Helping j-friends to freelance

Aaron Kushner, the investor who rocked journalism in 2012 by buying the Orange County Register and expanding it while the industry was contracting, rocked itOld newspaper again this year by instituting bloodbaths that have lopped off more than one-third of the newsroom staff. Longtime bylines and credit lines are going or gone.

I dodged a layoff at the San Francisco Chronicle by pre-empting it: I paid off my bills, let my editor friends elsewhere know that I was available for assignments, picked a date and quit to freelance. I had certain things in my favor: I had already freelanced on the side nationally for 20 years, had hired and edited freelancers, and had run a business.

The newly freed reporters at the Register may not have those advantages. Reporters and editors tend to think locally – where the freelance money isn’t. They usually aren’t familiar with contracts or with entrepreneurship, other than what they’ve covered. They have a lot to learn if they choose freelancing as their next career.

A theory floats around that laid-off reporters and editors will crowd the freelance market, snapping up all the good gigs. Nothing could be further from More

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