Introducing The 2020-2021 Freelance Solidarity Project Organizing Committee

Starting October 23rd, 2020, the Freelance Solidarity Project has a new organizing committee. Congratulations to the ten members who were elected by the membership!

The committee is listed below, and will hold their positions for a one-year term. If you are not yet a member of the Freelance Solidarity Project and would like more information on how to join, click here.

Susie Armitage

Pronouns: She/Her

I’m a freelance writer and podcast producer based in New York. I also teach journalism to undergrads at Hunter College, where I am a member of CUNY’s Professional Staff Congress. I volunteer with a program called Empowerment Avenue, helping incarcerated writers develop their stories and connect with editors to publish their work.

My initial foray into freelancing was difficult and isolating, but things improved once I found a network of other freelancers to commiserate, share intel, and strategize with. I began to expect more and feel more ownership over my career. With staff jobs continuing to disappear, freelancing is increasingly the path for many of us. As someone working in journalism education, I am committed to building fairer, more sustainable conditions for young people coming into the profession.

I believe it is critical to prepare them for the legal and financial realities of freelancing while also working to improve them. I’m relatively new to union organizing but want to do what I can to normalize and expand it among freelancers and within newsrooms. Earlier this year I participated in FSP’s Campus Outreach working group; we organized a panel about freelancing for Hunter students.

Olive Rae Brinker

Pronouns: She/Her

Hi, I’m Olive Rae Brinker and I’m a 24 year old artist and writer from New Jersey! I’m the cartoonist of Rae the Doe, a syndicated comic for King Features, about a transgender deer suffering from anxiety and a deep love for puns. I’ve been doing freelance art work through Patreon, commissions, or for King Features, for about three years now. I once made Yoko Taro, the game director of NieR Automata, say “I’m not sure what’s going on.” That’s got to count for something.

I’m running for the organizing committee of the Freelance Solidarity Project because joining FSP has been one of the best things that has happened to me in recent times. I’ve only been a member for about a year, but in that time I feel like I’ve learned a lot, developed a deep sense of solidarity that I hadn’t known before, and started to love volunteering in any way that I can. From taking a trip up to Albany with Larry and some other NWU members to lobby with the UAW (when we were still a part of it) for progressive bills that would improve the lives of workers and homeless people, to spending the day at a book fair preaching the good word of freelance solidarity to anyone who will listen (and sign up for our email list)- I just want to help out.

Basically, joining FSP has been great for me, so I want to pay back that favor by helping out the organization in any way that I can. So that’s why I’m running for organizing committee. Anyway, yeah, have a great day! Thank you for reading all this!

Marian Bull

Pronouns: She/Her

I’m a freelance writer working primarily in food media, and I’m also a part-time ceramic artist. Over the past eight years, I’ve worked on staff at Food52, Saveur, and GQ, and spent a cumulative three years freelancing. I’ve written for the New York Times, New York Magazine, The New Republic, and a variety of other legitimate and illegitimate publications. I have been a member of FSP since 2019.

Over the past year of my involvement, the Freelance Solidarity Project has been one of the few things — occasionally the only thing — that gives me hope about our industry. As a member of the organizing committee, I want to help strengthen and focus that hope for our community at large. Specifically, I’d like to expand and support our member outreach to make for a broader membership base; collaborate with other media shops to codify freelancer protections and build solidarity; and events that balance education and morale boosting.

As a former editor and a current freelancer, I have a strong understanding of the ways that publications fail freelancers because I’ve seen it from both sides. I have long wanted to become more formally involved in FSP, and am eager for the chance to help support and connect our members and fight for our rights as workers. If elected, I promise to always prioritize the experiences and needs of our members and find ways to make our union more activated, because I believe that an engaged union is a strong union. I am deeply grateful for this group of people and want to serve it.

