "Augmented" indemnification for the insured

Scenario 1: Indemnified against lawsuits, but with your own insurance as back-up


If you don’t have a policy: Augmented indemnification for the un-insured 

Scenario 2: Indemnified against lawsuits, without your own media insurance


Mutual Indemnification: Equal promises: What could go wrong? 

Beware of simply agreeing to protect one another—the devil’s in the legalese 


Term limits: How long does an outlet’s protection last? 

The story ran two years ago: What if someone sues now? 



Part IV: From an Outlet's perspective

For publishers, broadcasters


Doing it Right: The Smart Move of Protecting Freelancers  

Overview: Protecting freelancers isn't charitable or noble; it's savvy 


Why an Outlet Should Indemnify freelancers: #1: the common cause

Fair treatment of the freelancer brings little-known benefits to the public 


Why indemnify freelancers: #2: Business interests re-examined 

If you think limiting liability for freelance stories makes "business sense," look a bit closer


 Why protect freelancers: #3: Teamwork: the smart legal strategy 

Divided and conquered: The risk of splitting your defense team against a defamation suit 


Exploring the downside: Does adding a freelancer affect premiums? 

OK, maybe everybody benefits, but isn't there a cost? (Guess again)


The other side: So why don't outlets indemnify freelancers?

If it's so smart to do so, how come some outlets won't agree to protect reporters?


Outlet’s choice: Choosing insurance to protect freelancers 

The arcane world of insuring your freelancers, made plain



About the FIRE Tip Sheets

FIRE Tip Sheets highlight some of the key questions raised at a 2021 FIRE panel on freelancer liability. Future guides will address intellectual property, pay rates, and other key issues for freelancers. An annotated list of the complete FIRE Tip Sheets appears here

FIRE Tip Sheets are made available for educational and informational purposes only: They are not legal advice. FIRE makes no representation or warranty for any particular fitness of purpose and is not responsible for the effect of any reliance upon FIRE Tip Sheets or other information provided by FIRE. 

Primary sources:

FIRE Tip Sheets are meant to open a dialogue in the public interest. To help us improve them, please email info@firenewsroom.org, subject line "Tip Sheet feedback." To query or clarify any element of Tip Sheet for use in freelance investigative reporting, please follow instructions at Legal Consultancy.

FIRE Tip Sheets are made possible by support from Craig Newmark Philanthropies.

© Freelance Investigative Reporters and Editors, 2022