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Wanna get lucky? Minnesota group arranges ‘speed dating’ for freelancers, editors

Has the media recession has come to this? Freelance journalists paying $30 to get face time with potential editors?

Actually, it’s a novel adaptation from the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists, whose March 11 event is being billed as “Freelance Love.” Modeled on speed dating, SPJ promises hungry freelancers “five minutes of guaranteed face time” with assigning editors from the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, Minnesota Monthly and several specialty magazines.

It’s easy to poke fun (“Will you still call me after the bluelines?”) but hopeful journalists are essentially paying for convenience and proximity, not to mention light appetizers and the hope that potential buyers will have loosened up at the cash bar.

SPJ board member Amanda Theisen says her group was simply looking for a fun, social way to connect work-seekers and work-givers. “Many of our members have been asking us to do something along those lines. … The freelancer can pitch a story idea, or simply introduce themselves to the editor and show them some of their work.  Then, after five minutes, the freelancer moves onto the next editor, then the next, then the next…you get the idea!”

Even though paying work may be hard to come by these days, there’s definite interest among the publications. Coincidentally, I received an email Monday afternoon from an editor at a magazine not on SPJ’s list wondering who to contact.

Theisen definitely wants to expand the pool of potential buyers, and not just in print: “We’re hoping to get editors from a variety of outlets…newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, websites, etc.”

The event — which costs $20 for SPJ members and $30 for non-members — starts at 6 p.m. at Bloomington’s Park Plaza Hotel, 4460 W. 78th St. Circle. Online registration is available here and you can email questions to minnesota.spj@gmail.com.

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Maryn McKenna on 02/23/2010 - 09:25 am.

    Just FYI, this actually isn’t that unusual among professional journalism organizations: The Association of Health Care Journalists, National Association of Science Writers and American Society of Journalists and Authors all host things like this at annual meetings. (I am a member of all three organizations and a board member of the AHCJ*). Generally we call them “pitchfest”s. It’s very impressive though to see a local chapter of an organization take on a pitchfest — they take a metric ton of effort to arrange.

    (*The AHCJ wil have its annual meeting in Chicago this year — only a few hours away! — and we’d love to be joined by any MSP journalists who write on science, health or medicine. We have a pitchfest. Ahem.)

  2. Submitted by Paul Scott on 02/23/2010 - 09:45 am.

    Personally, I find that the narcissistic injury is smaller if I am rejected digitally rather than in person. I can always tell myself it was my idea being rejected, not me, my face, my clothes, my compulsive sinus clearing rituals or sudden lunges. But I am glad to hear that people are getting together in the otherwise isolating profession.

  3. Submitted by William Souder on 02/23/2010 - 10:05 am.

    Maryn McKenna is correct. The Society of Environmental Journalists, whose annual meeting draws 600 to 800 members from across the country, many of them freelancers, holds similar story pitching/networking sessions every year. Last year’s meeting was in Madison; in 2010 it’s in Missoula, Montana.

  4. Submitted by Chris Steller on 02/23/2010 - 11:16 am.

    I once interned for an organization called Artists Equity (kinda like Actors Equity) that advocated against art competitions that were funded by the entry fees of rejected artists. So I guess that’s why the fee here rankles me. It also doesn’t fit the speed-dating model — does only one gender pay at those things?

  5. Submitted by Jason DeRusha on 02/23/2010 - 12:24 pm.

    I don’t know, as Maryn notes, it takes a lot of work to put something like this together. And SPJ-MN has a fairly low membership fee, in general. So I’m sure they could use the revenue. And $20-$30 makes sure that only legit freelancers show up, taking the time of editors.

  6. Submitted by Chris Steller on 02/23/2010 - 02:22 pm.

    The idea’s great, and the SPJ should cover its costs and even clear some money for its trouble. But if it’s a mutually beneficial deal — like most job fairs or real speed-dating events — shouldn’t freelancers and the media outlets that want them both pay to play?

  7. Submitted by donald pang on 05/25/2011 - 03:51 am.

    How refreshing to read your insight. My experiences with any dating sites are limited..but also found that men usually don’t want an uncompromising woman.

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