Many science writers and journalists work as freelancers. However, the rates paid for their work have been stagnating, or even decreasing. In addition to poor rates, freelancers face various practices and expectations that hamper them in their work: waiting weeks for an editor to reply to a pitch, having to repeatedly chase a late or forgotten payment, or having a story fall through the cracks when there is a change in editors at a publication.
Freelancers make substantial contribution to the media, providing in-depth research, novel angles and specialist knowledge that staff journalists often don’t have time for. They often complement staff writers by providing fresh voices and diverse perspectives.
Maintaining a healthy pool of experienced and happy freelancers is critical for the diversity and vitality of science journalism. Unfortunately, freelancers are not always appreciated and supported as much as they could be.
ABSW members with input from international colleagues have drafted a manifesto which aims to highlight some of the common challenges that freelance science writers face, with the goal of improving their working conditions and wellbeing.