What Sun-Times Media pays freelancers for suburban newspaper photo assignments

SUNTIMESA Romenesko reader sent this freelance-rates memo from Pioneer Press Newspapers photo editor Geoff Scheerer. (Pioneer Press is Sun-Times Media’s chain of suburban papers.) Assignments from the flagship Chicago Sun-Times might pay better, Scheerer notes.

From: Scheerer, Geoff
Date: Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Subject: Rates, expectations, etc.
To: [Dozens of names]

Hi all,

It’s been about four weeks since I started booking all of the photo freelance assignments for all of the STM suburban papers.

Even though STM rates were supposed to be locked in, I’m learning that not everyone was being paid the same rates.

Now that I’ve been given a hardcore budget for the rest of the year I need to clarify rates and what is expected from the assignments.

These are effective for any assignments 6/24 and going forward.

News/feature assignment, still photos only : $65

News/feature assignment, still photos and video : $85 (only if video is asked for, not on spec)

Sports assignment, still photos only : $90

Sports assignment, still photos and video : $110 (only if video is asked for, not on spec)

Sports assignments, multi-team $???? (see below)

Keeping in mind that not all assignments are the same or present the same possibilities for photos here are a few expectations./CONTINUES

We should be getting at least 5-7 photos from each assignment. This gives the editors the option of running something on the cover and inside with the story, and creates a nice web gallery. Of course more photos is always nice for choices and file art if the story is revisited.

Sports assignments especially should be producing more than just the minimum number of photos.

Video should be shot and send only if asked for on the assignment. Cell phone video is fine. Short segments, 30-45 seconds each. It’s best if we get a video segment that shows whats happening, and then another segment with a narrative on it telling the viewer what’s happening. Our digital team can edit the segments so you don’t have to produce the video.

****All video should be horizontal, lens in the top left corner as you shoot. Email the segments to digitalteam@suntimes.com Include the slug and a brief description of the assignment so the digital teams knows how to edit it and where to post it.

For now unless you’re asked to get a coach or player talking about the game I don’t foresee a lot of sports assignments with a video request. Possibly when doing a feature on a specific player.

If you’re assigned a sports event with multiple teams (12 team track meet) I can negotiate a higher rate based on the assignment. Same for downstate state finales events to cover travel and costs.

One discrepancy that I don’t have control over is that if Rich Hein calls you for a Sun-Times photo assignment he might offer to pay a higher rate, he has his own photo budget for the year.

I know all of this is going to generate some questions, so please email or call me, but give me time to answer everyone.

thank you……geoff