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Video: Freelance foreign correspondent discusses reporting from Yemen and Libya

February 2nd, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Freelance

GRN, an agency for foreign correspondents, has posted a video interview with freelancer Portia Walker.

In the first in a series of interviews from GRN, Walker talks about her year covering the Arab spring in Yemen and Libya.

A former TV current affairs producer with Al Jazeera English, Walker explains how she moved to Yemen just before the Arab spring began.

She speaks about the “baptism of fire” in reporting from Yemen for the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Washington Post and the Economist as well as GRN’s TV and radio clients.

Expecting to spend time in Libya researching features, she found she was spending her time “daily news reporting” which “did not go down well at some times with the authorities” and led to her arrest a gun point.

You can find out more about GRN in this Q&A interview and read guide on how to become a roaming reporter.

The video interview is below.

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Tips for freelance journalists on National Freelancers’ Day

November 23rd, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Freelance

Today is National Freelancers’ Day. We have compiled a list of 10 things every freelance journalists should know.

We crowdsourced and gathered advice for freelance journalists from fellow freelancers and editors.

Here are some of the responses:

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Ten things every freelance journalist should know

November 23rd, 2011 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Freelance, Lists

Image by monkeywing on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

To mark National Freelancers’ Day we have been gathering advice for freelance journalists. Here is our Storify of curated tweets of advice for freelancers.

Our 10 tips include thoughts from freelancers and editors who responded to a request for advice from @journalismnews on Twitter, and we have added advice gathered over the years.

1. Don’t be afraid to pitch to editors (by email)

Commissioning editors positively encourage you to approach them with ideas and pitches.

 

 

2. Recognise that it is tough to go it alone

Make no mistake, it is not easy to start out as a freelancer. It requires you to be a great journalist, sales person, book keeper, networker and you need to be able to manage your own time. There may be periods when you are working long days on multiple features, at other times you may have too much free time.

Journalism.co.uk has a number of must-read guides, which can help if you are just starting out.

This updated feature on how to get started as a freelance journalist is an essential.

You can also take tips from this guide on how to effectively diversify as a freelancer, plus there is a two-part guide on how to make a successful transition to freelance journalism.

It may be hard, but believe in yourself and don’t give up.

3. Get a handle on your finances

Some freelancers advise getting an accountant, others manage their own accounts and submit their own self-assessment tax return.

It is wise to put away one third or one quarter of what you earn. That way you will have a lump sum ready when the 31 January deadline comes round. Alternatively you can set up a standing order to pay HMRC monthly so that you don’t face a large bill in January.

Self-assessment tax returns are relatively simple to fill in. You can make the process much easier by keeping expenses and receipts in a series of envelopes, one for every month of the year.

4. Invoice, politely remind, and then take action

Invoice after you have submitted your story, and give publishers a deadline, perhaps 14 or 30 days.

If you do not receive payment, telephone the accounts department and ask that the bill is settled.

Freelancers can feel awkward about hassling publishers for payment and may fear not being commissioned in the future. However, you are entitled to that payment, your own rent or mortgage needs to be paid and it is likely you won’t have a large cash flow.

If the publication delays, £2 + VAT will get you a legal Letter Before Action from a debt collection agency such as Thomas Higgins. An official letter will no doubt encourage slow payers to speed up.

This Journalism.co.uk guide on how to get paid on time has some excellent tips, advice on setting your own terms, chasing payments and threatening legal action.

5. Do not let others steal your work

Simon Crofts, a former lawyer who is now a photographer, has written about claiming damages for breach of copyright on EPUK (Editorial Photographers UK).

The article, published last week, details copyright law, what you are entitled to claim from an infringer, and how to assemble and present a claim. Although aimed at photographers, nearly all of it is relevant to writers who have had their articles ripped off.

6. Be strict with yourself

There is a danger of working too hard or not putting in enough hours and therefore losing potential commissions.

7. Think pictures

Consider selling your stories and photographs as a package. You could partner with a photographer or source your own images.

Selling a words and pictures package can make a story more appealing to a busy editor, and it could boost the amount you earn.

8. Consider syndicating abroad

This is not relevant for every type of content but there are various agencies who can sell on features for you, providing you have the rights to sell the story outside the UK.

This Journalism.co.uk guide details how to syndicate freelance articles abroad.

There is also a recently launched Canada-based platform called MediaCooler that maybe worth uploading content to. Journalism.co.uk has published a question and answer interview with MediaCooler’s CEO.

