Via Reuben Abraham
We all want to make more than a buck, we want our work to mean something. But to connect with editors who make the final decisions on what will appear in their publications and who will produce that content is no easy feat. Laurel Touby of Mediabistro.com has begun a new service that proposes to connect freelancers to those editors. There is a fee, of course. But should it work, it could shake up the way the business of journalism is conducted. Perhaps now, the cream will indeed rise to the top.
Spike seeks copy
Aug 5th 2004 | NEW YORK
From The Economist print edition
A journalistic problem solved?
BEING a staff journalist is bad enough, with its brutal deadlines and brutal editors. As for being a freelance hack-well, a lucky few may be famous enough to pick and choose the best assignments and file at leisure, but most freelancers live a lonely life of constantly rejected story pitches in which brutalised copy counts as a triumph. And while there is many a newspaper or magazine editor who dreams of unearthing that freelance gem he truly believes is out there, most of the young (and not so young) hopefuls that phone constantly and fill his inbox cannot tell one end of a story from the other.
Thankfully, a solution to this wretched problem may now be at hand, thanks, inevitably, to the internet. After all, if the web can help two isolated hearts find love, or connect the owner of an unwanted garden gnome with someone keen to buy it, surely it can help an editor find the freelancer of his dreams-and vice versa.
Officially launched this week in New York, the Freelance Marketplace is an online forum where freelance journalists, photographers, illustrators and graphic designers can, they hope, network with editors. For a fee of
$14-19 a month or $149-175 a year, a freelancer can post a bio, details of his experience, and clips and other work samples. The site is not unlike dating websites such as Friendster and match.com, as the bios can
have a distinctly personal flavour. Some users have posted pictures of themselves, and one seemingly serious journalist has posted a picture of her dog.
Freelancers are ranked in terms of recent clippings and relevant experience. Most seem to be highly qualified-many of them are presumably the victims of recent cullings of staff jobs. Editors can search for contributors by region, experience and specialty. Ellen Piligian, a Detroit-based reporter, was approached to write a regional piece “out of the blue” by Seventeen Magazine soon after signing up.
The marketplace is the latest creation of Laurel Touby, a former reporter and (still) compulsive networker who, in the dotcom boom, founded Mediabistro, a website for media folk that now has 270,000 members and a much-used jobs bulletin board. Ms Touby, who says that Mediabistro made its first profit last year, expects 100,000 freelancers to join the site (www.mediabistro.com/fm) within two years. Her big challenge will be to get those brutal editors to take a look.
Copyright 2004 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.