Can you still start a freelancing career?

After announcing I took a step away from freelancing, a legal aide with aspirations of a cushy freelance career shot me an e-mail.

“Can people still even start a freelance career?”

I did it for just a year and did so out of college, so I don’t pretend to be any sort of expert. Yet, as writing — like publishing — as a commodity falls in value (and the prices that come with them), I sure feel like it’s worth making clear my experience.

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Reader response: kind words for a ballerina tale

Sometimes it’s the stories you don’t quite expect to, that get one of the warmest responses.

I posted two weeks ago about a story on the secret lives of ballerinas I wrote for the Inquirer.

It came on the same day as my Philadelphia Weekly cover story on suburban rapper Asher Roth. While the Roth profile has gotten more than 40 comments and the glare of Phawker, my ballerina feature has received a small outpouring from pleased readers.

On Facebook, a number of old high school friends noted their interest in it, and I get messages from many others, including my 18-year-old, sports-obsessed cousin. More than a few e-mails came in and on other social media, I was surprised to find a handful of notes from readers.

I put a lot of my freelancing work out there, but I rarely get more than a couple responses at a time. I didn’t expect a quiet story on ballerinas to bring such a response, particularly not on the same day as a big, loud profile on a growing pop icon.

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PW: Reader response for Free Library expansion story

The following feedback came in regarding my recent article about the halted expansion of the central branch of the Free Library, as collected here:

I was at the library last week. I’m not sure the expansion is a necessary ingredient of the Philadelphia ego. Chasing technology as an improvement when the city is not flush is foolish. I can’t imagine it’s a good thing to chase down short attention spans.

Before building it the city should do an evaluation of how much is actually part of the library and not transitory technology.

A longer letter is after the jump.

Required reading to own your name in a Web search


I don’t want to repeat this anymore, so let me direct you elsewhere.

I got an e-mail from a young aspiring journalist, still in high school and already coming to the questions I just started coming upon late in college. Her question:

how do you buy spaces on a google seerch?

Hey, even she will tell you that I told her to work on her grammar and spelling. (Oh, word processors, what have you done to us?).

But more importantly, it made me realize I never wrote the obligatory “own your name in Google” post. I have surely touched on it in previous posts, but rather than repurpose that information or rewrite what has been written so many times, I say to young reporter or fresh-on-the-web journalist, find out why branding your name online matters, and then read the following – because they’ve already done the job.

Flat Stanley in Washington D.C. for the Obama inauguration with Christopher Wink

And I thought children hated me.

Debbie Reinhardt’s second-grade class at the Kiel School in Kinnelon, N.J. sent me Flat Stanley, the title character of a children’s book from 1964. The flattened boy from the book gets sent around the world in an envelope.

I’ve been charged with showing our pal Stanley around Philadelphia, but before I get to that, I took him on the road to our nation’s capital earlier this week, where I was for the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama. Check some dispatches below.

Continue reading Flat Stanley in Washington D.C. for the Obama inauguration with Christopher Wink

Full-text feeds, Partial feeds: What's a blogger to do?

We had a good conversation on the merit of full-text or partial feeds on a post recently that I never got to address.

I got a few e-mails on the matter, too, actually. (No surprise they were as conflicted as the comments)

What we all seemed to agree on is that newspapers (or any RSS feed for that matter) are fools to offer no excerpt in an RSS post.

The debate came on how much content should be provided in a feed, though.

Continue reading Full-text feeds, Partial feeds: What's a blogger to do?

A German nod to ChristopherWink dot com for young journalists

Courtesy of Marcus Bösch.

I’m always surprised and really proud to see my unique visitors and subscriptions increasing and love nothing more than a fresh comment to help create a dialogue I try to highlight on this site.

Now, that has happily been a fairly regular occurrence for a good portion of this site’s one-year plus existence. Still, sometimes something happens that makes me smile, and, really, helps me to remain appreciative and in awe of the power of the Internet.

As I first Tweeted last week, a German blogger named Marcus Bösch linked to this site (danke!), suggesting aspiring young journalists – who speak some English – should check out my feed.

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Jason Martin: Which byline is my brand?

Jason L. Martin
Jason L. Martin

There are, I’m willing to bet, a lot of Jason Martins.

One particular Jason Martin is an online marketing manager in Cincinnati, Ohio.

He left a worthwhile comment on yesterday’s post about branidng your byline.

It prompts a conversation I’ve had here and read elsewhere, but it’s always worth returning to. With a common name how do you break through a crowded field of Web-search competition?

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Reader Response: Foment versus ferment

I already shared the wide array of reader response I got for a recent A1 story I had for the Philadelphia Inquirer that covered the Harrisburg reform movement [There’s video for the story up now, too].

I got another call yesterday that I wanted to share.

A Maria called to compliment me on the story but she had one gripe that she “had to get off [her] chest.”

Continue reading Reader Response: Foment versus ferment

Reader response for Inquirer story on Harrisburg reformers

Last week, I shared some reader response I received after a recent story on state Rep. Babette Josephs ran on the cover of the Inquirer’s Local Section.

So it comes as no surprise that getting a story on the cover the newspaper – one about the Harrisburg reform movement yesterday – got some response, too.

A man who – jokes aside – I think was intoxicated and was either complimenting or insulting my coverage of “citizens” – I sincerely couldn’t tell. No name, no number, but he called back and left a second message in which he said the following:

Oh, I forgot. My primary concern is helping and reliquifying [sic] the American middle class, and until, well, that is the basis of everthing, until that happens, this country isn’t going anywheres [sic] and you can quote me on it.”

I don’t know who he is or how to contact him or why I would want to quote him – but I sure will.

Continue reading Reader response for Inquirer story on Harrisburg reformers