Freelance information for The Minnesota Daily

FREELANCE POLICY & PROCEDURES

We want freelance content to expand, diversify and deepen our coverage. Publishing freelance pieces by University of Minnesota students also provides prospective MN Daily applicants or journalists to be published in the Daily, essentially getting their foot in the door with a professional news organization.

Freelance content will be accepted on a case-by-case basis. Generally, we are looking for pieces that fall outside of the rhythm of our coverage; we don’t need stories about the Board of Regents, Minnesota Student Association elections or other “generally covered” topics. Freelance pieces may fall within news, sports, A&E, op-ed pieces, multimedia and features coverage. Letters to the editor are not considered freelance work. 

Freelance content should be pitched to the Daily and approved by the features editor, managing editor and editor in chief before proceeding. Accepted freelance stories should not be given to staff reporters. If a freelancer pitches a story already pitched by a staff reporter, preference will be given to the staff member.

Freelancers must be a current University of Minnesota student. Freelancers do not need to be journalism students. Previous journalism and/or writing experience is not required.

The freelance policy is as malleable as any other Daily policy, and should be updated as needed to ensure quality content and maintenance of ethical standards.

Send freelance pitches to freelance@mndaily.com. Audrey Kennedy is the Daily's features and freelance editor for the 2019-20 year.

Classwork as freelance 

News or multimedia pieces created for a class can be published in the Daily. Freelance pieces already edited by a professor must be re-edited and analyzed for the Daily’s standards of editing and coverage. For students freelancing as a part of their journalism class, it is expected that the student communicate with their professor about the possibility of freelancing with the Daily.

The Daily accepts freelance pieces created by multiple members of a class, such as an “in depth” reporting classes. 

Editing & Standards

All freelance content will be held to the same ethical and editing standards as any other content. Freelance pieces will receive the same editing as other news stories before publication. Typically, the features and freelance editor will complete the first round of editing on freelance pieces. Multimedia freelance pieces will be edited by the multimedia editor.

Pay

Pitched freelance pieces will not be paid. In the rare case that the Daily commissions a freelancer to write a story, they will be paid $50 for the story. 

FREELANCE PITCHING CHEAT SHEET

What to expect when you freelance for the Daily

Freelance work at the Daily must meet our general ethical standards of content. We have high standards and limited space for freelance pieces, and therefore, not all pitches will be accepted. 

By acting as a freelancer for the Daily, you are acting as a reporter. Reporters are expected to act impartially even when they’re off the clock. If you publicly support political or politically-tied organizations, your pitch will not be accepted. Your social media will be checked before your pitch is approved.

Editing is rigorous. Be prepared with contacts for sources, notes and transcripts from your reporting, and an open mind to editing. All stories will receive multiple rounds of editing before publication. The first round of editing will always take place in person.

Any and all questions can be directed to freelance@mndaily.com.

Here are some general guidelines to follow about maintaining professional journalistic ethics when working as a freelancer for the MN Daily. When in doubt, consult our Editing & Ethics guide and the Society of Journalist’s Code of Ethics for help.

  • Avoid any real and perceived conflicts of interest with your story and your sources. This means you should not report on a topic/group/cause/campaign/business/class/ect. that you have ever supported publicly, worked for, attended meetings/classes/trainings/protests/etc. for. Do not interview or source ANYONE who you know as a friend, colleague, classmate, family member, teacher, boss, ect. Sources and private life should always remain separate.
  • Fact check everything. Never assume. Be prepared to show verification for all facts and claims in your story. Seek verification for all facts in your story. For example, if source A tells you a fact, seek another way of verifying that the fact is true.
  • Never mislead. Always identify yourself as a reporter; never misrepresent yourself as anything other.
  • Quotes must be exact. Paraphrased quotes are acceptable, but they should clearly be paraphrased. Never alter quotes.
  • Be impartial in your reporting. You are an independent observer of the truth. You are not involved in the story you’re telling, you’re watching it happen. 
  • Reporters are expected to act impartially even when they’re off the clock. If you publicly support political or politically-tied organizations, your pitch will not be accepted. Your social media will be checked before your pitch is approved.
  • Photos can be lightly edited for clarity, but should absolutely never be edited so as to alter the content, meaning or understandability of the photo. Photos can be cropped, but not to alter the meaning of the photo.
  • Multimedia content such as photos and video should never be staged. Again, you are acting as an independent observer to what’s happening around you.

What to submit with your pitch

  • A resume, accompanied by a short description of your year in school, major, reporting experience.
  • Links to all of your social media accounts.
  • A detailed description of your proposed pitch (no more than 350 words), answering these five questions: 
  1. What’s the story about? (who/what/when/where/why)
  2. Why is this relevant NOW? Who is it relevant to? 
  3. How will you seek and retain balance and impartiality in your sourcing?
  4. How does this relate to the University of Minnesota and its surrounding areas?
  5. Why should you write this story/take these photos?
  6. What are your ideas for visuals to compliment your storytelling?

What to submit with your story, photo or video

  • A source list for your story with contact information for all sources.
  • Be prepared with your notes/recordings from reporting BEFORE you meet with the freelance editor. 
  • For photos, please submit the RAW files as well as edited images. Include captions for all photos (who/what/when/where).