Category Archives: Musings

FC email subscriptions are moving to MailChimp

Hey folks. This move is long overdue and since I’m a one-woman show over here, I expect there to be a few bumps before I get it all sorted out. If you have any trouble with your subscription or things look weird, please let me know! You can reach me at mia [at] freelancecafe [dot] org. I’m also going to send out some test emails, so you might get a couple dupes today. As always, I welcome any and all feedback.

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AIR, PRNDI Announce Framework for Local Freelance Contributors

AIR and PRNDI have done some very important work to negotiate fair rates for indie producers working for local radio stations. They lay out their work in an upcoming webinar, Monday, Feb 24, 2pm ET. Sign up HERE. Info and links to great new resources below.Public radio stations and independent producers will now have guidance for negotiating rates to support creation of local stories, thanks to the efforts of a task force created by AIR and PRNDI last fall. AIR has also developed a new contract template designed expressly for station and freelancers. Together, these new resources support stations seeking to tap public media’s talent pool to strengthen their local position, and the interests of freelancers looking to expand their opportunities to contribute to public media outlets and reach new listeners.Many stations already rely on freelancers to add diversity, enhance their “sense of place,” fulfill grant requirements, or fill gaps in their schedules. A survey of newsrooms conducted as part of this initiative indicates the majority (85%) of respondents are working to strengthen the local identity of their stations. While, nearly half feel freelance content is important to their station and believe it will help their efforts to build local identity, most (71%) say their ability to acquire outside work is constrained by budget limitations. The average freelance acquisition budget of the respondents to AIR’s survey is $12,500/year with most (89%) commissioning 3-14 minute news features. The average spent annually on national programming for these stations is $608,500.The local rate schedule ( ) is modeled after the national standards first created by AIR in 2002 to set compensation based on the experience of a producer and the complexity of a story rather than a pay-per-minute fee. The new schedule lays out a sliding scale fee to account for the range of newsroom diversity across the system.The new contract template ( ) commissioned by AIR to accompany the rate schedule is designed to support negotiations of stations and producers as they set the terms and conditions for working together. AIR’s Guide to Fair Practices ( ) is another recommended resource available to all across the system.

PRNDI and AIR will present a webinar on Monday, February 24th at 2pmET.Reserve a spot by registering here:

Please note that space is limited. Do not register unless/until you can commit to attend.

The AIR/PRDNI task force was led by public radio reporter and former news director Susanna Capelouto. San Francisco-based Spencer W. Weisbroth, a business and non-profit attorney and AIR member with extensive experience working in public media, was commissioned by AIR to develop the contract template. Advisors included independent producers Karen Michel, Lu Olkowski, Jay Allison, and Katie Davis, consultant Mike Marcotte, PRPD President Arthur Cohen, and station-based staff Tanya Ott who serves as vice president of radio for Georgia Public Broadcasting, Sally Eisele, managing editor of public affairs for WBEZ, and Jim Gates, senior editor at KUOW and head of the station’s Program Venture Fund. AIR Executive Director Sue Schardt and PRNDI President George Bodarky, news director of WFUV in New York, also consulted on the final framework.

  • *****************Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI ( ) is a nonprofit professional association that exists to improve local news and information programming by serving public radio journalists. PRNDI educates, advocates, and organizes to promote high standards, ethical principles, and significant public service. PRNDI works to strengthen the skills, capacity, and professional position of news directors, and through them, strengthen public radio’s local news and public affairs efforts in ways that are embraced by audiences, station leaders, networks, and supporters.AIR is a vibrant international production network made up of 1000 public media journalists, documentarians, technicians, media entrepreneurs, and sound artists with a core expertise in independent audio production. The Boston-based organization identifies, cultivates, and deploys members to deepen understanding of and bring enlightenment to citizens worldwide. Its training programs and productions are defining and driving an expanding media landscape spanning digital/technology, broadcast, and street media platforms — challenging and inspiring other media-makers to join us at (
    AIR/PRNDI Station-Freelance Acquisition Guide:
    AIR Station-Freelance Contract Template:
    Guide to Fair Practices:
    NPR rates:


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Freelance Cafe highlighted on WAMC’s 51%

I recently spoke with WAMC’s Susan Barnett for her show 51% – The Women’s Perspective. She asked me about my freelancing experience and gave a nice shout out to Freelance Cafe. It was fun to be on the other side of the mic for a change! Listen to hear a bit about why I started FC and my thoughts on networking as an important part of making it as a freelancer.

This was 51% Episode 1220, broadcast on November 29 at 8pm and again on December 5 at 3pm.

Here’s a blurb about the show:

In America, women make up more than half the population. Worldwide, women are expected to outnumber men within the next fifty years. And every issue we face is one that affects us all.

