Distribution, Collaboration, and Freelancing: A GIJN Guide

From where to pitch to how to avoid being sued, and how much you should be getting paid for your work: a new, nine-part GIJN-resource covers the business side of doing investigative journalism. The guide covers a variety of subjects, aiming to help both individuals and media institutions by providing practical tips and advice.

Freelancing: Places to Pitch Story Ideas

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There are no platforms designed specifically for journalists to sell investigative story ideas, but a few websites may prove useful. To find a publisher for an investigative idea, most reporters suggest alternative routes, such as doing research on possible outlets and making personal contacts. (See more about networking in the section on pitching stories.)

However, there are some websites that provide opportunities to pitch story ideas to a broad audience and to view publishers’ calls for contributions (though these are rarely on investigative topics). For freelance investigative reporters, a primary value of these job platforms is to find the gigs that pay the bills while pursuing bigger passions. There are dozens of job sites, so our list is surely incomplete.

Tips and Strategies: Freelancing during the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Freelancing as an investigative journalist is challenging in the best of times, and it has proven even more difficult during the coronavirus pandemic. From managing physical risks to losing work due to the global economic slowdown, the difficulties are unique and the challenges varied. Here are some tips and ideas that might help. A GIJN webinar — Freelance Investigative Journalism During the Time of COVID — was held July 9, 2020, as part of GIJN’s Investigating the Pandemic series. Guests were Safa Al Ahmad, a freelance documentary filmmaker; Cecilia Anesi, co-founder of the Investigative Reporting Project Italy; Emmanuel Freudenthal and Fisayo Soyombo, both freelance investigative reporters; and Tom Giles, executive director, Current Affairs at Britain’s ITV, and former editor of the BBC’s Panorama program. 

Financial Resources

Folio has a special page for freelance journalists impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes a rolling list of grants, where to find work, and free resources for journalists. 
GIJN has summarized available grants for journalists and publishers worldwide.

Freelancing Investigative Journalism: How to Pitch

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Selling freelance investigative journalism proposals is a lot like selling other stories, but harder. There just aren’t enough media outlets willing to engage in watchdog reporting. 

And pitching investigations which may have uncertain and controversial outcomes is especially challenging, requiring the establishment of mutual trust. 

What’s more, the costs of doing time-consuming investigations can be high, while the compensation is inadequate. It’s hard to predict how much time and effort will be involved, making even a rough cost-benefit analysis only a wild guess. Then, lastly, there’s personal risk. Freelancers can face special challenges working on controversial stories, with legal and safety risks that media outlets won’t assume.  

It’s hard to predict how much time and effort will be involved, making even a rough cost-benefit analysis only a wild guess.Despite all this, the ranks of freelance investigative reporters remain strong.

Freelancing During the Pandemic: A Pitching Guide and Free Webinar for Investigative Reporters

Freelancing as an investigative journalist is challenging in the best of times, and more so during a pandemic. GIJN’s latest guide offers broad guidance on pitching, financial support, and networking for freelancers as the COVID-19 crisis continues. Be sure to catch our free webinar — Freelance Investigative Journalism During the Time of COVID — on Thursday July 9 at 9:00 EST as part of GIJN’s Investigating the Pandemic series.

How to Pitch Your Long-form Video COVID-19 Story to Major Broadcasters

Investigative filmmaking on the coronavirus pandemic is continuing apace, despite the obstacles presented by travel restrictions, health risks, and the relentless daily news cycle. There are plenty of opportunities for journalists to work with major broadcasters, including GIJN’s new online tool to pitch commissioning editors, launched at our latest webinar on collaborative TV and video investigations.