• Carlos P. Beltran

How to Build Credibility Before the First Pitch - Talkshow Interview


This is a transcript from THE FREELANCE JOURNALIST 5 MINUTE TAKLSHOW podcast.

You can listen to it on iTunes.

Carlos:

Hello, everyone. From Brooklyn, New York, this is Carlos P. Beltran. Welcome to the Freelance Journalist Five-Minute Talk Show. Today we're going to be talking about building credibility before pitching our first story to a media network. Today, we're going to be joined by Irene Herrera from Japan. She's the Venezuelan visual journalist documentary film maker and assistant professor at Temple University in Tokyo, Japan. Irene, how do we build credibility before we actually start reaching out to networks and story editors?

Irene:

Personally, for me it was very important that by the time I knew what I wanted to do, and that was very committed to journalism and nonfiction work, I took time out even if it was non-paid, to make space to do stories on people that I was attracted to, stories I was attracted to, also volunteer for different NGOs to do small videos for them. A little bit institutional, but at the same time, where they would give me enough freedom to be independent, so I could build on that. Also, and build on it with a passion towards their cause as well. I would have the passion for their cause, and then that would fuel the fact that I wasn't being paid for doing it, but I was at the same time meeting really interesting people. I would say I did a couple of those stories for different NGOs, and that helped me start to begin to build a portfolio that I was happy with, and I was satisfied with.

Carlos:

Right, so you were always, you kept in mind that what your goal was is to build credibility, build work that you can then use to get commission by larger networks. Is that right?

Irene:

Correct, so I said to myself, "Okay, I'm gonna take six months to build a portfolio that I think resonates with the direction that media is taking now," because styles change throughout the years. The formats you work with change throughout the years, so every now and then you're going to have to adapt. I took time for that, and then yeah, and then once I was happy with that work, then I was ready to feel that I could reach out to editors and say, "Hey, I've done this, I've done that, and here are the links," and feeling proud to send those links over, knowing that I felt that I had stronger work to show.

Carlos:

That's great. Can you recall what was your first reaction when you showed your first piece of work, if you could in just a few seconds, when you showed it for the first time to a story editor, wanting to be commissioned by them?

Irene:

It's a little bit difficult because sometimes, some editors are a little bit more expressive than others. Some of them will write you right back and say, "Oh, this is great work. I really like it." Others won't even respond, so sometimes I think the important thing is more than waiting for answer, because maybe they haven't read your email. Maybe they haven't had time to read your email. Maybe they actually cared more, and gone through the piece, and are able to give you feedback, so I think more important is just to be confident about what you're sending through. Obviously keep an open mind about what that feedback might be, but if that editor doesn't respond, not to feel bad about it.

Carlos:

Discouraged.

Irene:

Yeah. Discouraged. They might not simply not have had time to go through that particular piece.

Carlos:

Right, and in 15 seconds, Irene, any advice then, general advice you would give to a freelance journalist out there just getting into the game?

Irene:

Yeah, so I always tell my students, for example, to use wisely that time that you're in college, because I think those years are golden for you to develop yourself, and develop your work. If you end up deciding you want to be a video journalist after you graduate from college, again, just make time to work on passionate pieces that you really care about, and concentrate on those, and just try to ... Until you build a certain level of confidence. I think that's a really important thing, and then you can go out there and hold your head high when you're pitching something that you feel strong about.

Carlos:

Thank you so much, Irene, for your time. Irene Herrera joined us from Tokyo, Japan, and we will sure be having you on a next episode here of the Freelance Journalist Five-Minute Talk Show. Thank you, Irene.

Irene:

Thank you, Carlos. It was a pleasure.

Carlos:

For new short interviews and practical tips every week, subscribe to this podcast, and if you want more hands-on tutorials on freelance journalism and storytelling, visit carlosbbeltran.com/tips. We'll see you next time.

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