The Latest on AB 5

The San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists wants to make sure our members are aware of information available about AB 5, the law authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez that potentially impacts media outlets that work with freelance journalists. It took effect Jan. 1.

The state’s Labor & Workforce Development Agency has created a web portal that includes FAQs on AB 5, as well as information for both employers and workers. And the Employment Development Department is holding a series of “employment status” seminars to address questions about worker classification under AB 5. The seminars are geared toward employers, but freelancers are welcome to attend. Also, Gonzalez’s office has put together a fact sheet for freelancers and employers.

Finally, Gonzalez announced recently that she plans to introduce a bill in the coming weeks that will clarify AB 5’s business-to-business exemption and address concerns from independent contractors working in the fields of music and photography. We hope the bill will also raise the 35-submission cap for freelance journalists, and we will continue to work with Gonzalez’s office to ensure freelancers’ interests are represented in that amendment process.

Jan. 6 Event: What’s going on with newsroom unionization?

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There’s a notable trend going on in the news industry right now: Journalists at newspapers, radio stations, magazines and online news outlets are increasingly voting to join unions. NBC Digital, Hearst Magazines, The Arizona Republic, WHYY and the Miami Herald are just a handful of recent examples.
What are the driving forces behind this trend, and what have the outcomes been like for those newsrooms that have decided to unionize? And where does this trend leave freelancers?
Join SPJ San Diego on Monday, Jan. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Whistle Stop Bar for a panel discussion on newsroom unions moderated by Courthouse News reporter Bianca Bruno. Our panelists will be:

Celebrate the Holidays with SD-SPJ

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Calling San Diego journalists: Celebrate the holidays and a great year of journalism at with the San Diego chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists at Stone Brewing at Liberty Station.

WHO: All San Diego media folks.

WHEN: Tuesday, Dec. 17 from 5:30-9 p.m.

WHERE: Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, 2816 Historic Decatur Rd, # 116 San Diego, CA 92106

MORE DETAILS: When you arrive, grab a name tag so you can easily meet other San Diego media folks. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.

RSVP and UPDATES: https://bit.ly/38bzBrm

San Diego SPJ: Intimidation of Journalists at the Border Needs to Stop

Five American journalists have sued the U.S. government, alleging that authorities violated their First Amendment rights by inspecting their cameras and notebooks and questioning them extensively about their coverage of last year’s migrant caravan. Their detailed accounts, on pages 15-34 of a complaint filed Nov. 20 by the ACLU, are alarming and should be read by any journalist who leaves or enters the United States.

It is also alarming that the detained journalists were all freelancers, who may have been seen as easier targets for harassment.

We understand the caravan was a significant challenge for law enforcement, but harassing journalists for confidential information as a condition to return home is not how to address it. The actions described in the lawsuit amount to a direct attack on journalists’ ability to do their jobs and, if not addressed and corrected, could have a chilling effect.

The U.S. government has yet to publicly address its actions in any meaningful way. Those actions may never have come to light if KNSD, the NBC station in San Diego, hadn’t received records from a government whistleblower showing the names and photographs of 59 people that the agency linked to the caravan. Ten were identified as journalists.

The San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists applauds the ACLU for taking on this issue and asks the public for its support in ensuring this intimidating behavior stops. Journalists are not informants or intelligence agents for the U.S. government. These tactics are common in dictatorial regimes but have no place in a healthy democracy.