Tag Archives: Freelance Journalist

Seven Alternative Job Titles For Arts Journalists

11 Dec
Image by Gwendal_ used under a Creative Commons Licence

Image by Gwendal_ used under a Creative Commons Licence

Freelance Journalist

With publications haemorrhaging money like stuck pigs on a daily basis, they’ve been forced to lay off staff writers to save money. The downside of this is that lots of immensely talented writers have lost their job security.

The upside is that many publications have a freelance budget and will be looking for writers, people who are just like you and me, looking to pitch stories, meet new contacts and get paid for it.

The downside of that is you are competing with some of the industry’s best and most well-known journalists for work. Some publications are terrible at paying invoices on time and you won’t have a guaranteed income from month to month.

Good luck!

Content Creator

A bullshit job title created for journalists by non-journalists who are trying to sound relevant in an increasingly digital age.

Created by online marketer-types to make accepted industry terms like copywriter seem redundant and oh so retro. Journalists do not “create content” journalists write news stories, reviews, previews, interviews and other fun and important things.

See also: Web Content Guru, Web Editor, Word Architect and Senior Syntax Engineer (I might have made some of these titles up. Yes, I definitely did.)


A more acceptable title for someone who contributes articles or other works to a site or newspaper. Falls between a staff writer (someone employed by the publication on a full-time basis) and a freelancer, who work on a more casual basis. (see Freelance Journalist for more information).

All in all, this isn’t the worst title on the list, it’s just that’s not very clear; are contributors writers, photographers, artists or editors? This could be one for the corrections and clarifications column.


If you’re a struggling journalist, one way to make a bit more money is to find work as a sub-editor for a publication, which means that you’ll be correcting everyone else’s grammatical, factual and ethical errors, and getting very little in return for it. Except money.

While sub-editors are needed badly, they don’t seem to get a lot of respect from their fellow hacks, perhaps because they can sometimes get a little too enthusiastic with the delete button. However, every paper needs a sub-editor, and a lot of journalism schools offer short courses in the subject, so, it could be a fun and enlightening way to make some extra money.

Dramaturg/Special Advisor

The most commonly asked question about the role of the dramaturg is usually, “What’s a dramaturg?” It may sound a bit like the theatrical illness outbreak du jour, “I can’t come to rehearsal today, I woke up feeling like a dramaturg this morning”,  the role of the dramaturg is essential to a theatre production.

Put simply, a dramaturg could be described as an in-house critic; a person that researches, provides cultural and historical insight into the text, liaises with the director, playwright, designer and other crew they are also sometimes as a translator, or a simple communicator who provides critical feedback on a piece while it’s in production. A dramaturg wears many hats, and does several different things depending on the company, the production and the venue, so a good dramaturg is knowledgeable, adaptable and ready for a challenge.

This means a dramaturg could be the perfect role for a theatre critic seeking a new direction in their career, or a those looking to diversify their skills. In film, or another art form, a critic could be a special advisor, which is a particularly useful role for arts journalists with specialist knowledge of a certain era in film, director or subject.


The relationship between PRs and journalists can be strained at the best of times, but more and more journalists are turning to the so-called ‘Dark Side’ and relaunching themselves in the world of PR. From a business and financial point of view, this makes a lot of sense, the pay is a bit better, you can use your many journalism contacts, etc, I’ve often found that the best PRs are the ones that have worked as journalists.

While some might wrestle with the idea of not reporting the news, and instead pitching ideas that could become big news stories, for others it’s become a way of life. PR pays very well if you work for a good agency, and have a senior position, which would suit many cash-strapped journalists in our era of austerity.


I’ll see you in the dole queue.

The Joy of Rejection in Journalism

2 Dec

Journalism Rejection

When I was 16, I was dumped by my then-boyfriend via text message. This was not just any text message. It was a three-part text message, in which parts one and three arrived promptly, but part two, which was, incidentally, the most important part of the sorry texts (it said why I was getting dumped, but I can’t remember his reasoning now) arrived three hours later. I was completely crushed at the time, and while I can laugh about the entire situation now (dumped via text message? I mean, really?) my work as a journalist had re-acquainted me with the sometimes harsh realities of rejection.

I’m now much older, and a little bit wiser than I was back then, but now I work in journalism, and rejection is part of the job description. Because freelance journalists spent most (read all) of their time pitching to editors, and perhaps even applying for other journalism jobs, they will have had their pitches and applications rejected a lot more than you think they might. Whether a journalist is established in their field or not, they will still get their ideas and work rejected by editors on a weekly, or perhaps even a daily basis.

Having a pitch rejected can at first feel like the end of the world; you’ve worked hard on an idea, or an application, sourced the right publication and pitched your idea for an article in a clear and professional way. Or in the case of applying for a job, provided lots of relevant information and previous work in the job application. However, having a pitch rejected is most definitely not the end of the world, and once it happens to you a few more times, it gets easier. I’m not saying that you are going to develop a rhino skin overnight, but remember that rejection is something that unites a lot of industries, from journalism, to writing, to design, to acting, dancing, music and much, much more.

So how do you deal with rejection? The writer and journalist, Kirsty Logan, wrote a few choice words about having her work rejected in her IdeasTap column in the summer, and they are words that I have decided to live by. I would highly recommend reading her piece and her other work if you get the chance, but the crux of her argument is this; rejection in the writing industry is inevitable, so we should learn to embrace it, and see it as an indicator that we are seizing relevant opportunities.

To Kirsty’s words of wisdom, I would add the following advice:

  • It’s not you that they are rejecting

Try not to take the rejection personally; the editor you are pitching or applying to probably doesn’t know you. They are only judging your writing, not your character.

  • All editors are different

You could work with one editor that loves your voice, your work and agrees with everything you have to say. Then you could work with one that just isn’t that into your writing style.

  • There wasn’t a space for your story

Even if you pitch the right publication or editor, your story might just not suit them at that time. They could even have run a similar story recently, and don’t want to revisit the subject. Don’t panic, this happens more than you might think.

  • Ask for feedback – if you got a response

Most editors will give you a reason why they didn’t commission you, or why they didn’t invite you for an interview, but if they don’t, ask for feedback, especially if you have applied for a job.

However, some publications don’t respond to job applicants, who could benefit from feedback on their application. But when they do, it can be invaluable, in fact, here’s an example of when I did ask for feedback on two separate job applications, one year apart, for the same magazine.

Last year I applied for the role of Assistant Editor at an Edinburgh Fringe publication that I had written for previously in 2010. I didn’t get the job, but when the editor of the publication emailed me to let me know, I responded and asked if they had any writing jobs available. They did, and I built up a rapport with both the editor and assistant editor, and I ended up writing for them, plus taking on extra commissions when they asked.

This year, I applied to write for the same Edinburgh Fringe publication, and because of the amount of work I put in the year before, I was hopeful that I would get more work with them. However, the people I had worked with previously were no longer working there, meaning that the editorial team were almost all brand new.

My application was refused this year, and while the new editor was very polite in all correspondence, when I asked for feedback, they said that I needed to “…build up my writing portfolio, as that was what we are looking for.” Considering my past work for the publication, my existing work within the Scottish theatre community and the fact that this was the fourth Edinburgh Festival Fringe I was going to review at, this rejection was tough – I had a very strong portfolio. I didn’t respond to the editor, because they had made up their mind that I wouldn’t be writing for them this year. But like that ex that dumped me by text message, this is another experience to learn from – not all editors like my writing style, and that’s ok.

So, to all you young creative types, I say this: we’ve all faced rejection, we will continue to face rejection, the trick is how to deal with it; how to learn to roll with the punches and to keep persevering.



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