Tell and sell

Your back home. The adventure is over. Its time to transform all those pages with notes, arrows and exclamation marks into something that someone else will actually understand.

It´s during this time that you try to kill yourself with coffee, bashing your forehead against the table, because your sentences are doing the chat- cha – and there is nothing glamorous about it.

Then suddenly it all falls into place. Once more you realize what the core of the story is and you manage to transform it into sentences combined with facts and quotes. It starts to look alright, you might have something here!

Now starts part two.

Its time to sell the story. But wait! This is not what I signed up for! I´m a well respected journalist, an idealist and aspiring photographer – not a salesmen!.. and maybe not that well respected, but you get the picture (like an aspiring photographer?).

But the truth is that being a freelancer is to be a salesmen. I spend hours almost every day working on sales pitches, trying to get in contact with editors. This is not an area that I got educated in while I studied journalism, it´s something I had to pick up along the way. Because the story is not told if its not published somewhere.

19 out of 20 times the sales process goes something like this: I email them: “Good day, I´m in Mali and I´m working on this story… could it be something that you are interested in?”…. silence…. I email them again: “Hi again…”….they reply: “Interesting, but sorry, we have no money.” You repeat the process with another editor. You get the same reply.

Thankfully this changed with Kickstarter. Through my backers I managed to find financial support before the trip. This meant that I could focus a lot more on being a journalist, than a salesmen during the trip.
With my backers blessing, I have tried to sell some stories to a few other papers with some success. But donations through Kickstarter and Borderlandbulletins.com still stands for over 50 % of my income today.

This is not only important for my work (and ability to pay the rent), it´s awesome for journalism in general!

 

If you would like to support independent journalism and my coffee budget, please consider donating some change through the Paypal button bellow. 
Or send me a message if you have any suggestions on where I should go next! The full story from Mali will be published here in April. 

 

(by the way, if you are wondering what four boys has to do with “tell and sell” the answer is: nothing at all. It just a more pleasant picture than, lets say, of me paying bills and writing emails)

Storming corridors of power

Storming halls of power

After weeks of interviews with musicians it became more and more clear that I needed a comment from someone who was involved in the shaping of Mali´s culture on a political level. Also a few comments concerning Mali´s mining policy.

My first chief editor told me that you should always aim for the person at the top and only move down the political ladder if you have to. A good rule, but that often results in that I get answers written in an email from a political secretary. This after days of emailing. A meeting? Never. At least not in Sweden.

Therefore I was a bit worried that here in Mali this might become a bit of a struggle. Organizations such as Reporters without borders do not exactly rank Mali among the top countries in the world when it comes to freedom of press. Since I neither speak French or Bambara I did not want to try to reach them through emails or phone. So we tried a different approach.

Almost all ministers in Mali are working in a handful of buildings placed next to each other, surrounded by walls and guards. These buildings contains almost every minister’s office and all the staff that surrounds him or her. To get in my driver had to show his ID and explain the reason of our visit, I only had to show my white skin (or maybe it was my smile, who knows?).

Inside the walls we just followed a few signs and started to ask for the minister’s office – and it worked! Ok, we did not reach the culture or mining ministers themselves, but we got to me both ministers representatives – without filling in a single piece of papers or spending days trying to organize a meeting.

So here I am with answers to all my questions from people that represents top politicians in Mali. And it only took me one day.