In a post for the newly-launched collaborative news site OpenFile.ca, journalist Craig Silverman writes about why freelance journalists are more important today than ever before.
“Journalism has long been home to the ranks of the self-employed. Today, more than ever before, newsrooms are turning to freelancers for writing, photography, video and other services and content. Rather than seeing this simply as a symptom of the recession, we at OpenFile consider it part of a fundamental shift in the world of work — a shift that media organizations need to recognize and embrace.
“Take a look at the numbers. In 1981, a little over 1.4 million Canadians were self-employed, according to Statistics Canada. As of last year, that number had grown to more than 2.7 million. Not surprisingly, the number of self-employed folks spiked during the recent recession.”
He goes on to explain that the old style of journalism (“an editorial job-for-life) is changing in favour of short contracts that take journalists from one gig to another. That’s the philosophy behind OpenFile.ca:
“We kept the new world of news and work in mind as we developed the OpenFile beta. Rather than hire a large staff of reporters, we’re going to work with freelancers who live in neighbourhoods all over the city and who have varied areas of expertise and interest. This enables us to match the story with the right writer, rather than just assigning it to the closest warm body.”
OpenFile.ca, which launched on Monday, aims to fill the gap in traditional news coverage by focusing on local content and encouraging members to submit story ideas. It is the brainchild of Wilf Dinnick, a Toronto-born journalist who has worked for CBC television, Global, ABC and CNN.
In their ‘about us’ section, the site offers an explanation:
“We are an independent online newsgathering organization dedicated to local journalism. OpenFile’s journalists and editors research, write, and share stories that matter to Torontonians. We embrace a collaborative approach to news by encouraging members of the community to participate in the editorial and reporting processes, thereby helping us expand the depth and breadth of the conversation.
“We try to be open-minded without being too earnest. We promise not to be snarky. (Well, not too snarky.) We want to hear what you have to say about what we’ve written and what we should write about next. We want to investigate the stories that matter to you; the ones the mainstream media doesn’t have the time or resources to cover. And while we can’t cover everything, we’ll do our best — and you can help by directing us towards what matters most to you.”
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