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Resources for Freelancers Navigating COVID-19

This guide is periodically updated with current information that reflects the needs of AIR’s community. It was last updated on Tuesday May 26, 2020.

Your primary source of information and guidance about the spread of COVID-19 should always be the CDC, state and local health departments, and your own local news outlets who are best positioned to provide fact-based assessments of local conditions. News and recommendations about how best to protect yourself and your community from COVID-19 is still evolving. With much of the country subject to “stay-at-home” orders we’re doing our best to ensure that this guide can help the radio and podcasting community keep working and stay financially afloat through an unprecedented and challenging time.   

We’ve compiled some resources that we’ve found most useful. Let us know (by emailing [email protected]) if we missed something valuable or if you’re struggling to find information that we can help you identify. 

Sources of Financial Support

The federal CARES Act, passed in March, included $600/week pandemic pay and a 13-week extension of unemployment compensation, and provides for extending unemployment benefits to freelancers and independent contractors who are ineligible for regular unemployment insurance. The best guides to applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance are maintained by  the Freelancers Union and the International Documentary Association:

Both the IDA and Freelancers Union recommend reaching out to state and federal legislators if you are falling through the cracks. We know that for many indies, the system is not working as it was intended to -- the legislators who wrote the law need to know who still needs help. 

In addition to access to unemployment assistance, a number of well curated guides are tracking funding sources:

Additional Guides to the Federal Stimulus 

The IDA guide to Navigating US Unemployment Compensation as a Filmmaker is the best guide we’ve found to the Federal Stimulus, but you may also find these resources helpful: 

In addition to the unemployment provisions in the Federal stimulus package, the  Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which became law on March 18, 2020, provides for 10 paid sick days and up to 12 weeks of extended leave when a parent cannot work because of the closure of a child’s school or child care because of COVID-19. What does that mean for you?

Recording from Home

If you’re recording live, DPA Microphones has some good advice about proper microphone hygiene. We haven’t compared their suggestions to the CDC’s recommendations on sterilization, but that’s the most comprehensive guide to cleaning delicate equipment that we’ve found. 

As reporters, hosts and producers scramble to adapt to recording and collaborating remotely and without tape syncs, we’re seeing a lot of great resources surface to help with remote recording. We’ve started gathering those guides and tools in a separate, collaboratively edited guide to recording remotely. We’ve gathered a few great tip sheets there, from independent producers as well as Marketplace, Transom and NPR. 

As we find more tip sheets, we’ll add them to the Remote Recording guide.

If you need a hand troubleshooting recording options, AIR’s Talent Curator Jeanette Woods has been using her office hours to help members troubleshoot remote recording puzzles. AIR members can schedule time with Jeanette directly. 

Reporting Guides

Lenfest Institute’s comprehensive round up of resources includes a thorough and growing list of information sources and reporting guides that will be useful for reporters covering COVID-19. 

Whether you’re in a newsroom or supporting a podcast audience community, Hearken’s guide to Handling Audience Questions in a Crisis is an excellent resource. In addition, the  NPR+Friends Slack (open to staff at NPR affiliates or anyone with a staff email) has a thriving #social channel where newsroom staff have been sharing strategies and successes.

Freedom of the Press Foundation published a guide to working from home securely that is worth reviewing whether you’ve been working from home for days or years. 

If you manage social for a podcast or community, WGBH provides a newsletter for social media managers, including some reminders about setting guidelines and keeping a handle on misinformation and speculation on your social channels. Consider subscribing

If you’re covering the crisis directly, and haven’t already found a community of practice to share questions with, AIR staff are routinely posting new webinars to AIRDaily. Public Media Journalists Association, PMJA has posted a recording of their webinar on Covering COVID-19 with KUOW & KNKX.

A group of experienced data journalists is collaborating in the #covid19 channel on the News Nerdery Slack

Remote Work

If you’re on a team that isn’t used to working remotely, Wherebyus’s Rebekah Monson shared some practical tips for managing newly remote teams on Medium. 

Stay Well

Above all, don’t forget to take care of yourself. If covering presidential pressers isn’t part of your beat, it’s okay to stop following the minute-by-minute coverage. And if you are responsible for breaking news, make a staffing rotation and stick to it. When you’re off duty, be off duty. Start some sourdough. Darn your socks. Call a friend. Eat meals. 

If you aren’t getting enough sleep, your own immune system may be getting depleted. If you do get sick, you’re going to have a harder time recovering if you’re already worn down. Get plenty of sleep, keep your body as healthy as possible. Keep your exercise routine up, eat your vegetables

We’re adding and updating resources as we have them. Please reach out to [email protected] with any questions or suggestions.

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