Editorial

Freelance writing opportunities from TriNorth

STATEMENT – NEW SPORTS FREELANCER PROJECTS

In light of the ongoing situation, the people who work at TriNorth Communications, the sports media agency which produces The Blizzard, the Nightwatchman, Wisden Cricket Monthly and Gridiron magazines, have decided they would like to do their bit for the freelance community.

Here is a tremendous opportunity outlined by Matt Thacker, of TriNorth.  We are indebted to them for their generosity and initiative:

“At TriNorth, we are all lucky enough to have full-time jobs. Like everybody else, we can’t guarantee for how long, but we are aware of the even more precarious nature of freelance life around the world at the moment and it did not take much persuading for our staff to agree to foregoing a significant element of their salaries for the next few months and possibly beyond so that we could set up a fund to support freelancers. We are all aware of the importance of freelancers to our products, of the friendships we have built with them, of the feeling of kinship we share with them.

We have therefore, slightly counter-intuitively in a world where everything seems to be scaling back, decided to introduce two new digital magazines, the Pinch Hitter, in association with the Nightwatchman, and The Squall, the unruly younger sibling to The Blizzard.

The former, which will appear approximately fortnightly starting from 3 April, will initially be funded by TriNorth’s salary sacrifices; the latter (planned at eight issues over 12 months starting in May) by the incredibly generous gestures from contributors to the Blizzard, led by editor Jonathan Wilson. Between them, the 65 writers who contributed pieces to, or spoke at events for, The Blizzard in the 2019-20 period, have waived over £5,500 and counting of fees, meaning we can start commissioning with confidence.

It will not be possible to fund the products in this way forever of course (the intention at this stage is for both products to have a lifespan of as long as the current situation lasts) and we will therefore also put both magazines on sale on a pay-what-you-can basis. The more support we can get for this from the freelance community in terms of promotion, the better. And we have today set up two bank accounts – one for each magazine – so that we can ensure all revenues generated will be reinvested into these magazines. If they turn into something that people want to keep going, and that benefit the freelance community, then we’d be delighted.

You’ll find more about the two products and how to pitch to contribute to them at the end of this statement.

We are aware that a package is on its way for freelancers and first signs are that it looks promising. But we are also aware that there are plenty of freelancers out there – writers, photographers, videographers, illustrators, podcasters – who will find the measures do not help them out of the hole they are in right now. And we know that these government measures, when they do come in, will be for those working in the UK. Our freelancers span the globe and not all are being offered such a package. Furthermore, we know that the current situation is not just about money. It is about doing your job, taking pride in turning a sentence, taking a great photo, telling a great story, getting that game-changing interview. Pride in your work, producing the finished product – the psychological impact is huge. Mental health is never to be treated lightly, but especially not now. We want to give freelancers a platform to strut their stuff, to play their shots.

As with anything we do, there will be a fairly rigorous quality control process involved – the content produced has to be good and the magazines have to be engaging for people to read.

So please send in your submissions, ideas and suggestions and hopefully we’ll be able to make a small difference. Our intention is to pay pretty much on submission, even if that submission is for three or four magazines down the line. This won’t always be possible but the more cash we can generate from the general public, the quicker we can pay, the more freelancers we can use, and the better the rates we can offer.”

 

Matt Thacker matt@trinorth.co.uk
FULL BRIEF FOR THE SQUALL
from The Blizzard editor Jonathan Wilson thesquall@trinorth.co.uk
The Squall will be (a lot) shorter than The Blizzard but (a lot) longer than The Flurry (our newsletter). It will be 11 pieces of between 500 and 2500 words on a selected theme (so a total of 15-20,000 words). Our first issue (May; deadline 15 April) will be on the theme of The Right-Back. Feel free to interpret that as freely as you like. Pitch on individual right-backs, great or small; on the changing nature of the role; on best goals by right-backs; worst fouls by right-backs; right-backs in film or song; clubs who’ve had a run or great or terrible right-backs… be as creative as you can. If you’re a photographer, perhaps you have a series of pictures of one particular right-back, or maybe a series of different right-backs taking throw-ins? As ever with Blizzard products, be inventive and original, find details, devise theories, be funny, don’t be constrained by what we’ve seen before. 
 
The address for pitching to Jonathan is thesquall@trinorth.co.uk  and you’ll find more detail about the other seven issues as soon as we can get it up on the website at http://www.theblizzard.co.uk – get your pitches (and submissions) in early. At the moment as potential themes, we’re looking at: Brits Abroad; Kits; the Printed Word; Animals; Oedipus; Grounds; Sliding Doors; Short-Lived Tournaments and Reserves but that may change. If you’ve got a decent idea for them, let us know.
 
Meanwhile The Blizzard will continue to run as usual, coming out in June (deadline 10 April), September (10 July), December (10 October). They tend not to be tightly themed, so pitch any ideas you have. The original idea with The Blizzard was that it should be for those pieces you’d always dreamed of writing but had never had the opportunity – something that you know about and nobody else does. Don’t think of this as a regular job – in almost a decade we’ve had more than 300 contributors because it should be the one thing that’s been burning away, that you feel you have to write.
 
Previously we always paid a percentage of profit at the end of our tax year. That both seemed fair – everybody benefited proportionally to what they’d done – and also allowed us to start up without any outside investment or worrying too much about advertising revenues. However, we realise in the present circumstances that’s not ideal for struggling freelancers, so for The Blizzard we’ll start paying a flat rate of £105/1000 published words (rounded to nearest 500) on publication of each issue. If it’s possible to increase that over time, we will.

 

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