Teaching International Journalism, Part 4 - Potential Clients and Employers
There is no definite list as to where you can freelance and make money in the international realm, but here are examples of some of the most accessible ones to get you going.
General news is always the easiest beat to get into, but you can also try niches, in adventure writing, finance, sports, specific industries or hyper-competitive and low paid travel writing and pitch exclusively in those areas.
Websites with multimedia content are the easiest to break into, but you can also try pitching to established newspapers and magazines.
Hot new companies with an influx of cash or with new ideas get competitive quickly, so you want to make your contacts and pitches early. Also intense networking and interning somewhere are usually your best bets to get a pitch approved, whatever its quality.
Globalist Multimedia Websites
Foreign Policy is a great one to try in the beginning. Here are their writer's guidelines, http://foreignpolicy.com/writers-guidelines/ . For each potential outlet you can usually find writer's guidelines, or a way to contact the foreign desk or foreign editor. Here's a primer on how to pitch to Foreign Policy. You can find these advice pages for lots of the following links below as well.
There are an increasing number of specialized all in one international news sites, which have different arrangements with freelancers such as the Global Post, http://www.globalpost.com/ The more they are developed, though, the harder it is to break into and become one of their correspondents, so you always want to work for the new kid on the block.
Vice is an example of "hot media" which was much easier to break through a few years ago. It never hurts to try though. Most places usually have lower paid work, which is a great way to get your foot in the door if you impress. Vice has its Motherboard section which seems to have an easier threshold to enter.
There are plenty of obscure or lesser-known places which also pay for content, such as Global Comment, http://globalcomment.com/contribute/#, or World Politics Review. Look around and ask around, you'll find plenty more internationalist news websites which pay for content.
Do good websites like Good also need content, so when you have positive or innovative content, they are a good place to try http://magazine.good.is/.
International State Broadcasters
International state broadcasters such as the BBC World Service are a great place to pitch to and try to freelance for. There is plenty of competition, but they also need plenty of content, and have deep pockets. They also take everything from photo essays, radio news and features, video features, etc... You just need to figure out who to pitch to and when and from where. That informational all comes from networking, but you can also try at headquarters. State broadcasters work in many languages and have many different regional services so there are many bosses with budgets you can work for.
The Voice of America (and its acolytes Radio Free Europe / Radio Free Asia), DW (Germany), Radio France Internationale, France 24 are some of the other international state broadcasters you can try pitching to and working for. If you know who the editor is for your region and you have interesting stories to sell and the necessary know-how to produce them, write them an email and chances are very high they will get back to you.
"New kids on the block" in this category include state broadcasters from countries not necessarily allies with the United States but with plenty of money and American journalists on their payrolls. These include the not so new anymore Al Jazeera (Qatar), teleSUR (Venezuela), Press TV (Iran), RT (Russia), CCTV(China).
There are many state broadcasters out there which take content from freelancers. Think Japan, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, Hong Kong, find their broadcasters and you may very well have found a potential client for years on end. Some of these pay less, but you can always mix and match your work, and find the balance which works for you. Some journalists like to go for very high quality content which takes months and months to produce but pays better, while others like to have more regular paychecks, even if in much smaller sums. Everyone eventually has to find their own way and the style which suits them best.
Wire services can be easy to freelance for if you are already on the ground and have a really good story idea. It's much easier when you already know the people working locally at the wire services, so you know which stories they are already pursuing, and which they might be interested in.
You can get quotes, specific video or pictures for them as well, or fill in as a substitute on weekends, start with a desk support job, etc... Wire services are sometimes the easiest to get full time or part time jobs with, so making contact and networking with journalists working for wire services can really help your career. Main international news wires are AP, AFP, Reuters, Bloomberg .... They have print, radio, photography and video divisions.
There are also regional type wire services which can be easier to work for, but pay less, such as Noticias Aliadas/Latin American Press, and many others like this in many other regions.
Established Magazines, Newspapers and Their Websites
The better your story, the higher you can try to pitch, without forgetting big magazines like The Atlantic, Esquire, Time, Newsweek, The Economist. Many of these have much more content on their websites, which are much easier to write for, but still pay, even if you never appear in more prestigious print versions.
