Pitching around staff writers

By Brittany Duggan

write-593333_1920As a freelancer, it’s hard to keep of track of which Canadian media outlets still have budgets for outsourcing.

“The Globe has a freeze on freelancers for another month,” a colleague told me recently while we brainstormed where to pitch a story. A Toronto editor told her this after a pitch she really liked.

“Try the guy who runs the real estate pages in Vancouver. It’s all freelancers in that section,” another colleague told me months ago. After spending hours putting together that pitch, I learned that this section has two dedicated writers and a limited budget, so it was a no-go for my story.

As a staff writer previously, I’ve been in positions where I’ve told my editor that I’d like to do a story on X and I got a quick “Great, go for it.” But without being in editorial meetings where you can learn what an editor is missing or looking for, it can be plain frustrating to try and sell a story — especially when you’re new to a publication.

It’s more or less a crapshoot, I’ve heard time and time again. But there are a few ways to observe and pitch the kinds of stories that staff writers have a harder time completing. After talking with a few Canadian editors, here’s what they advise.

Be familiar with the publication and its audience

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Posted on August 15, 2017 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer August 9-14

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, publishing, and freelancing—with a Canadian focus—and share them in Off the Wire. Who needs a water cooler?

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From Canada: 

From The U.S. and beyond:

Recently on Story Board:

Spot a story you think we should include in next week’s Off the Wire? Email the link to editor@thestoryboard.ca or tweet us at @storyboard_ca.

Posted on August 14, 2017 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Chronicle Herald agreement ratified, ending 18-month strike

Striking workers at the Halifax Chronicle Herald ratified an agreement with their employer today, ending a strike that has stretched on for over 18 months.

The Halifax Typographical Union, which represents the striking workers, announced that members voted 94 percent in favour of accepting the agreement. It was reached after two days of mediation led by a government-appointed arbitrator.

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Approximately 60 unionized reporters, photographers, editors and support staff walked off the job on January 23, 2016 over contract issues ranging from pay and pension cuts, to layoffs and longer working hours.

Shortly after the strike began, the striking journalists launched an online news site called Local Xpress. CMG Freelance supported freelancers who withdrew their services from the Chronicle Herald during the strike by paying them to write for the Local Xpress instead.

press release issued by CWA Canada, parent union to both the CMG and the Halifax Typographical Union, says that the 8-year deal includes a 5 percent wage cut as well as a number of staff layoffs.

It also says that Local Xpress will be shut down as part of the agreement.

 

Posted on August 10, 2017 at 2:38 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer August 1-8

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, publishing, and freelancing—with a Canadian focus—and share them in Off the Wire. Who needs a water cooler?

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From Canada: 

From The U.S. and beyond:

Recently on Story Board:

  • Webinar — The Art of Lifestyle Writing: One of the best things about lifestyle journalism is how much this beat is about real life. From what we should be eating, to how to interact with our partners, to which health issue matters the most in the community, lifestyle journalism has the power to change how people live…
  • How to Stand Out as a Freelance Podcast Producer: When I moved to Vancouver to start audio school back in 2011, I knew what I was getting into. I was aware of the already long declining state of the music industry. I knew how few studios had staff audio engineer positions, and I knew how hard I would have to work to get one of them…

Spot a story you think we should include in next week’s Off the Wire? Email the link to editor@thestoryboard.ca or tweet us at @storyboard_ca.

Posted on August 8, 2017 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Webinar: The Art of Lifestyle Writing

Yh3VAPgpOne of the best things about lifestyle journalism is how much this beat is about real life. From what we should be eating, to how to interact with our partners, to which health issue matters the most in the community, lifestyle journalism has the power to change how people live.

If you’d like to learn more about lifestyle writing, join us on Wednesday, August 16, at 3:00 p.m. E.T. for a webinar with writer Arti Patel called “The art of lifestyle writing.

In this workshop, you will learn skills necessary for lifestyle writing: how to interview lifestyle experts, how to find good lifestyle stories, and the importance of hearing from various voices.

Webinar leader Arti Patel is an award-winning reporter and editor with a focus on health, women’s issues, relationships, and awareness around racism and gender equality. She started as an intern at Huffington Post Canada’s Toronto office and worked as an editor in the lifestyle department for almost six years. With a deep passion for storytelling that goes back to her Ryerson University journalism days, she has also dabbled in long-form features on mental health and divorce, produced videos and hosted several segments for lifestyle channels.

You can register for the webinar at this link. CMG Freelance and CWA Canada Associate Members can use their membership numbers to register. For a limited time, CMG Freelance is making live viewing of our webinars available to non-members. If you’d like to watch this one, you can use the special code “Storyboard” in place of a membership number.

Archived webinars are available for viewing by CMG Freelance and CWA Canada Associate Members on this members-only page on the CMG Freelance website. Subjects of previous webinars include financial planning, social media and cyber security for freelancers.

Students, volunteers and emerging media workers can sign up for a free CWA Associate Membership right here.

For information about the price and benefits of CMG Freelance membership check out the CMG Freelance website.

