Before last year, I had plenty of unpaid journalism experience but just one paid byline. As I said in my 2020 review, I think being part of several WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook journalist groups/groupchats is what’s galvanised me into making a real go of this whole freelancing thing.
If you’re not a member of any such groups but you’d like to join one, Asyia Iftikhar’s (@asyiaiftikhar) brilliant Facebook group ‘ Young Journalist Community’ is a good starting point. Here are some others: Gals In Journalism; No 1 Freelance Media Women; Freelancing For Journalists; Journo Resources; Journo Answers; Solutions Journalism Network; Freelance Journalists and Women In Journalism.
Also, search the words ‘journalist’ and ‘group chat’ on Twitter to find private groupchats that are relevant to your location and interests and message the original poster to see if you can be added.
My experience of being in these groups is largely positive; I’ve met so many kind, lovely people who are willing to share editorial contacts or sources, take a look at pitches, answer questions that you can’t find a solution to on Google, as well as just generally chinwag about how your week has gone. I’ve found it really motivational to observe others’ successes. I also try and give back by sharing what little I’ve learned so far into my career-this newsletter is another extension of that desire to ‘pass it on’.
But there are also downsides to being in these group chats. Sometimes, they can be competitive or toxic environments. Some individuals in these groups are a bit arrogant, or come across as rude (either unintentionally or intentionally, I’m not too sure-but it’s easy to be misconstrued over text). Particularly if you’re having a dry week, looking at everyone else landing pitches left right and centre can feel a bit demoralising.
Also, being in lots of group chats does make it harder to switch off from work, especially if you have the chats unmuted and people are still sending messages at 10.00–11.00 pm at night. But you can have the best of both worlds: you can mute the chats, and then only interact when you’re in the right headspace to do so.
While these are incredible spaces for young journalists to develop and grow, it’s also really important to look after your mental wellbeing. If a group is making you feel bad more than it helps you out with your career, you should just leave the group. One of the best things about being a freelance journalist is being able to choose your coworkers. If a particular group isn’t filled with your sorts of people-not all journalists are super extroverted 24-hour party people-then why not make your own group chat with journalists you do want to spend time with?
… in editing
… in writing
Articles written: 0.5
I made some edits to a big commission and I had a busy week at my day job, so I’m not going to feel too bad about the fact it was another slow week.
Articles published: 2
Both of these articles were written for my day job (I work in marketing for the creative media education provider, SAE Institute), but I’m super proud of the work I did in curating LGBTQ+ History Month content so I’m sharing it here. I spoke to artist and human rights activist Dolche about her experiences as a lesbian in the music industry, and her new album Exotic Diorama.
I also interviewed Jagex lead content developer James Crowther about his work on and his experiences being a gay man in the videogame industry — a sector not famed for its diversity and inclusion. Surprisingly heartwarming stuff!
… in listening/watching
I caught up on First Dates and it filled me with an existential longing to go on a restaurant date. Remember those?
I also watched Music’s Dirty Secrets: Women Fight Back — an important investigation by Tamanna Rahman on women’s silence in light of music industry abuse.
… in reading
- BOOKS: I read three books this week: Bruges-la-Morte, which is a short novel by the Belgian author Georges Rodenbach; High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (I’ve read it before but I love it so much, so I re-read it); and Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey, which I’d recommend to fans of Sally Rooney and Rachel Cusk
- As someone who runs a business 5–9, I related to Brooke Jarvis’ The New York Times Magazine piece ‘What frustrated workers heard in that Dolly Parton ad’
- Jessica Bennett made such a good point about other female victims of tabloid culture with her NYT piece: ‘Speaking of Britney… What about all those other women?’
- Hannah Shewan Stevens’ piece on ‘How queer people wear colour to celebrate, communicate & thrive’ for Refinery29 was so good
- Mollie Quirk made some super important points about lockdown weight gain and the #hotgirlsummer hashtag in her Cosmopolitan piece
- This NYT piece on Dispo — an app that simulates the experience of developing 35mm film cameras — made me feel SO old, but I think it’s definitely part of a wider retro revival
- Amelia Tair’s piece on iPhone Notes poetry for Refinery29 was lovely and I will henceforth refer to my Notes app as a “line orphanage”
- I liked Kat Smith’s i_D piece on breakup TikTok: ‘Welcome to breakup TikTok, we’re all trying to pick ourselves back up here’
- This oral history of the rise and fall of New Rave for VICE by Daniel Dylan Wray was fantastic
- I thought this Refinery29 piece by Olivia Harrison on ‘Why using the word partner feels so complicated’ was excellent — as a bisexual woman whose only LTRs have been with men, I related to a lot of the issues raised
- Joel Golby never fails to make me laugh, I was a big fan of this piece he wrote for WePresent on work — ‘Work sucks, I know: Joel Golby learns to get organized’
- Shahed Ezaydi reshared a piece she wrote last April about busyness and loneliness, which I HARD related to: ‘Being busy doesn’t mean I’m not lonely’
- Sacha Baron Cohen’s conversation with Kara Swisher about social media companies was really interesting; I don’t find his films funny but I do think he has some important points to make about the racism, misogyny and autocratic propaganda that are found in abundance on social media
- I liked BBC 6 Music presenter Rob Crossan’s explanation of how he’s been using music to travel during lockdown for The Times
- I love features like the one David Mack did for Buzzfeed on ‘What it’s like being named Rona in the time of ‘The Rona’’
Originally published at https://thepeakdistrict.substack.com.