Exciting times for independent journalists
By Zan Azlee
It’s been a while since I’ve really gone the independent route as a journalist and documentary filmmaker. Well, four years to be exact, which was the period when I was with Astro AWANI as a staff journalist (I started out as the editor of the magazine desk and left as the senior editor for digital media).
Prior to joining Astro AWANI, I was independent for close to ten years. I was a contributing correspondent for several media organisations like Al Jazeera International, Globalpost, VPRO TV (Dutch), VJ Movement, The Malaysian Insider and basically, anyone who would hire me.
I was also producing my own documentary and non-fiction content under my company, Fat Bidin Media, and sold and licensed it to different broacasters, local and international. It was a fun time. Of course, joining Astro AWANI was fun too and quite an experience.
But now, I’m back to being independent and I am excited! But much has changed in the four years that I had been gone.
The way I use to get my clients back then was to actually compile a portfolio of my work and approach and present to the media organisations directly. I had to initiate contact and then maintain the relationship by continuing to do good and reliable work.
Today, the part where you have to initiate direct contact with the media organisations have more or less been eliminated. Now, there are so many middleman organisations that act as a repository or agent for independent and freelance journalists.
They register and sign on journalists on one side, then register and sign on media organisations on the other. Thus, they become like a matchmaker between the content producers and the media organisations who are commissioning the content.
Sites like Transterra Media, Storyhunter and GRN Live are just a few examples and it definitely makes things easier for the independent content producer. But of course, the sites require you to be legit and professional journalists.
You would have to go through a thorough registration and validation process. Some of these sites would even contact you for a Skype discussion just to ascertain your skills and professionalism before you can be listed on their site.
Although it makes things easier, I think I would miss the direct interaction with the media organisations. But we’ll see how it goes. I am just starting out again. All I know is that things are different and I definitely feel excited!