Archive for March, 2010

Change is good

Saturday I spoke at the University of Central Florida, at an SPJ regional conference. A lot of students were there, and it was fun getting to know them and hearing about their plans and dreams. One was a student at the University of Florida majoring in magazines, just like I did. Another student spoke languages and was considering a career with the CIA or State Department.

Wednesday I spoke to a journalism class at Florida Atlantic University. Afterward I read some of the students’ news stories and talked with them about how to improve. Their ideas were so creative. One story was about a South Florida community were 80 percent or 90 percent of the schoolchildren speak English as a second language. Some of them speak a Guatemalan dialect not even recorded on paper.

Here is what I said during each presentation.

“By choosing a career in journalism you are choosing a more difficult path,” I told the students honestly. “It’s tough out there.”

Think positive, I advised. Change is scary. It can be easy to focus on the things we’ve lost and feel sad and mourn those things. But change can be good. It can be exciting, exhilarating. It can lead to new and better things.

Today our industry is experiencing a revolution unlike any at least since the television was invented. Some have compared our transition to that of the printing press. What an exciting time to be a journalist, to witness this change. Together we are shaping the journalism industry of tomorrow.

Embrace this change, I told the students. It is a time to experiment. There is no right or wrong. It is OK to fail. It all is just progress. Take this opportunity to try new things. Explore. Have fun. In the end you might discover you are better off than you ever would have been before.

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Want to help out a journalism student?

Crissie Elrick is a senior journalism student at Valdosta State University in
Valdosta, Georgia. She is working on a project on freelance journalism and
freelancers, and she would like to speak with a former newspaper or magazine journalist who experienced a lay-off and now is freelancing.

If you are such a journalist and would like to help out Crissie, please contact her at

Good luck, Crissie!

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Looks like a great conference

The Future of  Freelancing:
Redefining Journalism.
Reinventing Yourself.

June 18-19, 2010

Stanford University

Sponsored  by:

  • The John S.  Knight Fellowships for Professional Journalists
  • The  American Society for Journalists and Authors/Northern California   Chapter
  • The  American Society for Journalists and  Authors

As traditional media companies struggle, freelance  journalists are taking on a more vital and visible role in informing the  public and reinvigorating the profession.

The Future of Freelancing  conference helps freelancers explore their evolving careers and stay  inspired to do their best work.

At this two-day event, editors from  leading print and digital publications will engage in conversations with  experienced independent journalists (both long-time freelancers and former  newsroom staffers making the transition.) The goal: To create meaningful  conversations about real opportunities.

You’ll come away with new  inspirations and new tools to help you succeed. Specifically, you’ll leave  with:

  • A better  understanding of how to use your existing journalistic skills in  a  more entrepreneurial way
  • A clearer  vision of technology’s impact on magazines, books and digital   journalism and what it means for your work
  • New ideas  for developing your voice and niche, using social media to  promote  your brand, and diversifying your writing income
  • Names and  contacts for traditional and digital media outlets looking for  good  stories from experienced journalists
  • New  connections to other writers who can help support your work

The event will feature:

  • Discussions  about freelancers’ evolving role in the future of magazines,  books,  digital ventures, social media, multimedia and more
  • A private  meeting for early registrants with an editor from a leading  print or  online publication
  • Pre- and  post-conference social networks to help maintain the  relationships  you form over these two days

Questions? E-mail

About the  Sponsors

The Future of Freelancing is sponsored by  :

The John S. Knight Fellowships for Professional Journalists,  an ambitious fellowship program focusing on journalism innovation,  entrepreneurism and leadership.

The American Society of  Journalists and Authors

ASJA/Northern California  Chapter

ASJA is the country’s leading association of freelance  writers.

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