Whether it’s the environment, health, our children, politics or the arts, there’s a women’s perspective, and 51% is a show dedicated to that viewpoint.

Host Susan Barnett talks to experts in their field for a wide-ranging, entertaining discussion of issues that not only fall into the traditional ‘women’s issues’ category, but topics that concern us all as human beings and citizens of the global community.

Tune to 51% weekly throughout the U. S. on public and community radio stations, some ABC Radio Network stations, Armed Forces Radio stations around the world and on the Internet.

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transition to

Thank you all so much for the great feedback on – I really appreciate it. So what I’m hearing is that you like the email subscription option and you’re much more likely to read an email than check an RSS feed. Many of you would like a daily summary of the posts, and on the whole, you think the website looks pretty good. Excellent! So I’m ready to make the leap.

Here’s how this is going to work. I don’t want to lose any of you, so I’m going to sign you all up for the email subscriptions myself. I’ll start with the folks who sent feedback and I’ll wait a week or so to make sure everything is working properly before I start adding the rest of you. Once I add your name to the subscribers list, you’ll get an email that looks like this:

Click on the link and you should be good to go. Once I see that you’ve subscribed, I’ll take you off the regular email list so you don’t get duplicate emails. Should you decide that the email subscription is not for you, you can unsubscribe using the link at the bottom of any email you receive from Freelance Cafe. Oh, and the email subscription service is automatically a daily digest. It basically takes all the posts from that day and sends them out in email form. I can’t figure out how to change the frequency, so if you want more regular updates, just check the website itself.

Should you wish to comment or ask a question about any of the posts, I encourage you to click through to the site and write your comments there. I believe any replies to the subscription emails will come to me, but I’d love to generate a bit more conversation on the site itself.

As always, please continue to forward on any relevant events, workshops, award/fellowship/job opportunities, resources, anything you’d like to share with your fellow freelancers. I absolutely depend on you all to keep this thing going. And please continue to send your feedback on the site itself. I really appreciate any advice/suggestions/etc..

Finally, in addition to the email subscription, all posts are forwarded to FC on Twitter and Facebook. So follow us, friend us, help spread the word. FC has gone all social media on your ass. 🙂

Thanks guys. Hope you like the new digs.

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seeking volunteer readers for Radio Reading Project

Hey folks. I don’t normally pass on this sort of thing but it seems like a very worthy project for folks with audio skills/equipment. Contact glrothman-“at”-verizon.netfor details. Best, Mia


A long-established nationally distributed radio reading service serving the visually impaired is seeking volunteers with good reading voices who have their own digital recording equipment, to record magazine and newspaper articles. The Radio Reading Project was known as In Touch Networks until budget cuts forced the closure of its studios at New York ’s Jewish Guild for the Blind. It continues to be heard, over special receivers, via more than 50 radio stations across the country and in hospital rooms around the New York City area.

Volunteers are asked to record at least one one-hour program a week, as two half-hour mp3 files, which would be FTP’d to a server.

If you’re interested, please contact Gordon at glrothman-“at”

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A Wonderful Outing

Thanks to everyone who showed up to give Freelance Café Founder, Mia Lobel a great Bay Area welcome back. It was a real blast. We had everything happening; engag

The Cafe Crowd enjoying conversations and drinks.

ing conversations, funny stories, and freelancers giving each other cool, useful tips.

I loved the fact that we had many media sections represented, including documentary film, radio, graphic design, and print.

One of the cool things about our monthly Café social outings is how it brings together so many friendly people from diverse backgrounds. We are all freelancers, but we’re also Bay Area residents engaged in enriching, interesting crafts.

At last Thursday’s get together, we all agreed that it was fantastic having Mia back, even for a quick visit. It was like she never left, and that’s a good feeling.

Anyhoo, we’ll keep you updated on our upcoming activities. Spring has been a great success, so far.

Keep up the good work freelancers!

Freelance Café

Mia enjoying her time with the Freelance Cafe Group
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MacArthur Foundation Funds The Moth Radio Hour

This is great news for writers and radio folks alike. Keep an eye out for more opportunities from The Moth! -Mia


The MacArthur Foundation Announces Support for The Moth Radio Hour from PRX

The Moth, a nonprofit organization dedicated to live storytelling, is thrilled to announce a two-year $200,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to produce The Moth Radio Hour.

Debuting in 2009 with five pilot episodes, The Moth Radio Hour was an instant success airing on over 200 public radio stations around the country. “The Moth Radio Hour is the realization of a ten-year long dream to bring The Moth to public radio. We have long felt that radio was the perfect medium for our stories to reach a wider audience, and we are grateful to the MacArthur Foundation for making this possible,” says Lea Thau, Executive & Creative Director of The Moth.

