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Freelance journalism empowerment conference
Feb 2021
1 February 2021

Freelance journalism empowerment conference

Newinpact 9689 1
01 February 2021

Celebrate the freelancers' power to make a difference!

Practical Details

Freelance journalists from all across the world came together for the Freelance journalism empowerment conference 2021 to gain new skills, create meaningful connections and celebrate the power of the community to make a difference.

Did you miss the event or some of the sessions? No worries, now you can watch the recording videos on YouTube.

Day 1- Recording sessions:

💪 The power of freelancers to make a difference by Maria Ressa, co-founder and CEO of Rappler.

🌎 Freelance journalism: contributing to a society that works for all by Fisayo Soyombo, investigative freelance journalist and founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ).

🤳 TikTok for #freejournos: connect and engage with your audience by Sophia Smith Galer, visual Journalist at the BBC. 📂 Download presentation

📈 More than numbers: data-driven human rights storytelling by Bronwen Robertson, executive director at Data4Change. 📂 Download presentation

🗣️ [Panel] Effective pitches: persuade editors with stories that make the difference. Moderator: Abigail Edge, freelance journalist, editor and author. Panelists: Lola García-Ajofrín, Senior Journalist Outriders, Lola Hierro, reporter and editor, Planeta Futuro- EL PAÍS, Josephine Schmidt, Executive Editor, The New Humanitarian. 📂 Download presentations

Recoding Day 1

Day 2- Recording sessions:

🤝 The future of freelance journalism is collaborative by Tabea Grzeszyk, CEO & publisher at Hostwriter. 📂 Download presentation

🔍 Investigate Europe: a cross-border team holding those in power accountable by Elisa Simantke, editorial director at Investigate Europe.

📲 Tweet like a pro (#StopUsingRedundant Hashtags) by Dana Regev, senior editor, social media at Deutsche Welle. 📂 Download presentation

💡 Slow News vs Infodemic: is another journalism possible? by Alberto Puliafito, editor in chief at Slow News. 📂 Download presentation

🌐 [Panel] Join the force: how to create a successful freelance collective or cross-border team. Moderator: Mercy Abang, journalist and editor Unbias the news. Panelists: Jelena Prtoric, #MeToo in the Medical Sector, Juliette Robert, YouPress, Michael Bird, Mobile Workers: Invisible Citizens Geesje van Haren, Lost in Europe. 📂 Download presentations

Recording day 2

Day 3 - Recording sessions:

🏆 Why Solutions Journalism can lead to more commissions and career opportunities? by David Bornstein, CEO Solutions Journalism Network.

🇧🇷 Favela vs. Covid-19: comic journalism and the tackling of a health crisis by Priscila Pacheco, reporter at Aos Fatos. 📂 Download presentation

🖼️ Instagram for freelancers: translating impactful stories into an IG hit by Sharon Attia, social media editor at The New York Times. 📂 Download presentation

💰 Grants: how to apply successfully and make a living as a freelancer by Stefano Valentino, freelance journalist and founder Mobile Reporter. 📂 Download presentation

🎥 [Panel] What's new: the latest storytelling trends in freelance journalism. Moderator: Aisha Salaudeen, Nigerian multimedia journalist, producer, and writer. Panelists: Fariba Nawa, Journalist, host of On Spec podcast, Nidheesh M K journalist creator of the #happyaano project, Alberto Tetta, journalist and producer member of the Cyborg Queer team, Laurence Ivil, Freelance journalist and producer, co-author Graphic Novel Motherhood in crisis. 📂 Download presentations

Recording day 3

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Community welcome remarks
09:15 - 09:30


The power of freelancers to make a difference
09:30 - 10:00

At a time of major political and social upheaval, worsened by a global pandemic, the work of freelance journalists is needed now more than ever. By publishing underreported stories, listening to underrepresented voices, and holding the powerful to account, freelancers can have a huge impact. In this talk, Maria Ressa, Co-founder and CEO of the Philippine online news website 'Rappler' and multiple award-winner for her contributions to journalism and human rights, will demonstrate the freelancer's vital role in promoting quality, independence, and resilience in journalism. The independence of freelance journalists can provide them with enormous power. But this power also brings multiple challenges that can and should be addressed through collaboration. By joining forces, engaging and working with their communities, freelancers can overcome obstacles, stand out and continue making a difference with their stories


By Maria Ressa
Freelance journalism: Contributing to a society that works for all
10:00 - 10:30

Freelance journalists are courageous and resilient. Exposing corruption and injustice is one of the multiple driving forces of the freelance community that is key to promote democracy and a society that works for all. During this talk, ‘Fisayo Soyombo, award-winning freelance investigative journalist and founder and editor of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, will share his experiences, challenges and successes as a freelancer.

