Don’t put your country in a box

You may not immediately believe it, but with the publication of my first piece in an agriculture magazine a wish has come true. Writing for a major agriculture medium has been on my wish list ever since I started freelancing in Turkey. That has everything to do with my vision of freelance correspondence: don’t put your country in a box.

Usually I write about politics, human rights and women’s lives. Those are also themes that easily come to mind when you think of Turkey. But I do occasionally write about economy too, and I’ve written travel stories. As a freelance correspondent it’s important to specialize– especially when, as is my situation in Turkey, you are not the only Dutch correspondent – but that of course doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to your specialty. On the contrary!

Way before I packed my bags to start freelancing in Turkey, I enrolled in a course for freelance journalists who wanted to work abroad, given by Linda Polman. I have also written about that in the FAQ on this site. A few guest teachers came to speak, and one of them was a journalist who worked successfully in Northern Ireland for one year. Northern Ireland at that time still meant “war”. From that war and all the related politics, she earned the biggest share of her income.

She never forgot though to look beyond that, and impressed on us, beginners abroad, to do the same. I remember her saying: ‘At the end of that year, I even wrote an article for De Boerderij!’ (‘The Farm’). She made a sport of it that year to work for as broad a range of media as possible. For me, that was one of the eye openers of the course. That’s what I was going to do if I did indeed go abroad. De Boerderij became an almost magical and at the same time funny symbol of it.

That course was more than eight years ago now. Almost six years ago, I left for Turkey. De Boerderij has always been at the back of my mind, but I just never took the time to sit down and think of some ideas for an article and contact them about it. Too busy with other stories. But then a couple of weeks ago Boerderij Vandaag (‘Farm Today’, a daily about agriculture, so in the same market as weekly De Boerderij) contacted me. My freelance heart missed a beat, of course. Even more so when it turned out they didn’t want one story, but were looking for somebody who could write about agriculture in Turkey more often. My first story for them has been published now, you can read it here. You can call it the fulfilment of a freelance dream 🙂

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