Pitching the SLR
Inspired by the work of our friends at Pipe Wrench Magazine (who are no longer publishing, but you can read their archive on their site), The Sunday Long Read worked with the Freelance Solidarity Project of the National Writers Union to create a standard contract and a statement of commitments that promotes fair practice for freelance writers. Read more about pitching The SLR.
This unilateral announcement will be in place for one year from the date of announcement by The Sunday Long Read. At the end of that year, The Sunday Long Read will re-evaluate the conditions outlined below and draft a new unilateral announcement with any necessary amendments offered by their freelancers, contract workers, and with the assistance of representatives from the National Writers Union.
For the purposes of this announcement, a freelancer is defined as any media worker providing labor and/or services to The Sunday Long Read, including but not limited to writers, photographers, artists, video, social, and/or audio producers, among others. “The SLR” refers to The Sunday Long Read, a weekly newsletter featuring the best longform journalism that also publishes original stories, podcasts, and essays. A contractor is any media worker contributing to The SLR on a mutually agreed-upon ongoing basis. The negotiated rate is the full fee stated by the assigning or accepting member of The SLR, as stated in any contracts or email correspondence related to the freelancers’ assignment or submission.
This unilateral announcement is the product of open discussion and collaboration between The SLR and representatives from the National Writers Union, and is intended to define the scope and terms of freelance labor in the course of producing The SLR.
- The SLR will set clear and equitable base rates for freelancers and publicize them.
- All freelancers can negotiate above the standards stated in this unilateral announcement if desired.
- The SLR will commit to reducing pay discrepancies across the industry for people from disadvantaged and underrepresented groups.
- The existing standard rates are as follows:
- Longform features will be paid at minimum $2,000/story
- All assignments accepted or commissioned will be paid on the graduated schedule outlined in the next section. Upon email confirmation from an editor, The SLR will issue at least 34% of the negotiated rate immediately.
- The SLR commits to acting in full compliance with New York City’s “Freelance Isn’t Free” law.
- All freelance contributors will be paid within a week of invoicing.
Graduated Fee Schedule
- The SLR will follow the below stated schedule for graduated payment:
- 34% paid on assignment, as compensation for work up to and including delivery of a first draft.
- 33% paid on delivery of a full-length first draft.
- 33% on completion of the freelancer’s work, defined as work that requires no substantial revisions by the freelancer.
- In the event an assignment is accepted or commissioned by an editor, and is approved for publication by both the freelancer and the editor, and doesn’t run, The SLR will pay the freelancer 100% of the negotiated rate.
- In the event an assignment is accepted or commissioned by an editor, and the freelancer has passed the first round of edits, and The SLR ceases to be operational for any reason and/or under any circumstances, The SLR will pay the freelancer 100% of the negotiated rate.
Reporting Costs & Incidental Expenses
- The SLR will set clear procedures for reimbursement of all expenses incurred in the editorial process.
- Upon acceptance of an assignment/submission, the assigning editor will provide the freelancer with those procedures via email.
- The SLR will pay for any travel/accommodations booked for the purposes of fulfilling a freelancer’s accepted assignment in full and in advance of the scheduled trip.
- Any incidental expenses incurred in the process of the work done by the freelancer will be reimbursed as per The SLR’s stated policy, within 30 days of the freelancer submitting documentation as per The SLR’s reimbursement process.
- The SLR agrees that each accepted submission or assignment is the sole property of the freelancer.
- The sale of the submission entitles The SLR to first North American serial rights only.
- If The SLR has the opportunity to sell or lease the submission to another publication (for the purposes of, but not limited to, an anthology, retrospective, or similar printed and/or digital collection) the freelancer must be immediately informed by a member of The SLR, and retains the decision to make the sale or approve the leasing rights.
- The freelancer retains the right to republish the work after 90 days of the date of publication, in a book, anthology, collection, or similar product, with original credits and acknowledgements given to The SLR.
- If the freelancer has the opportunity to sell, lease, reissue, or otherwise use the material first published by The SLR in another medium, including but not limited to film, audio, or television production, they retain the right to do so as per their own discretion and with original credits and acknowledgements given to The SLR.
- In the event that an accepted assignment is killed by The SLR at any stage of the editorial process after the freelancer’s first submission, the intellectual property is released back to the freelancer.
