New Avenues in Journalism Conference Helps Freelancers Adapt

logo-newavenues2014WRITERS. The “New Avenues in Journalism” conference October 10-11 at San Francisco State University will help freelance journalists understand how to maintain profitable careers in the changing field of journalism. The event is sponsored by the American Society of Journalists and Authors Educational Foundation (ASJA), San Francisco State University (SFSU), and the Online News Association (ONA).

One of the keynote speakers in Kara Swisher, a pre-eminent tech journalist and former co-host of AllThingsD. She will discuss the shifting world of independent journalism and explain why she recently forged a path outside the traditional news organization and embarked on her own entrepreneurial venture as co-CEO of the tech blog Re/code.

“The traditional business model for freelance writers has collapsed,” said conference co-chair Laird Harrison, an ASJA board member and ONA local leader. “Hardly anyone is making a living writing for magazines anymore. But new opportunities are opening up for writers who think like entrepreneurs.”

New Avenues in Journalism will bring together media innovators like Swisher to coach freelancers about how to achieve their professional goals in new and diverse markets. Much of the meeting will address the burgeoning field of custom content — journalistic articles commissioned to support products and services. Other speakers will discuss how writers can: secure funding from investors, foundations and philanthropists; successfully act as their own publishers; and sell merchandise and consulting as auxiliary income.

Attendees can choose the full day on Friday ($195 for 10 am – 4:30 pm plus networking event) and an optional half day on Saturday ($95 for 9 am to noon). Admission includes a boxed lunch and a wine reception Friday.

About ASJA

Founded in 1948, the American Society of Journalists and Authors is a professional organization of independent nonfiction writers. It membership includes nearly 1300 freelance writers of magazine articles, trade books, and many other forms of nonfiction writing.


New Avenues in Journalism Conference

American Society of Journalists and Authors


SPJ Offers Members One-Stop Shopping for Insurance

Newcomers to the freelance writing business quickly discover that it can be time-consuming to line up all of the business insurance they may need to qualify for some higher-paying freelance jobs. (And, as a freelancer, time is your most precious commodity.)

That’s why I was encouraged to learn about the new partnership between the Society of Professional Journalists and WestPoint Financial Group that offers SPJ members “one-stop shopping” for their insurance and financial planning needs. Now that more individuals are working as freelance solopreneurs on virtual teams, perhaps other associations will set up similar programs.

Through the SPJ Solutions program, SPJ members can choose to enroll in individual life, health, disability, long-term care, personal liability, property liability and errors & omissions insurance programs. The disability and long-term care products, offered through MassMutual, carry a 10 percent lifetime premium discount to SPJ members.

While this benefits program will be most attractive to SPJ’s freelance journalists, all SPJ members are eligible for the program, easing some of the uncertainty during job transitions like downsizing and lay-offs. Members will have one phone number (317-627-4753) and email address [email protected]) to reach a WestPoint financial advisor to provide them with personal service within two business days of the initial contact.

Based in Indianapolis, WestPoint Financial Group is a full-service financial firm, offering products and services in all 50 states. Its primary insurance products are available through MassMutual, but WestPoint has relationships with other financially strong companies and it strives to offer competitive rates.

“We’re pleased to partner with SPJ to offer a broad range of benefits to its members and to help them navigate the complicated world of insurance products,” said Scott Biggs, a financial advisor with WestPoint Financial.

“This service should help SPJ members achieve professional and personal financial security.” said SPJ president Sonny Albarado commented. “I am excited that SPJ can offer journalists extra value for their membership in this way.”

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ is a professional organization that includes broadcast, print and online journalists, journalism educators, and students interested in journalism as a career. SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.

The SPJ website includes a directory of freelancers, links to a blog about freelance journalism, and a list of useful tools and resources for freelance writers.


SPJ: Society of Professional Journalists

SPJ: Tools and Resources for Freelancers

The Independent Journalist: The SPJ’s Blog for Freelancers


Learn about the Future of Journalism at Encyclo

WRITERS. For a clearer view of how the journalism world is changing, visit Encyclo—the encyclopedia on the future of news. Produced by the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University, Encyclo lists and describes the organizations having the biggest impact on how news is gathered, assembled, distributed, and consumed.

Encyclo website about future of journalism

In addition to traditional news organizations such as the New York Times, The Atlantic, and CNN, Encyclo discusses Internet-enabled newcomers to the news business. These newcomers range from non-profit organizations that focus on high-end investigative work to “content farms” that have turned content into a commodity and given new meaning to the term “article writing.”

According to the Encyclo website, “We believe there’s something to be learned from both ProPublica and Gawker Media, from the Wall Street Journal and WikiLeaks, and from the Texas Tribune to the Huffington Post.”

Encyclo also includes entries on technology firms that are having a major impact on the news business, including Google, Apple, Twitter, Facebook, and Craiglist.

Each encyclopedia-style write-up in Encyclo summarizes what’s important about the organization from a future-of-news perspective. Updates to each entry incorporate the latest major announcements about how the organization’s business model or services are evolving.

The creators of Encyclo encourage readers to help keep the entries up-to-date. They have set up a page on the site through which you can tell them what entries they should add, update, improve, or fix.

Encyclo was made possible by a grant through the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.