Douglas says in a post on The Story Board the “highly objectionable” freelance writing agreement states The Star can licence her freelance content to third party users without further compensation to her.

Ann Douglas, a freelancer who writes a Toronto Star parenting column, has parted ways with the company, citing disagreements with contractual rights.

Describing it as one of the most difficult decisions she made in her freelancing career, Douglas says in a post on The Story Board the “highly objectionable” freelance writing agreement states The Star can licence her freelance content to third party users without further compensation to her. The contract as-is, she says, would leave her without any control over where her content is republished and how they might choose to repurpose it.

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“I loved having the opportunity to write for The Toronto Star. I was proud to be associated with a newspaper founded on principles of social justice,” Douglas says she wrote in a letter she sent to the Star’s publisher John Cruickshank after a week of failed negotiation. “I am disappointed that Toronto’s most progressive daily newspaper chose to act arbitrarily rather than progressively in dealing with my very legitimate contract concerns.”

“I know this won’t be the last time I have to push back hard against an unacceptable freelance agreement this year […] I also know that the only way we’re going to prevent the continued deterioration of working conditions in our industry (to the point where writing becomes a quaint hobby as opposed to a respected profession) is by standing firm, shoulder to shoulder. I’m willing to take that stand with my fellow writers.”

Cruickshank did not respond to J-source’s request for comment. 

Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.