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So You Want To Write for a News Organization

OK, so you want to write for a news organization. 

You've got your goal in sight. Now, there are a series of steps you'll have to take to make that goal a reality.



  • The first thing you have to do is amass your clips, or writing samples. Preferably these would be news clips, say from a college newspaper. So if you attend college, write for the college paper. If you're not in college, see if you can write for the small, local news organization that's always looking for help, whether you send in something to the community page or offer to cover a local event. 


    
If neither of these options is feasible, you can always create some "mock" news stories, writing as if your work was going to be published, as long as you make it clear your work wasn't actually published.

    You can also use writing samples from school or other types of writing you've done. But for the purpose of getting a gig as a reporter, news clips work best.



  • Decide which news organization you want to write for. Unless you have extensive experience writing for a news, you'll probably want to start somewhere small and local. This could be an alternative weekly paper or a small daily paper, for example. Get a feel for the news organizations in your area, the quality of writing, and the quality of the work that they do. See which you like best, and which you'd be best suited for. 



  • Contact an editor at that publication. Ideally, e-mail an editor in the department you want to work for, whether this is local news, features, sports, arts and entertainment, etc. Ask them if they need freelancers, and tell them about your previous writing experience. Keep it short in your first e-mail. Give them the basic facts - who you are, your writing background, and your interest in freelancing. Then wait about a week.

    •  If you don't hear back from the editor within about a week, follow up. Many times editors receive so many e-mails that some get lost. So you may have to be a little persistent. Send another e-mail that reiterates what you said in the first. Wait another week. If you still don't hear back, send an e-mail a third time and wait another week. If you still get no response, give the editor a call and leave a brief message, basically re-stating what your e-mail said. 



    • If you still don't hear back after that phone call, give it one more shot and call again. And if you still don't hear back after that, assume they're not interested and move on to the next paper.



      Chances are, however, that you will hear back from an editor and they'll let you know whether they're looking for freelancers. If they are, and most papers are, they might invite you in to meet with them for an interview. This would involve bringing your resume, some writing samples and looking as professional as you would for any other interview. But most likely, if they think you're halfway competent, they may give you an assignment right off the bat. 



Chances are, however, that you will hear back from an editor and they'll let you know whether they're looking for freelancers. If they are, and most news organizations are, they might invite you in to meet with them for an interview. This would involve bringing your resume, some writing samples and looking as professional as you would for any other interview. But most likely, if they think you're halfway competent, they may give you an assignment right off the bat.