BY , Feb. 17, 2023, J-Source

About 20 journalists, editors, photojournalists and students convened at Toronto Metropolitan University on Feb. 3 at a gathering hosted by the Canadian Freelance Union and the United Photojournalists of Canada to consider strategies for securing improved working conditions, compensation and benefits for media freelancers.

While freelancing was once a manageable way to break into full-time roles, or to flexibly bring one’s expertise to a variety of outlets, “now we look at it as precarious work,” said Randy Kitt, media director at Unifor.

As conditions continue to tighten around the journalism labour market, many are increasingly pushed into often low-paid contract work or leaving the industry entirely. The looming spectre of AI, particularly around image production and copyright, raises flags for the future of freelance work.

UPoC, which was formed in 2020, helped negotiate the first pay increase for Globe and Mail photojournalists in decades. Nearly 30 per cent of Québec freelancers reported making minimum wage or less, according to a survey from the Association des journalistes indépendants du Québec, published in December.

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