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Make Money as a Newspaper Correspondent
by Mary Ann Kerl

Want to increase your writing income?

Land a newspaper correspondent job!

Newspaper editors are always on the lookout for correspondents and the extra money and benefits motivate a writer’s career like nothing else. Seeing my byline several times a week in a newspaper does wonders for my writing ego. So does getting a paycheck every month.

To contact a newspaper editor, simply write a query with several ideas for local stories you could cover. Like any other query, don’t go over a page. Or, if you are querying via email, limit it to about three paragraphs. Newspaper editors are especially busy and the shorter the query the better.

In your first paragraph, give your story ideas. In the second paragraph, list your credentials. And, in the third paragraph, ask if you can submit something for the editor’s review. In your query, tell the editor you are flexible (you won’t cry if your material is edited to their specifications), enthusiastic (always on the lookout for a good news story) and meet deadlines (if you don’t, no need to query). Include your phone number, address, email and cell phone number.

If possible, include ideas for a hard news story in your query. For example, if a murder trial is coming up, tell the editor. Also include a feature idea. Let the editor know you can write in both areas.

I never have to search long for feature ideas. Many people make good feature stories. Perhaps someone in your community has an unusual hobby. Or maybe someone is involved with an interesting business. Or perhaps a local church is reaching out to the community in a fascinating way. I’m sure you will find most people are happy to be interviewed for a feature.

If you send a query via snail mail and don’t get a response in three or four weeks, a telephone call is appropriate. Or, if you emailed and don’t hear anything after ten days or so, I suggest to call the editor. Careful, though. Don’t call during a busy daily deadline schedule.

When the editor you want to contact is on the phone, ask if he or she received your query for a correspondent position. If not, offer to send another query. If your letter was received, ask if he or she is interested. If not, politely end the conversation.

Sometimes an editor has no openings but knows another editor of another paper who may be interested. If that happens to you, check it out. If that’s not the case, send a query to another newspaper on your own. And another. Until you find an editor who is interested in you.

And don’t give up. Newspaper correspondent jobs are available across the country. More and  more newspaper reporters are getting laid off because of the poor economy. However, that’s good news for you, someone who is willing to work part time. Somewhere there is a spot for you. And when you land it, have fun. Of course, you can use your newspaper clips as writing samples when you send off magazine and/or book queries too. My newspaper clips have helped me land a lot of sales in addition to the newspaper market. No doubt they will for you too!

© Copyright 2010, Mary Ann Kerl

A freelance writer, Mary Ann Kerl also teaches online communication courses for the University of Phoenix. Over 2,000 of her articles and short stories have appeared in over 100 different publications, including Writer's Digest, The Writer, Family Circle, Home Life, Children's Digest and others. She sold 16 books to royalty companies, including Augsburg Fortress. Her latest book is Devoted to Economizing with Devoted Books.

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