Category Archives: Freelance

‘If this then that’: ten recipes for journalists

If this then that – or ifttt – is a tool that allows you to connect various other tools together to create rules or tasks. It allows you to connect 17 channels, including SMS, Facebook, WordPress and Dropbox, offering 1040 possible task combinations.

The most popular ‘recipe’, a task designed and shared by others, will give you an idea of how ifttt works. This recipe allows you to connect your Facebook and Dropbox accounts so that when someone tags you in a photo on Facebook, the photo will be added to your Dropbox folder (cloud storage allowing you to access your files on different devices).

Here are ten ifttt recipes for journalists:

1. When you receive an email from a key contact or your editor, you receive an SMS

You no doubt receive scores of emails but there are some senders that are more important to hear from than others. This recipe allows you to set up a key contact, such as a source or your editor, and receive a SMS whenever that person emails you.

2. When you post a link to Delicious, add to Dropbox

If you use Delicious to bookmark interesting stories, this recipe allows you to also save the links to Dropbox. For example, I am interested in new smartphone apps so have set up a connection so that any Delicious bookmark that I tag “app” is posted to a folder in my Dropbox account.

3. Post Google+ posts to your Facebook page

Google+ adds additional responsibility for anyone in the newsroom tasked with managing social media.

It is widely recognised that non-automated posts are best when it comes to Facebook and Google+. This recipe allows you to write a link post in Google+ and automatically post the link to your site’s Facebook page. You can also create a rule to post status updates.

To do this you need to set up an RSS feed of your Google+ account. Copy your Google+ ID, which is the long number in the URL of your Google+ profile, and paste it on the end of My Google+ feed is therefore, for example.

4. Create an Evernote every time you star an item in Google Reader

If you use Google Reader as your RSS feed reader and want a quick way of saving key articles to Evernote, this is a solution.

5. Post to Instapaper (or Read It Later) every time you star an article in Google Reader

If you use Instapaper to read articles later this is a quick way of posting from Google Reader.

6. Post a ‘favourite’ tweet (with links) to Instapaper (or Dropbox or Evernote)

When you come across a tweet with a link and want to save it for later you may well click star to make it a favourite. This recipe allows you to save those favourite tweets and post the linked articles to Instapaper. Alternatively, you can also set this up to save to Dropbox of Evernote.

7. Add favourite Flickr photos to Dropbox

If you post stories you write online, you may well use Flickr images with creative commons licences. Flickr allows you to indicate favourite images that you come across and may want to use at a later date. This recipe saves those images to Dropbox. Alternatively, you can set this up to save favourites to Evernote.

8. Send me an email (or SMS) to remind me about a daily meeting, weekly or monthly task.

If you have a daily or weekly meeting or task to carry out, ifttt can enable you to create reminder.

9. Send me an email (or SMS) every time a certain person tweets

Twitter is a great source for journalists but it is easy to miss a tweet from a key contact. Perhaps the key source is a person or company that only occasionally tweets and when they do you want to be alerted immediately. This recipe allows you to receive an email when an individual tweets. You can also set a rule to receive an SMS.

10. Send me an email every time a keyword is mentioned in an RSS feed

This is a recipe I suggested in a recent tip of the day. It is a way you can set up an alert when a keyword is mentioned by a particular news provider.

If you are a journalist and have a favourite ifttt recipe, share it in the comments session below.

US study finds 92% of B2B journalists use LinkedIn

A study by US company Arketi Group has found 92 per cent of journalists writing for B2B publications use LinkedIn, 85 per cent of journalists are on Facebook, 84 per cent use Twitter.

Out of the journalists surveyed, 58 per cent have a YouTube account, 49 per cent have a blog, 28 per cent use Flickr, 20 per cent use Digg, 18 per cent have a MySpace account, 15 per cent use Delicious and 14 per cent use Foursquare, according to this report.

Meanwhile, LinkedIn has published advice on its blog for freelancers and those who juggle journalism careers with other jobs.

For example, a freelance or part-time journalist may also be a yoga tutor and have to decide whether or not to include details of both careers in a LinkedIn profile.

Your first decision is whether you want to feature both careers on your LinkedIn profile. If you think it might be puzzling or even damaging to one of your jobs to feature both on your profile, then simply leave off your other employment. There is no rule that you have to show everything you do on LinkedIn.

