Freelance policy

Aim: The Bristol Cable is committed to providing payment to individuals who undertake work for the organisation on a commission or project basis.


  • Freelancers are self-employed and contracted by the Cable for specific periods/pieces of work.

  • Media coordinators are members of the Cable media team. They are responsible for commissioning, editing, strategy and the Cable’s journalistic production.

  • Commissioning is when a media coordinator approaches a freelancer to produce a piece of content.

  • Pitch is when a prospective contributor approaches the Cable with a story idea.

  • Volunteers contribute to the Cable on an unpaid basis.

Current core media team budget:

  • Print (including editorial contributions, production assistance, design, illustration and photography): £3,100 per quarter.

  • Online (including editorial contributions, production assistance, multimedia, illustration and photography): £1,980 per month.


The Cable undertakes commissioning in a fair, transparent and systematic process as follows:

  1. A media coordinator contacts a prospective contributor with an outline proposal OR a prospective contributor approaches the Cable with a story pitch.

  2. Following initial agreement in principle, the media coordinator will develop a commission to be approved by the contributor, including an agreed deadline and fee with reference to the rates set out below.

  3. Commissions will be approved by at least two media coordinators based on discussion at an editorial meeting or other forum.

Payment and allocation of rates

Freelancers undertaking staff cover shifts or other time-based work will be paid a day rate or portions thereof, at a rate agreed in writing by the media team and the freelancer, before the work commences.

Freelance contributors commissioned for discrete pieces of work will be paid at a rate agreed in writing by the media team and the freelancer, before the work commences.

Contributors, whether paid or unpaid, are able to access editorial support at co-ordinators’ discretion, in relation to capacity and other responsibilities.

Payment will be processed within 30 days of completion of the contribution to the agreed deadline.


Rates will be agreed at the discretion of the commissioning media coordinator based on the table below. These have been updated to reflect a number of factors including the day rate we pay for cover, the likely time freelancers will spend on their stories, and the rise in the cost of living.

Where payment is applicable, the rate will be agreed during the initial contact with a contributor.

In certain circumstances, for example video journalism, rates are not detailed in order to accommodate for the range of activities and work that may be undertaken to produce content (production, sound, filming, editing, direction). In this instance a media coordinator will propose a rate to the media team for agreement.

NOTE: The table acts as guidance for contributors and co-ordinators – it is not an exhaustive list but reflects a range of the types of content we are most interested in commissioning and publish regularly. Rates will be decided on a case-by-case basis taking into account factors such as the amount of work involved in reporting a given story. For any queries or to discuss rates please get in touch: /

Written journalism – print and online

Item type

Item description


Approx word count

Rates range £

News report or simple feature

  • One-pager for print or short online piece.

  • Story will usually contain several sources (unless a simple profile piece) and provide some context.

  • Won’t usually involve intensive research or interviewing.



In-depth feature, analysis, extended news or basic investigation

  • These types of stories would typically be two-pagers in print, and also encompass most types of features published online by the Cable, ranging from interview-led colour pieces (esp for culture) to articles that unpack or get into complex issues, including solutions features.

  • Also included would be straightforward investigative stories that do not include significant legwork, such as simple FOI-based pieces.

  • These stories should draw on multiple sources and may include substantial independent research, and involve the writer being able to structure their content.



Developed investigation

  • An exclusive story that draws on multiple research methods that may include FOI, documents, data and human sources.

  • Pieces should have context and a variety of quotes.

  • Could be uncovering wrongdoing, digging into solutions, or both.



Voices and opinion/first-person analysis pieces

  • A personal experience or personal opinion piece

  • A piece that includes the author's voice and opinion with substantiation by reference to facts and sources



Video journalism

Item type

Item description


Rates range £

Basic video

  • Generally a short video, which could be based around vox pops/other interview formats, or other simple treatments such as footage with voiceover.

  • The level of research, production and editing input will be reflected in the fee.

To be agreed with videographer based on guide day rate of £180

Developed video

  • Will include multiple aspects of production: sources, locations, research.

  • Will have a documentary style

  • May include investigative research

To be proposed and confirmed with media team prior to commission

Video editing

To be proposed and confirmed with media team prior to commission

Video shooting

To be proposed and confirmed with media team prior to commission

Photos and illustrations

Photo essay

  • A selection of 6-7 for print and up to 15 for online

  • Upper range to be agreed based on factors including where there are specific difficulties or time requirements to obtain the photos

150-300 as agreed with media team and contrib

Ad-hoc photoshoots for print and online stories

Subject portraits, landscape shots and other contextual images as content demands,

To be agreed with photographer based on minimum guide rate of £90 for a simple shoot plus editing time (approx half day total)


90 or as agreed with media team and contributor

Audio journalism

Item type

Item description


Rates range £


  • Developed conversation-based or documentary-style podcast.

  • Will include multiple aspects of production – for example sources, locations, research.

  • May include investigative research

To be agreed with audio journalist based on minimum guide rate of £90 for a simple visit plus editing time (approx half day total)

Audio recording

  • For example, simple audio version of long-form article

To be proposed and confirmed with media team prior to commission

Audio editing

To be proposed and confirmed with media team prior to commission


Reasonable expenses agreed beforehand will be covered by the Cable. Receipts must be provided.

‘Spike fees’

Where a fee was agreed, we shall pay this in full for a commissioned contribution that is not used, except where it fails substantially to meet the requirements agreed at the time it was commissioned. The spike fee for a commissioned contribution we reject usually will be no less than 50% of the agreed commission fee.

Late submissions

If a piece is going to be late, the contributor should notify a media coordinator as soon as possible. Media coordinators have discretion to decide whether the delay is reasonable and notified, and award the full agreed payment, or whether the delay renders a piece unpublishable, in which case the contributor will not receive payment. We cannot guarantee payment for pieces that are not submitted according to the agreed terms.

General terms

Freelancers guarantee that:

  • the work is original

  • it has not been published before (unless otherwise agreed with the commissioning editor)

  • it does not infringe any third-party intellectual property or other rights, and that freelancers have the necessary authority to grant the Cable the rights it needs. The Cable operates a collaborative editing process. Freelancers will have final approval over any item that proceeds to publishing. However, the media coordinator(s) reserve all rights not to approve an item for publication if they are not satisfied. Media coordinators may offer feedback but they are not required to provide freelancers with reasons for not approving publication.


Invoices must include:

Full name


Total amount

Bank details


Email address

Date of Invoice

Final title/description of item

Responsible Bristol Cable media coordinator

Freelancers will be responsible for all necessary declarations to relevant authorities of any payment received.

Staff, freelancers and conflicts of interest

  • Core staff should declare any possible conflict of interest at the earliest possible point, e.g the contributor/freelancer is a friend or family member.

  • When pitching ideas or taking on commissions, freelancers should declare any connections they may have to the story, sources or organisations involved. For example, individuals should not pitch to write news or feature ideas that relate to relatives, or to organisations they work for or have recently worked for. If in doubt, please ask a member of the Cable team when you first get in touch.

Ownership and use of content

  1. The Cable will be guaranteed first UK publishing rights.

  2. Following initial publication, the Cable or contributor is able to permit the reproduction of the content with explicit, prominent and linked reference to original publication.

  3. Third parties may request the Cable for permission to reproduce content.

[updated May 2023 by the media team]

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