Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Do you have a nose for news?

So, I recently started writing for www.thehorse.com (see today's piece at http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=12890 with more likely to follow). I think I mentioned this in a previous post--I sent a letter of introduction to them to offer my services, and they gave me a shot.

This is a departure for me, because thehorse.com is a news site, focusing on horse health. I've done a little on horse health before and it's a subject I enjoy writing about, but I've never really done news before. I have to sniff out my own stories and write them in a journalistic style, packing as much info into 300 words as possible. It's actually quite a rush! The hardest part is getting a feel for what news is, vs. a feature, and finding the stories. Once I find the topic and get the research done (using only reliable sources), the writing is actually pretty easy. I'm looking forward to learning a lot about this style of work and writing more for them--the editor, Erin Ryder, is extraordinarily helpful and patient. Thanks, Erin!

Don't be afraid to expand your writing horizons. The more flexible you are in the type of assignments you take on, the more money you can make. Different people have different ways of approaching a new type of assignment. Some people will tell you to act like your an expert whether you are one or not and learn fast so you can do a good job. While I agree with the last part of that sentence, I have a hard time not being completely truthful. I was honest with thehorse.com and told them I have little experience with news but am willing to learn and do the best I can, and they took a chance on me. I did the same with LEG when I applied to write press releases for them--I told them I'd only written a couple before and gave samples, and they hired me. I think as long as you show you can write, most places will be willing to give you a shot. Just make sure you learn fast and incorporate every suggestion they give you!

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