If, on the other hand, you want to promote both of your jobs or careers, here are two ways to do that effectively:

  • Embrace the slash mark: Marci Alboher, author of One Person/Multiple Careers, coined the term “slash careerist” or “slasher” to refer to individuals who can’t answer “what do you do?” with a single word or phrase. If you’re perfectly comfortable being a tech salesperson/photographer or a lawyer/SAT tutor, then proudly display this as your LinkedIn headline.

You’ll also want to list both of these positions as your current employment in your profile. The way to include more than one job as current is to put the end dates of both jobs as “present”. Note that whichever role began more recently will be displayed first.

  • If, instead, you want to highlight one of your jobs more prominently (e.g., because you’re hoping to land a new job in that field or believe you’ll have more networking opportunities related to that role), then I recommend writing a profile headline featuring that role exclusively and listing it as your only current position.

The LinkedIn blog post aso has advice from freelancers who are seeking a full-time position.

Here is a podcast on how journalists can best use LinkedIn






Tool of the week for journalists – Duedil, ‘Lexis-Nexis-meets-Google-meets-LinkedIn’

Tool of the week: Duedil

What is it? Duedil is a website which launched in April 2010 and allows you to access company stats and figures for free. Gigaom described it as “Lexis-Nexis-meets-Google-meets-LinkedIn”.

It’s still in beta but is a kind of social network for company information; transparent data available on a site with an intuitive user interface.

You can, of course, access the information via Companies House (for a £1-a-report-fee) but what Duedil does really well is allow you to explore and drill down.

Graphs, charts and timelines present current stock information, the number of employees and opinions on the firm, including tweets.

How is it of use to journalists?

Whatever your area of journalism – from fashion to politics to local newspapers – you no doubt have to keep an eye on the finances, details of directors and employee numbers of companies within your field of expertise.

What’s really nice is that if you log in with your LinkedIn profile, it automatically suggests companies you might be interested in.

Even if you never use Duedil for journalistic research, it’s worth exploring and curiously addictive once you start browsing.

Here’s an example: is interested in following newspaper groups, media organisations and tech companies.

Let’s take News International Publishers Ltd. You can click to see various details.

For example, you can click on the financials for various years.

You can then look at the list of directors and find James Murdoch’s current and past positions presented on a timeline.

Now click on the group graph and see the family of related companies.

Here’s another example, this time for Johnston Press. Here you can see the stock information, number of employees:

Under the “opinions” heading, you can also see the tweets that comment on JP.

It is worth checking and data you access from Duedil (you can report bad data if you come across it and receive £5 as part of its guarantee).

Simply by following companies on Duedil – in the way you would follow people in a social network – you may well come across data to inspire further investigation or information that reveals a connection.

Online newsroom allows freelancers to pitch and get paid

Kapost, a new site for web publishers, is about to launch a mechanism for paying journalists a bonus if their articles clock up a certain number of web hits, retweets or Facebook ‘likes’.

What is Kapost?

Kapost is an online system for web publishers to manage all areas of production.

It works in conjunction with a site’s own CMS, such as WordPress, and allows freelancers to pitch story ideas and get paid in a single click via PayPal. An invoicing service is coming soon.

There is a calendar for managing workflows and a CMS for any publisher that does not want to use their existing system.

Editors can drill down to view the performance of stories by author, on a categorised topic (such as health or education), or by individual story and analyse the traffic generated. Organisations can then opt to pay reporters an additional bonus for popular stories.

Grace Boyle from Kapost spoke to from the company’s base in Colorado:

We don’t want to replace Google Analytics but we are taking the most important analytics metrics and we show which of your contributors are giving you the most traffic.

She added that Kapost’s aim is to reduce the amount of administrative duties required of editors.

Kapost is free for organisations with three people or less; it is $8 per user per month for larger organisations.

To see a demo of Kapost, click on the video below.

Related content:

Readers may have the last say in what is and is not journalism

ScribbleLive: Four ways to make money from liveblogging

WikiLeaks links with Brazilian partner to scrutinise US embassy cables

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.

From Marxism Today to the Mail on Sunday: Suzanne Moore on the life of a columnist

Columnist Suzanne Moore’s career has has taken her, somewhat improbably, from Marxism Today to the Mail on Sunday, via the Guardian, the Independent, the New Statesman, a stab at politics. This weekend gone Moore began writing for the Guardian anew. On Friday she was in Bristol to deliver the annual Benn Lecture.

