By Noelle Huser
From crime to politics to subway delays, Nate Schweber covers New York City news as a freelance metro journalist for the New York Times. But with strong ties to Montana, Schweber enjoys returning to Big Sky Country to write stories about the West whenever he can.
After graduating with a degree in journalism, Schweber got his foot in the door with an internship at Rolling Stone in 2001, going on to write for the Village Voice from there.
He bounced around a bit, writing for various small publications in the New York City region before becoming a freelancer for the New York Times in 2005. He has freelanced for other publications since, but the Times is his mainstay.
For the metro section he covers daily happenings in the city, particularly political – and crime – related events. He recently covered the pipe bombs that were being sent to journalists and high-ranking Democrats. After the first package was sent to George Soros, an investor and philanthropist, Schweber spent a day posted outside the Soros’ house in New York following up on police reports, while simultaneously checking in on threats and suspicious behavior reports at New York City synagogues after the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre.
Although Schweber has stayed with the Times, he has also figured out how to pay the bills freelancing, always brainstorming stories and developing a thick skin.
Schweber said, to “take rejection with stride and be professional but not precious,” is an important part of his work. He has to stay flexible if a story he pitches changes according to what an editor desires.
Cultivating relationships and networking are the ”the gold coins of freelancing” — coins he uses to pay his way back to Montana when he can, staying in touch with publications that want stories about the West and constantly pulling from his knowledge of his home state to pitch stories.
“With freelancing, the trick is to cultivate relationships with editors,” he said “if you have a handful you work for regularly you can make ends meet.”
Schweber still taps his Journalism School professors for guidance when he needs it, noting a recent time he reached out to Dennis Swibold with a journalism ethics question.
While he was at UM he worked for the Montana Kaimin and he says writing three to four stories a day got him in the habit of always thinking of story ideas, making phone calls and writing a lot.
“It wasn’t just learning journalism, it was doing journalism. That was so helpful when I got into the real world,” he said.
This story, which is part of a Thanksgiving week series called “Thank a J-School Grad,” was produced by the Fall 2018 Social Media and Engagement class at the Journalism School.