IJNet Live: Finding your footing as an international freelancer

by Sam Berkhead
Oct 30, 2018 in Freelancing

As revenues and resources have dwindled over the past few decades, the era of news organizations sending staff journalists abroad to report from a foreign bureau is long gone.

Nowadays, it’s much more likely for new outlets to get their international coverage from freelance journalists based across the globe. While this has helped news organizations cut costs, it has also exposed freelancers to a number of new threats and complications, particularly while covering conflict zones.

Yet the world needs freelance journalists more than ever — and to many, the dream of becoming a journalist who travels the world in pursuit of a story is still very much alive.

Join IJNet for a live chat on Monday, June 5 at 12 p.m. EDT as we discuss tips and strategies for finding success as an international freelancer with real-life freelancers based around the world.

Participants will be free to ask questions and get advice from Jake Hanrahan, freelance journalist and filmmaker; Mridu Khullar Relph, freelance journalist and founder of The International Freelancer; Valerie Plesch, freelance journalist and photographer; Lizzie Porter, freelance journalist; and Monica Villamizar, freelance conflict and investigative reporter.

Interested participants can enter the chat here on the day of the event or ask questions on Twitter using the hashtag #IJNetLive.

During the chat, Hanrahan, Khullar Relph, Plesch, Porter and Villamizar will discuss:

  • Writing successful story pitches to international outlets

  • Overcoming culture shock and the language barrier

  • Advice for making freelancing overseas financially sustainable

  • Safety recommendations for freelance journalists working in risky environments

About the chat leaders:

Jake Hanrahan is a U.K.-based freelance journalist and filmmaker who focuses on warfare, organized crime and extremist politics. He's covered conflicts in Iraq, southeast Turkey and Ukraine, with bylines in HBO, VICE News, The Guardian and more.

Mridu Khullar Relph is a freelance journalist, author, entrepreneur and founder of The International Freelancer. Currently based in London and New Delhi, she has written for The New York Times, TIME, CNN, ABC and many others across four continents.

Valerie Plesch is a freelance journalist and photographer based in Pristina, Kosovo. She covers the Balkans and Afghanistan, focusing on international affairs in post-conflict and transitional countries. In 2014, she went to Kabul to cover the Afghan presidential election for USA Today; her work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Washington Post, VICE and more.

Lizzie Porter is a Beirut-based freelance news and features journalist focusing on Syria and Lebanon, with particular interest in displaced populations, imprisonment, security, societal issues and heritage. She has written for Al Jazeera, the BBC, NewStatesman.co.uk and Middle East Eye. 

Monica Villamizar is a freelance conflict and investigative reporter whose work has taken her to Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Mali, Mexico, El Salvador and Haiti. At times, her reporting has led her to embedding with special operations forces and filming directly on the front lines of conflicts. Her past interviewees include the Dalai Lama, Condoleezza Rice, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Bill Clinton and the Presidents of Guatemala, Bolivia, Colombia and Uruguay. She also serves as a board member of The Frontline Freelance Register, an organization that represents freelance journalists working in dangerous environments.

Why this topic?

A few weeks ago, we asked IJNet readers to tell us which topic they'd like us to cover next in our IJNet Live series — and 58 of you responded:

Stay tuned for upcoming polls on IJNet's Twitter account for more opportunities to make your voice heard!

Main image CC-licensed by Flickr via Alain2139.