1. 6079
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    6079 New Member

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    Freelancing for publications, getting access

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by 6079, May 4, 2008.

    Hello,
    What I would like to do is submit the occasional essay or story or interview to a local newspaper or magazine.
    What I'm ignorant to is, if for instance, a politician or celebrity was in town for an appearance and I pitched the idea to one of these publications (or TV stations for that matter with video footage) that I had intimate knowledge of this person and had a list of great questions ready to go - what are the odds that publication would "endorse" you or temporarily allow you under their name, to help facilitate some time with this person?
    Obviously, I imagine they would want some credentials and samples, so they don't ruin their credibility, and they would likely have only a moderate interest in the interview, since they hadn't assigned it to someone already.
    The alternative, however, would be if I created this interview or story myself, and then presented it to one of these publications. Surely, if I had an exclusive interview with Bill Clinton, they would publish it, but are they more critical to non-employees with unrequested, not necessarily current news items like this? Or is it fair to think a good story would get their attention?
     
  2. MumblingSage
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    MumblingSage Contributing Member

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    While I'm no expert, I'd say get the good story and peddle it around. It's worth a shot, but I think they're more likely to buy the story from a non-employee than endorse a non-employee in getting it.
     
  3. Rumpole40k
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    Rumpole40k Banned

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    Sage is right. Get the story first then shop it for the best price.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's right on the money, imo... and i've written for newspapers and magazines on contract, plus sold articles to same as freelancer...

    if you have the personal clout with a celeb to get an interview, go ahead and do it and then shop it around for the best deal...
     
  5. Al B
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    Al B Senior Member

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    What you are describing, is being a 'stringer', as opposed to a freelancer. The terms are somewhat interchangeable, but there is a difference...

    The term 'freelance' derives from mercenary soldiers, not tied to any particular allegiance, thus they were a 'free lance'. A stringer differs in being someone who does the deed first, then hopes to be paid for it, so more like a bounty hunter, to keep the military analogy going. So in journalistic terms, a stringer 'strings' his already created piece to (typically) a news organisation, in the hope that they will pick it up for use, whereas a freelancer is hired first, to then go and write something.

    There are some things to be aware of if you work in a stringer style, especially since you are writing a news story. It has to have one or more of the following - news, reader relevance, or a new insight. It can also be one of the following in terms of form: straight news, human interest, investigative journalism, a case study, a how to, a ghost-written piece, or any of a combination of those things.

    You then have to put it in the style of the publication or medium you approach, so, you need to be aware of all the nuances of writing for that publication, this includes basic stuff, such as keeping the opening paragraph short, to covering who, what, where, when, why, and how?

    Freelance pieces are generally 'written to size' and with a very specific brief (i.e cover this, make it 1500 words, include a case study). It is rare that one has to include photographs with a freelance piece (unless that was part of the freelance contract). However, normally freelancers do include some information as to where photos for their piece can be sourced as a matter of courtesy. A stinger's work can be any length or form he he chooses, but it pays to know the word count of an average feature for the publication you make your approach to.

    Since a stringer is a bit like a paparazzi, touting his work for publication, providing an accompanying image goes a long way to its chances of successfully being used. Editors love pictures, and you increase your chances of publication hugely if you attach a decent picture to your speculative piece.

    Typically, newspapers print at 85 dpi, magazines at 175 dpi, which means your picture does not have to be massively high in resolution, but it does have to be interesting, well framed, and in focus, and it helps if it will work equally well in black and white as well as colour. So a boring headshot is to be avoided if you can manage it.

    Hope this helps. Shout up if you need any more info.

    Al
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    not really, al, because in practice, a stringer usually has a prior agreement of some kind with the publication, to write for it on a part-time basis and doesn't just send in work 'cold' with no connection at all to the venue, which is what a freelancer does...

    a 'stringer' can legitimately claim, 'I write for the Hohokum Press-Journal [or whatever]' while a freelancer can't say that in all honesty, even if s/he has been given the go-ahead to write a piece for them, after a cold query... in which case, a truthful claim would only be, 'I'm writing a piece for the...'... a shade of difference yes, but an important one in the world of journalism...
     
  7. Al B
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    Al B Senior Member

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    What I described is typical in the UK, it miight be different elsewhere, but what I described is exactly how it works in the UK. Trust me on that one. It's what I do, and where newspapers are concerned, I've been employer, an employee, worked as a freelencer myself, employed freelancers, worked as a stringer as well as used their stuff too.

    Al
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    then it's a uk/us difference... i didn't know you were across the pond, so assumed wrongly that you were referring to american custom... i've dabbled in most of those roles as well, over a long and varied career, but only in the us, so can't speak for elsewhere...
     
  9. 6079
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    6079 New Member

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    Pitching interview already done to publication/website

    Hi,

    I have an interview I did last month--about 15 minutes--with a filmmaker. It covers his career, not focusing on one area. My main question is how to present this in a pitch.

    As in how I would pitch it before the interview took place, I have a few sentences introducing the person and his career, then in the next paragraph, I discuss some noteworthy subjects brought up in the interview.

    To conclude, I say I can deliver the interview at your request. Being that this will most likely be on a website--if at all--is it necessary to estimate a length here?

    Also, if you have any suggestions for tailoring a pitch to online sites or particular ones that have shown an interest in accepting freelance interviews like this, I would appreciate it. So far, I have just searched for sites that have hosted similar interviews to this and am contacting their editors or general contact sections. There are so many, it would seem one would bite eventually.

    Thanks.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    is it a filmed interview you want to shop around, or just a written one?...

    and if it's a print one, why only to online venues, when print magazines will more likely pay better?...

    as for length, that depends on if it's print or video... for print, you have to give a word count... for video you'll probably have to give a minute length...
     
  11. 6079
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    6079 New Member

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    Just a written interview. My feeling is that it would be easier to get in an online venue. I have a hard time seeing interviews being accepted in print publications. At least not a straight Q & A format like I'd prefer to do that is more of a profile than a topical interview. It seems a little random to shoehorn it into a publication, but somehow it feels more appropriate if you do it online.

    By the way, I may propose a video interview later, after having been conducted, so opinions on how to pitch both formats of completed interviews would be welcome.


    Here's some more context, to flesh out my experience with this. I pitched my interview before hand, to a dozen or so local weekly papers -- then pitched it after being conducted to a dozen more, modifying it with a few sentences on what was discussed. I got zero responses, even though this person is a perfectly credible feature in NY Times, any weekly paper from any major city, etc. I feel bad for taking his time and not doing anything with it. So that's why I want to pursue online sources, but also make sure my "Completed Pitch" is appropriate.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    who's the interviewee?... i can help you write a good query, if you want to email me... it's too hard doing so in a post...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     

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