Media and Journalism Webinars Session 1: Building a Career in Freelance Journalism

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Media and Journalism Webinars Session 1: Building a Career in Freelance Journalism
July 25, Monday (11:00 AM - 12:30 PM EST)

Media and Journalism Webinars emphasize experiential and hands-on learning through intensive training and interactive discussions with professional journalists for field experience. This program aims to prepare journalism students and young professionals to succeed in their professional careers while fostering experiential learning by translating knowledge and skills into experience.

In this session, participants will be able to learn about the following topic and subjects from professional journalists and media personalities. Your active and meaningful participation with questions and reflections will make the discussion more productive.  

Building a career in Freelance Journalism

  1. Making a living as a freelance journalist
  2. Building an audience
  3. Pitching stories, exposure to editors and publishers
  4. Challenges and opportunities for freelance journalists who do not want to work full-time for one media organization.

Guest Speakers

Yazeed Kamaldien

Journalist, South Africa



Yazeed Kamaldien is from Cape Town, South Africa, and is a journalist who has worked in print, radio, television and documentary filmmaking. He has reported from and lived in various countries, including conflict zones such as Yemen, Syria and the Gaza Strip. He is a founding member of the International Association of Religion Journalists (IARJ) aimed at promoting accuracy and fairness in religion reporting. Yazeed is currently also part of the Global Exchange on Religion in Society (Geris), a two-year project funded by the European Union, set up to facilitate a global conversation on diversity, coexistence and social inclusion. He is currently based in the United States.


Jordan Gass-Poore`

Podcast Producer, Investigative Journalist, USA


Jordan Gass-Pooré is an award-winning podcast producer and investigative journalist with more than a decade of journalism experience. Presently, Ms. Gass-Pooré is the creator, producer, and host of “Hazard NJ,” a limited-series podcast about the impacts of climate change on hazardous Superfund sites in New Jersey. This podcast is in collaboration with the PBS affiliate NJ Spotlight News.

Prior to this, Jordan Gass-Pooré was a producer of CNN’s podcasts, “Chasing Life” and “Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction,” both hosted by Dr. Sanjay. She is also a producer of the investigative podcast “Sounds Like Hate,” created by the Southern Poverty Law Center and Until 20 Productions. She has a master’s degree in investigative journalism from City, University of London and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas State University.

Abdullah Bozkurt

Director, Nordic Monitor, Sweden


Abdullah Bozkurt is a journalist for over 20 years and is president of the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), a monitoring group that tracks human rights violations in Turkey. He is also the director of the Nordic Research and Monitoring Network, which investigates terrorism, security, crime and extremism, and the author of Turkey Interrupted: Derailing Democracy. Mr. Bozkurt founded the Muhabir News Agency, which was shut down by the Turkish government in July 2016. He was also bureau chief for the Ankara-based daily Today’s Zaman, and served as its Washington, D.C. correspondent.



Summary & Highlights

On July 25, 2022, the Journalists and Writers Foundation held the first session of the Media and Journalism Webinars 2022 on building a career in freelance journalism. These virtual webinars are organized as a certificate program emphasizing experiential and hands-on learning through intensive workshops, webinars, training, field trips, mentoring and interactive discussions with professional journalists for hands-on field experience. During 5 sessions, each focusing on a different topic, participants from all over the world met with 10 expert speakers from the USA, Sweden, Germany, India, South Africa, Greece, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

Media and Journalism Webinars are hosted by journalist Yazeed Kamaldien from Cape Town, South Africa. Yazeed is a freelance journalist, who has worked in print, television, radio and documentary filmmaking, He has lived and reported from various countries including conflict zones such as Yemen and Syria. Yazeed is a founding member of International Association of Religion Journalists which aim at promoting accuracy and fairness in religion reporting.

speakers_0006_yazeed-kamaldienYazeed Kamaldien started the session by introducing the speakers Jordan Gass-Poore, podcast producer and investigative journalist from the USA, and Abdullah Bozkurt, journalist and director of the Nordic Monitor based in Sweden. In explaining the main opportunities and challenges of freelance journalism, Jordan began with the basic question of freelance journalism, emphasizing the freedom to report and the nature of remote work, while highlighting that most journalists, as freelance journalists, are exempt from employer health insurance.

