NOTE: This issue of 10 looks back at Quill’s May 2006 interview with Kai Ryssdal, host of the popular “Marketplace” from American Public Media. Ryssdal was a featured keynote speaker at the Excellence in Journalism Conference, Aug. 24-26 in Anaheim, Calif.
As the push to market SPJ’s new Freelancer Directory continues, we are learning more about how to make it better in terms of functionality and visibility. Editors to whom we market (about 46,000 in late June alone) have taken the time to let us know when the search works for them, what functions would ease its use, and their frustrations when they can’t find what they are seeking.
John Allen, Vatican correspondent National Catholic Reporter and CNN Q: What’s it like living abroad and writing for an American news outlet? A: The mainstream American press generally doesn’t take religion, let alone the Vatican, terribly seriously as a news beat, so it can sometimes be difficult to get the attention of American editors and producers for stories you may think are important.
In early March, I had my first taste of using audio in the hopes of creating a podcast. I was using SPJ’s iPod Video with digital voice recording, and hopefully the results will be posted to SPJ.org soon, assuming the quality is good enough.
Ten went on the road this month to Anniston, Ala., where former New York Times national correspondent, Pulitzer Prize-winning feature writer and bestselling author Rick Bragg shared his advice about storytelling to a group of reporters from newspapers across the southeast.
Jim Amoss and his staff of the New Orleans Times-Picayune faced one of the greatest hardships in the history of journalism after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the city in 2005. But along the way, they also discovered the important role of their paper in a community that struggles to rebuild.
Chris Nolan of Spot-On.com has worked in her share of newsrooms on both coasts. While many in the news business are left scratching their heads and wringing their hands over loss of readers and revenue, this self-described “stand-alone journalist” is excited about the future of news.
Q: What’s the Pulitzer experience like? It was great. Here in the newsroom, there were so many wonderful people who were supportive of what I’d done. I was flooded with mail from four-star generals and little old ladies thanking me for what I’d done.
The phrase “work smarter, not harder” is a cliché. But never is it more true than in the world of freelance writing. With a limited number of hours in a week, the need to be self-motivated and the financial necessity to reach as many high-paying markets as possible, freelance writers have to make the most of their time, their productivity and their marketing.
Lester Holt has reported from the world’s hot spots, covering war, politics and even the Olympics. As co-anchor of NBC Today, he uses all his anchor muscles to switch from the day’s breaking news to the best way to roast a chicken.
Recently I was invited to speak at an annual creative-writing workshop on the business of freelancing, something I’ve done many times before. Only this audience was a bit different in that it consisted largely of novelists, short-story writers and poets. They were eager to learn how they could use their talent for writing and get paid.
Q: How did you get into journalism? I studied communication, English and mathematics at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. I would’ve been a math major, but I was working hard to get As and Bs, and math majors didn’t have to work hard for those grades.
A fair amount of successful freelance writing involves good salesmanship. While that may be anathema to the newsroom journalist, it’s not as far-fetched as you may think. “Sales” in this case involves selling both your ideas and your ability to execute those ideas in the written and reported form.
Q: How did you get into journalism? What inspired you to enter the profession? (I’ve) just always written for fun, ever since I was a little girl. Growing up in the Middle East, I did not feel lot of press freedom.
Q: What’s the origin of your name? It seems unusual for a broadcast name? Did anyone ever suggest you change it? A: It’s Norwegian. My dad was born there, and no one suggested I change it probably because I was in my mid-30s before I began broadcasting.
One year ago this month, Vatican analyst John Allen Jr. was a staple on CNN, covering the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI. He combines intelligence and skepticism and a bit of faith while covering one of the least understood institutions in the world.
In the journalism world, Jim Romenesko is an icon. His Poynter Institute Web site is a must-read for trends, news and insider info that feeds our need to know — and sometimes tell — all. Though he keeps a low physical profile, posting from his neighborhood Starbucks, Romenesko’s work has the power to propel a news-making journalist into the industry spotlight with the click of the “publish” button.
