Legal Law

Freelance Journalism: How to Pitch Ideas to Newspaper Editors

Freelance journalism isn’t just a way to open a door to a full-time reporting job; many prefer the freedom that freelance work allows and also the fact that they can start without a college degree. This is the best way I know of to get newspaper assignments.

First find out if the newspaper uses freelancers. Tea writers market The online version currently lists around 360 newspapers, including specialized ones like the american jewish world and legacy newspapers like the New York Times.

If you’re browsing your library’s newspapers, you can determine if they use freelancers by looking for author tags like “for Ashland Tidings,” “special to,” “special writer,” “correspondent,” and so on. instead of tags like “of the Ashland Tidings”, “staff writer”, etc.

When preparing to pitch an idea to a newspaper editor, get a good idea of ​​his style by reading it from the first page to the last, paying special attention to where freelancers turn. Many newspapers are online now, and if you’re a good prospect, it may be worth paying for an online subscription.

When coming up with pitch ideas, review past issues if possible to see if your stories have been covered in the last year and a half. If a topic was covered in general, but you have a new angle to present it, make a note of your angle. Newspaper editors love to hear new ideas, if they are in tune with their newspaper/readers.

If you have clips (published articles), select the best ones (no more than five). Find out if the publisher prefers them to be mailed, emailed, or uploaded to their website. If you’re new to independent journalism and don’t have any clips yet, consider these alternatives…

  • Volunteer to write for a community publication or website. Write your articles like a journalist would. Avoid public relations writing when creating clips for a newspaper.
  • Post to an online site like Helium.
  • Create a blog that shows off your journalistic skills.

In your presentation, show the editor that you take journalism and your profession seriously and that you are in tune with your community. Be familiar with the ethics of journalism. If there is a potential conflict of interest between your current job or other freelance work and the work you may do for the newspaper, tell them up front.

Also keeping in mind the migration from newspapers to online news, please mention any digital skills you have, such as filming and editing videos, attracting readers online through a community you have created (blog, social media page, etc. ), online writing skills, etc.

When pitching a newspaper, target an editor somewhere between editor-in-chief and a junior editor. A feature, lifestyle, or city desktop editor is often a good choice.

While magazine and book editors should never be cold called, a news editor is more likely to see this as a sign that you’re not afraid to pick up the phone (a requirement for reporting). One of Poynter’s career advisers suggests doing so.

Make your call after, not before, the deadline. For a morning paper, the deadline would be the night before. For an afternoon journal, the deadline would be that morning. Delivery times for weekly articles are usually the day before the article is published.

One way to write an email pitch is to make an abbreviated version of a magazine query, point out that you also have more ideas, and then list them with a couple of sentences detailing each one.

Or instead of starting with a pitch for one idea, introduce yourself and present each idea separately. Conclude with a request to discuss further. If you have references, write them down. Newspaper publishers don’t have time to play with “on-demand references.”

Check your email with a fine tooth comb. A publisher expects you to do your best in this competitive field. All it takes is one typo or factual inaccuracy to click the “delete” button.

When you get a task, treat it like the gold it is. This could open the door for future freelance journalism endeavors and could provide an important clip.

Make sure you understand the publisher’s requirements. If you’re not clear, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. They would expect you to do the same with a source.

Finally, deliver exactly what’s asked of you, and you’ll be well on your way to a career in journalism!