Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category

I always say that what I love about being a freelance writer is I get to learn all the time. And some of that learning is about the craft of freelance writing. That’s why I subscribe to Writer’s Digest.

I’m sure every freelance writer has his or her favorite magazine; Writer’s Digest is one of three magazines I subscribe to.

The magazine has a website, http://www.writersdigest.com/, in addition to the magazine, which is published eight times a year.

Each issue includes articles and features for freelancers, although the bulk of the magazine is devoted to writers of books, poetry and short stories. Yet even the features devoted to these areas, such as author profiles give freelancers like me insight and something to learn. For example, the profile of Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way, notes she began by writing feature articles and freelancing.

Here are just a few of the departments and articles I’ve found especially helpful:

Standout Markets – a list of various markets, it always includes markets for freelance work.

Conference Scene by Linda Formichelli offers a view of places where writers can gather for networking and learning. Each installation of Conference Scene has a theme, such as Writing Without Borders, writing conference throughout the world, or Finding Your Niche, which listed conferences for screenwriters and pet writers.

“The Wired Writer,” in the July/August 2011 edition of the magazine outlined various apps writers would find useful.

Write a How-To Article in Six Easy Steps, by Christina Katz, also in the July/August 2011 broke down a formula article into six easy steps.

The Not-So-Fantastic Four. This article in the July/August 2011 issue outlined four freelancers’ biggest problems, with tips on how to solve them. The examples in the article included an AWOL editor, vague assignments, late-paying clients. The article was by Kelly James-Enger, author of Six-Figure Freelancing. I enjoyed reading this article because it told me that I’m not the only freelance for face these obstacles.

The fact-check checklist, May/June 2011

101 Best Website for Writers, May/June 2011

Getting Started in Ghostwriting by Kelly James-Enger, with a box on markets, March/April 2011.

Best Online Markets by Vanessa Wieland & Jennifer Benner, Nov/Dec 2010.

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At my first journalism job in 1987, one day my editor asked me if I was a writer or a reporter. I wasn’t sure what she meant by the question but I answered writer. She said good, that meant I’d always be looking for the right word and a way to make my writing better.

She was right, but today, I think I might answer reporter because I have come to think we need more facts, figures and accuracy than pretty writing. Yet, I still go back and forth. It doesn’t matter how important the facts are if no one reads them.

On that note, the Writer magazine, offers tips on how to write as well as how to research. And just as important, how to sell your work. It also helps writers keep up with the times, with articles on issues such as copy right, social media and provides an excellent, resource-filled website.

So what do you think? Is it more important to be a writer or a reporter?

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Why journalism matters

Few journalists uncover the secret of life, but all journalists have the opportunity to answer a question that many people want answered — why.

In journalism, we strive to answer the 5Ws and one H; who, what, where, when, why and how. Even in the features I write, those about home renovations, I endeavor to answer why people spent time and money to change their home.

Part of the process of writing always involves choosing the words that convey the why.

Here’s an article that explores how important it is that journalists look at another why and how; the why and how they choose the words they use.

http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/newsgathering-storytelling/writing-tools/114196/how-do-we-come-to-label-someone-like-jared-loughner-an-assassin/

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What I love about journalism is the learning never ends. Here’s an article from one of my favorite resources, the Poynter Institute, an organization dedicated to teaching journalism.

This article is on investigative journalism and cites another of my favorite organizations, IRE, which is located at the University of Missouri in my hometown, Columbia, Missouri.

The article notes that while there have been cutbacks in journalistic organizations, investigative journalism has continued to thrive.

In fact, it’s my opinion that all journalism should be considered investigative. No article should rely just on whatever the sources says. And today, with the internet, social media and other tools of the trade, there’s no need for reporters like me to rely simply on the word of a source. For example, when I interviewed Russ Potterfield and asked him if he was concerned about the possibility of his products being produced in inhumane conditions, he said since there was a labor shortage, he believed that anyone unhappy with working conditions could simply leave their job. Years ago, I would have had to take his word for it or had to attempt to find an expert in Chinese labor trends. Today, I could review several international publications documenting the lack of skilled workers in China.

That is not strictly investigative journalism, but it does show that today journalists can do their jobs better than ever. And that’s good news for journalism and people who want to stay informed.

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Measuringworth.com is a web site where you can use a variety of calculators to determine how much something was worth historically.

For example, in the book I’m wrote with Charles W. Gehrke before his death about his life, his career and his accomplishments, he told me he’d raised roughly $200,000 to get what is now called ABC Labs going in 1968. Naturally, I wondered first how he did that — that answer is in the book, “From the Melon Fields to the Moon,” to be published.

Then, I wondered how much $200,000 would be worth today. That answer I found at measuringworth.com, using one of their calculators to determine the value of currency at various time periods.

The answer is $200,000 in 1968 would have been worth roughly $1.1 million in 2007 dollars, according to MeasuringWorth.com.

A tool like measuringworth.com can help a reporter provide context to an article or a book.  And that, in my opinion, is one of the jobs journalists are supposed to do: provide context to help make the world understandable to readers.

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