It’s the old Catch-22: Employers want experience, but how do you get any until they hire you? The answer: freelance. If you want a top print or web internship, you need to have published articles to show before you walk in the door. That means you need to start freelancing now—well before you start applying for internships.
Dozens of newspapers and online publications in New York City will take your work. You’ll find several listed below.
If you have no clips at all, approach one of these small publications and ask about writing for them. They’ll put you to work, and you’ll wind up with a half-dozen clips by the end of the first term.
Then you’ll be ready to crack the big news organizations around town, many of which take occasional freelance pieces. But don’t forget: Freelancing means having ideas. Editors won’t simply assign you a story; you have to go to them with a list of tailored pitches. So study media outlets that take freelance work and figure out their angles. Start walking the city streets with a view to finding exciting story ideas.
Ask your reporting professors to help you shape your ideas and develop a pitch. If you do a great job on a class-assigned story, ask if it’s appropriate to pitch it to a community or daily paper. Or to the NYCity News Service, our student-powered news service. As Jere Hester, its editor, will tell you, local papers regularly pick up pieces from our newswire.
Weeklies and other small publications will often consider story ideas over the phone. Practice pitching your story before you call. Make sure you can summarize it in three sentences. Bigger places will want to see a written pitch or e-mailed “query letter” first. A pitch should explain what your angle is, why the story is important and why you are the best positioned to write it (perhaps because you know the neighborhood or subject well because of stories you’ve done for school).
Remember: This list is not exhaustive. New York is brimming with local publications that take freelance work.
The Amsterdam News
The New York Amsterdam News is one of the countries oldest (105 years), continuously published African American newspapers, and the leading voice of the black community in the New York region. As a weekly (Thursday) legacy newspaper, the Amsterdam News enjoys a loyal following of more than 98,000 readers weekly with our print product. Our current digital offering, amsterdamnews.com, currently enjoys 100k unique visitors per week, and more then 444k page views per month and growing. Typical story length is 350-500 words. Payment is $40 per story. No kill fee. Contact: Elinor Tatum, Publisher, email@example.com, phone 212-932-7465; address 2340 Frederick Douglass Blvd., New York, NY 10027. Internships available year round (unpaid, with small stipend in summer).
The Arab American News
The largest and oldest Arab-American newspaper in the United States. Surveys and criticizes foreign policy, news and features from all over the Arab world (including social, political and cultural themes) and targets the Arab and Arab-American community. Looking for freelancers in all areas. Circulation is 35,000. Typical story length is 750 words. Pay to be decided. Contact: Osama Siblani, Publisher, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 313-582-4888; address 5706 Chase Road, Dearborn, MI 48126. English/Arabic. Contact to request internship information.
Black Star News
Weekly paper that prides itself as the voice of under-represented people. Looking for business stories and profiles, and community coverage–housing, police abuse cases, education, community activist profiles, health stories, community board meetings, local sports, etc. Looking for stories affecting all NYC boroughs plus Jersey City, Newark and Long Island. Typical story length is 800-1,200 words. No pay, but the chance for good clips and challenging assignments. Also looking for articles for Harlem Business News, a monthly magazine. Contact: Milton Allimadi, Editor and Publisher, email@example.com; 212-481-7745. 32 Broadway, Suite 511, New York, NY, 10004. Internships available.
Looking for strong writers who are familiar with downtown issues – WTC redevelopment, environmental issues, general neighborhood growth and demographic/services issues. Need writers who can cover local Community Board 1 meetings in the evenings and report on stories that come forth. Circulation is 25,000. Typical story length is 300-500 words. Fee varies according to assignment. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 212-912-1106.
Bronx Times Reporter/Bronx Times
The Bronx Times Reporter and the Bronx Times cover the entire Bronx in three weekly editions, operating out of a single office in Throggs Neck. Combined circulation is 57,000 (17,000 paid). Looking for stories affecting the Bronx specifically. Usually have Throggs Neck and Morris Park covered, so stories in areas like Hunts Point, Morrisania, Fordham, Jerome, Woodlawn, Co-op City, Third Avenue, Grand Concourse, etc. are welcome in arts, crime, special interest. For sports, we are looking for people who are willing to go to various schools and cover games, talk to coaches and players and take pictures. We are also looking for profile pieces on Bronx athletes who have gone outside the borough into college and beyond. Any sport is good with us. Typical story length is 500 words. Pay is $25-$40 per story. Contact: Bret Nolan Collazzi, Managing Editor, email@example.com, phone 718-597-1116. Internships available.
