Sometimes it’s all about the timing. That’s how I’ve felt about my freelance writing career since embarking on it on a full-time basis more than eight years ago.
While I like to think that at least some of my work comes from what a fabulous writer I am, a lot of it has been about being in the right place at the right time.
That’s how I feel right now about being the new national chairwoman for SPJ’s Freelance Committee.
When I became involved with SPJ six years ago, my main interest was helping revive my local chapter, the Kansas City Press Club. As it happens, then regional director of Region VII, Patrick Dobson, who was a mentor of mine and a good friend, was stepping down. He convinced me to take on the role.
As it turned out, that was one of the most fruitful volunteer roles I’ve ever had. I learned a lot, and I made many friends.
When Wendy Hoke undertook the challenge of organizing the National Freelance Committee, I was serving as president of the Kansas City Press Club. One of my goals in that role was to present more programming for independent journalists on the local level.
That year, the Kansas City Press Club increased its membership by one third, and thanks to the programming developed and approved by the board, nearly all of those members were independent journalists.
That’s where luck struck for me once again. While I was helping strengthen my local chapter, Wendy was working tirelessly on bringing the needs of SPJ’s independent journalists to the attention of the national organization.
Wendy was the right person to lead the organization toward providing more resources, programming and benefits for its independent journalists.
It is my luck, as well as my privilege, to follow Wendy in this endeavor. I couldn’t introduce myself as the new freelance committee chairwoman without pointing out Wendy’s accomplishments and thanking her for her commitment and tenacity these past years. I’m also hoping that our parallel efforts for independent journalists — hers on the national level and mine on the local level — will now meet to continue to strengthen SPJ’s commitment to its members.
Several things that will happen soon on the national level for SPJ’s independent journalists were Wendy’s initiatives.
Two of the most requested benefits — providing our independent journalists with identification and looking into some type of media libel insurance — are grinding through SPJ’s fact-finding and approval processes right now.
Researching the best way for an organization to provide member benefits requires time. I’m glad Wendy will be with the national office, as well as remaining a part of the freelance committee, when these benefits can finally be offered.
The committee has already discussed our goals for this year.
First, it is working on proposals to bring you more quality programming focused on the specific needs of freelancers for next year’s national convention in Washington, D.C.
Next, we would like to write and provide a comprehensive list of resources for independent journalists.
My last goal as national chairwoman is to develop a local programming guide for individual chapters. We will be using experiences based on programming offered within the Kansas City Press Club, as well as other freelance programs in chapters around the country.
I believe the biggest challenge our committee faces is maintaining contact with our independent journalists so we know the professional issues and concerns that face each of our members on a daily basis.
That’s why I’m working to create a listserv of all of our freelance members, so we can notify you of new blog postings at www.spjfreelancers.blogspot.com
Finally, I not only feel lucky to be following Wendy’s lead, but I feel lucky to be serving in this capacity under SPJ’s current president, Christine Tatum. She is a driving, motivating force for SPJ and has assured me of her commitment to see our committee goals through.
I look forward to serving this year. Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions or concerns or offers to help at email@example.com.
Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell is an independent journalist and writing coach. She is a past SPJ Region VII director and the immediate past president of the Kansas City Press Club. She’s written for The Kansas City Star, Audubon, Entrepreneur, Fido Friendly and Women in Business, just to name a few.