Media and Journalism Webinars are hosted by journalist Yazeed Kamaldien from Cape Town, South Africa. Yazeed is a freelance journalist, who has worked in print, television, radio and documentary filmmaking, He has lived and reported from various countries including conflict zones such as Yemen and Syria. Yazeed is a founding member of International Association of Religion Journalists which aim at promoting accuracy and fairness in religion reporting.

session-1-jordan-gass-pooreJordan Gass-Poore strongly recommends that you try freelance journalism. Unlike Jordan, Abdullah said that health insurance is available in Sweden, so he wasn’t too worried on his part, agreeing with Jordan that there are many pros and cons when it comes to freelance journalism. He emphasized that being a full-time journalist allows him to focus more on his content, as you have different departments working for you and assisting journalists. Abdullah emphasized to the participants that for freelance journalism, you have to do everything yourself, you have to plan your own calendar, you are free. However, Abdullah also informed the participants about the disadvantages of freelance journalism in terms of legal cases such as lack of health insurance and liability insurance. He shared his own experience of facing various challenges in freelance journalism.

Yazeed Kamaldien: How can you become a freelance journalist?

Jordan shared that she started freelance journalism during her high school years, meeting people by participating in different events, and then communicating with them, following them and telling their stories. She started her career as a freelance journalist despite being widely rejected in the early days. Yazeed also emphasized that “networking” was vital in the early days of his journalism career.

session-1-abdullah-bozkurtAbdullah Bozkurt, who started his career as a freelance journalist during his graduate education, spent a lot of time in the Department of Journalism at Columbia University and shared his own experiences. He started to write freelance articles and write stories for newspapers in Turkey. Abdullah started his career as a freelance journalist by choice, and later joined an organization, attracting the attention of participants where he worked as a full-time journalist. He stressed that freelance journalism has many challenges at different levels, but if your heart is in this profession and as soon as you create good content and stretch yourself to different limits to find coverage, then you can find more. can develop the story from there.

In Session 1, all participants participated in a fruitful discussion by asking practical questions about freelance journalism.

Rana Ozakca: Is it worth going to Journalism Graduate School?

Rana Ozakca, a participant from the United Kingdom, asked a question about the value of going to the Journalism College. Abdullah answered this question by sharing one of his experiences of meeting young colleagues who jumped into graduate school after experiencing freelance journalism in the field. He shared that having some experience in journalism before being accepted into journalism graduate school gives you more learning, confidence, visibility and credibility. According to Abdullah, “credibility is the most valuable commodity any journalist can have.” Studying in journalism school is important for learning principles and values, but you can gain a great deal of experience as freelance journalism, practicing and working in the field.

Mercy Achieng: How can you stand out uniquely in public as a freelance journalist?

Mercy Achieng, a participant from Kenya, asked a question about uniquely standing out in public as a freelance journalist. Abdullah and Jordan addressed the question posed: Abdullah sasaid that “great content is the key to journalism” and with the article having a wealth of references, sources and evidence that helps and further assist in creating very specific content that help you stand out from the rest of the crowd. Jordan shared her experiences of her early career in publishing, and she did so by adopting a unique way of “co-authoring the text-based article by creating an audio version of those articles.” Yazeed, addressing the participants, underlined that they should first decide on their own area of ​​interest about what kind of journalist they want to be. It’s important to find your niche and find the topic you want to write about.

Rachel Nduati: How can you ensure objectivity and avoid bias as a freelance journalist? 

Rachel Nduati, a participant from Kenya, a broadcast journalist and digital entrepreneur asked questions about subjectivity while doing freelance Journalism where chances of being objective can happen. How can you ensure not to be biased as a freelance journalist and to ensure that audience can relate the story as it is but not based on the own biasing of a freelance journalist?

Abdullah Bozkurt said that there are a lot of checks and balances when working in full-time journalism or large media organizations, but mistakes can happen in freelance journalism when you are the only person looking at your article from different angles. Abdullah stated that the article can be shared as a raw material to get the opinions or judgments of your target audience or colleagues, so that you can make changes later by getting their views.

Our participants made Session 1 very interesting by asking different questions and actively participating in the discussions.


Abu Naser Anik: What are the risks for freelance journalists when reporting corruption or criminal activity?

Abu Naser Anik, a participant from Bangladesh, asked about the risks of freelance journalism when a journalist is covering corruption or some criminal activity. He stressed that many journalists in his home country, Bangladesh, are afraid of freelancing. Abdullah answered this question regarding the political and security aspects of journalism while sharing his analysis of the pressures on media and press freedom in Turkey. Abdullah emphasized the importance of accepting the facts, taking precautions on a personal level, and approaching the authorities for security and safety. Sometimes security measures can break down and the person may be the victim of an attack. Journalism is a public interest business, and there are some metrics and factors that you should control by watching from different angles.

Yazeed Kamaldien also touched upon the question asked by our Bangladeshi participant. He mentioned some of the programs run by non-governmental organizations such as the “Committee to Protect Journalists” and others, which help journalists to broadcast news in temporary and life-threatening situations, which are not required to broadcast directly in their country, but which help journalists to broadcast news. To get the story to a prominent public and ensure that we are not silenced in a country where governments work hard to silence journalists who broadcast in such situations. Yazeed also stated that as a journalist, you should look into alternative sources where you can publish the work.

