Freelance Files

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Freelance Files is a bi-monthly column for and by environmental journalism freelancers in which a rotating cast of writers share hard-earned wisdom here about myriad aspects of weaving a life and business out of their independent status. For questions and comments, to suggest future Freelance Files columns or to offer to write one, email SEJournal Online Freelance Files editor Sharon Ooesthook at


April 4, 2017

  • You're reporting from the field in a high-risk locale, with a shoestring budget and no back-office support — how do you stay safe? The latest Freelance Files offers some cautionary tales from a long-time SEJ member recently returned from overseas, with a detailed resource guide to help keep you and your data secure.

January 17, 2017

  • What makes for an effective science or environment essay? Freelance Files contributor Michelle Nijhuis explores universal qualities of the best work: It begins with a persistent question that sets the essayist off on a journey of discovery. Also, practical tips on how to get published beyond the essay departments of major magazines.

November 8, 2016

  • Sometimes, the tried-and-true ways of reporting are still the best. In the latest Freelance Files column, our contributor shares three old-fashioned techniques for research and writing that, while they may seem less efficient, will actually get you doing your best work. 

September 1, 2016

December 15, 2015

June 1, 2015

  • Science journalist and editor Hannah Hoag dives into the sad state of affairs that drives freelancers to supplement their income with better-paying work. Photo: Hoag and the CCGS Amundsen, a Canadian Arctic research icebreaker she lived and worked on in 2008; courtesy Bennie Mols.

March 1, 2015