Join this session to hear about his inspiring work exposing corruption and holding the powerful to account. He will tell us his motivations and why freelancers are vital for enhancing and propagating democracy and serving humanity.


By Fisayo Soyombo
TikTok for #freejournos: connect and engage with your audience
10:30 - 11:00

We all know that TikTok is one of the most downloaded apps around the world. More and more news organisations and journalists are joining this trend and using this platform to reach and engage new audiences and increase their visibility. But what does this mean for freelance journalists? How and when freelancers can make the best out of it?

In this session, Sophia Smith-Galer, BBC journalist named one of TikTok’s top 100 creators, will share insights on how to use TikTok to connect with your audience, build trust and find and tell stories.


By Sophia Smith Galer
More than numbers: data-driven human rights storytelling
11:00 - 11:30

In this talk by Data4Change’s Director Bronwen Robertson you’ll find out what work, skills and tools are needed to create data-driven multi-platform projects. You’ll also hear from some of Data4Change’s journalism alumni on how they learnt new data-journalism skills to co-create powerful storytelling projects using open data and data from human rights organisations.

Since 2014 Data4Change has connected journalists, data journalists, data scientists, designers and technologists with human rights organisations to collaborate on data-driven projects that forge real change and have lasting impact.


By Bronwen Robertson
Grab a coffee & move your legs
11:30 - 11:45

Panel: Effective pitches: persuade editors with stories that make the difference
11:45 - 12:15

Life's a pitch, so don’t be afraid to swing! Pitching can be tricky for freelancers, especially when stories are everywhere, and it is even more difficult to find an original idea. So how do you stand out? How to create a killer pitch that editors fall in love with? In this panel, moderated by UK- based freelance journalist Abigail Edge, editors from leading news organisations and projects covering development topics will share tips and the best strategies to pitch stories that make a difference.

The session will focus on common mistakes and how they can be avoided to increase your chances of getting commissioned. Finally, the panel of editors will share underreported angles and story ideas about global challenges and development issues that can translate into more opportunities for freelancers.


By Abigail Edge, Chakuchanya Harawa
Breakout room 1: Data journalism: crunching the numbers, enhancing your stories
12:30 - 13:00

How often do freelance journalists think about data? Design, computer science, statistics and the news have collectively morphed into the expanding field of data journalism. Whether covering topics like Covid -19 or international migration, freelance journalists are increasingly required to better understand and explain data to their audiences.

Adaugo Trinitas Isaac, Wanadata’s Product Manager at Code for Africa, wants to help you unleash your inner data journalist. In this session, we will help you understand how to produce and promote data-driven news that enhances your storytelling. We will focus on developing skills for a changing digital media landscape that allows your audience to visualize data.


By Adaugo Isaac, Stephanie Nekesa Wamalwa
Breakout room 2: Mobile Journalism for freelancers: The future of storytelling
12:30 - 13:00


By Yusuf Omar
Hello new day!
09:15 - 09:30


The future of freelance journalism is collaborative
09:30 - 10:00

Creating new connections to join forces and work together is the first step to address the freelance community’s challenges. Freelance journalists thrive when they overcome competition and cooperate. This not only empowers the community but also improves representation and diversity in the news. Despite this, many freelancers still become isolated in their work and struggle to tap into the journalism community’s resources. Tabea Grzeszyk, CEO and co-founder of Hostwriter, wants to explore solutions to this challenge.

This session will explore the power of collaborating across borders or even within the same country or city. It will focus on methods to build contacts that are mutually beneficial, share research and foster collaboration. In the era of growing distrust of news media, this session will illustrate how collaborative journalism improves diversity in the news and contributes to trust and good journalism.


