Friday, June 10, 2011

65% say they're doing same or more freelance work: Story Board online freelancers survey

The online freelancers' survey done by Storyboard, a joint venture of the Canadian Writers Group and the Canadian Media Guild (working together to organize freelancers) has been reported back in time for the National Magazine Awards, as promised. I hesitate to go into details, which you can do here. Why? Well, there is no indication of the number of responses (just percentages) or anything about them (where they're from, or anything about them). And, in light of that, I don't feel comfortable with comments about the effectiveness of individual editors. However, you can read and judge for yourself.
  • 65% said they are doing as much or more freelance work than a year ago (More: 25%; Same: 40%)
  • Paradoxically, Toronto Life is selected by respondents as one of the leading candidates for magazine of the year and in another half the respondents said it had been noticeably slipping or "losing its mojo". Go figure.
  • 58% felt that National Magazine Awards select the correct winners more often than not; occasionally 36.8%; only 5.3% felt they rarely got judging right



Anonymous Kim Pittaway said...

While I generally think it's a good idea for the team behind Story Board (or anyone else for that matter) to survey freelancers about their working conditions and impressions of the industry (though I share D.B.'s concern about reporting just percentages and not letting us know how many people actually responded), I think it shows staggeringly bad judgment to include a list of editors named "least effective" by anonymous respondents. It is, first of all, just plain mean. Secondly, doesn't it step awfully close to being libelous?

I've been on both sides of the desk. I strive to be a good editor and a good writer--but I know there are writers I worked with who think I was awful as an editor, and editors I've worked for who think I'm not so hot. Few of us are fantastic all of the time and with every co-worker. And sometimes a writer thinks an editor is "ineffective" because the writer is him or herself ineffective--and vice versa.

How would we, as freelance writers, feel about CSME putting up a survey that listed "least effective writers you've edited this year"? Not so happy, I'd suspect.

5:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Kim. When you look at the survey, it's obviously a small number of respondents. All we know about the "least effective" editors is that he/she managed to annoy one writer over the past year.

6:52 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second (and third and fourth) Kim's response about naming "ineffective" editors.

And to the just plain mean, I'd add the question of what purpose does it serve? What does ineffective even mean? This is such an absurdly useless and far too open-ended question to really have any value.

Without knowing anything about each situation, from a freelancer's perspective, this tells me nothing. So someone had a bad experience? Multiple bad experiences? Didn't like the editor personally? Maybe the editor slept with the respondent's husband/wife... You get the drift.

Anyway, not everyone is equally great at their jobs, but calling them out in a public forum in this manner is completely unwarranted.

Finally, this type of anonymous finger-pointing represents the very worst of this industry (2nd worst, actually - the level of comments on this blog can be pretty appalling) and does nothing to further relationships between editors and writers.

DB, I'd love to see a response from the folks behind Story Board on this. I, for one, am disgusted with both the Canadian Media Guild and the Canadian Writers' Group. Is this how they purport to "support" freelancers?

8:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point, Kim.

When I filled out the survey I declined to name a least-effective editor. So much is at play with every writer/editor relationship, and there are often other people (senior editors, publishers) calling the shots.

Anon #3

12:25 am  
Anonymous Story Board Editor said...

Hi all,

You are correct. It was a lapse in judgement to publish the results of that question, and we are going to remove them from the post.

The survey was intended to be a chance for freelancers to share their views on the magazine industry, and, overall, it was meant to be a fun exercise.

Including that question was unwise, but it was not our intention to engage in "finger pointing." We note in the results post that there were a small number of responses, and it is clear that they are one person's opinion.

Thank you for your comments.

11:00 am  

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