The Association of Independents in Radio and Public Radio News Directors Inc. have published guidelines to assist freelance reporters in negotiating pay rates with stations. The guidelines use a scale model that assigns three tiers to the experience levels of producers and also accounts for the effort spent on pieces. They also take station budgets into account. The suggested pay for a beginning-level reporter working on a “superspot” — a short-turnaround story involving minimal effort — is $100–$150. On the high end of the scale, an advanced-level reporter working on an “advanced feature” involving extensive research and a sophisticated narrative would command a pay range of $500–$900.
The Association of Independents in Radio and Public Radio News Directors Inc. are collaborating on a set of guidelines for local pubradio stations to consult when setting freelancer rates. To lead the initiative, AIR recruited Susanna Capelouto, former news director at Georgia Public Broadcasting. Over the next month, Capelouto will survey news directors and station managers across the country to inform the guidelines, which she hopes to publish by Dec. 1. AIR will draw from a pay guide that it developed for NPR in 2002 and updated last year and from a guide that it created for American Public Media’s Marketplace in 2012.
NPR and the Association of Independents in Radio have launched the Freelance and Station Contributor Resource Site, an online repository of information for reporters interested in filing stories with the network. “This first of its kind site includes Ethics Guidelines, examples of good freelance/station producer stories, ‘how stories go from idea to air,’ key editorial contacts, FTP filing guidelines, the most current AQH audience data for producers airing features on NPR programs, and more,” wrote AIR Executive Director Sue Schardt in an email announcing the site. Freelancers who want to sign up should go to nprstations.org and fill out the registration form, selecting “AIR” under “Station Where You Work.” Non-AIR members are also permitted to join by using the organization’s name. Schardt noted that many of AIR’s newest members are under 34 years old and have never worked with NPR. The site is dedicated to Bill Siemering, NPR’s first program director and a longtime AIR member.
NPR and the Association of Independents in Radio unveiled a new payment structure for news reports Jan. 1, raising rates 7.5 percent for station-based and indie radio producers, effective immediately. NPR adopted a three-tiered compensation system and established standard rates for tape syncs. “NPR’s decision to increase rates, which comes at a time of tight budgets, is intended to reflect our commitment to the vital network of station-based and independent reporters whose contributions enhance our programming every day,” NPR interim news chief Margaret Low Smith said in an email. Reaching agreement took nearly a year of negotiations with AIR and internal consultations at NPR, according to AIR President Sue Schardt.