The fortitude of a freelance journalist

For the last few months, as I’ve been casually picking up freelance assignments and enjoying the variety and renewed energy of it all, I’ve been oblivious to the cold reality that those far more immersed in this way of work have been facing. Until now.

Someone I freelance for has lost a very nice gig of his own at espn.com, which has initiated sweeping cuts to its coverage of college sports. After being told in advance that his assignment might be curtailed, he responded on his own blog with a nice piece about the joys and struggles of carving out his ideal freelance/entrepreneurial niche. It’s very instructive, and sobering, for all of us trying to latch on to new ways of continuing in our careers.

What I love is his continued determination that journalists who have a burning desire to pursue their passions can still do that, but it’s going to require even more resourcefulness. He is asking for donations from his readers:

“If you can’t afford or are unwilling to give, here’s some free advice: it’s time for all of us to ratchet back our reliance on corporations, and fly or die on our own. I’ve been living off the Sports Bubble for so long that I’ve lost touch with the actual value of what I do, and I have no tangible idea if this operation would survive with a lessened subsidy. Nobody asked me to start covering mid-majors this way, nobody demanded it at any point, and the market didn’t require a smartass traveling reporter who talks as much about losing as winning, who posts more about philosophy than basketball. It seemed like the right way to do it, so that’s the way I do it.”

With this reality hanging over his head, he still wrote a marvelous story about a coach’s novel way of raising money for impoverished children that was featured prominently on espn.com’s college basketball channel.

Here’s a sports media blog’s take on the matter. While I’m gutted about what happened, I enjoy working with people like him. Whether you freelance or not, or end up staying in journalism or not, you should surround yourself with people like this.

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