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”

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”

I dig digging in to find a story

Truth be told, I never found writing breaking news stories that hard. You’re really just telling what happened where and, if possible, why. It’s an important role for a journalist but it never really lit a fire under me.

Not so with most of the stories I’ve written over the last several years. As a freelancer, I get to pick and choose the stories I write. My clients are not interested in breaking news, although some probably wouldn’t turn it down if I learned of something that merited immediate coverage. They’re more interested in features and details, so I get to dig deeper and find an angle and a story.

My most recent case in point involves Continue reading “I dig digging in to find a story”

Battling back to my passion

Detours. Roadblocks. Hurdles. Challenges. Life.

Whatever term you use, everyone has to deal with things that come up. A lot of times when they do, you have to slog through and continue to move in what you hope is a forward direction. But it can be hard.

I experienced — and am still experiencing — this over the last few months. My brother passed away in another state and I was appointed the personal representative to his estate. It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve had to undertake, Continue reading “Battling back to my passion”

Pitching my pitch gets closer

For freelance writers like me, with a strong journalism background, one of the areas I’ve wanted to learn more about and give a good try is story pitching.

Instead of having an editor assign stories, the writer tries to convince an editor they should publish or post a story. As a reporter, I would often actually pitch story ideas to my editor. But one main difference was those stories often resulted from some event or news release I read that morning. And since stories, or content, is what newspapers, TV stations and any other news outlet need to survive, it wasn’t too hard to get my editor to say “go do it, Mike.” 👍

As a freelancer, I don’t have that relationship with an editor. I get asked by clients to do this story or that story, Continue reading “Pitching my pitch gets closer”