Who needs freelance journalists?

There is huge scope for journalism jobs in the market place and below we cover the main areas where you can win contracts or supply stories on a freelance basis.

The main sectors of opportunity are magazines and newspapers and these are probably still the largest source for journalism work in the UK, although the Web is catching up fast.

All media types and individual titles will have their own rules for accepting freelance work. Have a look around their web site if they have one, quite often the contact pages will have details for the editor or may even state the terms for freelance submissions. There are several books

Magazines

  • Over the last ten years reader expenditure has increased by sixty percent in real terms. Since 1992
  • Circulation has increased by 113m copies or 9.4 per cent.
  • Consumers spend £605m more each year on magazines.
  • The number of consumer magazines has increased by 35 per cent up since 1992.
  • The magazine market is driven by a relentless churn of new titles.

ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation) figures show that the magazine market has shown a year-on-year rise in the number of copies actively purchased by consumers according to the concurrent release on 12th Feb 2004.

Pretty much every publication requires stories in some shape or form and many of these are taken solely for that title. The UK magazine market is huge as you can see from the figures above. There were more than 8,000 titles being published on a regular basis in Britain at the time the 2004 publication was written.

Newspapers

Almost all national and local newspapers will use freelance journalists, either on an ad hoc basis or more regularly. At every major event you will find a heavy presence of staff and agency journalists, but do not let this put you off. With some perseverance and ingenuity you can always get an angle that others might miss.

Newspaper readership shows that the newspaper market is still a viable, growing industry where you can market your skills and earn a good income.

Almost half of all regional press titles in ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation) membership (44%) increased sales in July-Dec 2003. The weeklies - which make up 80% of all regional newspaper titles in ABC - showed the strongest performance, with 51% of them showing circulation gains. The improved performance has been achieved despite a continuing industry-wide policy of reducing bulk sales and discounted copies to offer advertisers clean and transparent circulation figures (99% of titles are now actively purchased compared with 96% four years ago; 97% purchased at full price compared with 94% four years ago). Three-quarters of regional newspapers have stripped out bulks entirely, posting 100% actively purchased figures.
Source: ABC and independent audits, figures include five regional daily and Sunday titles reported as a national newspaper by ABC.

Regional press sales exceeded £675 million in 2002, with nearly 41 million regional paid-for newspapers sold and over 29 million free newspapers delivered every week. The regional newspaper industry employs around 34,000 people, and nearly a quarter of these are editorial staff.
Source: NS intelligence unit; Advertising Statistics Yearbook 2003.

If you fancy getting into news journalism then a great place to start is your local newspaper. Pretty much every town and city has one and although the events covered may not be the most exciting it will provide useful experience and will help your resume and portfolio of stories. Having had local press experience can also help you if your goal is to write for the nationals. Breaking into this market place can be difficult because of the large number of writers already employed. Nationals tend to have large numbers of staff writers and these are backed up by freelancers who are already known to the papers. Like all careers there is only one route to the top - hard work and perseverance.

The Web

There are thousands of commercial websites covering every imaginable area. A good web site is always on the look out for quality content, therefore there is ample scope in this field. The best way to crack this market is to use to Google to return a list of sites that cover your particular speciality. See which ones have current news, stories, articles or technical publications, and draw up a shortlist. Contact the webmaster or editor with a proposal and a sample of your work. Please do read the contact pages on the individual sites for any comments they may have about submissions.


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