Freelance Legal Liabilities

Monika Bauerlain

Monika Bauerlein, CEO of Mother Jones, spoke at FIRE's September 28 panel.

Collective solutions on the horizon

What a panel!  

Thanks to four trenchant speakers and roughly 130 registrants for “Freelance Contracts: a Public-interest Roundtable,"  FIRE now has fresh insights and tools to solve one of the field's most important problems—legal vulnerabilities for freelance investigative reporters. 

It also has a new mandate to do so. The diverse audience for the September 28 event—editors, publishers/broadcasters, funders, and of course freelancers—identified an urgent need to solve liability and other contractual issues in the field. 

Their energy has bolstered FIRE's conviction that this work matters—and is possible.  

Please stay tuned as we sort through the torrent of questions and comments generated at the event, which will be instrumental in shaping next steps for the initiative.  

For now, here are the four top takeways of the panel:

  1. Protecting freelancers with full indemnification is not only good for journalism and the public interest, but also is smart business and legal strategy.   
  2. Freelancers are hungry for model contract language and expertise to aid their negotiations.  
  3. Outlets are often just as hungry to help—and often unaware of how much their current contracts paralyze freelancers, or how easily they can be remedied.  
  4. Freelancers want to help publishers and broadcasters elevate their standards for fair & equitable treatment of freelancers—something FIRE has already helped happen

What you can do:  

  • Watch the recording by filling out this quick form, which helps us understand more about the landscape of legal liabilities for freelancers.  
  • Share this news far & wide to advance this conversation as much as possible through the industry. 
  • Read the newly unveiled FIRE Contract Principles and let us know any candidates for signing—outlets or funders you think already practice this pledge. 
  • Check out the new FIRE Contract Template, free to download with just a quick form to request access. 
  • Be in touch, whatever your role in journalism, with any questions, ideas about how we can work together, or related resources to recommend. 

And of course, please refer any freelancers who might need contractual assistance to FIRE’s pro bono Legal Consultancy

All these initiatives and the event itself, made possible by a generous grant from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, serve to expand FIRE's flagship gratis services: the two-hour Reporting Consultancy, and the wrap-around Virtual Newsroom, with up to $12,500 in grant funding. 

To help support all of FIRE’s offerings, please consider making a donation

Thanks and best wishes, 

Hilary Niles 

FIRE Freelance Program Coordinator  

P.S. FIRE is now on Twitter! Give us a follow at @FIREnewsroom, and thanks :)