Freelance Files

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Freelance Files is a bi-monthly column for and by environmental journalism freelancers in which a rotating cast of writers share hard-earned wisdom here about myriad aspects of weaving a life and business out of their independent status. For questions and comments, to suggest future Freelance Files columns or to offer to write one, email SEJournal Online Freelance Files editor Karen Schaefer at karenscha@gmail.com.

 

August 12, 2020

  • When breaking news hits, freelancers often find editors at media outlets eager for related stories. But what about when breaking news like a global pandemic becomes virtually the only story being told? What do you do when those same media editors say no thanks to yet more coverage? Freelance Files editor Karen Schaefer went looking for some timely advice.

April 29, 2020

  • Numerous freelance journalists are suffering financially alongside other businesses damaged by the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis. But in an especially timely tale, one freelancer explains how she took matters into her own hands when media clients were overdue on payments. Freelance Files has the story. 

January 29, 2020

  • What better New Year’s resolution for freelance environmental journalists than putting their work on a sounder financial basis. In the latest Freelance Files column, journalism veteran Julie Halpert (pictured, left) offers 10 tips for financial stability. Among them: Side gigs, grants and relationship building, plus crafting the perfect pitch, spinning several stories from one and thinking big picture.

July 24, 2019

  • With the continued decline in staff jobs at U.S. newspapers and other media across the country, freelancers are hitting the streets in growing numbers. The latest Freelance Files takes a closer look at how membership in the Society of Environmental Journalists can benefit journalists who freelance.

December 19, 2018

  • It's not often that a new genre of science writing opens up for freelancers.  But writer Dan Bloom suggests there's a growing market for freelancers who want to write about climate in the form known as “cli-fi,” a new dystopian fiction that focuses on future impacts of climate change.  Freelance Files editor Karen Schaefer invited him to share his perspective on the emerging genre.

August 22, 2018

  • A big reporting jaunt can be a professional thrill. That is, until you consider the upfront costs you might be expected to shoulder as an independent journalist. The latest Freelance Files, from multimedia journalist Gloria Dickie, looks at the realities of travel expenses and offers half-a-dozen workarounds to lighten the load.

May 30, 2018

April 4, 2018

  • A veteran freelancer struggles with tax season in the wake of an unexpected personal tragedy. But as she makes her way through a forest of forms, she offers a series of tips and observations for fellow independents, in the return of our regular Freelance Files column.

April 4, 2017

  • You're reporting from the field in a high-risk locale, with a shoestring budget and no back-office support — how do you stay safe? The latest Freelance Files offers some cautionary tales from a long-time SEJ member recently returned from overseas, with a detailed resource guide to help keep you and your data secure.

January 17, 2017

  • What makes for an effective science or environment essay? Freelance Files contributor Michelle Nijhuis explores universal qualities of the best work: It begins with a persistent question that sets the essayist off on a journey of discovery. Also, practical tips on how to get published beyond the essay departments of major magazines.

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