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Freelance journalism today

Brandon King / Red Dirt Report
Seasoned freelance journalist, Steve Gust.
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OKLAHOMA CITY- Journalism can be one of the hardest professions out there.

Aside from reporting on news, interviewing strangers and traveling vast distances, journalism is not for the meek and mild. New writers struggle to get a footing in the journalism field while veteran writers attempt to remain relevant.

The key is persistence.

Journalism can be one of the most rewarding and financially difficult things that a writer must deal with. Ask any journalist if they’re planning on being the next Bill Gates and they might laugh at you while sipping their stale, black coffee.

While writers continue to work, those that are serious about their profession to the point of fanaticism strive to work the extra mile.

Those people are considered freelance journalists.

The Writer’s Bureau defines a freelance journalist as, “the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business.”

Wherever the news breaks, it would be a safe bet that the crowd of journalists is a mixture of major news reporters and individual freelance journalists.

Steve Gust has been a freelance journalist for eight years working for The Oklahoman. Though his professional career as a journalist stretches back to 1983, he has been writing for publications such as Guymon  Daily Herald, Edmond Life & Leisure and The Oklahoman.

Writing is a hard business but Gust believes the work of a freelancer, “can be a fulfilling and rewarding field.”

Beginning in 1983, Gust became the sports editor for the Guymon Daily Herald. Before he became the editor, he freelanced for various publications to build up writing samples to show his craft to potential employers.

Freelance work allowed for Gust to stretch his creative legs and report and write on things that interested him.

“My stories generally run the gamut. I cover the Edmond School Board and do features on many people in the community, both in Edmond as well as the metro,” he said. “In my career, I have done so-called hard news –including police. And, of course, my career saw me as sports editor for three daily publications.”

Gust has said that Edmond Life & Leisure is his primary job but he writes for both publications equally saying that, “both are valued clients of mine.”

As a freelance journalist, this is a profession where each work you put out can either get you paid or it could leave you struggling for cash. Though it is a passion, it is a means to an end.

Freelance writing requires constant writing on a variety of topics which requires the writer to be a salesperson towards whichever client they are working.

On the brighter side of the coin, this profession allows for the person to explore more creative endeavors.

In Gust’s spare time, he is also an author and has six e-books on Amazon. The books include Gunsmoke: Battlefield Dodge, Sunday School Killers and  Justice Enforcer.

“I am proud of each of them,” Gust said.

Gust has been able to work on what he loves to do through services like the different publications and Ebyline, an online service for freelancers.

He continues to work for his different publications while finding time to do the things he loves to do. Gust gave some advice for those wanting to break out into the freelancing world of journalism.

“My advice for would-be freelancers is to read a lot,” he said. “Stay up with current events and keep practicing your writing, even if you don’t get paid for it. Be respectful to your news sources and try to always craft an article that you think would interest you if you were wanting to read something.”

“Also, if freelancing is what you want to do, make sure you never quit,” Gust said. 

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About the Author

Brandon King

Brandon King is a journalism student at OCCC, working towards becoming a professional writer....

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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