By Tabea Grzeszyk
Investigate Europe: A cross-border team holding those in power accountable
10:00 - 10:30

How do you create a successful cross-border team? What are the different factors that contribute to the stability of a collaborative project? In this session, we will hear from Elisa Simantke, Editorial Director of Investigate Europe. She will share her insights based on her experience leading a unique cross-border team of journalists from France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Belgium, Great Britain and now also Hungary.

Join this session to learn about this group’s methods and strategies which can help freelance journalists collaborate, share information and fact check across borders. We'll explore how to tackle the usual national biases and highlight responsible transnational structures to hold the powerful accountable.


By Elisa Simantke
Tweet like a pro (#StopUsingRedundantHashtags)
10:30 - 11:00

Twitter has become an essential tool for freelance journalists. The platform can boost one’s profile, broaden professional networks and provide a channel that directly connects freelancers with their audiences. But so many journalists are not using the social media platform to its full potential. Dana Regev, Social Media Editor at Deutsche Welle, wants to help you optimize your Twitter game.

In this session, you will be guided through the process of building an impactful and engaging Twitter presence. We will explore networking techniques, leveraging trends, audience engagement and media sharing. Whether you’re a Twitter newbie or an established user, we’ll help you expand your reach, increase traction and get more eyes on the stories you want to share.


By Dana Regev
Slow News vs Infodemic: is another journalism possible?
11:00 - 11:30

Have you heard about the revolution of slow journalism? The barrage of information that is dumped on us daily can be overwhelming. The speed of the Twitter-age and 24-hour news cycle has made it difficult for even the most seasoned journalists to keep up. Slow journalism is what can help us sift through the noise. Join this session with Alberto Puliafito, director and co-founder of Slow News who will explore the opportunities in this growing movement responding to the crisis of traditional journalism.

During the session, you will learn the key concepts behind slow journalism. We will cover how to create innovative and unique stories, pitch slow journalism ideas to editors, know the best practices and explore successful cases. By slowing things down and discovering the stories people miss, we can strengthen our ability to produce great journalism.


By Alberto Puliafito
Grab a coffee & move your legs
11:30 - 11:45

[Panel] Join the force: how to create a successful freelance collective or crossborder team
11:45 - 12:15

More and more freelancers are starting to collaborate across borders and create freelance collectives. These initiatives have proven to empower the community, improve the quality of journalism, generate impact and encourage diversity in the news. In this panel moderated by Mercy Abang, journalist and editor of Unbias The News, freelancers will share their experiences collaborating within and across borders.

The journalists Jelena Prtoric, Juliette Robert, Michael Bird, and Geesje van Haren will discuss the lessons learned, the challenges and opportunities of cross-border collaborations that resulted in impactful journalism projects.


By Mercy Abang, Jelena Prtoric
Breakout room 1: Working alone not anymore: what you need to know to work in crossborder teams
12:30 - 13:00

Do you want to start collaborating across borders but you don't know where to start? The n-ost Cross-Border Playbook is a guide drawn from the experiences of a pioneering group of cross-border journalists. In this hands-on workshop, they explain how you can use the Playbook to get your research started, what tools you can use, and how you can collaborate effectively across borders in practice. Learn how to create a team, find cross-border stories, tips to pitch and get commissioned and how to develop the research.


By Anne Hoffmann, Ties Gijzel
Breakout room 2: Cross-border as a Mindset: troubleshooting for cross-border collaborations
12:30 - 13:00

This hands-on workshop focuses on the mindset of cross-border collaboration, and focus on issues that can arise when people from different backgrounds work together, as well as other stumbling blocks such as how to put together a team. There will be a chance to troubleshoot and discuss individual cases, share experiences, learning outcomes and tips amongst the attendees. We also look into specific challenges that have arisen due to restricted travel during the pandemic, and ways to tackle those. Cross-border journalists of all levels are welcome!


By Julia Vernersson, Tina Lee
Breakout room 1: Storytelling and audience engagement skills to tell stories that make a difference
13:00 - 14:00

This is the perfect training for journalists who want to meaningfully connect and build relationships with their audiences through creative storytelling formats and constructive engagement strategies. in this hands-on session hosted by Nina Fasciaux and Julia Hotz from the Solutions Journalism Network, you will learn about types of solutions story structures and how to drive productive public discourse and online discussions to strengthen agency and innovation within the communities you serve.