The radio series captures the energy and authenticity of live performance at The Moth and weaves it into a compelling hour of radio. Presented by PRX, the Public Radio Exchange, and produced by award-winning producer Jay Allison of Atlantic Public Media, ten new episodes will be available to public radio stations for broadcast in 2010.

With generous support from the MacArthur Foundation, The Moth is building on the success of the pilot season. “I love The Moth. It is elemental, even primitive, in its simplicity: One person stands up and tells a story to a crowd of eager listeners. The only thing missing is the cave and the fire. The only thing we add is a microphone,” says Producer Jay Allison.

Originally formed by the writer George Dawes Green as an intimate gathering of friends on a porch in Georgia (where moths would flutter in through a hole in the screen), and then recreated in a New York City living room, The Moth quickly grew to produce immensely popular events at theaters and clubs around New York City and later around the country.

“Public radio is powered by true stories that illuminate the human condition,” says Jake Shapiro, Executive Director of PRX. “The Moth introduces new dimensions through live performances as well as online participation.”

PRX first funded a sample hour of The Moth in 2007 and is now the exclusive distributor for the program on public radio.

The Moth 2010 series is available to public radio stations at beginning May 1.

About The Moth The Moth is a nonprofit organization with ongoing programs, all of which contribute their best stories to The Moth Radio Hour. The Moth Mainstage where celebrities appear alongside unique voices from all walks of life; The Moth’s StorySLAM competitions, which are open to all and rapidly expanding to cities across the country; and The Moth’s community outreach program, MothShop, which bring workshops to people whose stories would otherwise go unheard.

Two additional projects are launching in 2010: The Moth StoryLine invites people to pitch story ideas online or through a toll-free hotline; and the MothUP program helps groups around the country form their own Moth storytelling groups in their homes and submit the recorded stories from these evenings to The Moth.

About PRX PRX is an award-winning public media network focused on innovation at the intersection of technology and talent. The PRX platform is an open distribution marketplace connecting thousands of producers and local public radio stations, creating public radio’s largest archive of on-demand programs for broadcast and digital use.

About Jay Allison Jay Allison is an independent broadcast journalist and Executive Director of Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. With APM, he co-founded PRX,, and the Cape and Islands public radio stations. Jay was the curator and producer of This I Believe on NPR, and has made hundreds of documentaries and features for national broadcast. He is the recipient of five Peabody Awards and CPB’s Edward R. Murrow Award for outstanding contributions to public radio.

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Neo Journalism in Oakland

Is Oakland ready for it’s close up?

These days it seems there’s no shortage of news websites or blogs devoted to covering all things Oakland. In the last couple of years we’ve seen Oakland North come aboard, the launch of Oakland Local, The OakBook, and cool sites like A Better Oakland.

Old scribes like the New York Times are falling all over themselves trying to cover Oakland and the Bay Area, and even the yet-to-be launched The Bay Citizen promises to devote key resources to the city.

Last night, I stopped by the official launch party of OaklandSeen, a radio and news blog project put together by prominent Oakland citizen, Aimee Allison.

Not too long ago, Oakland was a dead zone for journalism. The Tribune had moved out of its iconic headquarters and the Chronicle only dropped in when there was a shooting or social unrest.

But with the demise of traditional print journalism, comes new opportunities for media outlets willing to chuck the old way and come up with a new plan.

What many of the new Oakland news organizations have in common is a grassroots feel and a promise to cover more than just crime and city hall. Also, reflecting the diversity of the city, almost all of these new organizations are run, in part, by women or journalists of color.

The days of just seeing news about murder, school board meetings, and ribbon cutting events in Oakland seem to be, thankfully, over.

I’ll leave aside the issue of providing living wages for writers, photographers, and radio folks for another time.

Instead, for now, I’ll celebrate this golden age in Oakland journalism.

–Jennifer Inez Ward

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Corporation for Public Broadcasting Launches New Local Journalism Initiative

Lots of hiring is promised at the stations that received this funding. Seems like a step in the right direction for revitalizing local media.


For Immediate Release March 25, 2010

Corporation for Public Broadcasting Launches New Local Journalism Initiative

Regional Collaborations to Counter Decline of Local Journalism

Digital Public Media Platform to Support Innovation

Washington, DC — The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) today announced funding for a major journalism initiative that will increase original local reporting capacity in seven regions around the country, and a planning project to develop an open information architecture to harness the collective power of the public media network.

