Defector Announces Principles for Freelancers

The Freelance Solidarity Project is excited to present a unilateral announcement with Defector’s editorial collective, which outlines a set of shared principles for freelance digital media workers. The complete document can be reviewed on Defector’s website. The document makes transparent the standards that will create an equitable, professional relationship between all kinds of digital media workers — including but not limited to writers, researchers, transcribers, photographers, artists, video producers, and/or audio producers — and the online news publication. Defector will share these guidelines with all its freelancers and keep them publicly available.

Some highlights from the announcement include:

  • Standard base rates that all freelance digital media workers can negotiate above if desired. The base rates are as follows: 
    • Longer essays and reported pieces will be paid a minimum of $1,000
    • Shorter pieces will be paid a minimum of $500
    • For audio and podcast work, producers/editors will be paid a minimum day rate of $400 
    • Standard rates and other conditions for photographers, video producers & engineers, illustrators, and other media workers will be posted as Defector determines its needs for such freelance services, in collaboration with the National Writers Union. 
  • A graduated fee schedule: 
    • Upon acceptance of a first draft or product, Defector will issue the 50% of the negotiated rate immediately. Upon publication of the freelancer’s contribution, Defector will pay the remaining 50% of the negotiated rate within thirty days. 
    • If Defector chooses to kill an assignment after two rounds of revisions, the publication will issue an additional payment of 25% of the negotiated rate. In the event an assignment is accepted or commissioned by an editor, and is approved for publication by both the freelancer and the editor, and still does not run: Defector will pay the freelancer 100% of the negotiated rate. 
  • A grievance procedure with the National Writers Union that will be made available to freelancers.

In December 2021, a representative from the National Writers Union will contact the Defector editorial collective and a group of Defector freelancers to set up a meeting for reviews and revisions to this announcement.

This announcement represents both the long-standing traditions of The National Writers Union, and the future of organizing freelance media workers. Recently, The Intercept also put forward a unilateral announcement, which was done in collaboration with the NWU and frequent contributors from The Intercept. As a distinct division within the NWU, the Freelance Solidarity Project is committed to setting and raising standards for all freelance digital media workers. Together with our members and in solidarity with other unions and all workers, we will continue to organize for better, fairer protections across the industry.

If you would like to join the Freelance Solidarity Project (NWU), click here.