By Rebecca Fuchko
As all freelance journalists know, there is something they need in spades in order to be successful: a strong passion for what they do. Freelance journalism has its challenges, so you have got to be able to stick it out. That being said, the rewards can be great, and the freedom it gives you is appealing to many. Mark Woolsey, the new chair for the Society of Professional Journalists Georgia chapter freelance committee, has a lot of experience in this area.
Mark started out in radio after graduating in 1976 with a degree in radio-television from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. A few years later, he received a writing opportunity from a new, local magazine. Mark loves working in radio, but after seeing a hard copy of his work, complete with a byline, he was hooked. Since then, he has been an avid freelancer, but mostly as a sidebar to his main job as an anchor/reporter for iHeartMedia in Atlanta. Like many, Mark enjoys freelancing because he is not beholden to one employer, and he is able to keep his style fresh by writing many different kinds of pieces. In addition, he can work from home in his bathrobe! However, we all know freelancing is not easy. You have to worry about setting aside time to prospect other freelancing opportunities, and as a contract employee, you don’t have benefits. Needless to say, it can be a tough road for freelancers. That’s why Mark, as the new chair for SPJ’s freelance committee, is working hard to broaden the opportunities for all freelance journalists.
Mark has been involved with SPJ for a while now. He even served on the board for the Fort Worth pro chapter back in the 1990’s. As a member of SPJ, Mark has reaped many benefits. Some of these benefits include networking with fellow freelancers, as well as the opportunity to hone his organization and planning skills. Mark said he really learned the ins-and-outs of doing meeting planning, and is able to continually make great connections. Two lasting connections he has made, through SPJ, include a freelancer for the the AJC, as well as a former CNN staffer who freelances on various television projects.
Mark is new to his position as chair for the SPJ freelance committee, but so far he’s worked hard to put together panels, worked on blog posts for the group, and contributed to the SPJ freelancers Facebook page. Mark plans to act as a guide, and a resource to, both old and new, SPJ members who are involved with freelancing. SPJ’s freelance committee offers a multitude of networking opportunities with fellow freelancers, as well as tips on upcoming jobs and projects. With Mark’s help, the SPJ freelance committee is working on developing programming and resources to help freelancers become more successful. Mark hopes to help the SPJ freelance committee become a “clearinghouse,” of sorts, for as many freelance journalists as possible. Becoming a member of SPJ opens you up to a multitude of networking and learning opportunities, as well as informative panels, which can go a long way in helping you to polish your skills.
With Mark at the lead, the SPJ freelance committee is working hard to become the number one go-to option for freelancers in search of support. You have much to gain, and nothing to lose, as a member of SPJ, and freelancers need all the opportunities they can get. So, if you are not a member of SPJ already, you should strongly consider becoming one, and checking out the freelance committee, because the opportunities it will open up for you can be plentiful.