My top 5 journalism jobs of 2013

Posted by Ralph Ellis December 24, 2013

This is the time of year when we’re inundated with look-back listings, such as the 10 best movies of the year and the 15 most offensive comments by reality TV stars.

Here’s a highly personal list. I’ve been freelancing since August, meaning I’ve had the chance to work for a lot of different people. That qualifies me to tell you about my five best journalism gigs of 2013, in no particular order.

New York Times. The nation’s best newspaper hired me to cover the TomorrowWorld electronic music festival. The festival organizers gave me the royal treatment (and, thankfully, some earplugs). Most amazingly, my daughter at Davidson College noticed something I wrote and posted it on Facebook. When I visited on family weekend, her friends asked, “What are you working on now?”

WebMD. I write newsletters on dogs, cats, gastrointestinal disorders and cold & flu, thus allowing me to pen headlines such as “Myths, Facts About Snot,” “Why Dogs Hump, Mount” and “The Scoop on Poop.”

CNN.com. The good thing is I never know what I’ll be working on at the CNN website. I’ve written about a big heroin bust in Massachusetts, the school shooting in Colorado and (my favorite so far) the Australian family that set the Guinness World Record for most Christmas lights on their house. I’m an old newspaper guy and this job has a familiar newsroom feel. On the other hand, working in a place crammed with television sets and computer screens is slightly Orwellian.

Decaturish. I’ve learned a lot while contributing to this local blog, mainly that you can write local news with attitude. You don’t have to crank out the same old dry stuff. Publisher/editor Dan Whisenhunt has a lot of good ideas. The downside: We’re not making much money yet.

Patch. Being the editor for Decatur/Avondale Estates Patch was my last full-time job, not a freelance gig. It was enlightening to work for a national media company. I learned social media skills and bought into the hyper-local philosophy. I connected to the community. My bosses gave me good reviews. Then they laid me off in a conference call. Patch needed to downsize and I get that, but I wish they’d explained how they decided who stayed and who left. And while I’m complaining, I was getting tired of their lame ideas to increase comments, such as asking readers to name their favorite pizza restaurant. Overall a good job, unsettling departure.

About Ralph Ellis

Ralph Ellis is a writer and editor who has lived in Decatur since 2006. He previously worked for Decatur/Avondale Estates Patch and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

View all posts by Ralph Ellis

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