E-Lancer Resistance: Precarious freelance journalists use digital communications to refuse rights-grabbing contracts

Errol Salamon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


In 2009 and 2013, labor organizations of freelance journalists in Canada formed coalitions and initiated digital communications campaigns to boycott rights-grabbing freelancer contracts of the publishing conglomerate TC Media. These disputes reveal the ongoing industrial struggles over journalists’ copyrights, demonstrating tensions between the continuing control and devaluation of freelance labor to increase corporate profits as well as freelancers’ use of digital communications to resist the law of copyright. Through an examination of these tensions, the broader political-economic context and labor process of freelance work, and freelance journalists’ collective organizing, this paper develops a conception of the precarious “e-lancer,” a feminized and electronically connected class of journalists. The TC Media campaigns are situated within a broader history of freelancer struggles in North America and Western Europe. Since 1993, freelancers have adopted three refusal tactics: class-action lawsuits, contract boycotts, and strikes. Freelancers should not rely on these tactics and digital tools to facilitate them but rather use them, along with face-to-face and internal communications, to win the right to bargain collectively and address women’s disadvantaged position in freelancing. This paper ultimately demonstrates the central role that journalistic workers have played in attempting to recompose precarity and democratize communication in the evolving digital economy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)980-1000
Number of pages21
JournalDigital Journalism
Issue number8
Early online date13 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


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