Quality networking - sweet!

QUALITY STREET - the new email network for freelance contributors to the London-based "upmarket" titles was launched at Headland House on Thursday 20 April. It's open to all who do freelance work for the London papers formerly known as broadsheets. The idea is that it will help co-ordinate information on rates and licences. It will work toward eventual negotiation of minimum terms agreements, like that at the Guardian, at other papers.

Go to www.londonfreelance.org/QualityStreet and fill in the form to introduce yourself to the moderators and the other list members. You can choose to get messages from other members in real time, or bundled up in periodic "digests" to unclutter your inbox.

Networks play a vital role in breaking the isolation faced by freelancers. There are several already up and running, at various distances from London Freelance Branch and the NUJ.

EPUK - Editorial Photo UK - is open to NUJ members and non-members. In its own words, "we're an email group for professional editorial photographers who want to talk business. We don't do techie stuff. We don't do cliquey in-crowd gossip".

NUJ Photo is an email network exclusively for union members. Its photographers started the recent successful mobilisation against Stop The War Coalition's demand that journalists pay £25 to cover their conference.

Nibweb, the Network for Information Book Writers, is a joint project of the NUJ and the Society of Authors project. It's a "frequently entertaining electronic pub for a group of people who almost always work alone" - writers of non-fictions books, mostly children's books. Its members grumble good- humouredly about the peculiar demands of US publishers - now including requests for books on pirates with no violence.

NBT is the music writers' and photographers' network. One of its members maintains a database of PR contacts for bands. NBT has had "constructive meetings" with record labels about the increasing trend of demanding writers come into to their offices for "supervised" listening to advance copies of new LPs, and has links with a music feature syndication agency in Holland to which members can re-sell their work. It's rumoured its name stands for "Next Big Thing".

Other active networks include HayBazaar - for people who write for Haymarket titles - and UK Subs, the sub-editors' network, its name inspired by a 1970s punk band (still touring after all these years).

For broadcasting, there's TV freelancers and there's the Northern Freelance Network, a list of available freelances in the north, for use by BBC producers. The UK Freelance Network brings together BBC producers and experienced network radio freelances.

The Guardian Freelance Network and the Independent contributors' network IndyNet are being merged into QualityStreet.

The Branch set up AirNet in case people in broadcasting wanted to talk. It hasn't taken off yet, which led us to name the "nine travel writers principle" - if there are nine travel writers (for example) grumbling that there isn't a network, it's time to start one. Push hard enough and the Branch or another part of the union will supply the virtual machinery and rent the space.

For links to all the above, see www.londonfreelance.org/contacts.html#networks.

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