Don’t take my choice away

My dad was always pro-union. He worked in a rail yard, then became an electrician. I recall he credited a union he belonged to with helping him start to make a successful career that led him to electrical inspector positions at a couple of large cities, including Beverly Hills.

When I look at corporations like Amazon and Walmart and the wages they pay their workers, I think unions might be able to help those low-income workers make a better life for themselves and their families.

In my industry, newspaper employees, especially at papers owned by bottom-line-ruled hedge funds, have turned more often to forming or joining unions to help them survive.

While union membership has declined for decades, I usually support the goals of unions.

As a journalist, I’ve always believed in the “seen but not heard” approach. That’s especially true when it comes to politics. Present a balanced and factual story but keep your personal beliefs and stances out of your stories.

However, I recently found myself wanting to publicly oppose what I and many other freelancers feel is a very poorly written piece of legislation before the U.S. Congress.

Continue reading “Don’t take my choice away”

Upon further consideration …

Necessity can lead to choices that might have been rejected in the past. Circumstances and situations often change, so we decide differently.

That’s where I found myself after reassessing where my writing career stood. I’ve written before about a story pitching online course that provided a lot of good information, tips and guidance. As a journalist, I know what makes a story a story, so sharing those ideas and subjects with editors who then assign them to the person who pitched them makes sense.

But the reality — as I knew would be the case — turned out to be very difficult. After pitching many story ideas to several editors, I have yet to get an assignment. Most of the time, the reasons stemmed from the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impacts. For many publications and online sites, their freelance budgets were one of the first areas they cut.

Continue reading “Upon further consideration …”

Small town values are what we need now

Small towns are great communities. They come together in times of trouble, disaster and death. Just like families.

So it was nearly 20 years ago when I lived in Rifle, Colorado, a city of around 6,000 people at the time. The night before Independence Day 2001, Rifle was rocked by the senseless shootings of seven Latino residents by a white man with a long history of mental illness. Four of the victims died.

Steven Michael Stagner, then 42, did not know any of his victims, who ranged in age from 17 to 44. The tragedy was national news for a while.

I was reminded of something that happened days later Continue reading “Small town values are what we need now”

A welcome diversion in a time like this

I’m one of those people whose career has been spent working alone most of the time. I quickly realized I thrive in isolation when it comes to going to meetings, making phone calls, meeting deadlines and all the other required tasks of a journalist.

So now in this time of pandemic self-isolation, I seem to have adapted pretty well. To be sure, I wish this novel coronavirus had never arrived. I just wanted to mention that my past — along with thousands, maybe millions of others — helped prepare me for this situation.

Shortly before the virus spread from China, Continue reading “A welcome diversion in a time like this”

Getting to some important stories

Every writer has been told at least once to “write what you’re passionate about.” I guess I’ve always been somewhat of an exception to that advice, although not really intentionally.

Another piece of advice along the same lines is to develop a niche, something you know very well and have been able to write about successfully. Back in the day, natural gas development was one of my niches. Not really by choice. The newspaper I worked for at the time had the bureau I worked in right in the middle of intense gas drilling. It made sense to focus much of my efforts on that topic.

I don’t live in the same area and haven’t written about natural gas in many years. Maybe some people Continue reading “Getting to some important stories”