Caren Chesler

I love coming up with story ideas. I love pitching those ideas. I love talking to people, and I love writing. I also love the creative process in which I do all that, and I find doing it autonomously, all of those tasks, makes them more enjoyable. I write what I want when I want and for whom I want.

Why I’m so afraid of S863 (formerly S4204/A5936): My career will be decimated. No one is going to hire me as an employee just to have me write a story for them. It would be too costly. So I would be forced to either leave my career—one I have built up and honed for 32 years—or I will have to pick up my husband and 8-year-old son and move out of New Jersey. It’s a terrible choice, and I’m sure my son isn’t going to like moving.

What I want lawmakers to know: I imagine you’re trying to help people who are being taken advantage of, but I’m not one of them. Please look at the unintended consequences of your legislation. As the bill currently stands, it’s going to decimate a career I worked 32 years to create. There has to be a way to let me keep what I’ve worked so long and hard to create, and for you to help the people you want to help. Perhaps an explicit carve-out for freelance journalists.

I’ve been happy. I’ve loved my life and my career. And I’ve worked hard, really hard, to get where I am today in my career. I don’t want to lose all that. I’m 56, and the chance of a newspaper or magazine hiring me as a full-time employee, particularly given the state of my industry, is very small. I’d have to learn a new career at this stage of my life and not do the thing I love.

Please, don’t do this.