I never applied to be a newspaper columnist, there’s no job application form, and it certainly wasn’t the family business … I’d always liked reading, but I came from the sort of family where it was seen as a sign of depression.

Listen to full lecture at this link.

Italian journalists call on government to improve freelance working conditions

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…

The Awl: My summer on the content farm

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…

Photographers discuss how to change society’s suspicions

Press photographers came together today to explore society’s suspicions of cameras and debate how to change these attitudes in support of a free press for the future, at the House of Commons for the ‘Who’s afraid of photographers’ seminar’.

Opening the seminar, MP Don Foster said photographers need to take “collective action” in ensuring police officers are correctly trained.

There are two key areas that we have to look at, existing legislation and the way legislation is interpreted and used by various forces of law and order. One great piece of news is that the coalition government, through Nick Clegg, has suspended Section 44 of the Terrorism Act. But please don’t say we’ve won because I used the word suspended. What we need to make absolutely certain is that it is actually repealed and removed, not just suspended. I think that’s really important.

You need to talk about the ways in which you can engage with those law enforcement agencies, in particular the police, to help work through with them what is legitimate, and what is not legitimate. That means you have to engage with police in their training procedures with new recruits. So far there has not been a great deal of success, but today I think this is something you should take collective action towards to ensure there is proper training that goes on.

Professor Chris Frost, head of journalism at Liverpool John Moores University, who outlined the ethical guidelines impacting on journalists added that he felt there was increasing concern on the part of the public over their privacy in public places.

People seem to be much more concerned about where their image is going to be placed, they are much more aware, possibly because there are more cameras around now.

He added that this is also fuelled by increased fears of terrorism, peadophilia, identity theft and state interference.

David Hoffman, a social issues photographer, talked the seminar audience through the relationship between photographers and police at demonstrations over the past decades, from the poll tax riots to the G20 clashes, during which he claimed to have lost four teeth. But in recent months there has been “a patchy and fragile improvement”, he said.

I am now finding the police more cooperative. I hope my experience is being reflected elsewhere. I am confident…we have an opportunity to build on the progress of the last 18 months.

We’re at a crossroads, this government has made promises and it’s that baton, not the one hanging from the PC’s belt, that we need to take up now.

So why has there been such a difficult relationship between police and journalists/photographers? John Toner, NUJ Freelance Organiser proposed the following theories, summarised below:

Some police think the press are out there just to take photographs of them behaving badly

Some are afraid of having their photo in the newspaper as could become target

Some believe they’re moral guardians

Some believe there is a law in this country which protects privacy. Even if that were the case, that’s a civil matter.

Looking to the future, and echoing the earlier comments of Don Foster, the seminar participants called for greater training of police, such as through web videos/units and training alongside photographers, as well as penalties for the misuse of legislation rather than the re-distribution of guidelines.

In support of practical training for police, Jules Mattsson, who claimed to have had his camera confiscated by police and been restricted from photographing two cadet parades, said time should not be an excuse.

If there’s not enough training time to train the police who uphold the law, then I think that’s a much wider problem than this.

I think publicity and education is important, also for new photographers, student photographers. We need to also expand our reach to educate people in our rights.

Japanese journalist tricked Afghan captors into letting him tweet

On Monday, reported on the release of Kosuke Tsuneoka, a freelance Japanese journalist, who had been freed after being held captive by soldiers for five months in northern Afghanistan.

Kosuke Tsuneoka had been missing since 1 April, when a message posted to his Twitter account indicated he had travelled to a Taliban-controlled region of northern Afghanistan. According to the Associated Press, friends then received information that he had been kidnapped.

Tsuneoka’s Twitter account then lay unused until last Friday, when a post appeared in English saying “I am alive, but in jail”. He was reportedly released to the Japanese Embassy on Saturday.

But new details have emerged as to how Tsuneoka managed to send the tweets that led to his release. According to reports, the journalist managed to send the messages from one of his captor’s phones.

Says IDG Net via PC World:

The soldier had heard of the internet, but he didn’t know what it was. When Tsuneoka mentioned it to him, he was eager to see it, but the phone wasn’t signed up to receive the carrier’s GPRS data service for accessing the Internet.

“I called the customer care number and activated the phone,” he said. Soon after he had the captor’s phone configured for internet access (…) “But if you are going to do anything, you should use Twitter,” he said he told them. “They asked what that was. And I told them that if you write something on it, then you can reach many Japanese journalists. So they said, ‘try it’.”