CFU concerned about LFP's move to encourage "free" content
April 21, 2011
Joe Ruscitti, Editor-in-chief
London Free Press
Re: Make your voice heard in paper
Newsroom: Initiatives underway to enable the community to better interact with the newspaper
Mr. Ruscitti, we at the Canadian Freelance Union (CEP Local 2040) are dismayed and frustrated that the London Free Press is now seeking to replace the work of professional journalists with free content produced by members of the community. As the national union for professional freelance media workers, we ask that the Free Press reconsider this decision.
We have no objection whatsoever with members of the public contributing news tips, or pointing to stories that need coverage. This strengthens the paper, and its connection to the community. But your column clearly envisions something much grander. By providing a professional editor to work with these “citizen journalists,” and even offering training, the paper is clearly attempting to replace paid professional journalists with the free work of members of the public.
In your column, you tempt the readers by saying a reporter’s job is “cool.” Do you know what else is “cool?” Getting paid. Instead of teasing members of the public with the chance to get their name in lights, how about offering something real. How about offering to pay for the work you clearly want?
There are dozens of professional freelance writers, journalists and photographers in your community who would be more than happy to work with the Free Press. They already have the skills, and the desire, to tell the stories your readers want to read.
The Canadian Freelance Union is fully supportive of the Free Press’ desire to engage the community. We encourage you to look to the large pool of talented individuals who would like nothing better than to help you with this endeavour.
We only ask that these people be treated fairly.
Michael OReilly, President