A project of Democracy Fund

October 28, 2014

Freelance Journalism and Small Newsrooms: Best Practices, Links and Resources

What are the best practices for small hyperlocal news start-ups to ethically cultivate a network of freelancers and community contributors?

This question has been gnawing at me for awhile and I haven’t yet found a good answer, so I want to share with you what I have found in hopes that you will help add to this list of resources.

Here at the Local News Lab we are working closely with six partner news sites who are at various stages from start-up to sustainability. Some are just getting off the ground, others have almost a decade of experience behind them. But across the board all of them are working with freelancers and contributors of various kinds to help cover their communities. And without fail they all want to do so in a way that is ethical, safe, and supports the people they rely on.

So I began collecting tools, resources and best practices for small one and two person newsrooms working with freelancers on issues like contracts, training, intellectual property, safety and security.

14598392170_cb04d6044f_kMost of what I found was designed for freelancers to avoid being taken advantage of by newsrooms or for big newsroom managers to avoid breaking laws around freelancer labor. Which is to say, most of the materials out there are built on a foundation of mistrust and assume an adversarial relationship (and there are good reasons for this). But, there was little or nothing designed for small newsrooms and freelancers who want to create a positive collaborative relationship.

Help me create a better resource for freelancers and small local newsrooms:


Safety, Security and Insurance:



Help me fill in the blanks – what have I missed here – or what other questions do you have?

Photo by markus spiske, used via creative commons.