A Tiered Approach to Researching and Pitching Investigative Stories for Freelance Writers
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A Tiered Approach to Researching and Pitching Investigative Stories for Freelance Writers

Samantha Sunne |
November 22, 2018

I discovered investigative reporting while still in school, and decided it was my calling.


But I also wanted to travel the world, try new things and experiment with different mediums — signals that pointed me to freelancing.

But what does it mean to freelance as an investigative reporter?

Freelancers get paid upon publication, but investigations can take up to a year to produce, or longer. These days, a story will often net well under $1,000 for deeply reported, longform articles. On the other hand, a salaried American reporter averages around $50,000 a year. You can see the disparity.

And besides money, there’s the issue of time. Living in the US state of Louisiana, I have a bottomless font of government accountability and public service stories I could produce, if I had the time. The phrase “time is money” is more brutally true for freelancers than almost anyone else.

After a few years of trying to map investigative stories against a freelance reality, I came up with a framework I refer to as “tiers.”

Credit by - GIJN

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