Potential Changes Coming to State Law Impacting Freelance Journalists

For the last several months, the San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SD-SPJ) has been in touch with Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez about AB 5, a law that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, that sought to address worker classification. Unfortunately, the new law has led to some freelance journalists losing work, largely due to uncertainty over the law’s language.

On Thursday, in a series of tweets, Gonzalez said she’s working on bill language (AB 1850) that will lift the cap of 35 submissions per hiring entity that AB 5 placed on freelance journalists, and clear up confusion over the law’s business-to-business exemption.

We plan to continue a productive dialogue with Gonzalez and her staff as AB 1850 moves through the legislative process. We look forward to seeing the new bill language — which Gonzalez said should be available in the next week — and we appreciate her willingness to listen to, and engage with, people affected by AB 5.

Who Pushed (or Blocked) Transparency in 2019?

It’s that time again. The San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is preparing to continue our annual spring tradition of recognizing the most helpful — and least helpful — public agencies and officials and we’re seeking nominations.

We’ll celebrate our honorees at our annual Sunshine Week celebration at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18 at Starlite, 3175 India Street in Mission Hills.

Our Wall Award will go to the person or public agency that made it hardest for journalists to do their jobs in 2019, ignoring requests or otherwise compromising the public’s right to know.

The Window Award will go to the person or public agency that most prioritized transparency and the public’s right to know in 2019.

And our Sunshine Award will go to a journalist or community member who worked the hardest to make government more transparent and hold elected officials accountable.

Submit nominations here by Feb. 28, 2020. You can read up on last year’s winners (and losers) here.

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: