So you wanna be a freelance journalist?

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So you wanna be a freelance journalist?

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So you wanna be a freelance journalist?

  1. the freelance journalist graham holliday || kigaliwire.comA presention to MA International Journalism students on how to set yourself as a freelanceforeign correspondent - not just a wire reporter.
  2. Before you go anywhere, contact and meet editors face to face. Go with ideas, not just apretty face. Find them on tweepz and follow them on Twitter, find out what they’re about andread the sections they edit. And the archives. Read everything. Work out what they findnewsworthy. Ask yourself, what do they want?
  3. Research all markets. Search Paperboy for outlets across all markets. Even the oddest placeshave an English language press.
  4. Find the contact details of the section editor you want to approach. Don’t email the ManagingEditor or head honcho - they don’t have time for you. Build a database of contacts and keepit up to date. Over time you will learn what day is best to hit certain editors, even what timeof day. I used to always pitch one Guardian editor in the morning when I knew he spent hiscommute checking his Blackberry - could never ever get hold of him outside that time slot.
  5. Think locally. You want to be a foreign correspondent, but lack experience. Go work for thelocal press - great for contacts, gives you a regular, living wage and you start to find out howthings work. I was offered various sub-editing and editing gigs in Hanoi and Saigon over theyears. All starting at around $1,000 per month - more than enough to live on
  6. Go somewhere cheap. And odd. The odder the betterIf money is an issue, go somewhere cheap, and odd. If you’ve done your research and you’vemade contacts and you have a fairly good inkling of what you’re gonna be letting yourself infor - Just go.
  7. Read. Read loads. Before you write anything. Read.Read everything - local press, translations of local news wires, books, blogs, twitter lists. 6months of reading just about where you’re going will stand you in very good stead. And on’tstop reading. Ever.
  8. “Have someone interesting to talk to, somewhereinteresting to go, something interesting to write about,record, shoot, film, link to & an outlet to file to, every day”You need multiple outlets. Don’t head to the NY Times with little or no clips. Build up to it.And think laterally. That Scottish conservation worker you met in the forest that day -wouldn’t Scottish Field magazine take a profile piece, how about one of the scottish Sundaysupplements - think outside newspapers and big magazines. Many small strings add up to aliving wage - if they pay on time...
  9. Start a blog. Think about what you want to say. Plan it. Don’t just dive in, really think itthrough. if you want to focus on photography - get a template that will push that end of yourwork. Likewise text - this is an editor’s window into who you are and what you do, be proudof it.
  10. Learn about RSS, use it to filter the news, get on twitter, create a newswire. become arespected source.
  11. Pitch. Be short and concise. Three paras is enough. Sell the idea, the who what why and whyyou’re the person to do the job and send it everywhere - use your database of contacts thatyou built from paperboy and elsewhere and fire your pitch off to all relevant markets - makesure you hone the pitch to the particular vagaries of each section and editor. No-one likesreceiveing an irrelevat pitch.
  12. Plan and structure on paper. Once you have your sources and you know the focus. Get ijntothe habit of sketching stuff out wherever you are - like in a restaurant in Saigon. Sleep with anotebook and pen next to your bed - you’d be surprised how many excellent ideas come toyou in the middle of the night.
  13. Once you’ve got one commission - go for others. For instance I had a commission to write apiece about some rare dolphins in Cambodia. BBC wanted a news piece, but the onecommission was not gonna cover the transport, visa, food and hotel costs I would incur goinginto Cambodia from Vietnam
  14. However, Action Asia would take a ecotourism kinda angle travel piece too
  15. TIME Asia would take a nib of a quirky news piece for their Global section
  16. The Guardian Travel section would take a similar piece to Action Asia - different non-competing markets - be careful what rights you sell.
  17. The South China Morning Post would take a news piece coming from a slightly different anglethan the BBC
  18. Scotland Magazine might consider a profile piece on the conservationist.
  19. £500 $250 $80 £250 $150 £125All in all, it all adds up to an OK week of work which would probably involve 3 or 4 days oftravel.
  20. Keep receipts Send invoices Chase themGetting paid as a freelance can be a nightmare. Know your rights, don’t be scared to chase,charge late payment interest when and where applicable. Some outlets might get pissed offabout this, so move on. Bad payers will be the bane of your life if you don’t weed them outearly on.
  21. freelancejournalism.tumblr.comgraham holliday || kigaliwire.comSome useful links, mostly of advice and good practive related to this talk.
  22. Credits:Two people Business meeting - http://www.flickr.com/photos/mydigitalslrcamera/3784049371/Fishing rod reel - http://www.flickr.com/photos/canolais/376388031/Emma reading the newspaper - http://www.flickr.com/photos/dsevilla/1910384749/Rob Crilly in Sudan - http://robcrilly.wordpress.com/2009/11/19/so-you-wanna-be-a-stringer/Everything else - me

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