How to Diversify Your Career

I just returned from a conference that was both stimulating and scary. At a gathering where premier journalists typically congregate to talk about craft and their commitment to accurately and artfully write and report true stories, most of the talk at the bar was about the carnage in the media industry. While I was there to speak about career advice, I wasn’t immune to the concern. Last year I lost a regular gig blogging for the New York Times with very little notice. 

But unlike most journalists who are panicking about what they’d do next if they lost a steady paycheck, I quickly replaced that work with high quality work that I enjoy–coaching other writers, teaching, and public speaking. As an experienced freelancer, I also knew how to find writing opportunities even in a shrinking market. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}


Advice to Journalists (My Interview with Josh Benton)

At the Nieman Narrative Journalism Conference last weekend, I was interviewed by my friend/colleague Josh Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab, which is trying to answer the question of what the future of journalism should be.


Josh posted the interview this morning and as I listened (and read the transcript), I realized that I overstated my concern for journalists wearing many different roles in the stories they cover. I do believe that journalists have to be mindful of conflicts of interest, but there is a lot of room for journalists to write about subjects they have connections to as long as they are transparent and make the right disclosures. Speaking of disclosures and transparencies, I love both Malcolm Gladwell’s disclosure page (which is almost as long as a typical New Yorker article) and Jeff Jarvis’.

This is the beauty of online writing. You always get a chance to add to the record, which I did in the comments section of Josh’s post.  That’s my real lesson here – if you ever regret or want to revise something you said in an online interview, head straight over to the comments where you can clarify your point, especially if you were quoted in a place lots of journalists will be reading.
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Nieman Conference Wrap-Up

I’ve just returned from the annual Nieman Narrative Journalism Conference at Harvard where the mood was a mix of anxiety and inspiration. The anxiety came from the many staffers who had recently lost jobs or were preparing for that possibility. The inspiration came from the heady conversations about craft and narrative that typically characterize this gathering of master storytellers and those aspiring to that title.

Since this was a conference where almost all the attendees and speakers were journalists, and where people were live blogging and tweeting, there are plenty of vivid recaps of the event. So I’ll spare you the full-blown summary.

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Unbaked Thoughts on the Future of Journalism

Like so many people in journalism, I spend a lot of time pondering, talking about, and trying to prepare myself for what the future of this profession might be. And next month I’m going to be speaking on a panel at the Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism called “Making the Most of Turbulent Times: Finding Opportunities in a Changing Industry,” that seeks to add to the conversation on this subject.

In preparation for that panel, Tommy Tomlinson, the moderator, sent out an email to get us all thinking.

I put together something a few days ago in response to his prompt and while it’s fairly unbaked, writing it made me feel a bit hopeful — both about the panel and about the future of journalism. Here’s what I wrote:
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No Plans to Retire, Even at 100

Mildred Heath, a 100-year-old journalist and publisher from Nebraska, wins an "America's Oldest Worker" award and discusses her career in a YouTube video.

From Journalist to Novelist

Linda Villarosa writes a guest post on the challenge of moving from journalist to novelist.

Interning in the Blogger’s Home Office

A guest post from Sara Jane Berman, a high school student who spent part of her summer interning for Marci Alboher on the Shifting Careers blog.

Journalistic Entrepreneurs, a New Model

A trade association teleconference focuses on the ins and outs of life as a journalistic entrepreneur.

Slash Careerists Gathering on Facebook

This is a guest post by Vanessa Carr, who has been working with me on Facebook and some other technology projects

There has been a great response to Marci’s call for slashes on her Slash ‘/’ Careers group on Facebook.

One stand-out site was that of Katreen Hardt, an actress/freelance journalist living in Germany. Katreen boldly foregrounds her slash identity on her homepage with a colorful grid of images—half popular magazine covers for issues to which she’s contributed writing and half stills from movies she’s acted in (which include Henry Fool and The Book of Life—beneath an equally bold title: Katreen Hardt, Freelance journalist and actress.

Katreen homepage screenshot

Part of what is effective about her site is its simplicity. From the homepage, you can navigate to one of four sections: about (bio), portfolio (writing), showreel (acting), and contact. On her about page, Katreen summarizes each of her slash components, highlighting a few of her most significant accomplishments.

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Remember the telephone?

Recently, I did something strange. I called a fellow journalist for something we would normally talk about through email. It was so odd that I started the call with a caveat, “I don’t usually pick up the phone, but it seemed about time we had a conversation.” She and I typically communicate by email, my preferred mode of communication with just about everyone in my life. It keeps me productive. But lately I have been so saturated with email that I am starting to relish all those conversations that I long ago relegated to email.

Clearly, my phone call got that colleague (Eve Tahmincioglu) thinking because she blogged about it at her new small business blog at, which is worth checking out even if it didn’t have something to do with ME!


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