We have been reaching out to journalists and media professionals to chat with them about their experiences in the industry working with PR professionals and what’s going on ‘Around the Press’ office. For our latest edition, we spoke with Dave Dormer, who has spent the last 20 years working in print, radio and television newsrooms across western Canada, including 10 years at the Calgary Sun. A graduate of the SAIT photojournalism program, Dave has been a freelancer with CBC Calgary as a web writer and digital producer for the last two years.
Freelancer / CBC Calgary
As a freelance reporter, what is the best way to send you pitches?
I prefer email, but more and more, social media like Twitter and Facebook are becoming the way people reach out. I have a contract with CBC, so I have an email there: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And I have a professional Facebook page where people can read my work and contact me, www.facebook.com/DaveDormerJournalist.
What kind of stories interest you?
Anything that makes me go ‘hmmm.’ A good story should inform and entertain. People often ask me, ‘what makes one story newsworthy and another story not?’ and one litmus test I use is, if I was at a dinner party and there was a lull in the conversation, is this something I could bring up that people would find interesting? Would they want to tell their friends and family about it later? If so, it’s probably a good story.
It should also be simple to understand the point of the story.
One thing I say to people is, “if you can’t explain the gist of a story in one sentence, it’s probably not a good one.” If you have to tell someone a long or convoluted backstory before getting to the point, it’s probably not as good of a story as you think, or should at least be refined. Never bury the lede!
All of that said, I most enjoy writing about people, especially ordinary people who have done extraordinary things.
What are some common myths about freelance journalists?
I think one myth is that freelance rates are expensive or there’s no room for negotiation around cost. We need to be compensated fairly but I — and pretty much every freelancer I know — am always willing to work within the parameters of a client’s budget. Several times I’ve taken an assignment where the pay might have been low, but it was something I was really interested in learning and writing about. Other times, a lower paying assignment has led to an ongoing relationship with a client that’s meant more and higher paying assignments in the future.
Most of us do this because we love writing and storytelling, not to get rich.
Another is the amount of time it takes to produce quality work. If you want something researched and written in a day, I can do that, but if you give me a few days or a week, I can do it that much better.
Thank you for chatting with us, Dave!
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