Google and progressive music news site Okayplayer have launched an initiative to help freelance journalists and publishers cover local news. The initiative is looking for new voices and willing to pay for stories that hit the mark.
The Okayplayer and Google initiative is called The Byline Project, which debuted this month.
What is The Byline Project ?
Some background: Okayplayer was established by The Roots’ drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and author Angela Nissel in 1999. It was one of the first sites where fans could interact directly with artists online. This was years before sites such as MySpace and YouTube came on the scene.
The Byline Project’s free digital tool will streamline the local reporting process. Reporters can use the open-source software to “create a personal widget, allowing the public to financially support them through a digital tipping technology,” a spokesperson said.
Why launch now?
Okayplayer is using The Byline Project to encourage local investigative reporters to pitch localised stories centered around their community.
“Nearly 200 counties in the United States do not have a local news publication — this means nearly 3 million people nationwide are very likely to be unaware of what’s happening in their communities,” according to Rachel Hislop, Editor in Chief, Okayplayer.
She said publications, journalists, and credible news accessibility are all “destabilised” when access to local stories is limited.
“It was clear that there needed to be some innovation around how newsrooms get stories out the door, and how new bylines — of those most qualified to tell the stories of their communities — got on our pages,” said Hislop.
The Byline project is hoping to get stories from communities that are often left out of larger national conversations.
“Obviously, we will pay for this work,” it is stated on the initiative’s website. “But, in addition to your fee, you will get the ability to earn tips on your stories after they go live, giving your local and online communities the ability to support your work.”
How is this different from pitching the editors you normally work with?
They are seeking specific investigative reporting through The Byline Project and looking to welcome new bylines, from smaller, under-served markets, onto their pages.
What kind of stories are they looking for?
Okayplayer is a news, music, and culture site, with a special interest in social justice and stories that impact marginalised communities. They are looking for pitches that fit that bill.
For example, is there a local jazz scene that is bubbling that needs exploration? Is there someone in your neighbourhood that is organising an impressive way to solve a national or systemic issue? Is there something that affects the livelihood of a neighbourhood? You can check out stories that they have published here.
How do you get paid?
If your pitch is accepted, an editor will be in contact with you about payment information and rates.
Any more questions? Email here