Both Jordan and Abdullah shared their insights into their career paths and shared their professional journeys with the audience. Abdullah stated that if a solid article can be worked on, it can stand out by maintaining its standards and lead society for positive social change.

session-1-jordan-gass-pooreJordan Gass-Poore emphasized that a journalist can only improve their work with continued professional development. Asked about the pressure on freelance journalists, Abdullah said that while working at a traditional media company, he was kept within certain limits and there was no room for error. However, freelance journalists manage their style and correct mistakes with no tension on audience and story-related issues. In addition, Jordan added that data-driven visualizations always require a high level of cross-checking to maintain transparency and credibility. According to her, collaborating with other colleagues is also a very productive reporting tool.

After answering a series of questions asked by participants on freelance journalism, Jordan informed the audience that many freelance journalists have applied for grant funding for long-term projects. Abdullah also advised the participants to attend some internship and training programs from well-established organizations with broad horizons, and they may be lucky by polishing their resumes and sending them to all media outlets. Addressing the youth, Abdullah said that if journalism does not sustain their lives financially, they need to take some steps to maintain the balance.

Session 1 ended by enlightening the brilliance of freelance journalism and closing remarks by our Host Yazeed Kamaldien and Speakers Abdullah Bozkurt, Jordan Gass-Poore.


Jordan Gass-Porre`s List of Freelance Point of Contact for future references and publish requests.  

US Outreach


NYC Radio:


LADIO (marginalized genders in audio):

Movement Journalism (Southern journalists):

NC Audio Working Group (North Carolina):

NJ Audio Group (New Jersey):

Philly Audio Community:

Radio Chilanga:



Women in Sound:


International Outreach

Oz Audio (Australia): ozaudio@googlegroups



Thomson Reuters Foundation TrustLaw 

TrustLaw is the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s global pro bono legal service. It connects high-impact NGOs and social enterprises working to create social and environmental change with the best law firms and corporate legal teams, to provide them with free legal assistance. With a community of more than 6,500 members in over 190 countries, TrustLaw is the world’s largest global pro bono network.



The Gumshoe Group

The Gumshoe Group supports freelance investigative reporters pursuing ambitious journalism in the public interest. Freelance investigative reporters produce brave, time-intensive work that news organizations often cannot undertake—at significant personal risk and with diminished structural and financial support. The Gumshoe Group supports freelance investigative reporters by connecting them with lawyers in the pursuit of public records, offering workshops and trainings, providing resources and tools, and coordinating investigative collaborations.



International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists tells stories that punch through the noise, showing how the world really works, triggering positive change. It is driven by the belief that citizens have the right to be better informed, that access to independently sourced facts is not only essential for democracy but is also a fundamental human right. ICIJ is operating at a time when investigative journalism has never been more important, or more challenged. The biggest threats to our societies, and to all of us, have gone global, stretching the capacity of traditional newsrooms. Vital public interest reporting must compete against a flood of misinformation that confuses, alienates and divides. To fight these forces, ICIJ has directed the largest cross-border reporting initiatives in history, convincing reporters across the globe to set aside traditional rivalries to uncover corruption, abuses of power and grave harms inflicted on the world’s most vulnerable people.



International Women`s Media Foundation 

The IWMF works to unleash the power of women journalists to transform the global news media. Their fellows and grantees, both freelance and staff journalists, become experts in reporting in underserved regions, generate must-read stories, align with top outlets, and bring critical issues affecting women and others to light. IWMF is an organization that provides safety training, byline opportunities, and emergency support tailored to women journalists and photographers around the world. They also recognize fierce women journalists and photographers whose courage sets them apart and research the factors that allow journalism to remain dominated by men while advocating for inclusive practices that help propel women and minorities into leadership.



Rory Peck Trust

The Rory Peck Trust provides practical and financial support to freelance journalists and their families worldwide, assisting in times of crisis and helping them to work more safely and professionally. We do this through assistance funds, our training fund, and online resources, as well as our annual Awards, which uniquely celebrate the work of freelance journalists. Based in London, the Trust works globally, with a network of international partners. It is co-founder of the Journalists in Distress (JID) network, a group of 22 like-minded organizations that provide support to journalists whose lives or careers are threatened because of their work. The JID network allows members to coordinate assistance and maximize their impact on a global level.



Coalition for Women in Journalism 

The Coalition for Women in Journalism fosters and supports camaraderie between women journalists around the globe. It is the first to pioneer a worldwide support network for women journalists. Through CFWIJ mentorship program and advocation for a safe and flourishing professional environment, they are creating spaces for women journalists where they can be nurtured, stay safe, and expand their skills. CFWIJ works with no national or ethnic boundaries and offer support to women from all backgrounds.