9. You need help from others when going it alone

Working from home and not having an employer to support you can be lonely and challenging. There is no editor or colleague to turn to for advice, there is no social contact, no post-work drinks or office Christmas party.

In order to learn from others and benefit from a support network, join a local freelancers’ meetup group, become a member of Journalism.co.uk’s freelance directory, which not only provides exposure but also gives you access to other freelancers with years of experience and those just starting out.

Also, set yourself an annual budget to pay for yourself to go on training courses (Journalism.co.uk runs one-day training courses, and has links to other short courses), attend journalism conferences (such as our news:rewired event where you can learn about the latest trends in digital journalism), and go to networking events.

10. Take advantage of the quiet month

The second half of December and first half of January is deadly quiet for many freelancers. You can either twiddle your thumbs and worry that you will never land a commission again or you can take advantage of the freelance life and go on holiday for a month.

For more news for freelancers, bookmark the freelance news section of Journalism.co.uk.

  • The freelance database on Journalism.co.uk contains hundreds of members from all over the world. A listing includes an individual page on the site where you can post links to your work, as well as a branded email address – yourname@freelancejournalism.com and access to the freelancejournalism.com group. You will also be able to purchase discounted training courses run by Journalism.co.uk. Sign up as a freelancer here.
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Cuttings.me, a new portfolio platform for freelance journalists

October 24th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Freelance, Handy tools and technology

When freelance journalist Nicholas Holmes wanted to upload and share examples of his work could not find the ideal platform – so he built one.

Cuttings.me, which was launched earlier this month, allows freelancers, journalists and trainees to create an online portfolio with a simple, clean and effective layout.

You get your own URL (cuttings.me/nicholasholmes, for example), can upload your own background image and select from a couple of different layouts. Holmes promises more customisation options will be available in the near future.

It takes just a few minutes to create a portfolio, complete with biography and links to your blog, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, and then you can start bringing in your cuttings by adding links or uploading PDFs.

You can see examples of journalists’ Cuttings.me profiles at cuttings.me/simonrobinson and cuttings.me/momtaz.

There is currently no index of users so although profiles are technically not private, no one will see your page unless they have the URL.

“It’s possible that in the future I will introduce a feature where I can browse other people’s profiles,” Holmes said, explaining that he would inform users before making changes.

Holmes, who is British but lives in Switzerland, is tourism editor at France-based leisure newswire AFP/Relaxnews “and a bit of a geek on the side”.

“As well as doing my day job for the newswire I am also pitching for freelance stuff,” he told Journalism.co.uk.

What I found is that I was always having to send different URL’s in emails. It all got a bit messy when I was trying to remember the best bits that I had done and found I had the need for a single place to put all of this stuff and wanted the ability to direct people to that single page.

There are lots of resources online where you can hook up your Twitter feed, your Facebook URL and your LinkedIn URL but there was nothing specifically designed for journalists and so I thought I’d have a bash at developing it.

Cuttings.me is now in public beta and Holmes is looking for feedback, which you can give by tweeting @cuttingsme.

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2011 Rory Peck Awards open for entries

May 5th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Awards, Multimedia, Photography

The Rory Peck Awards, which recognises the work of freelance cameramen and women in news and current affairs, are now open for entries.

The awards consist of three categories:

  • The Rory Peck Award for News
    Honours the work of freelance cameramen and women in the coverage of a news event where the focus is on the immediacy of the story.  Rushes / un-voiced pieces are accepted in this category.  Maximum duration: 10 minutes.
  • The Rory Peck Award for Features
    Honours the work of freelance cameramen and women in news and current affairs features: in-depth pieces which look beyond the immediacy of a news story.
    Maximum duration: 60 minutes.
  • The Sony Professional Impact Award
    Honours the work of freelance cameramen and women in news or current affairs that examine humanitarian or social issues. Judges will be looking for entries that have had a tangible impact in one or more of the following areas: audience, press, policy or public awareness. Maximum duration: 60 minutes.

According to a release from the Rory Peck Trust, “the awards recognise quality of camerawork, but also take into account individual endeavour, initiative and journalistic ability”.

“We welcome self-funded work and entries from local freelancers, especially those working in regions where it is difficult to operate.”

Last year’s winner was Arturo Perez, who spoke to Journalism.co.uk after winning the award about the struggle to report Mexico’s violent drug wars.

The award is named after freelance cameraman Rory Peck (pictured), who was killed in 1993 while filming in Moscow. In 1995 the Rory Peck Trust, which organises the award, was established in his memory to help provide support for freelancers and their families.

All entries must have been first broadcast between 1 August 2010 and 31 May 2011. Closing date for Entries is Monday 6 June.

