The media landscape is going through fundamental change. To help level the playing field for freelance journalists, MEAA has developed a specialist suite of professional services as part of dedicated membership category: Freelance Pro.
In addition to what all our MEAA freelance members receive, Freelance Pro membership offers:
• Professional indemnity and public liability insurance
• Contract advice
• Media access card
• Freelance Pro trustmark
• Accredited training in MEAA’s Journalist Code of Ethics and the latest developments in media law
In a fragmented media landscape, it is becoming increasingly important to stand out as a legitimate practitioner of our craft. This is true whether you are a feature writer, specialist trade writer, reporter, blogger, multimedia designer, photographer, video journalist, or working in any other aspect of our industry.
MEAA believes that self-regulation by journalists and media professionals is the best way to ensure those who practise our craft operate at the highest ethical and professional standards. As the union and industry advocate for Australia’s journalists, MEAA launched Freelance Pro so freelance journalist members of MEAA can demonstrate their high standards with a specialist banner under which they can work and market themselves.
As well as gaining access to services to support your business, Freelance Pro members of MEAA will also be required to accredit their knowledge of the MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics and the latest developments in media law with us. By accrediting your professional standards, you will gain exclusive access to a new trustmark that you can use on your websites, blogs and business cards to market your commitment to our profession’s standards.
Freelance Pro members are required to do an online, self-guided course on the MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics. You will need to have done a refresher course in Australian media law within the past five years or undertake an at-cost course available through the Walkley Foundation.
Through this accreditation process, you will not only gain access to improved specialist services for freelancers, you will also be demonstrating your commitment to ethical and professional journalism.
As a MEAA member, you are already covered with journey insurance which protects you if you are injured while travelling to and from work. Workers Compensation no longer provides workers with this type of cover in all states, which makes MEAA’s new Journey Protection Insurance an essential. For freelance journalists, this type of cover will be particularly beneficial. MEAA’s journey insurance includes these benefits:
• Weekly benefits for injury resulting in temporary total disablement; and
• Weekly benefits for injury resulting in temporary partial disablement
• $500 for injury resulting in fractured bones
• $500 for injury resulting in loss of teeth or dental procedures
• Up to $1000 personal vehicle excess waiver, including any claims for repairs falling under the excess will still have a maximum amount of $1000, and up to $500 for any cumulative loss of no claim allowance not otherwise recoverable as a result of loss or damage to insured member’s personal vehicle.
For Freelance Pro members, MEAA offers two additional forms of cover to protect yourself and your freelance journalism business. Feedback from members and the broader industry tells us that publishers are increasingly demanding freelance journalists have professional indemnity insurance. Using our strength of numbers, we can offer Freelance Pro members this insurance at well-below market rates.
As a Freelance Pro member, you can receive protection worth up to $1 million for professional indemnity (including against defamation and civil negligence claims). Freelance Pro also includes public liability cover of up to $1 million. If you opt for this coverage, these insurance products will be part of your membership fees, for just $4.39 a week extra.
For members who need extra public liability cover, there is a further option to take out a top-up policy for up to $10 million or $20 million. This will cost from $300 a year, depending on your circumstances.
Details of the multimedia professional indemnity and public liability insurance are available here, or from MEAA Member Central by calling (toll-free) 1300 65 65 13.
MEAA is stepping up its ability to give freelance members contract advice and assistance with claims. MEAA lobbies government, business and the political world so that professional freelance journalists have similar access to decision-makers as their salaried colleagues working for large media organisations.
Negotiating contracts successfully – and ensuring they are enforced – is a central part of freelance life. MEAA’s industrial team can give you advice on your contracts and follow-up with publishers if they breach your contract or fail to pay you.
MEAA has published standard freelance commissioning terms, a model contract if you will, from which you can start negotiating. Of course most publishers will not agree to all the terms, but the document sets out a best-practice document from which to start so that you can determine what’s important to you and negotiate your position constructively. And it’s a smart business tool that can be used as a commissioned job sheet so there are no misunderstandings later on.
• The MEAA Freelance Journalist standard freelance commissioning terms.
• The Explanatory Guide to the MEAA Freelance Journalist standard freelance commissioning terms.
Many freelancers find that gaining access to the corridors of power, boardrooms and politicians’ offices is harder for them than their salaried colleagues in the mainstream media. Our Freelance Pro members’ Media Access card backs you as a professional member of the working media.
MEAA can assist you in accreditation for events and in gaining access to business, government and politicians. As traditional news rooms shrink, the role of freelance journalists in holding to account those in power is growing ever more important. MEAA will back you through your Media Access card and through any correspondence you may need to back your role as a journalist.
A trustmark helps demonstrate your legitimacy as a member of the working media. Only Freelance Pro members will be able to use this mark, which will be a further sign of your professionalism, ethics and integrity. Publishers – and the general public – will know that you understand the MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics and have had training in media law. It is a symbol of your ongoing practical commitment to the highest standards of journalism and the trustmark can be used to market you and your business.
Freelance Pro members will be required to complete our online course on the MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics and display knowledge of Australian media law. And of course, like all our members, you always have access to the Walkley Foundation professional development program at greatly reduced MEAA member rates. The Walkleys’ training course details can be found here: walkleys.com/training
MEAA continues to offer networking and conference opportunities (with deep discounts) to freelance members. MEAA continues to conduct lobbying and campaigning on freelance pay rates, rights and press freedom. MEAA is stepping up its efforts to collectively bargain on behalf of freelancers using the authority granted to it by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission. Freelance members will continue to have access to Walkley Foundation activities (including the Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism, the Freelancer of the Year, the Young Journalist of the Year).
Most importantly, the Freelance Pro category allows freelance members to play a direct role in developing the broader freelance community into a powerful force of creative professionals working in the media industry.
If you are an existing MEAA freelance member you can easily upgrade your freelance membership to the Freelance Pro category. If you are not yet a MEAA member, it’s easy to join MEAA as a Freelance Pro member. Click here to join online. If you prefer, you can call MEAA Member Central on 1300 65 65 13 to discuss Freelance Pro or any other membership matters.