The four reasons for a freelancer to decide to write a story

I recently posted on the reasons why I love freelancing. Once you know you want the gig, it also helps to know what you’re willing to do.

There are four big reasons to agree to write a story, and every writer should know them – if only so he can decide if that writing gig, even if it’s on the side, is worth it.

They’re worth recognizing, see them below. Continue reading

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Success by assoiation

We are no longer in a golden age of newspapers. This we know.

There was a time when newspapers carried greater weight and bigger staffs. Those left on big urban dailies are ideologues, clingers and the occasional innovator.

I met someone who in the 1980s worked at one of those newspapers that were still power brokers. The staff was almost triple the size what it is today. He had some stories, and he had collected and organized contacts and sources. He learned the game of newspapering and reporting at a time when newspapers had enough editors to truly pass on the details of the game.

Of course, old reporters don’t like to admit that in that way, they had it a lot easier: there were more mentors and editors to teach them the craft, while I don’t know who’s teaching journalists of today.

Other than this learning and the respect he held, this old head journalist didn’t strike me as deserving of the esteem he demanded. After all, he only happened to work in a field that was succeeding. He held success by association.

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Young professionals: get your handshakes in order

Oh, they matter. If you don’t think they do, you missed it.

Last week, I shook the hand of another young journalist. I suppose he felt eye-contact was uncomfortable, so he looked down, offered me an awkwardly limp, motionless form of his hand for a second and pulled away.

It was a train wreck of a handshake, and I was stunned. I thought that’s knowledge of old, something a generation past figured out and has since become necessary cultural learning. But not for this young man, whose work I enjoy.

Please don’t mistake the old learning of the handshake to mean it’s outdated. All the social media in the world can’t make up for the trust and personal understanding that can pass through a firm interlock of right hands. Any freelancer or aspiring media type needs this skill down flat.

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Number of Views:2976

The rules of when you can Digg yourself

I have submitted a story or post of mine to Digg three times in a half-year of membership.

I readily know that I have friends who’ll swear that number is larger.

I recently pledged to work on limiting my own shameless self-promotion and, admittedly, nothing is dirtier than submitting your own work to Digg or other sites, like ReddIt and Stumble Upon. So, I thought I’d set some guidelines for others and, well, really, myself to follow.

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Number of Views:2052

College graduates: when do you stop calling people Mr. and Ms.?

I graduated and am now, it seems, I am a professional freelance writer.

So when do I stop presuming to address editors with titles, Mr., Mrs. and the like?

I’ve had the conversation with friends and colleagues, and no one seems to have much of a real answer.

Some say using a title in an e-mail suggests I’m young and inexperiened. Others say just the opposite, that the formality gives a sense of greater age.

For now, I’ve stuck with using titles until an editor tells me otherwise; unless, I’m sending something the way of a publication with a decidedly more informal setting, most blogs, alternative weeklies and the like.

If you figure out a better rule or the absolutely exact moment I should drop the titles and go with first names, let me know.

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Inquirer: Devon Theater reopens in Mayfair

Devon artistic director Michael Pickering oversees a rehearsal of "Nunsense," the inaugural show for the new theater. AMANDA CEGIELSKI / Staff Photographer

Devon artistic director Michael Pickering oversees a rehearsal of "Nunsense," the inaugural show for the new theater. AMANDA CEGIELSKI / Staff Photographer

The Devon Theater‘s proud reopening on Frankford Avenue in Mayfair was detailed in yesterday’s Sunday Inquirer by theatre critic Howie Shapiro and me.

About 400 people, dressed for a gala, will take their seats Friday evening in what once was a dilapidated Frankford Avenue movie house. Three women in nun’s habits will pop up, administering parochial-school demands: Get rid of the gum! Flip off those cell phones!

The lights will dim, the loopy musical Nunsense will begin – and Northeast Philadelphia will have its first professional live-performance theater, in an area where many people (those in the Northeast included) may not expect to find one. Read the rest here.

Check out the genuinely interesting story, comment and then come back and see some extras below.

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Live, from the Northeast – it's theater (Philadelphia Inquirer: 3/22/09)

Devon artistic director Michael Pickering oversees a rehearsal of "Nunsense," the inaugural show for the new theater. AMANDA CEGIELSKI / Staff PhotographerDevon artistic director Michael Pickering oversees a rehearsal of “Nunsense,” the inaugural show for the new theater. AMANDA CEGIELSKI / Staff Photographer

By Howie Shapiro and Christopher Wink | Philadelphia Inquirer | March 22, 2009

About 400 people, dressed for a gala, will take their seats Friday evening in what once was a dilapidated Frankford Avenue movie house. Three women in nun’s habits will pop up, administering parochial-school demands: Get rid of the gum! Flip off those cell phones!

The lights will dim, the loopy musical Nunsense will begin – and Northeast Philadelphia will have its first professional live-performance theater, in an area where many people (those in the Northeast included) may not expect to find one.

The opening of the sparkling Devon Theater is an example both of neighborhood tenacity and of a professional Philadelphia theater community whose growth – against the economic odds – seems unstoppable.

“I welcome them to the theater community,” says Margie Salvante, executive director of the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. “The theater industry, on a national level, is really focused on Philadelphia as a hot spot right now.”

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Live, from the Northeast – it’s theater (Philadelphia Inquirer: 3/22/09)

Devon artistic director Michael Pickering oversees a rehearsal of "Nunsense," the inaugural show for the new theater. AMANDA CEGIELSKI / Staff PhotographerDevon artistic director Michael Pickering oversees a rehearsal of “Nunsense,” the inaugural show for the new theater. AMANDA CEGIELSKI / Staff Photographer

By Howie Shapiro and Christopher Wink | Philadelphia Inquirer | March 22, 2009

About 400 people, dressed for a gala, will take their seats Friday evening in what once was a dilapidated Frankford Avenue movie house. Three women in nun’s habits will pop up, administering parochial-school demands: Get rid of the gum! Flip off those cell phones!

The lights will dim, the loopy musical Nunsense will begin – and Northeast Philadelphia will have its first professional live-performance theater, in an area where many people (those in the Northeast included) may not expect to find one.

The opening of the sparkling Devon Theater is an example both of neighborhood tenacity and of a professional Philadelphia theater community whose growth – against the economic odds – seems unstoppable.

“I welcome them to the theater community,” says Margie Salvante, executive director of the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. “The theater industry, on a national level, is really focused on Philadelphia as a hot spot right now.”

Continue reading

Number of Views:2469

Newspapers should make more money with their brand

I’m betting that a revenue model for newspapers will develop in the coming years -whether it be as a nonprofit or whether online advertising can be revolutionized. Many general interest newspapers will be lost, but a tier will remain for at least some time, I think.

But, gosh, I wish more newspapers would make the most of these uncertain times. No newspaper do I write more often about, criticize or compliment more, than the Philadelphia Inquirer – because it’s big, historic, once among the world’s best, my hometown paper and the only one for which I ever personally had a subscription.

I always say, though, that these lessons can go for all newspapers.

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Number of Views:2149