Posted on August 4, 2017 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

How To Stand Out As A Freelance Podcast Producer

by Jeremy Enns 


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When I moved to Vancouver to start audio school back in 2011, I knew what I was getting into.

I was aware of the already long declining state of the music industry. I knew how few studios had staff audio engineer positions, and I knew how hard I would have to work to get one of them.

The thing is, I also knew that I didn’t care about any of that. I loved music and audio and would do what it took to establish myself.

Yeah, ok, so it turns out I really didn’t know what I was getting into.

After finishing school I interned at a couple of local studios, produced a couple of records but soon realized that I may have overestimated my love of audio and underestimated just how hard it was to make a living doing this work.

If I was honest with myself, I didn’t love it enough to show up at the studio at 8am every morning and leave at 3am that night, only to repeat the process the next morning six (or, let’s just be honest, more likely seven) days a week.

So I put the record producer dream behind me and spent the next five years working manual labour jobs landscaping, tree planting, landscaping again, while also taking a year to travel the world. It was in this period where I discovered the world of podcasting, and realized that maybe there was still some room in my life for that dream of working with audio.

The Key Elements Of A Successful Podcast Production Business

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Posted on August 2, 2017 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer July 25-31

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, publishing, and freelancing—with a Canadian focus—and share them in Off the Wire. Who needs a water cooler?

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From Canada: 

From The U.S. and beyond:

Recently on Story Board:

  • The Born Freelancer interviews writer Robin Brunet: B. C. based writer Robin Brunet has certainly achieved a lot in his 34 years in the business (“a good portion of that freelance”) but surely nothing could beat his assertion that he has lived a life “precisely the way I always wanted”…
  • The 5-Minute Freelancer Q&A #34 – Anne Mullens: Anne Mullens is an award-winning freelance health writer, author, editor and health communications consultant who lives in Victoria, B.C. She has won a dozen awards for her writing, which has been published by Reader’s Digest, the Globe and Mail and British Columbia Magazine among others…

Spot a story you think we should include in next week’s Off the Wire? Email the link to editor@thestoryboard.ca or tweet us at @storyboard_ca.

Posted on July 31, 2017 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

The Born Freelancer interviews writer Robin Brunet

This series of posts by the Born Freelancer shares personal experiences and thoughts on issues relevant to freelancers. Have something to add to the conversation? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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“I feel extremely fortunate to have lived precisely the way I always wanted. Very few people can genuinely lay claim to that.” – Robin Brunet

B. C. based writer Robin Brunet has certainly achieved a lot in his 34 years in the business (“a good portion of that freelance”) but surely nothing could beat his assertion that he has lived a life “precisely the way I always wanted”.

Robin Brunet is currently a non-fiction best selling author for his compelling biography of the west coast Canadian broadcasting legend, Red Robinson. Perhaps less well known east of the Rockies, eighty year old Robinson has been referred to as the “Dick Clark of Canada.”

Robinson is still on the air as of this date (although scheduled to retire from Canadian airwaves at the end of the summer to coincide with the sale and demise of his current on air home, CISL 650, as Vancouver’s remaining AM music station).

TBF: So how did someone with no particular love of rock ‘n’ roll become involved in such a fascinating project?

ROBIN: I interviewed Red for another biography I was writing, about the ad man Frank Palmer (which will be published by Douglas & McIntyre next spring under the title Let’s Get Frank!), and we hit it off. We had the same world view.
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Posted on July 27, 2017 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

The 5-Minute Freelancer Q&A #34 — Anne Mullens

In this regular feature, Story Board asks Canadian writers to share a few details about their work habits and their strategies for navigating the ups and downs of freelance life.  

 

Anne deskAnne Mullens is an award-winning freelance health writer, author, editor and health communications consultant who lives in Victoria, B.C.

She has won a dozen awards for her writing, which has been published by Reader’s Digest, the Globe and Mail and British Columbia Magazine among others. Her communications and media relations company Santé Communications Group serves clients such as the Doctors of BC and the government of British Columbia.

She took the time to speak with Story Board recently about how she keeps multiple projects moving, how to avoid business “dry spells,” and how to become the kind of freelancer editors like to work with.

You mentioned to me that you recently went through a dry period with your freelance business. What happened? 

I think it was probably two things. I was on a big project that I had been involved with for four years that was coming to an end. And you’re working so hard that you actually don’t have time to put out pitches. If you’ve not been active with some of your other clients — this really was a full-time, all-consuming project — things go dry. They’re not thinking about you because you haven’t been out there.

So then when I finished, I started putting out pitches and I put out tons of them. And then in June everything started coming back and so now I’m incredibly busy again. But it just took that long for stuff to happen.

I also think it’s an increasingly challenging environment for freelancers.
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Posted on July 25, 2017 at 9:00 am by editor · One Comment · Tagged with: , , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer July 18-24

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, publishing, and freelancing—with a Canadian focus—and share them in Off the Wire. Who needs a water cooler?

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From Canada: 

From The U.S. and beyond:

Recently on Story Board:

Spot a story you think we should include in next week’s Off the Wire? Email the link to editor@thestoryboard.ca or tweet us at @storyboard_ca.

Posted on July 24, 2017 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,