The Institute for Independent Journalists Presents

IIJ 2023 Freelance Journalism Conference Recordings

Conference recordings are available now for all 10 panels and keynotes! Only $89 for 12 hours of learning and connection.

Key Takeaways

  • Hear what top editors want in pitches.
  • Learn insider secrets to landing fellowships, diversifying revenue, and creating a portfolio of meaningful work.
  • Connect with a community of creators who make a good living while telling stories that have an impact.

About the Recordings

  • Our conference addresses the most pressing questions pertinent to journalists at every level: from beginners to years of experience.
  • Each workshop is by journalists, for journalists, so speakers stay on topic and offer clear takeaways and actionable advice.
  • We seek to be an anti-racist organization that centers the most marginalized identities. (Everyone is welcome!)

Part One

Negotiating with Confidence and Ease

Kay Murray

of Counsel, Baron Harris Healy

Aria Velasquez

Freelance Journalist

Jessica Poitevien

Freelancer and Instructor for Write Like a Honey Badger

Mónica Ortiz Uribe

 Freelance Reporter
To build a sustainable freelance career, you need rock-solid contracts, good hourly rates, and the confidence to know when to walk away. Learn how to negotiate rates, understand contracts, protect yourself, and make the case for what you need in an assignment, from this panel of experienced independent journalists and a media law attorney. Speakers will share specific tips, negotiation strategies, and language to secure the rate and contract terms you need.

Thursday Keynote Address: Stephanie Foo in Conversation with Ly Tran

Stephanie Foo

Journalist and Author 
What My Bones Know

Ly Tran

House of Sticks
Stephanie Foo is the author of What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma. She has written for Vox, The New York Times and The Atlantic. She worked as a radio producer for This American Life and Snap Judgment, and her stories aired on Reply All, 99% Invisible, Radiolab. A noted speaker and instructor, she has taught at Columbia University and has spoken at venues from Sundance Film Festival to the Missouri Department of Mental Health.Ly Tran graduated from Columbia University with a degree in creative writing and linguistics. She has received fellowships from MacDowell, Art Omi, Yaddo, and Millay Arts. House of Sticks is her first book.

Become an Editor’s Go-To Writer

Amber Payne

 Co-Editor-in-Chief, The Emancipator

Ashton Lattimore

Editor-in-Chief, Prism

Kevin Nguyen

Features Editor, The Verge

Daniel Varghese

Gears and Gadgets Editor, The Wall Street Journal

Moderator: Ellen Lee

Independent Journalist
Learn directly from editors how to report a pitch that will be noticed, accepted, and published, and what to expect during the process. This roundtable of top editors will share what it takes to make them open your email, read your pitch, and say, “yes!”  They will also discuss best practices and answer your questions to help you ace the pitch – and land follow-up assignments.

The Power Story Edit

Gabrielle Lawrence

 TransLash Media

Sandhya Dirks

National correspondent covering race and identity, NPR

Felecia D. Henderson

Director for Cultural Competency, Maynard Institute

Moderator: Erika Hayasaki

 Author, Somewhere Sisters
Journalists invariably wield privilege and power, as we shape a narrative and select scenes, quotes, themes, arguments, and information to include. This panel will tackle the ways we can reframe, report, write, and structure our stories in light of our privilege and the power hierarchies among the people we interview. Panelists at the forefront of these conversations will discuss: How do we re-examine these power dynamics within our own reporting and journalistic practices? How can we think more critically about the people we report on in our stories—from exploitation, to breaking news, to trauma narratives and true crime? How can we as journalists speak truth to power while operating within news organizations that are often set in their ways?

Funding Your Work with Fellowships

Dave Umhoefer

Director, the O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism, Marquette University

Juanita Islas

Director of Programs, International Women's Media Foundation 

Lila Hassan

Independent Investigative Reporter

Moderator: Sylvia A. Harvey

 Author, The Shadow System
Freelancing can be a grind, working on one small project at a time and constantly cycling through assignments. Fellowships and grants offer an invaluable opportunity to learn new skills while gaining the time, space and resources to focus on in-depth and meaningful work. Fellowship directors and recipients will share how fellowships work, how to apply and how to stand out when you do!

Part Two

Tap Into Your Talents: Adding New Revenue Streams

Sushma Subramanian

Author, How to Feel

John Washington

Investigative Journalist, Arizona Luminaria

Rhana Natour

Journalist, Producer & Host

Sonali Kohli

Senior Recruiter, URL Media

Moderator: Sa'iyda Shabazz

Freelance Writer and Editor
Independent journalists generate income from writing books, speaking for pay, teaching, consulting, newsletters, and more. Is one of these paths for you? This business-savvy panel will explain how to get into these fields, what kind of income they can generate, and the realities and myths of each revenue stream, to help you decide what’s right for you.

Friday Keynote Address: Lynell George in conversation with Adrienne Johnson Martin

Lynell George

Author, Journalist
& Essayist

Adrienne Johnson Martin

Executive Editor
Lynell George is an award-winning Los Angeles-based journalist, essayist and author. Her work explores social issues and human behavior, as well as urban histories, visual art, music and literature. A former staff writer for both the Los Angeles Times and LA Weekly, her pieces have appeared in Sierra, Alta Journal, New York Times, Preservation, Oxford American, among other publications. Her liner notes for "Otis Redding Live At The Whisky A Go Go: The Complete Recordings" won a GRAMMY in 2017. She is the author of No Crystal Stair: African Americans in the City of Angels, After/Image: Los Angeles Outside the Frame. Her most recent book, A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia E. Butler was a 2021 Hugo Award Finalist. Lynell will be in Conversation with Adrienne Johnson Martin, executive editor of MLK50: Justice Through Journalism.

Supercharge Your Pitching Skills

Kelly Virella

Senior Staff Editor, The New York Times

Camille Bromley

Features Editor, Wired

Chris Ip

Senior Editor, The Atlantic

Justin Madden

The Guardian 

Stephanie Griffith

Opinion Editor, CNN

Moderator: Jamila Bey

Journalist and Radio Talk Show Host
Have you ever wondered how to land an assignment in your dream publication? This session pulls back the curtain, as editors decode the art of pitching. Each speaker will share what they want to see in a pitch, how to get their attention, the key to delivering a winning assignment, and what they’re looking for in a regular contributor. Bring all your burning questions!

Speak Up: Adding Podcasting to Your Portfolio

Lygia Navarro

Narrative Journalist

Stephanie Kuo

Director of Training, PRX

Rekha Murthy

Podcast Strategist 

Moderator: Doug Mitchell

Founder and Director of Next Generation Radio with NPR 
Is this the moment for the world to hear your voice? Panelists will discuss the pros and cons of adding podcasting to your portfolio of work. This session covers how to start a podcast as well as other roles freelancers can play in the reporting, production and launch of a podcast.

Picture Perfect: Succeeding as an Independent Photojournalist

Zaydee Sanchez

Freelance Photographer

Adam Perez

Independent Photographer

Vanessa Charlot

Photojournalist, Documentary Filmmaker and Curator, Recipient of the IWMF Courage in Journalism award

Moderator: Valeria Fernández

Managing Editor, palabra.
Learn how to build a career as a freelance photojournalist. Hear from thriving photojournalists as they share their stories, strategies, and pitfalls to avoid. The panel will explain the photo assignment process, which publications pay better, and how to scope a photo project.

The Institute for Independent Journalists

The Institute for Independent Journalists is an education, professional development, and mutual support organization for independent journalists, focusing on Black, Indigenous and people of color. Our mission is financial and emotional sustainability for independent journalists of color, through community learning, innovation and advocacy.
Patrick Jones - Course author