Freelancers save the day

While I complain about having no one on staff — which is still a problem — we’ve been getting by with some really good freelance writers.

I think our freelance system this semester is working well. This time around, we have two freelance editors who alternate nights. It’s the first time we’ve ever tried this system. Before, we just had one freelance editor, who not only edited stories but had to respond to hundreds of e-mails from reporting students.

When I applied for my job, I wanted to revitalize the freelance program, which had really dropped off, so I suggested the two-editor plan. We recruited two amazing editors who had worked at the paper in the past as reporters — Jen Bingaman and Lia Ganosellis.

Now, freelancers come in to the newsroom to edit their stories, when they didn’t before. In the past few semesters, freelance editors had been receiving stories by e-mail and just editing them. That didn’t give the writers feedback (which is essential to the editing process) or bring new blood into the newsroom.

Plus, freelancers allow our staff writers to work on more in-depth, meaty features. The reporting students often are great at doing smaller breaking news stories, events or other hard news.

Digidave, aka Dave Cohn, wrote about this for Tomorrow’s News, Tomorrow’s Journalists, a young journalist blog ring.

Some of what he said isn’t relevant to the Alligator — our budget isn’t plunging, and we don’t have to cut staff — but I thought this was:

“The newspaper needs to become more of a news co-op. The staff is no longer ‘on staff’ – but they are part of the community and are on call often enough that they get paid regularly – allowing them to keep on doing what they love doing.”

We don’t have a big staff right now, but having an army of freelancers in the community allows us to keep on doing what we need to do: put out the news.

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