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In over a decade as a freelance journalist, Robin Mejia covered health and science stories for the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post Magazine, Wired, Science, CNN and many other outlets. She uncovered problems at the FBI crime lab, covered controversies in epidemiology, and profiled Nobel laureates. Her work has won several national journalism awards and been anthologized in the Best Technology Writing series. In 2010, Robin returned to school to deepen her understanding of research methods and data analysis, earning an MPH from UC Berkeley in 2012. As this book goes to press, she’s working on a PhD in biostatistics.

5 responses to “Get the Contract!”

  1. Ann Gibbons

    Thanks Robin for this reminder. I also have done the same thing–written stories for major publications and not checked the fine print until the piece is being edited. This is a good reminder to ask for that contract up front and to read it very carefully. Has anyone looked into liability insurance by the way? Can freelancers get it for all their work or does it have to be project-specific?

  2. Monya Baker

    Good for you Robin! You are setting an example for people like us and not letting publishing outlets exploit writers. Thank you.

  3. Cindy Salo

    Thank you, Robin!

    Thanks for not signing the dreadful contract and encouraging Large News Organization to continue treating writers poorly. Thanks for doing the right thing. And thanks for telling your story here.


  4. Wendy Meyeroff

    You have my sympathies. I had an idiotic request early in my career, before we were using the ‘net that much. Write 750 word, three 500 word sidebars, find all the details myself, 10 days to deadline AND the publishers get $5 for every pick-up it engendered.

    I said “I need the $5 per more than you do.” Essentially the response was “tough noogies”.

    I turned them down! First time I ever said “No.” And, as I teach in a magazine writing class I teach periodically, I literally danced around the living room for 5 minutes so proud of myself.

    Unfortunately it is now almost impossible to get past this all rights in any Universe et al clause. So now I either decline, or I add a statement: that XXX Company owns this material completely and therefore takes full responsibility for it in it’s current form or any other way they use it.

    And, after biting my nails, I find 99% of the time they accept the change. If not, then they’re usually not someone you want to work with.

    Hope that helps!

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