Introduction to becoming a freelance journalist
Journalism has been defined as:
"Writing intended for publication in a newspaper or magazine, or for broadcast on a radio or television program featuring news, sports, entertainment, or other timely material." - Thomson Gale
Or alternatively as: "The opinions of the uneducated, reflecting the ignorance of the community." - Oscar Wilde (paraphrased)
We will ignore the second and concentrate on the first! If you are reading this page the chances are that your thirst is for breaking news and your hunger is capturing the exclusive. Despite our second quote, we believe that your interest as a journalist lies in bringing the most up-to-date and relevant news and information to the general public through your words. Whether your words are printed in a magazine, national or local paper or online, if your words concern timely issues and topics then you can consider yourself a journalist.
Of course, within this broad definition, we have the whole range of journalists in the industry ranging from sensationalized reporting on lascivious lives of the rich and famous of tabloids to the freelance journalist who contributes once a week to the local newspaper's gardening guide. If you have a passion for a subject and have the patience and drive to work towards your goals then you could well succeed as a freelance journalist.
Depending on which area of journalism your heart desires will decide your route to your destination. If your desire is to work for the nationals then a journalism degree or years working for little pay or reward as a freelance journalist or junior reporter may be the best route. If your desire is to support your income in later life by writing a few articles a week for magazines and small publications then a few courses to give you enthusiasm and a better understanding of what may be asked of you may be a better option.
With sales of paper publications still remaining strong along with the surge in numbers of websites that require journalistic input, there has probably never been a better time to consider a career as a freelance journalist. With such a wide source of potential clients completing some research as described in our marketing section may help you define a niche market. For every niche hobby and interest there are magazines and websites catering to the interest of the general public, therefore there are an abundance of opportunities.
More on freelancing as a journalist.