Catholic New York
Biweekly newspaper, Catholic New York is the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of New York. It is not a spiritual or theological journal, but rather covers news of the Catholic Church in the archdiocese, at the Vatican and elsewhere. Freelancers (Catholic background/Spanish proficient preferred) sent out on assignment to cover events (mostly on the weekends). Circulation is 132,000 throughout Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, and the Northern Counties of Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Rockland, Orange, Ulster and Sullivan. Typical story length is 400-650 words. Longest stories are 1,200 words. Pay is $125 per assigned story, plus expenses for travel (mileage, subways, etc.). Clips will be requested. Contact: John Woods, Editor in Chief, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 212-688-2399 x3119; address 1011 First Ave., New York, NY 10022.
Chelsea Now—part of the newspaper group that also publishes The Villager, The East Villager, Downtown Express and Gay City News—is always looking for freelancer articles. Our coverage area includes Chelsea and the surrounding neighborhoods (Hell’s Kitchen, Meatpacking District, West Village, Flatiron District). We look for stories of all kinds, from hard news to features, profiles, Q&A interviews and, of course, good community-board meeting coverage (we report on C.B. 4 and 5). We also report on citywide stories that are topically relevant to Chelsea, such as those dealing with LGBT issues, affordable housing, etc. If you come with photography skills, all the better.
Typical story length is 800-1,400 words. Pay is $50 per story (slightly more for experienced writers or longer pieces). Email pitches to Scott Stiffler, Associate Editor, at email@example.com, or call 646-452-2497. Internships available.
City Limits Weekly
City Limits is a nonprofit online news agency producing investigative and in-depth reporting on policy issues affecting New York City. It has a focus on housing, criminal justice, health and the environment and emphasizes issues that affect low-income people. It received more than 2.5 million pageviews a year. Assignments are for 1000-3000 words and pay $500 to $750. Email editor Jarrett Murphy, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community News Group
Local weeklies: Bay News, Bay Ridge Courier, Brooklyn Graphic, Mill-Marine Courier, Brooklyn Courier, The Brooklyn Paper, Bronx Times, East Villager, Gay City News
For a breakdown of what neighborhood each paper covers, visit this link: http://www.cnglocal.com/s/newspapers/brooklyn-paper
Monthly magazines: New York Parenting and others
Freelancers contribute all story types. Circulation varies based on publication. Typical story length is 500 words. Payment is $35 per published story. Contact: Joanna DelBuono, Assistant Editor, email@example.com, phone (718) 260-2523; address 1 MetroTechCenter North, Suite 1001, Brooklyn, NY 11201.
Weekly paper covers Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street. Freelancers cover community board meetings, downtown arts scene and other local activities. Open to pitches. Circulation is roughly 30,000. Typical story length tends to be in the 800-word range. Payment varies. Contact: John T. Bayles, Associate Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 646-452-2463; address 145 Sixth Ave., New York, NY 10013. Unpaid internships available year round.
The Forward is America’s largest independent Jewish newspaper. Looking for features, news, arts, culture and blog posts—all with a Jewish angle. Print circulation is 30,000 nationwide. Pay to be negotiated with the editor. For pitches, contact news editor, Larry Cohler-Esses email@example.com, culture editor Adam Langer firstname.lastname@example.org, or online opinion editor Sigal Samuel email@example.com. Phone 212-889-8200. Physical address: The Forward, 125 Maiden Lane, 8th floor, New York NY 10038-5015. English/Yiddish. Internships available.
Gay City News
A free gay and lesbian weekly circulated throughout New York City. Circulation is 45,000. Focus is on politics, health, crime, the legal system, and a range of arts and entertainment (film reviews, theatre, opera, dance, books and galleries). Always looking for freelancers, particularly those who write stories to attract a young demographic. Looking for people who can alert the paper to performance-art events, particularly music geared toward younger readers. Always looking for news writers (politics, elections, crime, campus stories). Typical story length is 800 words. Pay is $50 but is negotiable based on work required and is more for a feature. Contact: Paul Schindler, Editor-in-Chief, Schindler@gaycitynews.com or Editor@gaycitynews.com, phone 646-452-2503. Unpaid internships available year round.
Pioneering and award-winning online publication about New York City and State policy and politics covers a wide variety of issues, with a special focus on city and state government. Known for in-depth, contextual features as well as day-to-day reporting, Gotham Gazette finds under-reported story-lines and unique angles to popular topics. The publication hires interns, who do reporting, writing, and research, among other editorial tasks, and earn a small stipend. Gotham Gazette accepts both internship applications and freelance pitches and submissions on a rolling basis. Contact: Ben Max, Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org; Location: 299 Broadway, Suite 700, New York, NY 10007.
