Lu-Hai Liang

thoughts from a freelance foreign correspondent

Pitchable outlets #1: The Guardian

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This is the first in a series examining publications and their accessibility to freelancers. If I have written for said publication then I will draw from my own experience. If I haven’t I will find other freelancers and ask them. Click on the Pitchable Outlets tag to follow this series as it continues.

Status: high / 1st tier

Reach: The Guardian is one of the most respected news organizations in the world. Its headquarters are in King’s Cross, London, and it has offices in the US and Australia as it seeks to transform itself into a “global newspaper”. It vies with The New York Times for the world’s second most popular English-language newspaper website (The Mail Online is the most popular).

Accessibility: For a freelancer, The Guardian is actually relatively accessible. Yes, you have a lot of competition, which is why some of the bylines I’ve gained have been in smaller sections such as the online-only Careers blog. I mostly write “around the sides” for The Guardian, although I plan to pitch more to the “World” section.

To reach or find an editor at The Guardian isn’t too difficult. If you pitch an idea to an editor, make sure you have the right section editor. For example, you might Google “guardian comment is free editor”. And then you’ll find some names. Twitter is your friend too. You only need the name as The Guardian follows a standard email format: firstname.lastname@theguardian.com.

Ease: I usually get a response from whichever editor I have pitched to, and they are kind and fair responses. Never expect an in-depth email about why they might not use your pitch. Editor emails tend to be on the terse side. The Guardian is a big name so there’s a lot of competition, and editors only have a limited budget for freelancers. So don’t take it personally, persevere.

Pay: The best rate I’ve received from The Guardian was actually for my first ever article for them, back in 2010. The published article was 311 words and I received £151.41, which works out to about 49p per word. This is a pretty good rate.

My most recent article for them came in May 2014. It was for the Careers Blog, so I doubt it appeared in the newspaper, just online only. The article was 649 words and I received £248.54, which works out to about 38p per word, which is still decent.

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