In a recent five-year period, declining pay and other resource constraints prevented at least 500 to 1,000 stories from reaching the public and caused several hundreds of freelancers to drastically curtail their reporting in the public interest.

Those are among the findings of a 2015 national survey on freelance investigative reporting conducted by Project Word, as FIRE was formerly called, which released the 32-page report below (the Columbia Journalism Review covered it here).

The survey was the first of its kind that we know of—and it evidently struck a chord. Respondents left a remarkable outpouring of comments and we are including a selection of them in an appendix below.

Both reports portray accounts of a little-appreciated crisis: pay declining, editors overstretched, freelancers reaching into their own pockets to do the work, a resulting loss of at least 560 public-interest stories from respondents alone. But both also air a range of creative solutions from freelancers themselves. We hope these ideas will open a dialogue. We hope that dialogue will ultimately transform the crisis, helping independent reporters fulfill their role in democracy.

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Note on Additional Resources: The report’s Resources section includes many important programs and organizations for freelancers—inevitably we omitted many valuable listings. We apologize for the oversights and will update you with additional resources here. We welcome additional suggestions at info@firenewsroom.org. Thank you!