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NUJ: Police reassure union ‘no more local press passes’

The assistant chief constable for the Lancashire police has assured the National Union of Journalists the force will not repeat the giving out of its own press passes in the way it did earlier this month, following a complaint from the union.

According to the NUJ the police force issued the local press passes for a demonstration by the English Defence League in Bradford.

Following the decision NUJ freelance organiser John Toner wrote in complaint to the force, and has now received a response from assistant chief constable Andy Cooke to say he “would like to reassure you, and your members, that we will not be issuing a press pass again for this sort of event”.

But he added the force will be asking for recognised accreditation into controlled zones or areas. John Toner responds to the news below:

This is a welcome response, and I have replied with copies of our leaflets explaining the merits of the UK Press Card.

I have also asked the UK Press Card Authority to seek a meeting with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) who officially recognise the Press Card.

We need to ensure that all police forces recognise the Press Card and provide access to bearers of the cards.

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#followjourn: @martincloake – Martin Cloake/freelance

January 19th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Recommended journalists

Who? Martin Cloake: “Writer and editor on sport, finance and new media models. Also available for training, communications work and general Spurs banter.”

Where? Martin writes for Daily Finance UK, see his collected articles here, and has his own site, including a blog covering mostly media and sport.

Twitter? @martincloake

Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips every day, we’re recommending journalists to follow online too. They might be from any sector of the industry: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to laura at journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

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Top five news, features and blog posts on Journalism.co.uk in 2010 (by page views)

December 26th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Traffic

OK, we know it’s quality not quantity that counts, but it’s still fascinating (to us at least) to learn which stories have attracted the most traffic over the course of a year.

Unsurprisingly, Wikileaks is prominent as was the televised leaders debate during the general election. And some old faithfuls continue to pull in traffic from jobseekers and ‘wannabe’ freelancers (this year that was probably mostly unemployed journalism graduates and recently ‘redundant’ journalists).

But stories about paywalls failed to even come close…

News:

  1. Reporters Without Borders to host mirror site for WikiLeaks
  2. Julian Assange: Financial threats to WikiLeaks are serious
  3. Sky News defends Kay Burley’s interview treatment of 38 Degrees director
  4. New tools for Sky journalists as social media strategy moves from one to many
  5. Dates announced for UK leaders’ election debates on Sky, BBC and ITV

Features:

  1. How to: Get started as a freelance journalist
  2. Daniell Morrisey: How to prepare a killer CV
  3. Daniell Morrisey: How to make the most of work experience
  4. How to: find contacts and information about people online
  5. How to: write the perfect press release for journalists

Blog posts:

  1. Ten things every journalist should know in 2010
  2. Wikileaks releases video showing Apache shooting of Reuters news staff
  3. The 100 most influential news media Twitter accounts
  4. Are you on the j-list? The leading innovators in journalism and media in 2010
  5. ‘A real free press for the first time in history’: WikiLeaks editor speaks out in London

Source: Google Analytics

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Italian journalists call on government to improve freelance working conditions

November 9th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Freelance, Press freedom and ethics

Industry groups in Italy are calling on the country’s government and ministry of work to fix minimum standards for the treatment and pay of freelance journalists, according to the website of Liberta di Stampa Diritto all’Informazione (LSDI).

It is absolutely unacceptable that independent work is paid with compensation so low that the vast majority of freelance journalists declare an average annual income that is lower than the poverty threshold indicated by ISTAT [the Italian statistics institute].

LSDI has also written and published an ebook on the working conditions for journalists in Italy.

Reports in Italian by LSDI…

Summarised and translated by the Editors Weblog…

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The Awl: My summer on the content farm

November 8th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Freelance

Freelance journalist Jessanne Collins on what it’s like to work as a copy editor for Demand Media’s websites:

I was to be an intermediary between the web at large and the raw, reliably weird substance that results from the unlikely union of algorithmically created topic assignments and writers of, shall we say, widely variable competence. The actual nuts and bolts of style consistency and tone were part of it, of course. But they seemed to be peripheral to what I was actually being asked to do, which was to quality-check each piece of content according to a set of generic yet meticulously detailed standards. It fell on my shoulders to ensure not just that no dangling modifiers marred any directories of Jacuzzi-having hotels, but that the piece wasn’t plagiarised, written off the top of some Jacuzzi-having hotel aficionado’s head, based on obvious or non-information, referencing other websites, or plagued by any of the other myriad atrocities that web content can be subject to these days.

Full story on The Awl at this link…

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