The same goes for prestigious English-language newspapers ... The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Financial Times, the list goes on and on. These papers will sometimes work with freelancers, but it's easier to start just getting quotes for their correspondents, becoming their friends, and then slowly working yourself into freelance work for these prestigious well-funded newspapers, and then after several years, if you are good enough, eventual employment. It's happened many times, you just have to be patient, do excellent work and be persistent.
Some of the easier newspapers to break into as a freelancer are British or Irish, Canadian or Australian, such as the Guardian and The Independent. More so than American media, British media and media from some of its former colonies typically relied, and still rely, on freelancers to build up their news content. One of my first pieces from Paris was for the Toronto-based Globe and Mail.
English (As A Second Language) Media from Around The World
Locally, where you are based, you can always look for English-language media, television programs, radio programs, magazines, newsletters to get you going as well. These exist around the world. Some even have huge budgets and commission pieces from around the world, such as The National, http://www.thenational.ae/ Here's an interesting article on English language media in Ukraine.
Much like state broadcasters, there are English-language newspapers in Australia, South Africa, Ireland, Hong Kong, Latin America, which will pay for your content, even if it's not from their area. When working locally, I've worked for the Jakarta Post and the now defunct Indonesian Observer in Jakarta, as well as an English television news program based out of Indonesia on SCTV Television.
Popular Websites Going Increasingly Global
Some of the most popular websites are getting more and more international, with versions in different languages, and more serious reporting on international topics, so you can also try to work for them. They also have more and more bureaus, where you can also help out as a freelancer.
Some of these places include Buzzfeed, The Daily Beast, Slate, Gawker, Huffington Post... You want to navigate these websites, find their international content, see if they have submission pages, find their international editors, and start pitching away.
Major US Networks
You can also work for major US networks. The easiest if you have any radio skills is to become a freelancer with NPR. Just find a foreign news editor and start pitching to them.
CNN is not that difficult if you are in the middle of a war zone or on a story at the top of world headlines, and you do an informational "phoner" for them.
The same goes for CBS News, NBC News, Fox News, ABC News, both television and radio. Doing more regular work for them means getting to know who works there and slowly or quickly working your way up their ladder, depending on circumstances.
Believe it or not, religious networks have some of the deepest pockets for international news.
You can try working for Vatican Radio, World Vision Radio, or even the very reputable Christian Science Monitor website. There are many other outlets in this category, some less reputable, or more extreme, but you can always try them, and see if it works for you.
There's a whole world out there of publications in different niches you can write for.
Some which come to mind are environmental (such as Grist), adventure living (Outside), fashion (Vogue, Marie Claire), finance, music, sports, lefty views (The New Internationalist, The Nation, Democracy Now, Pacifica Radio, Yes Magazine), media on media (CJR) travel magazines and websites (Travel and Leisure , here's a list of 50 websites....)
Collectives, Freelance Organizations, Job Boards
When you can't beat them, join them.
Some of the collectives are free, some you can pay for premium content, some are more for resources and general protection and awareness, but all these collectives are extremely useful, especially when starting out. Some have job boards, training sessions, or offer "stables" and "marketplaces" of and for journalists, but all can be extremely useful once you get active and network within them ... including Feature Story News, Storyhunter, IJNet, Reporters Without Borders, SPJ, Committee to Protect Journalists, Find Stringers ....
Freelance work can also be found on job boards on Linked In, JournalismJobs.Com, JournaJobs.Eu, ijnet opportunities, and many others. But again, the best way is through the grapevine you will make as you enter the profession and build your contact list one person at a time.
Last but not least, if you have a long term international reporting project, and really want to aim for quality over quantity, this link has amazing resources and places to get the best professional development grants in international journalism.
The International Reporting Project is particularly accessible in terms of the grants they offer to young, enterprising journalists.
If you are reading this, are there any categories I've forgotten you would add? Any potential clients for budding freelance journalists you would recommend? Any clients you would tell them to absolutely avoid? Thanks!
If you enjoyed this lesson plan, here are all the chapters in My Guide to Teaching International Freelance Journalism.
Part 1, Geographies
Part 2, A Brief History Until Today
Part 3, Before You Go
Part 4, Potential Clients
Part 5, When You First Arrive
Part 6, Surviving the Game
Part 7, Books and Films To Educate and Inspire
Part 8, Perceptions
Part 9, Ethical Considerations
Part 10, Migrations and the Other
Part 11, Going Glocal
Part 12, Musings, Behind the Scenes and Critiques