Getting to the source of news and stories

Newspapers, in Sevilla - LJ14080

My challenge now is finding news and other stories for both my photography and writing. I need to rebuild my network of both news sources and potential clients.

Identifying the latter is largely straightforward, at least as far as publications are concerned; it is more of a challenge for potential corporate clients. Equally pressing is finding out about newsworthy events and stories in advance. It is not productive to just hang around on the off chance something of interest might happen.

For many events it is necessary to apply for accreditation and access well in advance. Equally it is often valuable to find interested clients before committing time and effort; the client may have specific needs that may not be obvious and so easily missed. With at least an expression of interest from one or more clients, even if not actually a commission, a photographer (or writer) is not working entirely blind; they know there is potential value in a story. By making that prior contact and delivering results, even if they are not used, the journalist is building their reputation and network as someone who understand the business and delivers on their promises. It will eventually bear fruit, just as failure to deliver will work against the possibility of future work.

So I need to find my sources, to get fed tips about forthcoming events that may interest news publications, or indeed may provide archive, stock material to support other stories in the future. Some sources are obvious: activist and political groups, public bodies such as councils, venues, charities and other voluntary bodies, universities and colleges and, of course, community groups. I need to get on to their press release mailing lists and hook in to their news feeds such as Twitter or Facebook pages. That will be a starting point but with time I would hope that I will be at the front of people's minds so they call me in the hope that I will be able to cover their event.

However, a lot of stories, often the best ones, are not planned as news events. They are stories about people, the quirky, a kindly action or a strange discovery. Getting to the source will be a challenge but it is much more the sort of thing that will interest me. They are not usually hard news or even obviously of interest to the major newspapers. But newspapers and the online news sites are very fond of the "feel good" story, the strange and the amusing. They do not generate major headlines but they can be used to fill in space on an otherwise slow news day. They are more timeless than breaking news which is valuable for a freelance such as me, they have a longer sales and publication window. I am going to have rely on people close to the story being aware of me and prepared to call or email me. Establishing myself in people's minds so they do that will be a major task, but it should be interesting meeting people.

I guess the starting point is to follow the local newspaper, websites and blogs. Initially I will only find out about news items after they have been published. Those articles will at least start to identify people and groups that will be the source of more stories in the future. I can approach people featured to find out what they are doing and make them aware of how I can help provide coverage for future stories. Once on their radar and trusted I would hope that they will contact me when they have something newsworthy brewing.

Meeting and being interested in people is going to be key to making the freelance news side of my new venture work. Fortunately I love talking to people with stories to tell. I just have to find a way of finding and  introducing myself to strangers who have a story to tell; new friends who I have not yet met.

I hope readers will be able to help. If you know of a story, I have created a link for tips in the sidebar to the right (or it may be below if you are on a mobile or a tablet).

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