Archive for September, 2009

Fellowship for business journalists

Attention: Experienced business journalists and prospective business journalism professors.

The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism is offering fellowships worth $2,000 for four days of study in business journalism Jan. 5-8 in Phoenix.

Fellowships cover training, lodging, materials and most meals. Fellows receive a $500 stipend to offset travel and other costs.

The seminars will occur during Reynolds Business Journalism Week at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The journalists’ “Strictly Financials” seminar teaches the essentials of covering financials, from stock markets and bonds to financial statements and company research.

The “Business Journalism Professors Seminar” will cover the essentials of teaching a hands-on, university course in business journalism.

The third annual, concurrent seminars will be led by award-winning professors and journalists, including three-time Pulitzer winner Walt Bogdanich, business investigations editor for The New York Times.

A highlight will be a discussion with the legendary investigative-reporting duo of Don Barlett and Jim Steele, along with the 2009 winners of the Reynolds Center’s Barlett & Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism.

Janet Cho, a 2009 fellow and business reporter for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, said, “The greatest value of this seminar is how much more comfortable and confident I feel about…analyzing a company’s financial health in a way that will be more meaningful for readers, investors and consumers.”

A 2008 fellow, Roger Desmond of the University of Hartford, won a university innovation award for starting a business journalism course. He said the award “came with some extra money for research and travel, and of course, I owe it all to you!”

For information on the seminars, including how to apply by the Nov. 2 deadline, go to

Questions? Contact Andrew Leckey, Reynolds Center president, at or 602-496-9186.

The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, located at ASU’s Cronkite School, was launched in 2003. More than 8,500 journalists have benefited from its free training. A calendar of upcoming free workshops, as well as daily tips on how to cover business better, are at, .

The Center is funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nev., it is one of the largest private foundations in the United States.

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“How to be an Entrepreneur as a Business Journalist” Nov. 16-20, 2009.

Freelancer Maya Smart and “Ask the Recruiter” blogger Joe Grimm, both SPJ members, offer a FREE series of five Webinars to teach you how to use your skills to make a living outside mainstream media.

Taught one hour a day from Nov. 16-20, the interactive course will cover the nuts and bolts of setting up a business from legal and accounting questions to branding and marketing yourself. A highlight of the week will be a live chat led by Grimm with five successful business journalists turned entrepreneurs.

Even if you have no plans to go into business for yourself, you will benefit from learning about your options and how to brand yourself in your current job. To register, visit

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Improved blog and new committee members

Hi everyone,

I hope you are enjoying our newly improved blog! We always are looking for new voices, and so if you can write a few hundred words on something that would be helpful to other freelancers please e-mail me at Our blog is a forum where journalists can trade ideas and also a place where we can promote our businesses.

In addition I’d like to introduce you to two additional members of the freelance committee. They are:

Carol Cole-Frowe is a full-time freelance writer and veteran journalist specializing in profiles, environmental, science, business and health reporting. She is an award-winning journalist who has written or edited at several daily Oklahoma newspapers, the Oklahoma Gazette and The Associated Press. She also is president of the Oklahoma Pro chapter.

Janie Rosman is a freelance writer in the Hudson Valley with more than 25 years of experience. Her features, slice-of-life stories and profiles, have appeared in Ulster Publishing, Inside Chappaqua, The Journal News, SPOTLIGHT Magazine and Westchester Parent.

Thanks, everyone!

Amy Green, freelance committee chairwoman

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Hi guys, Please e-mail me at with any ideas. Thanks! Amy Green, freelance committee chairwoman.

Select staff members will be gathering for a meeting on Oct. 6 and 7 to discuss a new and improved We have lots of ideas about making the site an unparalleled destination for our members while being a great resource to other journalists and members of the public.

However, I’m reaching out to you today to ask for your help. If you could all take some time between now and the end of the month and ask yourself this question in relation to your specific committee: What could we do that would make the go-to spot (for members and non-members) in my area of expertise?

Please submit your ideas directly to me. I have heard from some of you already in the past year or so. But if you have new ideas to offer, I’m all ears.

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Best Advice: Specialize!

How does it feel to be a recession-proof freelance writer? Pretty damn good, I’ll tell you that much! It’s nice to be a card-carrying member of this exclusive club – for me, the result of moving from generalist to specialist 21 years ago.