It’s helpful to be able to see yourself in your leadership. For members of the Society of Professional Journalists, President David E. Carlson offers a little something for everyone. Carlson got his start in the newsrooms of small-town dailies and worked his way through a string of newspaper jobs before landing as a professor at the University of Florida.
After weeks of laser attacks by mainstream media and the blogosphere, embattled former New York Times reporter Judith Miller braved her second public appearance since being released from jail. She spoke out in favor of a federal shield law at the 2005 SPJ Convention and National Journalism Conference in Las Vegas.
Prosecutors will tell you that they don’t get to choose the victims they represent. Sometimes those victims come with baggage that makes them appear unsympathetic. Yet prosecutors will work the case because they’re charged with prosecuting crimes, not representing palatable victims.
As another year of advocating on behalf of SPJ freelancers comes to a close, I thought I’d take a moment to review where we are with the freelance committee and where I see us heading in 2006. So much of what I’ve done this year is talk to freelancers.
October 13th, 2005 • Quill Archives
Putting professionalism in the freelance profession
Some of you may recall a column by Byron Calame, The New York Times public editor, from Aug. 14 called, “Outside Contributors: In The Times, but Not of The Times.” If you missed this column and you are a freelancer, I suggest you Google the piece and read carefully.
The Free Flow of Information Act of 2005 had its first hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 18, with senators on both sides of the aisle recognizing the importance of the watchdog function of the press. But there are certain limits to what this proposed reporter privilege law affords and certainly no guarantees of its being signed into law by President Bush.
August 1st, 2005 • Quill Archives
Want to be a better leader? Then shut up and listen
Leadership isn’t only for the newsroom. It isn’t the solitary realm of editors and publishers. It is for anyone willing to step out on the ledge and hear its call. But that calling can be scary, especially when it occurs in our profession.
June 30th, 2005 • Quill Archives
Many freelancers benefit from settled class-action suit
If you’ve been freelancing for a while, chances are pretty good that you stand to collect money due you for electronic use of your work without permission. In August 2000, the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Author’s Guild filed suit in U.S.
In 1995, while covering an Aboriginal festival in Australia for his book “Wild Planet,” someone told writer Tom Clynes about a trucker who delivers fuel to the remote settlements in northern Australia’s Outback. “I came back a few months later and traveled with the trucker on what became a weeklong torture trek.
I confess, I’m an idealist. That notion was reinforced after receiving training at the Ted Scripps Leadership Conference in 2003. (I’m an ‘I’ for those of you who have participated in the personality profile process.) So you’ll understand why I have this burning desire to make things better.
Collection. It’s a dirty word, isn’t it? If you’re like me, you hate the prospect of tracking payments. Hate it, that is, until you realize you’ve got bills to pay. After all, freelance doesn’t mean we work for FREE! The fact is, it’s a necessary evil.
January 9th, 2005 • Quill Archives
Consider yourself ’special’ and improve your marketability
My college-days adviser at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism used to say, “Journalists need to a know a little about a lot.” That remains good advice if you’re a general assignment reporter but not so good when you’re trying to get publications to spend extra money on stories you are uniquely qualified to write.
I received a call recently from a headhunter looking for someone with very specific writing skills. She recalled my name from the SPJ Cleveland Pro chapter and thought she’d pick my brain for possible candidates before advertising the position. We talked at length about the culture of the organization doing the hiring, the specific kinds of writing required and whether the company would consider contract arrangements.
One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from freelancers or those new to freelancing is, “What should I charge?” or “What should I be paid?” The short answer to this question is, “It depends.” I’m not being flippant. There are so many things that determine the type of payment you can expect from freelancing — assignment, publication, geographic market, level of experience, specific expertise.
We’ve received a bit of feedback — OK, we’ve received a LOT of feedback — about the start of SPJ’s National Freelance Committee, and we’re delighted that so many SPJ members were compelled to respond. The bottom line is we’ve touched a nerve and tapped a previously silent (or at least quiet) segment of SPJ’s membership.