New Agreements for Investigative Freelancing
A discussion on freelancer liability
Too many freelance investigative journalists are asked to sign indemnity clauses that burden them with legal liabilities for sensitive stories. Even a frivolous lawsuit over a bulletproof investigation can wreak utter havoc with the freelancer's life and finances.
Yet that's the option many publishers and broadcasters are offering.
A prudent freelancer may consider: Why not just write feature stories?
As it turns out, there's an alternative. With a little savviness about contracts, unaffiliated reporters actually can protect themselves enough to contribute sensitive investigations in the public interest, as a growing number of outlets and freelancers are showing.
We convened Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein, former Bloomberg News Global Media Counsel Charles Glasser, freelance investigative reporter Alexandria Bordas, and FIRE executive director Laird Townsend for a lively roundtable discussion on legal liabilities and freelance contracts.
The event featured decades worth of tips, tactics, and hard-won insight from every angle of freelance journalism—and the unveiling of two new tools to advance the field: the FIRE Contract Principles and FIRE Contract Template.
On hand were freelance journalists—and the editors, producers, publishers, and broadcasters who work with them.
The discussion took place on September 28, 2021, and a recording is available here.
For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, using "Panel recording" in the subject line.
For panelists' bios and more on FIRE, see below.