By Nina Fasciaux, Julia Hotz
Breakout room 2: Tips and tools to integrate diversity into your journalism work
13:00 - 14:00

Freelancers can play a vital role in boosting diversity and equity in society. By improving diversity and representation in the different stages of the news’s lifecycle, they can encourage fair and open reporting that more accurately reflects reality while moving beyond stereotypes. Many voices continue to be marginalised and are significantly under-represented in news media. Freelance journalists have the flexibility and tools to address this problem in a fast-changing world.

In this session, Keith Woods, Chief Diversity Officer from National Public Radio, will offer strategies and tools to help freelancers find a balance in their sources, uncover new perspectives and identify underserved audiences.


By Keith Woods
Hello, last day!
14:00 - 14:30


Why Solutions Journalism can lead to more commissions and career opportunities?
14:30 - 15:00

Editors receive countless pitches each day about the same problems. But what happens if freelancers focus instead on the solutions? In this session, David Bornstein, journalist and co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network, will tell us how freelancers who report on the solutions to social challenges can find new angles that can separate them from the crowd. This can build a solid personal brand that will turn you into an expert in your field, leading to commissions and career opportunities.

Solutions journalism also improves society. It moves beyond the bleak coverage common in news media and supports robust public debate and a healthy democracy. Solutions help increase engagement with audiences, rebuild trust, spur citizen agency and reduce polarisation.


By David Bornstein
Favela vs. Covid-19: Comic journalism and the tackling of a health crisis
15:00 - 15:30

In Brazil, like other parts of the world, the country's poorest citizens have faced the pandemic’s brunt. However, amidst the crisis, communities have responded with creative initiatives and leadership training, using alternative ways to spread information and increase awareness. Then came an original idea; create a multimedia comic that covers these community-driven initiatives.

In this session, Brazilian journalist Priscila Pacheco will tell the story of Favela vs. Covid-19, a solutions journalism multimedia comic published by It covers grassroots initiatives launched by the residents of three favelas in São Paulo, to face the problems caused or exacerbated by the pandemic. Join us and discover how freelancers can collaborate to create unique stories and formats while reporting on responses and solutions to problems worldwide.


By Priscila Pacheco
Instagram for freelancers: Translating impactful stories into an IG hit
15:30 - 16:00

Instagram is a powerful way to tell stories and reach and engage a new audience. Not sure where to start? Sharon Attia, a social media editor at The New York Times who runs @nytgender, is here to help.

The most successful Instagram accounts have a personality and a consistent voice that’s informative, trustworthy and approachable — which is precisely what you as journalists can offer. During this session, you will learn best practices for posting on the platform and hear tips and strategies on how to create engaging and shareable content that will increase your work’s visibility, amplify your voice and connect with readers.


By Sharon Attia
Grants: How to apply successfully and make a living as a freelancer
16:00 - 16:30

Do you want to know how to diversify your income and not depend only on commissions? Do you want to know how to increase your chances of securing grants to fund your projects? One of the most stressful parts of being a freelancer is money. Usually, freelancers get lost in oceans of pitches. Often they have to sacrifice their real interests and professional goals to earn commissions that are just enough to make a living.

There are ways to overcome these challenges. In this talk, entrepreneurial freelancer Stefano Valentino will share tips on how you can optimise your grant application game. He will break down some of the professional challenges that freelance journalists face and how they can be tackled using strategies commonly applied by entrepreneurs, helping you create a strong brand and a successful independent product.


By stefano valentino
[Panel] What's new: the latest storytelling trends in freelance journalism
16:30 - 17:00

Get inspired! In this panel moderated by Nigerian multimedia journalist Aisha Salaudeen, freelancers will discuss the advantages, benefits, and challenges of working on creative storytelling formats. Collaboration, community engagement and innovation will be at the centre of this conversation that will showcase stories from all across the world.

From mobile journalism to documentary podcasts, graphic novels and workshops created with the communities - each of these projects is an excellent example of upcoming and alternative trends in freelance journalism. Join Fariba Nawa from Host of On Spec podcast, Nidheesh M K from the #happyaano project, Alberto Tetta from the Cyborg Queer project and Laurence Ivil from the Graphic Novel “Motherhood in crisis” to discover their unique experiences.


By Aisha Salaudeen, Alberto Tetta
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