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Stringer Help

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by Ggewh, Aug 17, 2010.

  1. Ggewh

    Ggewh New Member

    Hey, so I have been reading over the posts on this site for a little while now and it has become very clear that you guys really know your stuff. As a result, I have decided to make my first post and see if you guys could give me some advice on getting freelance stringer work for newspapers. Basically I am wondering how you guys go about getting stringer work, what you include in the email, do you send clips in the initial email, if your looking to cover a game how long beforehand do you contact the paper, and anything else you guys think would be helpful. I am really looking to gain more experience and I think that working as a stringer would be a great way to help me reach my goal, so any words of advice or suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
  2. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    I wouldn't send clips in the initial e-mail. I would give your availability first and foremost. What are you looking to cover? I'd start out locally asking what their needs are, instead of just looking to cover a specific game, especially since you don't have much experience. A paper out of your area probably won't take a chance on someone who doesn't have any experience with the local paper.
  3. ringer

    ringer Member

    I agree with Stitch: the key is to identify the papers' needs. Don't try to jump on someone else's beat.

    Other key factors...

    Your experience: For game stories, they'll want to use someone who has proven they can write clean, accurate copy ON DEADLINE. You can't fake it, so if you need practice, find a way to get some before you approach the pros at the paper.

    Contacts: If you've developed any contacts (players, coaches, officials) in the sports you want to cover, it might be worth mentioning.

    Versatility: If you're knowlegeable about several sports, be specific about what they are and sell that, too.

    Good luck!
  4. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    What's your background? College or high school student? Do you have a laptop and cell phone?
  5. Ggewh

    Ggewh New Member

    Stitch and Ringer- Thanks a bunch for taking the time to offer up your advice, I really appreciate it.

    To answer Stitch's questions, I am a high school student and yes I have a laptop and a cell phone and all that stuff. Just to give some background, for about the past year I have been writing for a couple different sports websites to get some experience and make some money doing something I really enjoy. Recently I have decided that I want to take the next step in terms of experience and start trying to be a stringer for newspapers. So, I came to this website to get some advice on how to get started.
  6. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    If you don't get on right away, don't get discouraged. I got a pretty reliable stringing gig in college because I was available at just the right time. Check with the same papers in your every every few months.
  7. spud

    spud Member

    A good alternative for high school kids is asking editors if they need help taking/making calls on Friday nights. I obviously can't speak for all, but the editors I've had wouldn't give a Friday night stringer job to a high school student with no experience to speak of. But we do have kids come in and help do stats and round-ups on Fridays for football. Show your proficiency there and game coverage won't be far behind. Plus, you'll have an idea of what your paper needs from you.

    By all means, try to write somewhere. But if doors are closed, don't be ashamed to jam your foot in there and ask for whatever you can get.
  8. Ggewh

    Ggewh New Member

    Thanks a lot for the input.

    Do you guys have any tips on some important things to say when I email my local paper?
    If not it it definitely cool, since you guys have already been very helpful.

    Thanks again
  9. fourcorners

    fourcorners New Member

    Try and get to the point of your e-mail as quickly as possible, while outlining as many qualifiers as you can in that amount of time. No SE has the time to ready a 500 word e-mail about your interests in writing for him or taking calls. Make it clear and to the point.

    Also proofread the e-mail your self, don't just assume because spell checker ran through it, the e-mail is good to go.
  10. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    I was a stringer for a few papers in my early years. One was in college, I just sent an e-mail. They were friendly and got back to me. I didn't include clips.

    After college, I also attempted to land a gig as a stringer at two larger papers. At one of them the SE was incredibly rude, at the rival paper, the SE wasn't and I got that gig - but I had to provide a few clips after they asked for them.

    Every place will be different. Don't be discouraged if you run into an asshole hiring manager.
  11. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    Another suggestion: See if your coach needs someone to call games in. Some schools have an assistant coach do this, or the head guy, but some don't call at all (needing to get the kids on the bus and all that postgame stuff). At least you'll get experience giving a box and a few highlights. And maybe the coach will let you ride the team bus and you can grab something from the postgame spread. I know there will be one happy sports editor.
  12. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member


    Here is what I look for in a potential new stringer:

    1. What experience do you have covering games -- particularly high school games -- on deadline?

    2. How available are you to cover games? And do you have a laptop (bonus points if you can send without driving home to use your home wifi).

    3. How persistent are you? Covering a game isn't easy. You have to sometimes ask tough questions and be willing to go up to strangers and talk to them. If your only contact with me is asking to freelance via one email, I question if you have what it takes.

    My advice to you is to tell the editor that you are eager to string. If the editor wants more deadline experience, ask if you can shadow a writer at a game or do a couple practice stories that aren't intended for publication.

    Be persistent. If you haven't heard back, shoot an email every month or two to update your situation and let the editor know you are still out there.

    The local paper may not need someone this week, but may be desperate to find someone to cover a volleyball tournament in a month.
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