40 freelancers attend SPJ Georgia’s annual job fair

More than 40 freelance journalists spent the afternoon of April 27 meeting with editors, listening to experts and networking at the third annual SPJ Freelance Job Fair. Nine Atlanta area editors and three presenters provided attendees opportunities to pitch stories, learn about publications and broadcasters and to acquire knowledge and skills to obtain work in these markets.

Photo above:  At the 2018 SPJ Georgia Freelance Job Fair Kelsie Barton, editor-in-chief of JEZEBEL and Modern Luxury Weddings Atlanta, alongside Ashton Pike, an associate editor of Modern Luxury interviews an attendee seeking freelance work. Photo by Marquis Holmes

By Pamela Dorsett, SizingUpTheSouth.com reporter, SPJ Georgia board member

“My experience at the job fair was great. It exceeded my expectations because it gave job seekers time and access to speak to editors and those in positions to make hiring decisions,” said first time attendee Michelle Carter.

“Even though I’m not yet prepared for the job that I desire, I received information to guide me toward learning skills that will make me more marketable.”

Michelle Carter

The job fair was divided into two concurrent sessions. One session included 10-minute conversations between editors and freelance journalists to discuss pitches and requirements for stories. Publications represented by editors were diverse and ranged from Atlanta Magazine and The Atlanta Journal Constitution to Game & Fish Magazine and WebMD. For the first time, broadcasters were represented among the editors.

Carter said she especially enjoyed Avril Loy James‘ workshop. “She talked about how to handle stress as PTSD is becoming more prevalent in journalism … and provided great coping mechanisms to use daily.”

James is the mindfulness instructor at Piedmont Healthcare and spoke about stress that journalists encounter and how mindfulness may be beneficial to counteract stress.

From the left, Dr. Keith Herndon, Eric Stirgus and Avril Loy James presented sessions at the 2019 SPJ Georgia Freelance Fair on April 27. LinkedIn photos

The second session entailed presentations for journalists by three experts who work directly with freelancers: Eric Stirgus, reporter for the The Atlanta Journal Constitution talked about the art of the interview; Dr. Keith Herndon, William S. Morris Chair in News Strategy and Management, Director, James M. Cox Jr. Institute and Professor of Practice in Journalism, Grady School of Journalism, University of Georgia presented information about the business of freelancing; and Avril Loy James.

Networking and meeting other freelance journalists was a plus for some attendees, like freelance journalist Judi Kanne.

“As a nurse and journalist, I think what I enjoyed most about “SPJ’s pitchfest” is meeting regional people who may be interested in health articles — even though their general focus might be on travel or food. There’s a lot more going on with Georgia publications than I realized.”

Judi Kanne, freelance journalist

SPJ Georgia’s Freelance Committee Co-chair Stell Simonton said the event met her expectations in two important ways.

The people who came seemed eager and enthusiastic to meet editors,” she said. “And broadcasting editors from CNN Newsource and Georgia Public Broadcasting expressed interest and attended.”

* Rajan Mistry, culinary director at District Events and Catering, donated hors d’oeuvres and desserts for journalists to enjoy during the snack and networking break.  

Dr. Pamela Dorsett is a licensed clinical psychologist at the Behavior Institute of Atlanta. She is also a professional freelance journalist and member of SPJ Georgia, Treasurer for the chapter and co-chair of the Freelance Committee.

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