Finding Community
Hello friends,

Is that strange? That I call you my friends? Most of you are people I've never met. And I'll probably never meet many of you in person. (Though, I'd like to!)

I first started using that "hello friends" greeting more than a year ago, when I was still quite new to this freelance life. For almost three decades before that, I spent five days a week in a radio newsroom filled with like-minded people. I never knew how valuable that was… until it was gone.
Lovely photo of hands stacked in solidarity from Hannah Busing on Unsplash.
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Don't get me wrong, there are a LOT of things I love about freelancing. Like, whenever I want to take time off, the conversation with my boss sounds something like this:
Me: Can I take tomorrow off? The weather is supposed to be beautiful, and I don't feel like working.

Also Me: Sure! Why the F not?
This was a revelation for me. For more than 20 years, I had a job where I had to be careful not to drink too much water on Fridays, because I knew I wouldn't have time to pee.

Seriously. How did I ever live like that?!? It seems insane now…

But for everything I love about being a freelancer (and really, there are so many things to love) there's one thing I miss.

People.

I miss the people I used to gossip with while getting tea. The ones I used to run into in the ladies room. The people I'd pass in the hallway and acknowledge with a smile and a nod.

I even miss the people who drove me crazy.

But most of all, I miss my community of journalists. Colleagues I could turn to when I was having trouble thinking of a word. When a story was stalled, and I didn't know how to get it back on track. When a publicist was being annoying. When I was battling through story structure, and I needed a second opinion.

And my editors. Oh, how I miss my editors. I might not have always shown it, but I really valued the input and advice my colleagues would give me about how to make my work even better.

I've heard that many of you are missing community, too. Many of you are freelancers. Or working in shops where you are the only person doing this kind of work. Or maybe you're just new to reporting – or to narrative – and you don't know what you don't know.

For the past couple months, I've been batting around the idea of creating a Narrative Beat community. A place where we can ask each other for advice. A place where we can talk shop. A place where we can commiserate.

So, we're gonna do it. We're gonna launch the Narrative Beat community!

For now, it's just a Slack channel and the opportunity to join a monthly Zoom call. But as we grow, who knows?

My hope is that we can become a real space where we can support and encourage each other in all of our storytelling adventures.

And of course, I'll be there...checking in with y'all and offering my support and advice. Because, let's be real, I have quite a lot of it, and I'm never lacking for an opinion!

If you're interested, find out more here.
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And, real talk. There is a fee to join this community.

Truthfully, this newsletter takes up quite a bit of my time. And I need to find ways to make that investment more sustainable.

But I know that not everyone can pay to join a community. And even for those who can pay, maybe the Narrative Beat community isn't the best fit?

So, I'm gonna spend the rest of this newsletter talking about other communities I've encountered over the past 18 months of freelance life.
AIR Media

Even before I was a freelance journalist, I was a member of AIR. Why? Because this is how I hired tape syncers and freelance reporters.

But also, members get access to webinars (even one from me!) and job listings. And very most important to me as a freelancer, access to AIR's work on rates.

Seriously. I have recently discovered that I was grossly underpaid for the vast majority of my career.

Don't be like me! Find out what you're worth, and stick by it.
The Listservs:

I belong to three google groups. They're all free.
Sonic Soiree: This one focuses on Boston area producers. They have listings for local tape syncs and freelance gigs. They offer support, encouragement and (mostly) friendly answers to questions. Most importantly, they have monthly meetups IN PERSON.

(I'll admit, I haven't been able to attend an in person meetup yet. But I've met the admins of this group, and they're all lovely. Really, really good people.)

If you're in the Boston area and want to join, just reply to this email and let me know. I'll make the introduction.

And if you're not in the Boston area, hunt around! There might be a listserv closer to you.
Public Radio NYC: As near as I can tell, this is the granddaddy of all the listservs. Definitely not limited to public radio. Definitely not limited to NYC. They really should change the name!

This community can be a bit more daunting, because of the sheer size. But still, they're a really good resource.

Reply to this email and let me know if you'd like to join. I'll add you!
LADIO: Oh, LADIO, LADIO, LADIO. How I love you.

This group was also originally NYC based, but has definitely branched out. It tends to be a bit more friendly than Public Radio NYC. A bit more supportive. I've found lots of encouragement here.

But sorry dudes, this one's not for you.

If you are a woman or another marginalized gender and you want to join, reply to this email and let me know!
If you're looking for a job, Tanya Ott runs a Slack channel called Tanya's Tips.

This is mostly a space where folks post job opportunities. But the community is also really supportive when folks post questions about how to improve their search.

There's a google form to fill out if you want to join. (It pretty much just asks you for your name and email address.) But at this exact second, I can't find it! Ugh. So...you know what to do. Reply to this email if you want to join, and I'll send you the form...once I've found it!
And if you're looking for advice on the business side of being a freelance journalist, I strongly recommend The Writer's Co-op.

Jenni and Wudan have great advice on how to negotiate a fair rate, how to read a contract, and how to maintain work/life balance. Check out their podcast. And if you enjoy it, they have workshops and other resources too.
That's it for today, folks.

Lots of big things happening here. Not the least of which is scheduling my next Narrative Beat workshop.

I've gotten a request to bring back Interview Skills for Storytellers, which was a big hit when I first held it back in September.

But I've also been considering a brand new class about audio techniques for print journalists.

If you have a preference, please hit reply and let me know.

And as always, please share this newsletter with anyone you know who might enjoy it. Our community is getting stronger every day, thanks to your help!