The Hunts Point Express
This nonprofit news outlet, online at huntspointexpress.com and published as a newspaper monthly, is staffed by students in Hunter College’s Neighborhood News class but welcomes stories from CUNY J-School students as well. The Express covers Hunts Point and Longwood in the Southeast Bronx (Bronx Community Board 2), where unemployment, poverty, health problems and crime are serious issues, but where community activists have raised environmental awareness, fought to create parks and improve schools, and founded exciting arts and theater programs. Print circulation is 3,000; website gets 9,000 hits a month. Typical story length 650-1,000 words. No pay, but lots of advice and editing. Pitches for freelance stories are welcome, and editor Joe Hirsch is happy to give assignments as well. Contact him at email@example.com or (917) 280-4085.
Metro New York
Metro is a free weekday daily newspaper designed to deliver the news of the day to young, modern, active, professionals in roughly a 20-minute read. The average age of a Metro reader is 36. Our paper has no editorial page and no political persuasion. We deliver straight facts to our readers. We have more than 18.5 million readers across the world. We have editions in New York, Boston and Philadelphia as well as 71 editions in 21 countries around the world. Freelance: Use features, news, photo, sports. Story length: 300-400 words. Payment: negotiable. Internships: Interns work in our newsroom directly with Metro staff. The position is unpaid, but it does provide an opportunity to get daily reporting experience. The qualified intern is one who writes well, has creative story ideas and is driven to cover New York City. This is not a get coffee and make copies internship. Contact for freelance and internships: Ron Varrial, U.S. News Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org. Address 44 Wall St., 8th Floor, New York, NY 10005.
The New York Observer
Weekly paper covers topics including New York City politics, media, real estate and the arts. Website is refreshed daily. Circulation is 50,000. Looking for story ideas about the outer boroughs, including pieces on business, restaurants, arts, entertainment, and the literary and intellectual worlds. Freelance contributions usually for these columns: New York World (pieces about New York life that run 800-1,000 or 2,000 words) and New Yorker’s Diary (which could be international, first-person, etc.). E-mail pitches to Hillary Frey, Culture Editor, email@example.com. Unpaid internships available year round; the intern’s primary duty is fact-checking articles. Several current interns have covered events for the newspaper and have written online content. Also, interns often assist reporters with researching articles and may receive an additional reporting credit on some stories. Contact for internships: Jesse Wegman, Managing Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 212-407-9313; address 915 Broadway, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10010.
News Americas Now
News Americas Now is the news source for breaking news on The Caribbean, the Caribbean Diaspora and Latin America. It is syndicated across 23 other web portals and welcomes bloggers and writers to use the portal. Content can be submitted as text or audio or via an embed code for video. For more log on to newsamericasnow.com
The Norwood News is a biweekly community newspaper serving all the neighborhoods of Community Board 7 in the northwest Bronx. It was founded in 1988 by Mosholu Preservation Corporation, a not-for-profit community development organization. MPC also publishes the Mount Hope Monitor, a new community paper in Community Board 5, and has spearheaded the formation of the West Bronx News Network, a media collaboration of three west Bronx nonprofits. The paper has won a number of awards for investigative and feature reporting from the Independent Press Association-NY and the New York Press Association. Accepts freelance articles on issues pertaining to coverage area. Those interested in freelancing should e-mail pitches and two clips or writing samples. Internship: Interns work from 12 to 20 hours per week and produce news and feature stories. Interns receive a small stipend. Contact is David Cruz, Editor-in-Chief, email@example.com, phone 718-324-4998 and fax 718-324-291.
Our Time Press
Weekly publication covering community/world issues of African-American community. Looking for features, profiles, hard news and community events. Circulation is 20,000 (copies printed and distributed in Central Brooklyn). Typical story length is 700 words. Pay is $50 per story. Contact: David Greaves, Publisher, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 718-599-6828; address 679 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11216.
Weekly paper covers all of Queens County. Circulation is 160,000. Through a wide variety of sections, from arts & culture supplement called qboro to monthly PrimeTimes guide, seeks to serve all ages of this diverse and growing borough. Freelance: Looking for coverage in all areas, particularly trend stories, arts and entertainment, community news, features and investigative reporting. We are also looking for freelancers to cover night meetings and day assignments. Consider feature sports stories occasionally. Articles may range from 500 words to 1,200 for in-depth pieces. Payment begins at $25 for the shortest stories and can be negotiated depending on quality, length, etc. Ideas may be pitched, or potential freelancers may send clips and a resume to get on the paper’s list for assignments. Unpaid internships available. Paid internships require two full weekdays in the office for three months. Freelance and internship contact for Chronicle: Liz Rhoades, Managing Editor, email@example.com, phone 718-205-8000 x121. To pitch arts & entertainment stories (must have clear Queens connection), contact qboro editor Paula Neudorf at Paulan@qchron.com, 718-205-8000 x120.