The issue arose during a recent conference call with my fellow members of the SPJ Freelance Committee, who encouraged me to broach the topic on the blog – not to beat my chest but rather explain that specialization is the best way to secure entrance into the coveted castle where the most successful scribes frolic.

Whenever young people approach me for advice on how they can start out in journalism or working journalists wonder how to break into freelancing, I always tell them to pick a market niche to write about and pursue that avenue through any number of trade magazines that serve the purveyors and aficionados of that particular industry.

Even better, I suggest that they follow an area they can be passionate about or at least very interested in covering. It always helps to enjoy the topic at hand. Satisfaction also can be derived from influencing key decision makers within a targeted audience whose sophistication forces a journalist to work much harder to earn their trust.

Why so? Because these folks want you to tell them something they don’t already know, which is much easier to do for general media outlets. Trade journalism is about solutions – not rehashing problems with which the audience is already well-acquainted. When I bailed out of the newspaper business in 1988 to write about a topic with which I was almost complete unfamiliar, it was described as a form of advocacy journalism.

Another benefit is that trade journalism pays a lot better than newspapers and general-interest consumer magazines unless, of course, you’re fortunate enough to write for elite publications. But freelance writing is increasingly becoming a game of musical chairs with fewer spots and higher competitive stakes than ever before. So the point is that you’ve got to start somewhere.

Over time, you might be fortunate enough to see your knowledge of a particular subject matter grow to a point where you’re even quoted by other journalists who are seeking expert commentary. And by then, you just might be in demand enough to call yourself a recession-proof scribe.

— Bruce Shutan

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SPJ Webcasts

Hi guys, for those of us who work from home these Webcasts are a very helpful way to keep in touch with the changing journalism industry. Looks like Webcasts also are available at, for a fee for non-AvantGuild members. Amy Green, freelance committee chairwoman.


Of the many perks to SPJ membership, access to great professional development resources is certainly at the top of the list. If you missed the 2009 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference, or would like to review programs you attended, see the SPJ Web site for a collection of audio from sessions and speeches. SPJ members can access the streaming media, including Roxana Saberi’s keynote speech and a session on running a profitable freelance business. And anyone can read articles from The Working Press, the daily newspaper that follows convention news.
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How to build a Web site

Hi guys, another Web cast from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Nonmembers can listen in for a fee. Check it out! Amy Green, freelance committee chairwoman.

Whether you’re launching your first website or want to take an existing one to the next level, our expert speakers will give you the inside scoop on showcasing your writing talents and professional skills for optimal impact. Get smart, easy-to-follow tips on design, search engine optimization, where to host, avoiding common mistakes, and adding sizzle to boost sales. In these challenging times for freelancers, knowing how to market yourself effectively is crucial for success and survival.

Moderator Lisa Collier Cool, a past ASJA president, bestselling author and winner of 18 journalism awards, has made more than $30,000 in sales to new clients who found her through her website, , launched in February of this year. She’s the author of How to Write Irresistible Query Letters and has sold more 500 articles to Reader’s Digest, Parade, Wall Street Journal, Ladies Home Journal, Woman’s Day, Glamour, Self and many others.

The speakers are:

* Rhea Drysdale is Co-Founder and COO of Outspoken Media, Inc., an Internet marketing company that specializes in competitive search results. Rhea has over five years experience in online reputation management, search engine optimization and social media, and has spoken at events like Pubcon, SEMNE, ACCM and IM Spring Break. Website:

* Tim Harper, ASJA member and editor of The ASJA Guide to Freelance Writing: A Professional Guide to the Business, for Nonfiction Writers of All Experience Levels, teaches and serves as writing coach at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, where he helps young writers launch their websites. An award-winning journalist and author of 12 books, his credits include Atlantic Monthly; Readers Digest; Forbes; Time; Crain’s New York. Advertising Age; Editor & Publisher; and many others. Website:

* Barbara Krasner, ASJA member, is a senior web copywriter and editor at LexisNexis, and spent 30 years in marketing for Pearson, R. R. Bowker, AT&T, and Alcatel-Lucent. She’s an award-winning journalist and author of four books. Website:

* Eric Yaverbaum has been a regular on the talk show and lecture circuit for 25 years. You can find him everywhere from Good Morning America to Larry King and on the covers of USA Today, Forbes and Business Week. He has written five bestselling books, including Public Relations Kit For Dummies, Secrets of the WorldÆs Most Successful CEOs, and Everything Leadership, and ran the 11th ranked public relations agency in the country. Website:

Date: Thursday, September 24, 2009

Time: 5:30 to 8:00 PM (program/webcast starts at 6:00 PM Eastern time).