CPB is funding the creation of seven Local Journalism Centers (LJCs), combining CPB and participating stations’ resources for a ground-breaking new approach to newsgathering and its distribution. The Centers will form teams of multimedia journalists, who will focus on issues of particular relevance to each region; their in-depth reports will be presented regionally and nationally via digital platforms, community engagement programs and radio and television broadcasts.

The LJC initiative builds on CPB’s long-standing commitment to journalism and its ongoing funding of public media news and public affairs content and initiatives, including Project Argo, a pilot effort funded jointly with the Knight Foundation to enable a dozen NPR and PBS stations to expand their reporting and increase their expertise on topics of local relevance.

“The Local Journalism Centers will enhance public media’s ability to meet the information needs of local communities at a time when access to high quality, original reporting is declining,” Patricia Harrison, the CEO and President of CPB said. “Public media has long provided independent and in-depth coverage of local issues and public policy. The need for that coverage is even greater today, and we have a responsibility to ensure that journalism can continue to thrive and serve the needs of our democracy.

“These radio and television stations are locally owned and operated and work in partnership with other community-based organizations,” Ms. Harrison explained. “Working together with stations across a region, along with emerging new digital journalism organizations, they can make a significant contribution to news gathering and distribution, which is critical to the information health of these communities.”

“In a time when newspapers and other media organizations are cutting back or disappearing altogether, public media is strengthening its commitment to journalism,” said PBS President and CEO Paula A. Kerger. “We’re putting our innovative spirit and strong local and national infrastructure to work for the American people in new ways – filling gaps in news coverage and using new platforms to ensure everyone has access to the most trusted source for in-depth reporting, analysis and investigative journalism. PBS is proud to collaborate with CPB, NPR, our member stations and emerging digital journalism organizations across the country to transform community engagement and information.”

In addition, CPB also announced funding for the Public Media Platform, a project administered by NPR, in partnership with PBS, APM, PRI and PRX. This coalition of public media leaders will develop a prototype for a flexible common platform to support public media innovation and collaboration. The ultimate goal is to collect, distribute, present and monetize digital media content efficiently, allowing producers and stations to devote their resources to reporting, content production and community engagement.

Vivian Schiller, President and CEO of NPR, said, “These two initiatives represent the twin paths that public media must travel – expanded original news reporting, and state of the art tools and technology to get that content into the hands of more people. CPB’s investments in these two innovative programs ultimately serve those goals, and the interests of the American people.”

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Attention all freelancers seeking HEALTH CARE

Important message from the Freelancer’s Guild. This is BIG! -mia



In the upcoming months, the Guild’s Freelancer unit will be negotiating a contract with a major health care provider that will offer rates far lower than what you could get on the open market as an individual.

It is vital that before we sit down to negotiate, we obtain the largest possible membership through your sign-ups because that membership size in turn will affect the amount of the annual rate unit that members pay.

So now is the time for any of you who are freelancing and facing the prospect of no benefits, expensive benefits or loss of benefits to join the unit so we have the largest possible group and thereby win the least costly and best possible health care plan for you.

Maybe you have health coverage for a few more months — if you were laid off by The Chronicle — or maybe you still are covered by your parents’ policy if you are a journalism student who is about to graduate. But if that coverage is due to end anytime soon, you are exactly the people who should be joining the freelance unit now so we can get a great health policy for you.

Along with the upcoming health plan, here are some of the benefits provided by the freelance unit for the fee of $144 a year:

College scholarships of $3,000 each for the 2010-2011 school year for members and their family members. Winners, selected in a lottery drawing, also will receive second-year scholarships of the same amount contingent upon satisfactory academic accomplishment. Part-time scholarships are also available. $500 for families that open a new 529 college savings plan. Juried press pass eligibility.

Free membership for two weeks — long enough to learn some new programs or skills.

Membership in the Bay Media Federal Credit Union, which features low- cost loans, high-yield savings, and safe, secured deposits, competitive rates on IRA/Health Savings Accounts and (HSA)/Education Savings Accounts.

Union Plus, which offers mortgage assistance, discounts on legal counsel, tax services, car rentals, prescription drugs, electronics, and more, a low-cost credit card — and a 10 percent discount on AT&T service — great for those who use iPhones!

Free admission to monthly seminars on topics of value to freelancers, from filing taxes to pitching a non-fiction book to driving up traffic to your Web-based work.

You will become part of a group that advocates for better conditions for freelancers, promotes high standards in an age where journalism quality is deteriorating and allows members help one another deal with the hurdles of self-employment.

Please consider joining today. Log onto and click on “Join Us.” Questions? Call Rebecca at 510-472-3024.

In solidarity, Rebecca Rosen Lum, Unit Chair Susan Sward, member, Guild Freelancers

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