>We can’t ignore the online side of freelancing

>The other day I was guest-lecturing a class at the local community college, talking about opportunities to sell their work in magazines and newspapers. As I looked out at the sea of young faces, I felt that what I was saying had minimal relevancy to their lives. Studies show that people under age 30 rarely read newspapers anymore.

I asked the class what they read. A couple of eager writer wannabes said they did read the paper all the time. One said she read science fiction novels. Others mentioned blogs, facebook, myspace. I gave my usual spiel, but as I thought about it over the weekend, I decided the next edition of my Freelancing for Newspapers book ought to have a new title, something like: Freelancing for Newspapers: Print and Online.

I don’t think the print media are ever going to completely disappear. It’s too nice to be able to carry the paper with you to read on the beach or on the bus or at breakfast. I like to cut stories out and save them. And I especially enjoy long narrative articles that I can settle in with for a good read.

So why add the online component?
1) When I want to know what’s happening right now, I don’t look at the paper; I go online. For example, I just read that Hillary Clinton won the Kentucky primary. These days, I don’t want to wait for tomorrow’s newspaper to find out; I want to know now. Online news is faster, plus you can choose what you’re interested in and skip the rest. It also saves all those pages that wind up in the recycle bin.
2) Most newspapers publish online as well as on paper. In fact, I just found a site called www.onlinenewspapers.com that will link you to thousands of newspapers. My Google search turned up other sites, but this one site will give you plenty to do.
3) More and more publications are trashing the print version and publishing only online because it’s so much cheaper. Some so-called newspapers never were in print; they only publish online.
4) Newspapers, magazines and broadcast media frequently refer their audience to extra content, including music, videos, photos, resource lists, and expanded interviews, on the Internet. If you only read the print version, you only get half the story.
5) Staff writers are blogging these days. Again, if you only read what goes in print, you miss half the story.

We freelance writers cannot ignore the Internet. We need to include it in the markets for which we write. Sometimes the pay is low, but the exposure is worldwide, and you can publish more stories more quickly. Do a search for online newspapers and start looking at the guidelines. I plan to do the same.

Newspapers are not disappearing, but they are doing a little shape-shifting. For more information, go to www . . . no, that’s 30 for today, which in old-time newspaper talk means “the end”.

Write soon.

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