National Press Club

Member Profile: Molly McCluskey -- Have Passport, Will Freelance

December 20, 2013 | By Stephenie Overman |

Molly McCluskey

Molly McCluskey

Molly McCluskey always knew she wanted to be a freelancer, even as a kid.

“I've always been captivated by the works of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Stein, and the idea that a person could simply move around the world, find a cafe in Paris and make a home there,” she says. “Not surprisingly, I love freelancing for the freedom it gives me.”

Today McCluskey is based in Washington but spends half her year living in Europe covering foreign affairs, finance and travel.

“I'm most fascinated with Eastern Europe, and the expansion of the European Union,” she says. “Being a freelancer means I can go live in Athens, or Zagreb or Belgrade, for months at a time, and really try to understand what's happening on the ground. I rent an apartment, make connections and friends, try to pick up the language, and immerse myself in the culture fully to get a perspective on the impact of political, economic and social changes.”

Back in Washington, McCluskey is an active member of the National Press Club, serving as the vice chair of the Freelance Committee. She also recently was appointed chairman of the International Correspondents Committee and won a seat on the Club's governing board.

She’s been freelancing for 15 years, but only full-time for the past three. Before that she was a non-profit communications professional. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Washingtonian magazine, Salon, National Geographic, Washington Diplomat, The Culture-ist and AOL Daily Finance, among others. She is a regular contributor to and co-author of five investigative series for The Motley Fool.

McCluskey is also one of 20 journalists from around the world asked to help launch a new subscription journalism platform, called Beacon Reader.

Freelancing “can be incredibly isolating, not having co-workers, or one editor whose consistent feedback will help me grow. I've had to create a freelance community on my own, seek out resources, ask for feedback, and help when needed,” she says.

That’s where the Club and its Freelance Committee have come in.

“I honestly can't imagine not being a part of it, or having the career I have without it," McCluskey says. "It's a space to go when the walls of my home office start to squeeze, a community of journalists, editors, sources and communicators whose opinions I value; a place for quiet or conversation as needed.”

The Freelance Committee’s closed-door meetings “about the pay rates of various publications, which editors are great to work with and which ones to avoid, and tips on finding new work, are worth the monthly club dues alone," she adds. “Even when we can't meet in person, the online community via our LinkedIn group and Twitter feed have helped us keep an energetic and engaging dialogue about the freelance life.”

McCluskey finds that keeping a base in Washington also means she can take full advantage of cultural and political discussions.

“For instance, after living in Greece and spending time in Switzerland, I was able to set up Press Club Embassy Nights to share my love of these countries with my Press Club colleagues," she says. "Covering a discussion on Kosovo's digital diplomacy strategy for Washington Diplomat prompted me to network with officials in Kosovo, which will no doubt come in handy when I work from Pristina [in Kosovo] for a portion of next summer.”

Follow McCluskey on Twitter:

Need a freelancer? Try the freelance listing on the Club website.