journalism

Confronting the Pitching Demons

Sometimes when I think about pitching stories to new clients, I just get the willies. Sometimes, though, it verges on full-blown terror.

This has always been so – and for me, “always” means a long time. I first started freelancing early in my marriage to a newspaper reporter whose employers wouldn’t hire employees’ spouses. Working for the competition wasn’t acceptable either, so most of my first decade as a professional journalist was freelance. In those days everything was done by snail-mail, and how I dreaded opening the mailbox!

Not fake - just wrong

I won’t be surprised to see a complaint by the new President that reports of his administration removing LGBTQ, climate change, and other pages and content from the White House website constitutes “fake news.” It wasn’t fake – it was just wrong, at least as reported on People.com.

Another article, on the Advocate website, didn’t report the erroneous allegation that the Trump administration or transition team took the pages and references down. It just didn’t report that, in the normal scheme of things, the orderly transfer of power to the new administration includes archiving the White House website under the departing president and, simultaneously, launching a new version produced by the incoming head of state.

A clean check-up - and an update on advances in melanoma research

Even if 3 ½ years is not a milestone generally marked in cancer survival, we came away from our visit with Dr. Evan Lipson at Johns Hopkins University Hospital yesterday with smiles and relief on two fronts. Not only does Robert continue to show no evidence of disease after his primary melanoma was removed in June 2012, but the report we heard on progress in melanoma research since his diagnosis is exciting and encouraging.

A future for freelancers?

I was surprised, to say the least, when a longtime friend and fellow journalist recently lamented about the state of the news industry today. He was complaining about staff cuts in newsrooms of all kinds (broadcast, print, digital), layoffs and forced retirements, sparse staffing, and, generally, what he perceives to be a lack of quality standards in the media today.

My so-called writing life

I think I was born an editor, not a writer. In fact, for most of my life writing has not come easily for me. Throughout my life before I retired from BNA, I was able to do it successfully from time to time – occasional good research papers during college come to mind, along with one or two well-done market research reports and product proposals near the end of my employment. But being a freelancer with a heavy writing project load was difficult. And, until recently blogging was particularly difficult.

A life's work that matters

Today’s opinion piece in the Washington Post by Juliet Eilperin goes a long way toward answering a question I’m sure many of our family members have wanted to ask – why Washington? It’s such a fickle, hyper-political place, and “Washington journalists” are such a despicable lot. Whatever made us want to come back here 30 years ago, to raise our kids in such a fast-paced, high-cost environment?

A bad day Monday

I’ve been thinking a lot about the advice Steve Buttry of Digital First Media gave to a group of journalists last month on how to begin thinking “digital first.” Following Monday’s embarrassing display of bad journalism, as every news source I consulted reported unsubstantiated and too-often wrong information about the shooting at the Navy Yard in Southeast D.C., we should all be thinking about it.

Talking shop

The best freelance session at Excellence in Journalism 2013, the journalism convention hosted by the Society of Professional Journalists and two other organizations in August, was actually the best freelance-oriented seminar I’ve attended in years. The presentation was interesting because it exposed the human sides of the two panelists – an accomplished freelancer who was scared to take on the project and an editor who put a lot on the line with his publication to get the story done. 

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