The business of freelancing: Running a business (Sponsored by the Fund for Investigative Journalism and FIRE)

  • Event: 2016 IRE Conference
  • Speakers: Katia Bachko of The Atavist Magazine​; Carlos Dada of independent journalist; Katie Townsend of Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; Lee van der Voo of independent journalist; Laird Townsend of Freelance Investigative Reporters and Editors (FIRE)
  • Date/Time: Friday, Jun. 17 at 9:00am
  • Location: Studio 9-10
  • Audio file: Only members can listen to conference audio

**Moderated by Laird Townsend, Project Word

This session will cover practical advice on how freelancers can remain economically viable in the public interest. From how to approach grant-raising, time management, tax strategy, and business structure; to how to think about contract, copyright, repurposing, and options. You’ll leave with the variables needed for success in starting a news site, how to save time in FOIA requests and avoid legal trouble.

Speaker Bios

  • Katia Bachko is the executive editor of the Atavist Magazine. Previously, she worked at the New Yorker and the Columbia Journalism Review. @katiabachko

  • Carlos Dada is founder and director of El Faro, a Salvadoran Online Media awarded for its investigative pieces on organized crime and war crimes. He is a Stanford Knight Fellow 05, and has received the Maria Moors Cabot Award 2011, LASA Media Award 2010 and the Anna Politkovskaja Award 2012. @carlosdada

  • Katie Townsend (@katie_rcfp) is the Legal Director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C.  She oversees the litigation, amicus, and other legal work of Reporters Committee attorneys, and represents the Reporters Committee, news organizations, and individual journalists in court access, freedom of information, and other First Amendment and press freedom matters.

  • Laird Townsend, an award-winning reporter and editor, directs Freelance Investigative Reporters and Editors (FIRE), a project of Investigative Reporters and Editors. Founded as Project Word in 2007, FIRE has helped freelancers produce public-interest investigations for outlets across all platforms, from the Dallas Morning News and Mother Jones, to Reveal and the BBC. Townsend’s reporting won the 2018 Peter Lisagor Award for online investigative/public service reporting.

  • Lee van der Voo is an independent journalist based in Portland, Oregon, focused on enterprise and investigative journalism. She is a former Alicia Patterson Foundation fellow and author of The Fish Market - Inside the Big-Money Battle for the Ocean and Your Dinner Plate. She runs collaborative journalism projects on contract at InvestigateWest, the Seattle and Portland-based nonprofit journalism studio.

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