I was also the social chair of the UNC-Chapel Hill chapter of Alpha Chi Omega from 2008-2009 and am eager to bring my event planning skills to FSP 🙂

Nora Caplan-Bricker

Pronouns: She/Her

I’m a writer in Boston, Massachusetts, and a full-time freelancer since 2015. In that time, I’ve given up on ever receiving a few payments I was owed; embarrassed myself by resorting to begging for some other, egregiously late ones; and stayed silent, to my shame, on too many occasions when I was afraid to protest unfair treatment. Being a freelancer has often made me feel powerless, but I believe in our collective ability to make media a more just industry.

As a member of the OC, I would hope to help expand our organizing efforts beyond New York City. As a freelance writer based in Boston, Mass., I’m grateful for the solidarity I’ve found within FSP, but also hungry for comradeship in my own region. I suspect many media workers outside NYC feel the same, including current and possible future FSP members. As part of the “Outreach Outside NYC” working group, I’ve begun organizing freelancers in Boston and encouraging them to join the union—an effort that I hope FSP will also undertake in other cities. The outreach working group has discussed how we might make inroads beyond NYC, and one of my priorities as a member of the OC would be to bring the ideas we’ve talked about to fruition. For example, we’ve floated the possibility of a member directory that, if members consented to be included, would make it easier for freelancers in the same city—or people who contribute to the same publication, regardless of where they live or who they know—to find one another and begin building power around their shared needs. I’d also like to work on making the “Freelance Isn’t Free” act, which protects New York freelancers’ right to be paid on-time, a model for such guarantees in other parts of the country.

I believe FSP can improve working conditions for freelancers everywhere, and I would love to further solidify our scope as a national organization as a member of the next OC.

Ryan Goldberg

Pronouns: He/Him

I’m a freelance reporter (mostly print and online, with the occasional TV broadcast or documentary) of a dozen years who lives in Brooklyn and is very passionate about labor issues in our industry and ensuring that we’re treated fairly and ethically. I was a NWU member before FSP was created, and as part of FSP I’ve been on the political education subcommittee. I’m also active in my local community, volunteering for my co-op board and food co-op, as well as the Brooklyn Bird Club as its newsletter editor and trip leader.

Until I joined FSP, I spent most of my years as a reporter isolated from other freelancers, and solidarity and information-sharing often remained heartbreakingly elusive. FSP has opened that door for me, and I’m running because I feel committed to advancing our interests and sharing what I’ve learned with others after all those years in the field. I believe we can only raise standards for all freelance media workers when we act collectively. I’ve also been taken by the camaraderie and enthusiasm of the group and would like to help continue the incredible work begun by the inaugural OC. Having worked in a number of media sectors, I think I can bring some of the good labor practices I’ve encountered, say in film and TV, to FSP’s negotiations with digital-media outlets. I’m interested in freelancer contracts and how they’ve changed and how we can improve them, and I’m interested in working to establish codes of conduct for the staffers we deal with. I can also be a useful source on what to do if our members face legal issues in their reporting; having been sued by an angry subject who was backed by Peter Thiel, I feel like my takeaways from that experience shouldn’t go to waste.

Rob Kaiser-Schatzlein

Pronouns: He/Him

Hi everyone, I’m Rob Kaiser-Schatzlein, a freelance journalist from Minnesota who lives in New York City. I write about economic life, New York City, poverty, and books. The other half of my work life is in the art world. I work temporary jobs in museums and galleries, primarily at MoMA PS1, where I am a shop steward for the union.

I’ve been involved with FSP since 2018, when it was just a discussion group at WGAE. I am excited with what it has become and want to contribute to its continuation. To that end, I am interested in putting on events, recruiting and retaining new members, as well as a help out with any other project. In the past year I’ve worked with others on the Welcoming committee, the Communications committee, and have been involved with the Political Education reading group. I’ve found the reading group particularly valuable. It has been a great source of education and community for me, as an alienated and moderately lonely freelancer.

On a basic level, I enjoy engaging with people and––from more other organizing experience––I’ve found talking directly with rank and file membership is not only an effective way to figure out what to do, but incredibly effective in making people feel like the union is worth their time. Thanks for considering me!

