Write From Home
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Hamilton, NJ 08610
E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com
Writing and Selling News Items
by David Geer
I've found a way in to consumer and trade publications where
no opening was apparent before.
How did I attain clips in Art&Antiques, IEEE's
magazine and McGraw-Hill's Engineering News-Record? By writing
for their news sections! In some cases, this calls for writing shorter pieces,
but in two of these three examples the pay was high and in one the word count
was also extensive.
While I was pitching feature ideas to Art&Antiques magazine, some
were passed to the associate editor, who was in charge of news items. One of my
feature ideas was assigned as a news item and published June 2003 as Docu-drama.
From there, I just started pitching news to the associate editor.
In the case of IEEE's Computer magazine, I found their guidelines
online and realized they hire freelancers for the news sections. I contacted the
news editor and let him know of my availability. I had written about technology
and was given a news assignment; Federated Approach Expands
Database-Access Technology, which published in May 2003.
In the case of McGraw-Hill's Engineering News-Record, I received
an article of theirs quite randomly. I thought this publication was a good fit,
so I contacted them and found that they needed a writer in Ohio to report
appropriate news stories (generally brief in nature). My first article for them
was published the week of May 5, titled Producer Protests Pentagon
Sealant Specs, Investigates Performance Claims.
After landing these assignments, I began putting together ways to locate and
identify magazines that have news departments (or otherwise pay freelancers for
news items or articles). One way is to visit local magazine racks and check a
publication's table of contents for the word "News," denoting a news section.
Then, check the masthead for the news editor and contact them, asking if they
"hire" freelancers for news assignments. They may have existing assignments or
they may require proposals/queries. And, you may have to present your
credentials as I did.
If nothing shows up in the table of contents, read the publication for news
writing and reporting. If you see news stories or items, or articles written in
AP style, you may have a winner. In addition to magazine racks, check all the
markets you already know, especially the ones where you have previously but
unsuccessfully pitched feature articles. And, of course, offer to write news
items for editors with whom you already have an existing relationship.
You will probably find the competition is not as stiff writing news items,
especially for magazines where news is not their primary focus. That doesn't
necessarily mean that the pay will be low. In one case I made a dollar a word.
You can also check online guidelines and editorial calendars using the method
described in my article
How To Locate
More Markets, also written for WritersWeekly.com. Just
look for News guidelines, "news items," departments or sections listed among
them. In any case, the news editor will often be specifically identified in the
masthead information. If a news editor is not in the masthead, but they do
publish news, ask the managing editor for guidance on where to send your
proposal. Make sure to ask editors about payment if that information hasn't
become apparent. You don't want to waste time on non-paying markets.
Be prepared to send clips written in AP Style or which provide news on the
topics they cover. If you don't have any, write a few items for your local
newspaper --- that should suffice along with other clips that show your magazine
When it comes to news assignments, ask if they assign them or if they need ideas
from you. If they want your ideas, you may find that the best stories are ones
that not only excite and interest you but also happen near you, making you the
best one to cover them. Also, choose stories that have not yet had a lot of
national exposure over ones that have.
Below are a few markets that pay for news articles or items. I found these
market by searching google.com for: "writers guidelines" "news items" $.
The dollar sign may help to filter out those insulting, non-paying pubs. If no
payment amount is listed on a publication's writer's guidelines, don't waste
your time. And, some publications don't pay for news items.
QSR, The magazine
of Quick Service Restaurant Success
England Entertainment Digest
David Geer is a full-time, freelance
writer and the owner of Geer Communications, a freelance writing services
company - Web presence at
http://www.geercom.com. David specializes in corporate writing, MarCom, Web
writing, technical and business writing and journalism, and general topics.
Clients include Art & Antiques, IEEE's Computer, the Engineering News-Record,
VOIR DIRE and other magazines and publications as well as the National Center
for Supercomputing Applications, William J. Richter & Associates and Arnold IT
(consultants) and other businesses and corporations.
New to freelance writing?
this informative article.
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