- If a freelancer contributes to The SLR on an ongoing basis, they can negotiate with the publication to receive a W-2 contract for a mutually agreed-upon duration of time.
- The SLR will publicize clear rates and working procedures for contractors and establish a process for contractor raises.
- The SLR commits to following the standard legal definition of “just cause” in the event a contract is terminated before the end of the agreed-upon duration.
Pitching, Assigning, Editing, and Publishing:
- The SLR shall maintain a commitment to promoting diversity and equity among its freelancers.
- All pitching and submission guidelines will be clearly detailed and made public on The SLR’s website.
- Contact information for editors will be made public, with instructions on where to direct freelance pitches.
- An assignment from a Sunday Long Read editor or a submission from a freelancer is considered accepted upon email confirmation from a Sunday Long Read editor. Freelancers will be issued a contract as soon as possible following email correspondence, and the first installment of payment will be issued as per the stated rate schedule above.
- Editors shall formally notify freelancers of the acceptance or rejection of subsequent drafts or revisions within 2 weeks.
- When a freelancer proposes an idea for an article that has not previously come to the attention of The SLR, the editors will not assign a story based on that proposal to someone else without permission from the proposer and payment of a mutually agreed-upon fee between the editor and original proposer. The SLR will have a commitment from management and editors that freelance-generated ideas are not given to others in the editorial team.
- In the event that a freelancer is not able to obtain a response from the assigning editor within a reasonable time frame to a question or a problem concerning the assignment, contract, or any other issue, the freelancer should contact Jacob Feldman or any member of The SLR’s senior editorial staff. The SLR will try to resolve the matter as promptly as possible and provide an initial response within five business days. All freelancers will be made aware, in writing, that this process is available to them upon acceptance of their first assignment.
- When an assignment has originated with The SLR, the publication will compensate the freelancer for any preliminary and/or exploratory research and/or work, including but not limited to background reporting and research.
- The SLR will provide the freelancer with a final version of their work before publication for final review. The freelancer will have the right to make changes of any nature, within reason, before printing commences and/or publication occurs.
- In the event that the freelancer and The SLR cannot reach an agreement in good faith about a change in the work before publication, the freelancer retains the right to remove their name from said work, without having any effect on the publication’s obligation to pay the freelancer the full fee.
Safety and Legal Protections
- The SLR will commit to providing a work experience for freelancers that is free of harassment and discrimination.
- In the event a freelancer experiences physical and/or psychological harm, harassment, discrimination, or abuse of any nature in their course of work for The SLR, The SLR will resolve any dispute that arises from such harm, harassment, discrimination, or abuse through the below stated National Writers Union grievance procedure.
Grievance Procedure With the National Writers Union
The SLR will make every effort to work out any freelance grievances on an informal basis.
If The SLR cannot work out a freelancer’s grievances on an informal basis, and if that freelancer designates a representative of the NWU to meet with the magazine in an attempt to work out the grievance on the freelancer’s behalf, the process shall be as follows:
- Before filing a grievance, the aggrieved freelancer and/or NWU representative will present the grievance to the freelancer’s assigning editor to try to resolve the matter without formal proceedings.
- If step (a) is unsuccessful, the NWU shall submit the grievance in writing to the editor-in-chief of The SLR or their designated representative.
- If there is no resolution within two weeks of step (b), there shall be a conciliation conference including the NWU representative, the freelancer, if possible, and the editor-in-chief or their designated representative. The SLR shall provide a response to the grievance within three weeks of the conference.
- If the NWU and The SLR cannot resolve the grievance, a board shall be convened consisting of one representative of the NWU, one of The SLR, and one member acceptable to both parties. The third member shall receive no compensation from either side for participation in this board. A majority opinion by the board shall be accepted by all parties.
The SLR will allow the National Writers Union to review and suggest changes to its standard freelancer contract.
If The SLR considers making any edits or changes to its standard freelancer agreement, The SLR will notify the NWU prior to implementing the edits or changes and meet with representatives to discuss.
Notification and Communication
If any freelancer/contractor requests information about the NWU or to speak with an NWU representative, The SLR will immediately notify a member of the Freelance Solidarity Project and/or a designated member of the NWU.
At any time, NWU can request and will be provided with a list of names of all freelancers/contractors working for The SLR.