Each month we reach out to journalists and media professionals to chat with them about their experiences in the industry. This month we had the opportunity to chat with Cailynn Klingbeil, a freelance writer who covers crime, business, urban affairs, and mental health for newspapers and magazines.
What is the one story that you would most like to cover?
I can’t choose just one. The world is such an interesting and complicated place, and there are so many stories out there, which is both overwhelming and incredibly exciting to me.
I’m a generalist writer, so all sorts of stories appeal to me. I’ve written on topics including crime and business and fashion and real estate. Each of those stories has held my attention in a different way.
What is it like being a freelance journalist vs. a staff writer?
I’m finding the two positions to be very different. A little background: I am a born and raised Calgarian. I went to school here, then spent five years working in Edmonton, at a magazine publishing company (Venture Publishing) and then at a newspaper (the Edmonton Journal). I moved back to Calgary four months ago and have been freelancing since then.
In my limited experience as a freelancer, I am finding the role comes with more freedom. I am pitching editors and trying to get story assignments, whereas in my experience as a journalist on staff, many of the stories I wrote were assigned to me from an editor.
But there’s a flip side to that freedom. If an editor isn’t interested in a story I am pitching, I’m not going to get an assignment and I’m not going to make any money. While there may be more independence when freelancing, the regular paycheque that comes with a staff job is quite nice.
Another big difference is coworkers. I worked with some very talented colleagues in Edmonton, and whenever I had questions, there were smart people I could seek advice from. Now I work alone out of a home office, and it doesn’t quite have the same atmosphere as a newsroom.
What advice do you have for PR people about working with journalists?
Try and do your research on the journalist you are contacting, and then send a concise press release. I get a lot of press releases, but many are not at all relevant to me. The press releases that I follow up on tend to be somewhat personalized, in that I get the impression the person who has sent it has read my work and knows the types of stories I write or publications I work for.
I think this process is similar to me pitching editors. I have to do my research, to know what type of story the publication is likely to publish, and if my idea is a good fit.
Thank you, Cailynn!
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