Macharia Kamau spoke to ‘MyNetwork’ about his career as a freelance journalist.
- What’s your definition of a freelance journalist? Who pays you?
A freelance journalist is a vendor, and the commodity or service of trade is his or her skills, or a story. I use my abilities to hawk or supply media houses with content. I work with them, not for them. At the moment, the BBC pays for my services.
- You say that a freelance journalist is also an artist. Why?
There are certain laid down guidelines to be followed about how a story should look or sound like, but the onus is on the media house to relay the information to the audience. Freelancers, just like visual artists, are paid to express their creativity and unique abilities.
Freelance journalists also have to appeal to the needs of diverse audiences and put their work out on different platforms, and this calls for great introspection and self-awareness, just like in artistry.
- What is the most difficult part of being a freelancer?
My parents are both entrepreneurs who value of the freedom of expression, so I did not have a problem explaining myself to them.
My toughest moment was when I was battling anxiety and depression but still had to engage colleagues and sources to keep my job. I ended up losing motivation, I even quit journalism for a few years. Those were dark years. I had to fight very hard to regain my will and rediscover my purpose.
- Would you take a full-time job?
I do work full time. In fact, since I was an intern 11 years ago, I find myself working for more than the average eight hours every day. My employers double up as my clients, only that their titles and bargaining powers are a bit different.
- Away from your career, what’s your proudest achievement?
My family. My wife, son and I are not afraid to dream big anymore because we have all owned and earned our positions, and are in a healthy mental space.