Steven Louis

Pronouns: He/Him

I’m a 27-year-old writer based in Los Angeles. My work has been published in The Fader, The Ringer, The Chicago Tribune and a few other outlets. I’m organizing out here w/ NOLYMPICS-LA, DSA, Ground Game (Action Network) and a few electoral campaigns. Day job is at Rotten Tomatoes, the movie review website!

Cheers & solidarity, everyone! Since joining FSP last year, I’ve been involved with the California subcommittee effort and am looking to help FSP expand here in Hollywood. I’m eager to help Nora in coordinating the member outreach committee, and if elected to the Organizing Committee, I’ll do everything I can to offer a perspective beyond our New York membership. Again, I’m very excited to organize writers, animators and producers that would fit our project out here…Hollywood is a labor town, and we can definitely seize on that. Hoping to help the FSP mission however I can, and I definitely plan on being more involved as quarantine rages on.

Tyler Newman

Pronouns: He/Him

Tyler Newman is a freelance journalist based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. His work spans from the west coast cannabis trade to the role of Lebanon in middle-eastern geopolitics. He joined the National Writer’s Union in January of 2020 and has actively sought any opportunities to help further the organization’s impact and scope since. Tyler actively promotes the interests of journalists, freelancers and staffers, through his work with the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) freelance committee and the Minnesota SPJ.

With the independence and flexibility that freelancing allows him, Tyler serves as a counselor with Lutheran Social Service’s Portland House, a community reentry facility, where he assists inmates mostly from the Minnesota Department of Corrections, as they transition back into their lives.

Most of my work in journalism has been done as a freelancer. Freelancing allows me to make a living working in social services while using the input of my community to inform my decision about what stories to follow and how to cover them. I’ve cultivated a lot of experience dealing with freelancers through my work with the SPJ both nationally and in my local community.

In that time, I’ve seen freelance journalists leverage their unique status to break stories that the public needs to know, and do honor to the craft of journalism — and the free press as an institution. I am running for the organizing committee because I want to ensure that they continue to do so.

Jillian Steinhauer

Pronouns: She/Her

I’m a journalist who covers contemporary art—and sometimes comics, occasionally other forms of culture—through a sociopolitical lens. I contribute mostly to the New York Times, The Nation, and The New Republic, but my work has appeared in many other publications. Last year I won an Arts Writers grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation/Creative Capital, and in 2014 I won the Best Art Reporting award from the International Association of Art Critics’ US chapter for my work at Hyperallergic, where I was an editor for five years. I have an MA in Cultural Reporting and Criticism from NYU.

I quit my job three years ago, which means I’ve spent three years feeling the particular pains and frustrations of being a full-time freelancer. There is, of course, a lot I enjoy about it, but freelancing has often made me feel isolated and somewhat powerless. I’m very excited about the possibilities that can come from uniting and organizing fellow freelancers. I only joined the FSP pretty recently, but I’m eager to dig into this work.

In my time in media, I’ve worked on both sides of the aisle, so to speak, as a freelancer and as a staff editor. I think understanding the demands of both positions provides a useful perspective that would serve me well as a member of the OC. And while I don’t have any formal organizing experience, I am organized. I’m obsessively diligent and good at managing projects. Talking to and working with other people energizes me.

One thing I’m particularly interested in is thinking about expanding and diversifying the FSP’s membership. Outreach is something that I would strive to make a priority for the next OC. It’s crucial to ensure that the FSP reflects the concerns and needs of media workers of all kinds and from all backgrounds, and it’s especially important to do that now, while the group is still new and growing.

Daouda Ouedraogo 

I’m a chief editor of an international magazine. Also, I’m a CEO of a nonprofit organization with more than 10000 members around the world. I’m a journalist who is familiar with administrative tasks like managing meetings, organizing conferences, sending emails and following up the guidelines to know and see tasks well done and accomplished. I know to work under pressure.

One of my best attitudes is to do multi tasks in a short time. I’m very organized and know how to prioritize tasks to solve issue or to make job well done. Also, I speak English and French as well. I’m very confident. I know and like to do team work as well as work by myself. I’m a multidimensional person and familiar with administrative tasks, organizing meetings, conferences and so on.

Join the Freelance Solidarity Project here.