What can freelancers learn from changing patterns in audiences’ news consumption?

Every year, for the past 10 years, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism has published its incisive, insightful and inimitable report on the state of media, journalism and news audiences around the world. The Digital News Report 2021 just dropped — it’s based on a YouGov survey of more than 92,000 online news consumers from 46 markets, featuring perspectives from India, Indonesia, Thailand, Nigeria, Colombia, and Peru for the first time.

DNR21 covers how audiences consume news, trust in news brands, interest and appetite for news journalism, where audiences are encountering misinformation and more. In good news, this…

Career coach Penelope Jones in action (Credit: Annabel Staff)

Constantly hustling but not sure of your career’s direction? Struggling to set and stick to goals to make freelancing work for you? Or maybe imposter syndrome is rearing its ugly head?

For any freelance journalist wrestling with the above, the Society of Freelance Journalists is here for you. We asked expert career coach Penelope Jones to help us work through our career planning questions and work goal woes as freelance journalists.

Penny is the founder of My So-Called Career, an organisation designed to help women in their early and mid-careers navigate the obstacles holding them back at work. Fed up…

This year has been a tough one for freelance journalists — but help is at hand (Photo © Markus Winkler, Pexels)

What do you do when you see a crisis coming?

Freelance journalists have, for a long time, gathered online or sought one another out to talk, vent and swap intelligence about work. In mid-March, as lockdown measures were introduced in Europe and beyond in response to the coronavirus pandemic, freelancers rang alarm bells about their livelihoods. From cuts and halts to freelance budgets to shuttered clients and cancelled events, many shared stories of how work opportunities had disappeared overnight in the wake of COVID-19.

Freelancing has many benefits but it can be a lonely way to work. When many freelance…

A trip to Beijing with the Thomson Foundation was a highlight of my third year.

I left my last staff job in mid-2016; September 2019 marked the end of my third year as a freelance journalist. Reflecting on my first year, the power of my network, learning to be my own boss and surviving vs strategy were the most important lessons, but what did year three teach me?

  1. Saying yes — and no — for the right reasons

“The right client isn’t the right client just because they came to you.”

This piece of advice overheard in a co-working space has stuck with me all year. I think it reflects the eternal dilemma of…

Number 16 was my first. I borrowed it from my brother and asked for my own at Christmas.

Rumours where I grew up said Mark Field, a boy years above me at school, had number 6. No one had seen it but just the idea of possessing such a rarity was enough to give him legendary status.

For birthdays and Christmases throughout my young adult life, Now! compilations — or Now That’s What I Call Music to give it its full Smashie-and-Nicey title — were a staple gift. …

Five things we’ve learned this week about media, journalism and everything between.

  1. People faked tweets from a journalist during the Florida school shooting

Adding this to the list of behaviours we may see following a breaking news event, Miami Herald reporter Alex Harris saw here tweets to eyewitnesses doctored. The altered tweets not only made it impossible for Harris to do her job, but only serve to feed the distress, distrust and misinformation related to such terrible events.

2. Snap Map for newsgathering

A new tool for journalists searching for social stories as Snap Map moves from within Snapchat to…

Training journalists in Kathmandu was a highlight of year one.

When I left my staff job in July last year, I didn’t have an exact plan for what would happen next, but I knew the steps. Take some time off to decompress (happily coinciding with getting married). Start applying for jobs a month later and, all being well, find work in a similar role in another newsroom or media outlet’s offices.

But as the decompression took hold the idea of what I would do next became less fixed. What was stranger was that this lack of certainty didn’t scare me as much as I thought it would. What if I…

Another week, another chance to catch up on a week in digital news and media.

Pop quiz, hotshot!

I remember a team at a Guardian hackday playing with something like this — great to see the idea in the wild. NRK are just testing the quiz on certain stories at the moment, but the principle of a cooling off period/small barrier to filter out the most angry contributions has long been supported among community managers.

The eye of the Tweetstorm

Nod to a lovely use of Twitter by @rcallimachi to give background to her reporting. Thanks @jemstone for bringing it to my attention this week.

Your cup of Tea?

Credit due…

The way we were

The ever-excellent folk at NewsWhip are taking us back in time to look at how publishing to and distribution on social platforms has changed in the past few years — all backed up with their data.

No wonder the ghost looks sad

My usual reaction to posts that call time on a network/technology is extreme caution while reading, but this from Owen Williams is great — a really thoughtful read on audience behaviour and “growing up” with different platforms.

Tell me a story

There’s now a version of stories for WhatsApp — seemingly a direct introduction by Facebook of Instagram’s feature. …

Pardon the delay, but here’s five links you need to have in your life.

Behind the Times

Fascinating long read on the New York Times — from honest assessments of its business model to the fallout from the digital innovation report.

The internal Times goal for total digital revenue is $800 million by 2020 — which, according to senior management, would be enough to fund the Times’ global news-gathering operation with or without a print edition.

News of a funnel

From Digiday, how the Economist is turning social audiences into subscriptions:

“We’re constantly debating how much content to give away,” said Michael Brunt, The Economist’s CMO and…


Freelance journalist, consultant and trainer. Former head of social and community, the Guardian. @lauraoliver

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