With the ongoing reporter shortage, agencies have been more willing to negotiate to get coverage. For many reasons, we do need to address the shortage, but while it’s happening, it’s important to remember supply and demand. They want the jobs covered? They need to pay properly.
I saw a post that basically said: “Agencies known for paying low have offered to pay my rates.” And the next line was great “new year, new rates.” The message is clear: if you’re getting low balled by your agency or you know someone else who is, ask for more. Encourage everyone to ask for more. Ideas often spread through echo chambers, so echo this: Public sector’s set at 4.30 a regular, 5.50 an expedite, 6.50 a daily, and a dollar a copy! You better believe that agencies are making at least that, so it’s time to start asking for that. Do not be shy about taking action in your own interest. In 2010 agencies had no problem moving lockstep and saying no, we can’t afford to pay you more. Eight years later, shoe is on the other foot, and it’s only our ability to coordinate, spread the idea, and stand firm that freelance reporters must make more for what they do.And if they don’t pay, remember that each and every freelancer is an entrepreneur and can compete directly with the agencies. I’ve known reporter-owned agencies that paid us above what the market was when times were tough, and it’s the reporter-owned firms that are going to pull us forward. There’s going to be a wave where the next shotcaller comes into town. You could be that person, you could know that person, or you could encourage that person to succeed.