Freelance journalism is a tough business, but many of the best investigative stories are produced by independents working for themselves, whether they’re roving correspondents, book authors, or stringers in remote locales. Here’s GIJN’s guide to freelance services around the world. We started looking for good platforms for finding assignments and getting paid decently, but we’ve expanded that to groups offering help on reporting, funding, insurance, safety, and more. Have we missed something? Write us at GIJN.org.
There are no platforms designed specifically for connecting publications to investigative journalists with story ideas, but a couple websites provide the opportunity to have a pitch reviewed and commissioned.
PayDesk, created by a former freelance journalist and an Internet entrepreneur, is a booking platform that connects media outlets with freelance journalists around the world and facilitates payments. It’s been called Uber for journalists, and it’s geared toward correspondents who media companies can hire to produce news content. However, journalists registered with PayDesk can post pitches in a public forum for editors and producers to review. Media clients include English-language international publications and broadcasters, mostly British and American.
The WordRate site offers two services: WordRate is a crowd-sourced industry review platform, while PitchLab is designed to land writers a good publishing deal with a magazine or newspaper. Submitting a pitch is free, but keep in mind the group of mentors reviewing proposal want feature articles with award-winning potential. If selected, a mentor acts much like a literary agent, finding the right publication and negotiating a contract on behalf of the journalist, who must agree to a 15 percent commission. WordRates, which lets journalists rate and review editors and publications, mostly deals with U.S. outlets, but is open to including international media, the company says.
HackPack is designed to connect freelancers, fixers, experts, and news outlets around the world. Users create a profile to show areas of focus, language, skills, and availability. A message board has jobs and other opportunities, and can be used to pitch story ideas. For now, the platform appears to be geared to location-specific, breaking-news.
Pay Rates & Reviews
In addition to WordRates (described above) several other platforms let journalists reportfreelance rates and reviews of their experiences with media outlets:
The Freelancer, by Contently: Free information regarding pay rates at over 100 print and digital publications, as reported by other freelancers. Most publications are American with a few international outlets, including Haaretz, the BBC, and The Guardian.
Who Pays Writers? is another free, crowd-sourced list and is maintained by an anonymous collective of writers. Pay rates, assignment type and length, and payment speed are provided for hundreds of publications, including some non-U.S. outlets.
Other Services for Freelancers
The Rory Peck Trust is perhaps best known for providing assistance grants to freelancers and their families in crisis, but the group offers a range of useful services to independent reporters: training to cope with hostile environments, insurance, professional development, and more.
The Global Investigative Journalism Network maintains a help desk for investigative reporters and an extensive resource center open to the public. Among the resource pages are lists of grants, fellowships, and awards, plus scores of tip sheets on reporting techniques, emergency and legal aid, fundraising, and mobile journalism.
IJNet, the international journalists’ network, offers dozens of resource pages and features for freelance journalists. There are useful resource pages (marketing your work, grants and fellowships) as well as features (job hunting, beating jet lag). Many are translated into other languages.
Freelance Investigative Reporters and Editors (FIRE) offers reporting grants and editorial support to selected freelancers working on investigative projects. Advanced assistance may include fact-checking, legal review, and funding referrals. Check their site for the latest round of funding.