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Stringer opportunities

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by BB Bobcat, Sep 25, 2008.

  1. BB Bobcat

    BB Bobcat Active Member

    I know there is a separate board for that, and I already posted a listing on there "advertising" myself, but I was more interested in a discussion, so I'm posting here.

    Looking for suggestions about papers I might contact for stringing stuff in the SF Bay Area. What papers might use stringers for Niners, Raiders, Warriors, Sharks, Cal, Stanford?

    Seems like you've got to find a paper big enough to want to spend money on a stringer, but not so big that they send their own writer. It's been a long time since I've been a free agent like this, so looking for any tips on where to look for work.

    Thanks guys.

    (Apologies if this should go in the Jobs board.)
  2. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    For you, I'd cross off all of the teams and schools you mentioned. Newspapers who are going to pay for coverage aren't going to spring for a stringer that doesn't already have credentials to the game.
  3. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    Well, BB does have 11 years of experience covering MLB. So, it isn't like he is some new grad offering his services.

    As far as the thread in question, I've always wondered how someone goes about freelancing. How do you build a network? Do you just call up papers and hope people recognize you?
  4. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Even if you have experience, how are you going to get credentials? Well, I can see it would be easier covering the colleges, but for the top pro leagues?

    Does Dan Hickling cover the top leagues or does he stick to minors because it's easier to get gigs?
  5. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    I don't know. I would assume you could get credentials based on your previous experience of covering those teams for a respectable newspaper.

    I guess I misread your post.
  6. BB Bobcat

    BB Bobcat Active Member

    That's no problem. I've been around long enough here that all the PR guys for the teams and SIDs know me. One email and I'm in.
  7. WoodyWommack

    WoodyWommack Member

    I'm based in Orlando, Fla. and all I do is freelance work. Getting work for the big teams (i.e. the pros and D-1) is not that big of a deal, you just have to reach out to SE's around the country and offer your services. For example, if Stanford is hosting Oregon, you know the Register-Guard and Oregonian are sending beat writers, but what about the Portland Tribune, and smaller papers around the state, they probably want coverage but won't pay to send someone. Another angle I'll use is hitting up college towns and hometowns of the athletes. I'm sure the papers in Miss. can't get enough Monta Ellis stories. As far as getting credentials, it's not like it's that hard. I usually just hit up the PR contact and let them know that I picked up a gig from and out-of-town paper and they're more than accommodating. After just a few events, they'll know that you're a stringer, and usually understand that you may give them late notice in requesting. You may get a lot of rejections at first, but if you're willing to cover events like high school and AFL to prove your worth, they'll call on you more and more and you'll build a solid network.
  8. hickling is the man...i think he covers anything between the canadian border and nyc, or so it seems. would hate to see how much he spends annually on gas, though, or how many miles he puts on the cars.

    (i've seen dan signed in or read copy from him at everywhere from foxborough stadium to the double-a all-star game.)
  9. Dan Hickling

    Dan Hickling Member

    garsh....(we blush).....freelancing is a strange animal, but I've learned to love the whole beast...had no idea what I was getting into back in the day...but my background in record promotion came in handy when it came to IDing needs and niches, as well as selling myself...and that, is really what anyone searching for gigs is doing, selling themselves....a million guys and gals out there can write...but what an SE values is reliability. They want problems/needs to be solved, not worsened. So I never sold anyone on my journalistic ability. I just assured them that their need would be taken care of. And thankfully, that's been the case in virtually each of the 4,000 freelance assignments I've completed....

    now...things are changing rapidly in freelancing, as they are in the journo biz as a whole...and sadly, not for the better...papers are slashing budgets, pulling back (drastically in some cases) from things they routinely had covered. Only a handful of Triple-A baseball coverage papers string their road games anymore...same is true, now of the AHL...and even support work for NFL and MLB gigs is slackening...papers are even cutting their high school/preps stringer budgets...this on top of the obscene rise in gasoline cost...that doesn't mean that freelancers should throw in the towel. It just means that you have to go the extra mile for your clients, and keep thinking outside the box re gigs...You're not going to make a living as a game-story stringer...I'm doing more magazine work than ever...and doing more interviews by phone (which I detest, because I LOVE doing things face to face, in the subject's element, but you gotta make adjustments)...the biggest adjustment I made this year was pulling myself off the road (for a time, at least) and I took a steady job (in February) as a sports staffer with a small daily (Biddeford Journal Tribune), while maintaining as much of my freelance work as possible. Dished out a lot more gigs to worthy guys and gals that I trust...

    A freelancer absolutely has to consider him/herself to be in the customer service business. They must also have a lot of faith. And I do...I believe that this business has been dragged (against its will) into a new era...there is hope for the future...I believe that, too...(ask me tomorrow, I may feel differently)...
  10. bob

    bob Member

    Hickling himself...I feel like we've heard from royalty. He's a legend in New England.
    My son-in-law does a lot of free-lancing, but a huge chunk of it these days is magazines and Web work.
  11. Denis Gorman

    Denis Gorman Guest

    Allow me to second Dan's post. As a freelancer in the Northeast, all I do is sell myself and what I can provide to a client. Game story, notebook, sidebar, features, hard news stories, information for graphics, anything that comes to mind that an outlet can use, I'll pitch.

    For those who are serious about making a go of freelancing, the most important thing I can tell you is to work at landing assignments. In this era of cutbacks, places will use you.
  12. BB Bobcat

    BB Bobcat Active Member

    Thanks guys for the replies.

    Is there such a thing as an "industry standard" rate for covering a game?

    I'm sure it varies based on the paper and the game, but what sorts of numbers should I expect?
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