Breaking news can happen anywhere, anytime. But because most news agencies do not have reporters everywhere all the time, many news agencies today depend on so-called stringers or freelancers to capture and deliver footage they can use on air.

What’s more, with the ubiquity of inexpensive digital video cameras and camera-equipped cell phones, ”˜citizen journalists’ are not only capturing raw video footage of breaking news events, they are packaging and delivering their own completed news reports to TV and Web-based news organizations.

Depending on the quality of the video footage and the policy of the news organization, you may be paid for your contributions.

1. Speed is of the essence if you capture a breaking news story on video. Contact a news agency or TV station as soon as you can, and connect with the News Desk or Assignment Editor if possible. You might also speak with reporters and journalists who show up at a news site after you do.

2. Explain the situation or news story briefly, and describe what kind of video footage you have captured. Technical quality may not matter as much if the news footage is compelling and unique, but the better your camera and camera work is, the more likely a station will use it.

3. Demonstrate your commitment to ”˜news’ and the value of the story first ”“ then talk about the value of the footage itself and ask how much the agency might be willing to pay for its use. Payment can be for a one-time use or airing, or it can be for outright ownership and exclusivity.


There are some Web-based companies that act as agents for citizen journalists and freelance news videographers, buying or acquiring footage and then marketing it to a wide range of TV or Web outlets on their behalf.