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Seeking Experienced Writing & Research Assistant

Posted by Deborah Huso on Oct 21, 2010 in Writer Rants

I am in need of an experienced part-time writing and research assistant. You must have excellent writing skills as well as the ability to conduct online research, meaning you know what’s reliable and what’s not. (We don’t use Wikipedia in this office.)  You must also have a strong grasp of AP style, be comfortable talking on the phone, and calm under pressure. You must be willing to work in an environment of frequently tight deadlines and be able to switch the direction of your work instantaneously without missing a beat. I require someone who is extremely organized and is proficient in the use of Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook and who has some skills in PhotoShop.

Some expertise in health, business, real estate, home building, and public policy issues is preferred but not necessary. The ability to work independently is essential, and you must be highly self-motivated.

If you want to learn how to be a successful journalist in an ever changing media landscape and you’re not afraid of hard work, this job is for you.

I will consider a telecommuter. Please e-mail a cover letter, resume, three writing samples, three professional references, and compensation requirements to writer@drhuso.com.

 
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Why I Love America

Posted by Deborah Huso on Jul 1, 2010 in Writer Rants

Those who know me will probably blink a couple of times when they see the title for this post.  After all, I’m not a flag waver…and am generally suspicious of those who are.  (Blatant nationalism always puts me to thinking about Germany in the 1930s.)

But forgive me while I wax sentimental in recognition of the upcoming Independence Day holiday.  I really do love America (our awful domestic airline service and the IRS notwithstanding), though it takes an occasional trip abroad to remind me of it sometimes.  Here’s why it’s still pretty darn good to be an American:

  • No matter who you are or into what situation you were born, you really can be anything you want to be or do anything you want to do if you put your mind to it.
  • We  still honor the free market system that drives the competition necessary to the pursuit of innovation and excellence.
  • We permit and encourage the right of every man and woman to question authority.
  • There are no limits (at least for now) on what any of us can achieve with hard work, dedication, and passion.

And, of course, you can buy gas here 24 hours a day, seven days a week for under $3 a gallon.  Thank you, great and great-great grandparents for getting on those ships and crossing the Atlantic…and never looking back.

Happy 4th of July!

 
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Join Deborah’s panel at the Virginia Press Women’s Conference

Posted by Deborah Huso on Apr 18, 2010 in Writer Rants
Debbie 3

Freelance writer Deborah Huso

If you’re planning on attending the Virginia Press Women’s spring conference in Roanoke later this week, make sure you’re signed up for the Editor/Freelancer Face-Off at 10:15 a.m. on Friday, April 23.  As one of the panelists, Deborah will be offering some insider tips on how to make a living as a freelance writer, covering story pitching, pay rates, establishing long-term relationships with editors and publishers, contract negotiation, and how to stay current (and still get paid well) in a world where more and more media is going digital.

 
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God Google Strikes Again

Posted by Deborah Huso on Apr 14, 2010 in Writer Rants

Writers and book publishers have already had plenty of reason to loathe Google given the company’s ongoing efforts to scan and make available online every book it can get its hands on…nevermind U.S. Copyright Law.  The public at large has turned a blind and uneducated eye on the whole debacle, which is one big step in the direction of denying authors and publishers the right to earn money from their intellectual property.

While there still isn’t any good news on the book front (unless you think settling for $60 for Google to have its way with your copyright forever and ever is a good thing), perhaps media mogul Rupert Murdoch will finally draw some attention to Google’s blatant disrespect for intellectual property.  Murdoch is cracking down on news aggregators like Google that basically borrow news content from other sites and post it on their own.  Beginning this summer, Murdoch plans to put the online content of his major media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, behind a paywall, something he is urging fellow media industry magnates to do, too.  You can read more about Murdoch’s stance in a recent article in The Guardian.

The problem is Murdoch is pushing 80, and there are few like him left in the industry who are willing and financially able to stand up not just for Copyright law but for the value of well-researched and well-written content by experienced professionals.  Unfortunately, in an age where anyone with an Internet connection can put content out there as “news,” the younger generation may have very little experience understanding the difference between truth and tabloid.  And why pay for the former when the latter is free?

 
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Is Journalism Dead?

Posted by Deborah Huso on Apr 6, 2010 in Writer Rants

About three years ago when I was on travel assignment in east Tennessee for Women’s Health magazine, I remember having dinner with the photographer assigned to my story and the two of us poking fun at our twenty-something assistants who were exchanging My Space addresses.  We earnestly and, as it turns out, foolishly believed social media was for people under 25.  Two years later, my twenty-something assistant is helping me get hooked up on Facebook and Twitter.  Not because I relish joining this new world of over-the-top online narcissism but because being linked in and socially networked has become essential for professional survival in the Information Age.

Plenty of people in my industry haven’t yet figured out how to jump on the mercenary digital bandwagon.  And I’m not just talking social media.  I’m talking the brave new world of online information in general.  If you’re not prepared to flesh out Hollywood’s latest fashion disasters on Yahoo! or provide a 400-word bullet point distillation on health care reform for MSN, you might find yourself out of work these days if you’re a journalist.

Why?  Because in case you haven’t noticed, long-form journalism and investigative reporting are dying a rather quick and ugly death in a culture addicted to tabloid-like news that can be scanned in 30 seconds or less.

In a recent op-ed piece in The New York Times, writer Sheelah Kolhatkar lamented, “While most people are worried about getting paid for their work, I’m more concerned that journalists might be the digital-age equivalent of monks illuminating manuscripts, a group whose skills will soon disappear.”

Kolhatkar is definitely on to something.  When I started out in this business more than a decade ago, I remember being tutored by editors to work hard to develop my narratives–fill them with local color, vivid descriptions, exclusive and meaningful commentary from sources based on intensive follow-up questioning.  Now the order of the day is catchy sound bites.  And a few quick bullet points because nobody wants to actually have to read an article.

Plenty of journalists like Kolhatkar are worried about their paychecks, yes, but they’re also worried about just what kind of information is getting passed around in this “Information Age.”  There will always be work for those of us who provide content (whether that content is good, bad, or just plain stupid), but how much of the content we produce is actually worth reading anymore?  Are you really gaining any insight into the world when you fire up your Internet browser in the evening and search the latest “headlines?”

In a recent review of The Death and Life of American Journalism, Chris Hedges contends Americans are being bombarded today with gossip and trivia.  “But news,” he says, “which costs money and takes talent to produce, is dying not only because citizens are migrating to the Internet and corporations are no longer using newsprint to advertise, but because in an age of profound culture decline the masses prefer to be entertained rather than informed. We no longer value the culture or journalism, as we no longer value classical theater or great books, and this devaluation means the general public is not inclined to pay for it.”

Dear reader, are you guilty?  Do you grumble over having to pay for an online newspaper subscription?  If so, you may be part of the problem here.  Because high quality information like high quality anything costs money.  If you want advertising to pay your ticket to information access, then expect the editorial you read to be closely linked to the advertisers who pay for it.

Is journalism dead?  Well, that depends on what and where you’re reading…and who’s paying for it.

 
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I Need Help From My Readers

Posted by Deborah Huso on Feb 11, 2010 in Writer Rants

Do you know anyone who owns AGCO or Massey Ferguson equipment who has an interesting story to tell?  It doesn’t need to be tractor or hay baler related!  A farmer who does rodeo on the side or a farmer who has built an ice rink in his cornfield….something along those lines.  He or she must be willing to do an interview for a magazine.  Thank you!

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