Freelance Writer Retreat near Cape Town, South Africa

Freelance Writer Retreat near Cape Town, South Africa

Registration for the Freelance Writer RETREAT near Cape Town, South Africa, is now open. Two days of workshops focused on boosting your confidence, skills, and bottom line as a freelance writer. Plus, penguins. Imagine if you could easily generate freelance article ideas that delighted you, your editors (or the editors you want to write for), […]

7 ways your environment impacts your writing and creativity

7 ways your environment impacts your writing and creativity

Is your surrounding environment helping or hurting your creativity? As a freelance writer, you may feel like you’re supposed to be able to work anywhere. Maybe you’ve done great work under stressful conditions. But small environmental stresses can build up over time and erode the confidence, stamina, and support that lead to your best work. […]

That thing you want to write

Early bird registration is now open for the Freelance Writer Retreat near Cape Town, South Africa. Visit www.rebeccalweber.com/retreat to register. In my own small way, I’ve taken the advice of Toni Morrison to heart: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” A […]

Modern Journalist Toolkit 11: Freelancing in the era of Trump with Ray Joseph

Modern Journalist Toolkit 11: Freelancing in the era of Trump with Ray Joseph

“Alternative facts.” Real-time verification. Journalists arrested or alienated when covering the president. If the 45th U.S. president is in power for four years, we have 47 months to go. What does Donald Trump mean for us as freelance writers? Some important insights about working in the new now come from those who have worked in […]

Modern Journalist Toolkit 6: Yusuf Omar on Reporting with Snapchat

Modern Journalist Toolkit 6: Yusuf Omar on Reporting with Snapchat

Yusuf Omar is a cell-phone trailblazer. He finds unconventional uses for apps like Snapchat, Facebook Live, and 360 video for telling serious news stories, most of which are viewed on small screens. Omar is the new mobile editor at the Hindustan Times, one of India’s largest English newspapers, with a print circulation of more than […]

Freelance Boot Camp: Writing queries that sell

Freelance Boot Camp: Writing queries that sell

Registration for the online version of Freelance Writer Bootcamp is currently closed. Sign up here to be the first to hear when enrollment opens up again.  It’s one thing to have a great idea for a story, another to know your dream markets, and something else entirely to know how to write a pitch letter […]

On my bookshelf: Solrevolution

On my bookshelf: Solrevolution

“My” new book has been published! I wrote the South African sections of Solrevolution, which has finally arrived from Sweden thanks to the South African postal strike ending. If Monocle were to create a coffee table book in Swedish about solar energy, this is what it would look like. Another post soon to come on […]

Coffee coffee buzz buzz buzz: What’s brewing?

Coffee coffee buzz buzz buzz: What’s brewing?

US alternative weeklies were still in their heyday back when I began writing for a living. Shortly after I left my day job (i.e., went from part- to full-time freelancing), I pitched a couple of arts ideas to an editor at The Washington Blade, who in return asked if I would be interested in a […]

Trevor Noah joins The Daily Show

Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” has long had the curious position of being the primary news source for the majority of American youth. The Comedy Central staple’s newest correspondent is none other than South African comedian Trevor Noah: Can’t wait to watch his dispatches, which will hopefully include some filmed in South Africa.

Mandela’s South Africa

Mandela’s South Africa

Even when it’s expected, death still surprises. Prior to Mandela’s death, I had numerous conversations with editors about content that they wanted to have at the ready. It’s standard practice for news organizations to prepare obituaries of well-known people on file, but the preparations for Mandela were extreme. In the hours and days after the […]

Pistorius sentencing and reporting come to an end

Since February 2012, when Oscar Pistorius killed Reeva Steenkamp, USA Today has asked me to go out and speak with those so-called regular people to get their take on the unfolding facts. Cell phones make person-on-the street interviews tough. Look around any public area: the people by themselves are invariably chatting on their mobile, or […]

Ebola as a geography teaching tool

On a nonstop flight from London Heathrow to Cape Town last week, I had to sign a compulsory new form stating that I didn’t have any ebola-like symptoms, and that I would notify … er, somebody, possibly the Department of Home Affairs, though they didn’t provide any sort of literature for me to take with, […]

Mandela Day

Mandela Day

Mandela Day has been an informal day of service here in South Africa for several years, where people are asked to contribute 67 minutes in “service to one’s fellow human” in honor of Mandela’s birthday. (One minute for each year of service he gave the country.) This is the first Mandela Day since Madiba’s death, […]

Mandela paralyzes Koppel

On the eve of Mandela Day, what more could you want than a genuine laugh with Madiba:

A story killed and resurrected

A story killed and resurrected

Throughout my years of freelance writing, there is one recurring situation that is genuinely tricky to prevent: the story that gets killed because the assigning editor leaves the publication. You might think that the new editor would be so busy trying to get up to speed that the last thing they’d do is kill a […]

The reporting for this story stinks

The reporting for this story stinks

Move over, grass-fed beef. Insect-fed fish have arrived. Standing in a room of one million flies, my senses were at full alert. Each cage undulated with wriggling waves of the buggers, and the stench was powerful. Ostensibly all the insects were secured into compartments, but if even a half a percent were free, that’s a […]

Better successful than sorry

Better successful than sorry

I grew up in the US, and to South Africans I sound, as I am told, “very American” (more specifically, as if I’m from the Northeast). But I have picked up some local South African/English usage, such as saying “sorry” when I’m not actually sorry at all, but want somebody to move out of my […]

Chicken stalker

For a forthcoming feature about food in Cape Town, I stalked this rooster for the better part of an hour.

Vote early, vote often

Vote early, vote often

Recently, the conversation about whether journalists should vote or not came up again with some writer friends. We all voted to keep voting. The arguments I’ve read against the idea tend to hold up an idealized notion of an unbiased, neutral journalist, rather than making the case that democracy is no more valid than communism […]

Robben Island

On the eve of South Africa’s 2014 elections–20 years of democracy was celebrated last week on Freedom Day–I reported from Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela served the majority of his 27 years as a political prisoner. About 250 people currently live on the island, a half hour ferry ride and a world away from Cape […]