>Dead Tree Media?

>While I was in Portland, Oregon last month, I grabbed every newspaper I could find. Among them was the Portland Mercury’s Guide to Food & Entertaining. No real freelance opportunities here. It appears to be all ads and staff-written copy. But it was amusing to read. To get an idea of the tone, the cover picture showed a turkey on a plate on a linen placemat. This turkey was arranged like a headless woman in a yellow bikini. Next to the date were the words, “Put This Butter on Your Ass.” Um, okay. I wonder why the spoon and forks were upside down?

This is the kind of rag that has lots of ads, including sex ads. One of the most fascinating features was a page of classified ads from people who wanted to hook up with someone they had met but didn’t get contact information. For example, “Prince Pasha Seeks Snow White” wrote, “Met you at the Matador on Halloween, wanted to see you again.” This could be a gold mine for fiction writers seeking plots. Listings for movies, plays, and concerts by groups like The Dirtbombs and Eat Skull fill many pages. Oh, and there are actually recipes for dishes that include pot. The Thanksgiving issue offered advice on how to be a lazy host, how to succeed at small talk and how to get totally smashed at your own party. You get the idea. Nothing is off limits. The Mercury also has serious news, but always with attitude.

I was struck by how one columnist referred to print newspapers as “dead tree media.” Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Even if this is not your cup of ganja juice, it’s worth reading the alternative weeklies because they speak to a slice of the population that we must not ignore if we want to succeed as freelancers. Most big cities offer these papers in newsstands for free. Take one. Read, laugh and learn.

3 Comments on “>Dead Tree Media?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    >Thank you for your thoughts. I’ve learned from you.

  2. Kris Knorr says:

    >Thanks for the info you share.Could you tell me if you’ve done a blog on research techniques? I’ve read through several archives, but my eyes are tiring.If you find studies, do you need to call the researcher?When I tell people I’m a freelancer they seem more disappointed than when I say, “I’m writing this for the Trib.”I could use some of your inspiration please.Thanks

  3. Suelick says:

    >Kris,Don’t wear your eyes out. You only get one set. I have not done a blog post on research techniques, mostly because I want people to read about them in my Freelancing for Newspapers book, but maybe I will in the future. Regarding studies, if they have been published, you don’t have to call the researcher if you’re only planning to quote a little bit of it, as long as you give credit to where you got it. If you intend to publish the whole thing or if it has not been released to the public, then yes, you should contact the researcher. Also, depending on what you’re doing, it might to your advantage to talk to the person who did the study. You could get some great quotes and fresher information.Yes, people don’t understand freelancing. It’s always easier if you have a firm assignment, but if you don’t, you can tell them you’re hoping to publish this in the Trib or wherever. You might have to give them an overview of your credentials to convince them you’re a real writer. I hope that helps. Others with advice are welcome to chime in.

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