Chain of 18 publications serving the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, including The Queens Courier, The Courier Sun, El Correo de Queens, Queensborough Magazine, Key to Queens, Healthwise, North Shore Towers Courier, LeHavre Courier, LIC magazine, and Home Reporter, Sunset News and Brooklyn Spectator newspapers. Freelance rate is $25 per story assignment. Special project assignments can pay up to $150. Unpaid interns accepted at all levels of experience – all year long. They get experience and bylines by writing features, hard/spot news, business profiles, etc. Interns may be asked to attend press conferences, community board meetings and/or other gatherings such as Police Precinct council meetings. May be asked to take some photos to accompany stories, so minimal knowledge of point and shoot digital cameras is a plus. A car is a big plus. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or Lou Parajos, Editor-in-Chief, email@example.com, phone 718-224-5863 x222; or Toni Cimino, Managing Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 718-224-5863, x204; address 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361.
Weekly paper with 179,000 circulation. Freelancers write Queens-based occasional news, general interest and leisure. Emphasis is on storytelling and reporters’ voices. Typical story length is 400-600 words. Pay is $25. Contact: Brad Groznik, Managing Editor, email@example.com, 718-357-7400 x121; address 174-15 Horace Harding Expy., Fresh Meadows, NY 11365. Unpaid internships available.
The Riverdale Press
This weekly newspaper won the 2015 best in class award from the New York Press Association, the latest out of hundreds of honors over the years. Covers northwest Bronx neighborhoods including Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Van Cortlandt Village and Marble Hill (the same area as Community Board 8’s boundaries). Circulation is 10,000. Freelancers are welcome to pitch ideas for feature stories about people, events, topics or ideas that involve the coverage area. Typical story length is 550-750 words. Payment is $35-55. Always query before undertaking or submitting. Contact editor Shant Shahrigian at firstname.lastname@example.org or 718-543-6065 ext. 374. The office is at 5676 Riverdale Ave., suite 311, Bronx, NY 10471. Unpaid internships are available year-round.
Publishes eight weekly newspapers in Manhattan: Our Town East Side & The Eastsider, covering the Upper East Side; West Side Spirit & The Westsider, covering the Upper West Side; Chelsea News & Chelsea Clinton News covering the Chelsea Clinton Neighborhood; and Our Town Downtown & The Downtowner, covering lower Manhattan. Combined circulation is about 80,000. Uses paid freelancers for a range of stories, including news coverage of local issues and for special-section pieces (health, real estate, pets, seniors, continuing education, etc.). Looking for well-rounded writers who can tackle specific assignments. Looking for business, real estate, good profiles, occasional essays. Typical story length is 750 words. Unpaid internships for school credit available year round. Contact Editor-in-chief Kyle Pope (x412) or deputy editor Richard Khavkine (x409) at 212-868-0190. Main email: email@example.com.
Publishes seven weekly newspapers that cover different neighborhoods in Queens. Paid circulation is 75,000. Freelancers cover Special Sections, Arts and Entertainment Guide, and some general news and features. Features and profiles are assigned by editors, but some pitches from freelancers are accepted. Typical story length is 600-800 words. Payment is $25 per piece, $15 per photograph. Contact: Roz Liston, Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 718-260-4536; address 41-02 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361. Unpaid internships available year round.
Weekly newspaper covers neighborhoods of Downtown Manhattan from roughly 34th Street to just south of Canal Street. Community focus. Use freelancers for local news stories, profiles, features, photos of events or stand-alone feature photos. Typical story length is 500 to 1,000 words. Pay is $50 per article for freelancers; for larger pieces may be more. Contact: Lincoln Anderson, Associate Editor, email@example.com, phone 646-452-2464; address 145 Sixth Ave., ground floor, New York, NY 10013. Unpaid internships available year round.
Williamsburg Greenpoint News + Arts
Williamsburg Greenpoint News + Arts is a broadsheet community newspaper covering the Williamsburg and Greenpoint sections of Brooklyn. All aspects of the community are covered from crime to art galleries and music. The editor, Genia Gould, is open to receiving brief story pitches. See the website for a rough guide to style and suitability. Final articles should be between 500 and 700 words long and be print-ready. Strong concise writing would help too. No pay but a byline will be given in web postings or printed stories. Interested parties should write to firstname.lastname@example.org with brief story pitches.
Daily online publication covers issues of particular concern to women and provides women’s perspectives on public policy. Does not cover fashion, diets or other lifestyle topics more typically found in women’s consumer magazines. Monthly cumulative readership is 4 million. Relies heavily on freelancers for news features and policy stories, commentaries, and personal essays. General interest topics include women’s policy issues, feminism, politics, health, education, sports, science, media, legal affairs, etc. Typical story length is 800-1,000 words. Pay rate begins at $300; commentaries and essays have lower rates. E-mail pitches to: email@example.com. Paid internships available year round; for information go to womensenews.org/become-womens-enews-intern.