This page provides resources for our reporters and people who are thinking of becoming reporters for ELi.
ELi does not require any particular degree or experience to be a reporter with us. We do ask that you live in the general area of East Lansing (though not necessarily in the City borders). We also require that you adhere to our editorial standards of being factually accurate, fair, clear, and responsible, we expect all of our team members to treat people decently.
The Managing Editor, sometimes in consultation with the Publisher, decides who will be assigned what report to produce, but you are always welcome to pitch stories to us. Keep in mind that we focus on East Lansing and we publish factual reporting, not opinion pieces. ELi’s editorial staff retains the right to decide what is published.
Find our checklist for reporters here. Please remember to make your editors’ lives easier by turning in high-quality, clean work that lives up to the standards our readers have come to expect. If you do great work for us, we will keep asking you to do more work for us.
If you are a young person, consider applying for our Summer Youth Journalism Program.
How much we pay:
ELi pays everyone equally for reporting based on published work. For highly experienced reporters, the same product will take less time to produce, which means experienced reporters will typically earn more per hour than someone less experienced.
We welcome people who want to volunteer reporting (report for us and not get paid). When you start with us, we will ask you if you want to get paid, and that decision is entirely up to you, no questions asked. We are very happy to use local donated dollars to employ people as ELi reporters! Some of our reporters earn enough to make rent through their work at ELi.
For a very simple story, like a short (400-word) report about an upcoming event, we pay $50-75, depending on the amount of background work required. For a report about a local issue or event that has, say, one in-depth interview and is about 700-800 words, we typically pay $100. For covering a major story at a meeting, we pay $125-$150, depending on the complexity of the issue, or $150-$175 if we get an overnight-turnaround. We pay more if the meeting required many hours of watching, and more if there are interviews and background research involved. For investigative pieces, we pay more; pay for that depends on the depth of the piece.
You are always welcome to ask your editor in advance of accepting an assignment what it is likely to pay, and you can always talk with us if you feel a story deserved more than the standard pay.
Regardless of how you choose to get paid (or if you intend to volunteer your time), you still must complete our onboarding checklist.
If you are going to report irregularly for ELi, then it makes sense to submit a W-9 form to us. Click here to download a blank W-9 and note we only need the first page back. In January, if you’ve earned more than $600 from ELi in the prior calendar year, we will send you a 1099 form to the address you gave us on the W-9.
If you are reporting regularly for ELi (several articles a week), then we will shift you to a W-2 basis. In that case, you should download, print, complete, and return to us the State of Michigan New Hire Reporting Form and also the federal IRS W-4 form and the Michigan W-4 form, which are both contained in this file.
If you live in Lansing or East Lansing, and if you work for us physically in the borders of the City of East Lansing, you’ll need to complete the appropriate municipal tax forms. If you live or work in the City of East Lansing, can obtain the East Lansing W-4 form here. If you live in Lansing, obtain the Lansing W-4 form here.
We pay on the first of each month via direct deposit, so we will also need your checking account information (routing number and checking account number.)
Please be sure not to send any of these materials via an insecure method that might give away your personal information! We can work with you to ensure secure transfer of the materials, and we are happy to answer questions about how to fill out the various forms.
If you are under the age of 18, we will also need to work with you on work permits.
We have plenty of resources to help you!
Before you take on a new beat or a new topic, make sure you search our archives to learn about what we’ve already reported and what you might want to know. You may be surprised at just how much information we’ve already brought forward! Also work with your editor to learn about resources specific to a story to which you’ve been assigned.
The Managing Editor is currently working to tag all stories that have been published on our new domain (eastlansinginfo.news), which came into being in April 2020. Make sure to search terms on our website to find all relevant work we’ve published, including older articles from our old domain, eastlansinginfo.org, September 2014-April 2020. Some stories may not yet be tagged, and the list of tags may grow. If you cannot find a back story that you think you need, let your editor know. You can view the growing list of tags here.
We also have resources that you should read to assist you as you begin working for ELi, so please look at these PDF files: