Archive for August, 2009

The new freelance committee!

I am pleased to report SPJ’s freelance committee is expanding.

President-elect Kevin Smith has indicated he wants to expand the committee to help respond to the changing journalism industry.

“As I told you a month ago it’s my hope that we can really utilize this committee in more important ways as we transition so many journalists from newsrooms to living rooms,” he wrote me in e-mail this month.

“There are a number of initiatives within that are operating on behalf of journalists’ future. It is my hope to bring several of these committees under one umbrella. There is a committee that is tasked with looking at the future of our profession and making sure we have a say in its direction. Another group is compiling a toolbox for laid off journalists to help them regain employment. Part of that deals with freelancing. Additionally, the membership committee is looking at ways to entice people back or new people in, even those without jobs. Part of their task will be to convince these journalists that now is the best time to be with SPJ and the dues are an investment in stabilizing a career.”

And so I have appointed several new members. I’d like to introduce them.

Amy Green, chairwoman. As you know I am a journalist in Orlando, Fla., whose work has appeared in PEOPLE, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor and many other publications. I specialize in faith, the environment and social issues. My Web site is at

Michael Fitzgerald, vice chairman. Michael writes on business, technology and culture for publications such as the Boston Globe, The Economist, Fast Company and The New York Times. He’s freelanced for more than seven years and published hundreds of articles on a variety of topics.

Bruce Shutan is a Los Angeles freelance writer who has written for about 75 publications or corporate entities. His extensive reporting on the American workplace dates back to 1985, with a showbiz sideline developed in 2000 when he began contributing to Variety, a must-read for entertainment industry insiders for more than a century.

Kathy Ehrich Dowd is a longtime contributor to PEOPLE, where she has worked on everything from gritty crime stories to touching human interest pieces to fluffy celebrity news. She also blogs regularly about good news for and has contributed to publications including TV Guide, Woman’s World, USA Today and Learn more about her at

Dana Neuts is a freelance magazine writer based in the Seattle area. She focuses on business, community, local government, women’s issues and lifestyle pieces. She has served as president for the Western Washington Pro Chapter of SPJ and is a regional director candidate for Region 10. She is the owner and publisher of the community-based site

Jillian Kramer is an award-winning newspaper reporter and freelance writer who’s written for Popular Photography magazine. She graduated from Kent State University in 2006 and began working as a professional journalist before she could legally drink. Jillian took the dive into part-time freelance writing last year and can provide perspective on the challenges facing a novice in the industry. She works for the Press-Register in Mobile, Ala.

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter has been published in the Washington Post, Baltimore Business Journal, Baltimore Sun and Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. She is chapter coordinator, national newsletter editor and workshop presenter for the Editorial Freelancers Association. She also is the author and publisher of “Get Paid to Write! Getting Started as a Freelance Writer.”

Michael J. Jordan is a Slovakia-based journalist who has been a freelance foreign correspondent most of the past 15 years, reporting from 25 countries for The Christian Science Monitor ( and other clients. He also teaches journalism at universities in Slovakia, Czech Republic and, starting in September, in Hong Kong.

What do you think? How do you think the freelance committee is doing? What should we be doing different, better? We want to hear from you.

Committees can have up to 15 members. If you’d like to serve please let us know. Or perhaps you’d like to write a blog post here or column for Quill, SPJ’s magazine for members.

As you know SPJ’s conference is this week in Indianapolis. Unfortunately I will not be there. But several programs are planned for freelancers. If you plan to attend please visit with our new committee members who will be there and talk with them about how you feel the committee should move forward.

Let’s get this committee more active! I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks, everyone, for all you do for SPJ and journalism.

Amy Green, freelance committee chairwoman

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

Will You Be a Mentor at the SPJ Convention?

If you’re planning to attend the national convention in Indianapolis Aug. 27-30, would you be willing to share a bit of your expertise with new freelancers? The SPJ Career Center is offering 30-minute, one-on-one mentoring sessions on how to pitch ideas, discover new markets and launch a successful freelancing career. We’ll need volunteer mentors for half-hour sessions Friday and Saturday from 10 to 3 Friday. No word yet how many people have signed up.

Also, the Freelance Committee will meet  Friday at 2:15 pm in the Council room. Freelance Committee Chairwoman Amy Green won’t be able to attend this year’s convention, so, as vice chair, I’ll be heading up the meeting.

Please let me know if you can volunteer for Career Center duty or if you plan to attend the committee meeting.

This year’s convention has a wide range of programs for all types of journalists, including several sessions specifically for freelancers:

The Business End of Freelancing: With the journalism community in a state of flux, the timing is right for freelancing. Acquire the information and skills you need to turn your passion for journalism into a full-time freelance career. Learn how to establish your business, where to look for work and how to market yourself.  Speaker: Dana Neuts, Freelancer.

The Truth About Freelancing: How to Run a Profitable Writing Business: Shifts within the news business are prompting many journalists to strike out on their own as freelance writers, bloggers and columnists. And it’s not a bad option. Better work/life balance, higher pay and greater fulfillment are all within reach for skilled journalists with the knowledge and work ethic to pursue them. This session will teach the ins and outs of running a profitable writing business. You’ll leave with a strong grasp of the diverse ways freelancers make a living from pitching articles and blogging for dollars to ghostwriting books and selling information directly to consumers. You’ll also learn seven secrets of profitable freelancing, and only one of them has to do with writing.
Speaker: Maya Payne Smart, Freelancer.

Launching Your Freelance Journalism Career Part of the Career Center Track: In today’s uncertain job market, journalists can be downsized and tossed out at a moment’s notice. Having some freelance work in reserve can be a lifesaver, both financially and professionally, as well as the launching pad for a new career as an independent journalist. Attendees will find out what it takes to freelance either part- or fulltime, how to find work, set rates, get paid, overcome isolation, promote their freelance efforts, network, and much more. Speaker: Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, Freelancer.

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit


Twitter Facebook Google Plus RSS Instagram Pinterest Pinterest LinkedIn

© Society of Professional Journalists. All rights reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789 | Contact SPJ Headquarters | Employment Opportunities | Advertise with SPJ