There’s no doubt technology has made it easier to cover current events and breaking news on a global scale. Likewise, websites like Patch have helped to reignite the notion of reporting on local news. And for some freelance writers and photographers, going local is the ticket to getting steady work. In Mediabistro’s latest Journalism Advice column, we share some tips on how freelancers can break into the oft-forgotten field of community journalism.

The first step is to be invested in the community you’re covering — and to know it well. Lance Knobel, founder of community news site Berkeleyside, which covers Berkeley, Calif., said:

The benefit of writing for sites like Berkeleyside is that journalists can really dig into a local issue. It’s very much ground-level reporting; nothing happens at 35,000 feet.

You should also be prepared — at least for the first story or two — to write for free. The benefit, of course, is getting your name out there and gaining the trust of your editors. According to Tracy Record, editor of the West Seattle Blog:

Your work is likely to be read and remembered by more people via our readership than if you are buried somewhere in a mid-level metro.

For more tips from editors on how to start working in community journalism, read: 6 Ways to Break Into Community Journalism.

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