Monday, July 18, 2011

Freelance writers come together to form national organization

Freelance writers working in the Philippines are being paid an average of P1,000 for articles that come out in newspapers, with some broadsheets paying as low as P400 and P700 per story. Magazine publishers pay their freelancers an average of P1,500 per feature article. Other publications even require at least 3 local resource persons to be interviewed per feature story. These are just some of the findings that came on the heel of a backyard survey conducted by Ime Morales among her freelance writer contacts. Morales herself is a freelance writer who has been writing for magazines, broadsheets, corporate and institutional clients for close to 20 years now.
“Sadly, the fees I used to get when I started in the early 90s is still, believe it or not, almost the same as what they give now,” Morales says. “If you will take into account the expenses that go into producing a feature—transportation expenses when going to interviews, taxes, electricity, cellphone load, internet access; plus payment for the actual labor that goes into conducting these interviews, transcribing, writing, and editing—how much would actually be left from, say, a P1,500 fee?” she asks.
The issue of low fees, as well as other problems like delayed payments, one-sided contracts, unreasonable requirements, and other unfair practices are what prompted the initiative to form a national organization of Filiipino freelance writers. At present, there is no known freelance writers’ organization that might uphold the rights of this particular group of writers. If the organization happens, one of its main objectives would be to set a rate menu for all kinds of writing jobs to serve as a guide for all writers.
Another aim would be to make opportunities equally available to all freelance writers. The organization plans to establish linkages between its member writers and some industry players. It will also work to raise quality of output coming from members. This way, it is not only the writers who will benefit, but also the clients they work with. The group could also provide legal help to writers who might be needing this. Other objectives and initiatives will be discussed and drafted in the next forum.
 An initial consultation meeting on this matter was held last June 29 in UP Diliman. It was attended by Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society, Inc. (FILCOLS) Executive Director Alvin Buenaventura, Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) Director Joey Baquiran, Beverly Siy from FILCOLS, and freelance writers Ime Morales and Noemi Pamintuan-Jara. FILCOLS and UMPIL both support the effort and encourage all freelance writers to take the next step: to convene as a bigger group and discuss all the pressing issues, then take concrete action to establish the organization.
This organizational meeting will happen sometime this August in Quezon City. Key persons or representatives from the Filipino freelance writers’ community will discuss pertinent issues. UMPIL and FILCOLS will be present to make presentations, and agreements in this meeting will be the basis of the by-laws that will be drafted prior to registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
 “The organization cuts across genres, meaning it will be open to all kinds of Filipino writers who are working as freelancers for a fee: translators, documenters, researchers, technical writers, advertising copywriters, scriptwriters, magazine feature writers, editors, etc.,” Morales explains. She further adds that it would be ideal if all sectors can be represented during the organizational meet in August.
Freelance writers who would like to take part in the organizational meeting may signify their intention to sit in this meeting by getting in touch with Ime Morales through email (blubitel@yahoo.com) or mobile phone (0917-9378617). Interested parties who want to obtain copies of the minutes from the consultation meeting, and those who may have comments and questions may send their messages through the same channels.
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For more information, please call Ime Morales through 09179378617 or send her a message through blubitel@yahoo.com

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