Place: CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, Room 308, 219 West 40th Street, New York City. Bring photo ID, which may be requested by CUNY staff.

Cost: $25 for members and guests; $35 for non-members; $5 for students. Sandwiches, soft drinks and desserts included in the price of admission. Sign up early — space is limited.

Reservation required to attend the program. Members’ signup:

Nonmembers can reserve at:

Viewing the live webcast is a free, members-only benefit. On the day of the program, check the members calendar page for the link:

Nonmembers can buy a download of this or previous programs for $10 each at the ASJA Store:

We hope to see you at the program!

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A freelance home where the buffalo roam?

A friend sent an email about his wonderful new house in Oklahoma. “We bought a 2,200 sq. ft. home on two acres for $120,000, with property taxes totaling $1,400 per year.”

Where I live, outside of Boston, my wife and I spent more than four times that amount for our somewhat smaller house. I sometimes wonder, would I pursue different sorts of stories if I weren’t paying Boston-baked bills?

Moving is a fantasy for me; my wife has a good job here, as well as family. But if I were less attached, I could see moving some place like Las Vegas. The housing bust means property is cheap, and the airport features flights to all sorts of interesting destinations. It’s also an epicenter of the U.S. populace’s westward shift. A place like Pittsburgh offers cheap, solid neighborhoods and puts me in between the two publishing capitals, New York and DC. Or, as a former Michigander, I might move to the Detroit area. I found a 2,000 sq. ft., four-bedroom, two-bath house selling for $200,0000 in tony Grosse Pointe. There are far cheaper areas around Detroit than Grosse Pointe.

Another writer friend just did leave New York (well, New Jersey) for Bozeman, Mont. He bought his dream house for about what his modest house sold for, he dramatically lowered both his taxes and his living expenses, and there’s plenty for the kids to do.

True, none of these places would allow me to regularly rub shoulders with editors. But I’ve found that editors tend to make time for a cup of coffee when writers come from out of town. It’s clearly possible to have an established and successful freelance career outside of the major coastal centers. I have long possessed real estate envy for a friend who freelances from Durham, N.C. He doesn’t make as much income as I do, but he probably lives better.

I’d love to hear what freelancers think about what it would mean to move away from pricey publishing centers like New York. Would it help your career or hurt it?

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Syracuse University’ S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications will award four Carnegie/Newhouse School Legal Reporting Fellowships to support freelance journalists reporting on legal issues.

The $3,000 awards include paid student research assistants for each reporting fellow, which will give Newhouse students practical experience covering law and the courts. The fellowships are open to freelance journalists working in any medium with the intent of helping them pay out-of-pocket expenses.

“These days, freelancers covering legal issues need as much support as they can get,” said Roy Gutterman, director of the Newhouse School’s Carnegie Legal Reporting Program, and an assistant professor of communications law and journalism. “Offering the public thorough, comprehensive coverage of legal issues is an important function of the press and we want to help those efforts.”

Fellowship applications are available online at Application deadline is October 5. A panel of faculty members from the Newhouse School will choose the winners. Fellowship money and student research assistants will be available for the 2009-10 academic year.

Newhouse students will be invited to compete for the four research assistant positions, which carry a stipend. “Our students are the lifeblood of our university,” Gutterman said.  “Marrying up our students with members of the legal reporting press, provides a valuable outside-the-classroom experience.”

The Carnegie/Newhouse School Legal Reporting Fellowships are part of the Newhouse School’s Carnegie Legal Reporting Program. Supported by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and its Carnegie Journalism Initiative, the program provides a number of services designed to teach students about the workings of the American legal system and the role of the news media in covering the law. Additional funding for this year’s fellowships is provided by IJPM.

For more information, contact Gutterman (315) 443-3523 or or visit

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