Survival Toolkit for Indian Freelance Journalists

Being a freelance journalist is hard work. Doubly so in India, where opportunities are limited and working conditions are exploitative. Figuring out seemingly simple things like how to pitch, who to pitch to, and how much money to ask for (and how long that money will take to arrive in your bank account) is an arduous trial and error process that burns out many prospective freelancers. Those who make it have typically put up with years of anxiety and misery before they’ve understood all the tricks of the trade.

This page is intended to help alleviate some of that stress by providing a catalog of resources that freelance journalists can use to reduce the information asymmetry that makes us such vulnerable workers. The page is primary focused on India-related resources and is currently a work in progress. If you know of a useful freelance journalism-related resource that isn’t already listed here, please contribute to the page.

Groups

Network of Women in Media, India: An association that aims to provide a forum for women in media professions to share information and resources, exchange ideas, promote media awareness and ethics, and work for gender equality and justice within the media and society. Local groups linked to the NWMI are currently functioning in 16 centres across the country.

Indian Podcasters Network: A group for podcasters, future podcasters, and podcasting enthusiasts from India to share knowledge, ideas, and help each other.

Studyhall.xyz: Study Hall is a American freelance network that includes a listserv, forums, editor databases and a vibrant community. You have to subscribe via their Patreon to access these spaces. Recommended resource for Indian freelancers looking to break into foreign markets.

Datameet: If you’re interested in data or geospatial analysis, you should be a part of India’s premier data-focused community and listserv

Opportunities

Caferati Listings: Free newsletter which shares writing opportunities, including contests, jobs, assignments, and calls for submissions. Peter Griffin, who runs the newsletter, also maintains public databases of freelancer writers and commissioning editors (also, open mics!).

#Sisterhood: A massive, constantly-updated thread listing journalism opportunities for women in media. Compiled by @MasalaBai.

Arts & Culture Resources India: Not strictly journalism-related, but efinitely adjacent. A space for arts, culture and creative industries opportunities, jobs, funds, scholarships, residencies, learning opportunities in India.

101Reporters: News platform that sources original stories from grassroots reporters across the country and edits and markets them to the national and international media.

Media Jobs Daily: Post volume is heavy, moderation is lax. Job listings lean heavily towards the content/PR end of the spectrum. Probably the largest group of its kind though.

HackPack: Platform for editors to find freelancers and vice versa. Basic membership is free and gets you a weekly newsletter with work opportunities.

Writers of Color: Twitter account tracking journalism and writing opportunities for persons of colour. US-centric. Another great resource for freelancers targeting foreign publications. Run by @durgapolashi@jazzedloon@vijithassar and @infratrilogy

Sonia Weiser’s Opportunities of the Week: A paid weekly newsletter curated by Sonia Weiser that collects calls for pitches made via twitter from American magazines and news outlets

The Freelance Beat: A free newsletter that collects calls for pitches, curated by Tatiana Walk-Morris

IJNet: Produced by the International Center for Journalists, IJNet delivers the latest on global media innovation, news apps and tools, training opportunities and expert advice for professional and citizen journalists worldwide.

Who Pays Writers: A crowdsourced database of rates that is constantly being updated. They also have a twitter account where every new record is posted.

Content.ly’s Freelance Rate Database: A database of rates received by freelancers from primarily American outlets. There are around 500 entries or so, not comprehensive by a long shot.

Apps & Websites

ACR by NLL Apps: A call recorder that actually works. In case it doesn’t, make sure to check out their guide to customising the settings for your phone.

Zencastr: Cloud-based platform for remote interviews. It has a bunch of recording and editing options aimed at podcast producers, but the killer feature is that it records interviews locally at both ends, eliminating the distortion typically introduced by bad connections. 8 hours of free recording per month.

Follow That Page: Easy-to-use tool that alerts you every time a specified webpage changes. Ideal for tracking government websites.

Save My News: Publications shut down as fast as they start up these days, and when they go down, they take your published work with them. This site offers a simple alternative to maintaining your own backup, allowing you to outsource the job to platforms like the Internet Archive and Archive.is (which are great, but not a substitute for your own backups!).

Appear.in: Video chats that can be accessed by guests with one click. Free version allows for one chatroom with upto 4 participants. Paid version allows you to record as well.

oTranscribe: No-nonsense transcription tool.

SocialCops Viz: Tool for visualising data using interactive maps.

Advice & Guidance

Everything You Wanted To Know About Freelance Journalism: A book for those who want to be freelance journalists, but have no idea where to begin, written by two experienced freelance journalists.

Open Notebook: A repository of successful pitches, mostly for science journalists writing for American outlets but gives a good idea of what level of detail and quality editors are looking for

Nieman Lab’s The Pitch Column: Nieman Lab runs a series where they interview editors of large magazines about why they accepted a pitch. Great autopsy of what works.

Reporting on Sexual Violence Against Children: Basic knowledge on covering cases of sexual offences against children. Provides the tools that can help cover the right kind of stories, ethically and responsibly.

Data Journalism Handbook:A digital book intended to be a useful resource for anyone who thinks that they might be interested in becoming a data journalist, or dabbling in data journalism.

Data Journalism Tools: To help you sort through some of the opportunities and challenges in this emerging field, Knight Science Journalism has provided a collection of resources and tools for finding, analyzing, and presenting data — as well as further immersion into the field of data journalism.

Being a Science Journalist: The Knight Science Journalism program has compiled this list to provide an overview of everything from academic and other training programs to books that offer guidance and advice.

The Hoot Guide to…

The Hoot was a pioneering media watch & critique website that is now dormant. It put out a series of guides for reporting – compilations of laws and guidelines on various subjects that are highly-relevant to journalists working in India. Although the vast majority of the information in these guides is still applicable today, do bear in mind that most of them were published in 2012.

Reporting Rape

Reporting Communal Violence

Civil Defamation

Criminal Defamation

Being a Freelance Journalist

Protecting Sources