Author Archives: Barbara Mantel

Barbara Mantel

About Barbara Mantel

Barbara Mantel (@BJMantel), an independent journalist, is AHCJ’s freelance community correspondent. Her work has appeared in CQ Researcher, Rural Health Quarterly, Undark, Healthline, NBCNews.com and NPR, among others. She helps members find the resources they need to succeed as freelancers and welcomes your suggestions.

When to quote survey results: How to judge quality and recognize red flags

Courtney Kennedy (Photo courtesy of the Pew Research Center)

Journalists often include survey results in a story to offer a sense of public opinion. But not all surveys are created equal, and some should be avoided at all costs. 

In a recent phone interview, Courtney Kennedy, vice president of survey research and innovation at the Pew Research Center, a “nonpartisan fact tank,” shared advice with me on how to judge survey quality. 

A longer version of our conversation, which was edited for length and clarity, can be found at The Freelance Center. 

Continue reading

How to avoid onerous freelance contracts

Photo by energepic.com via pexels.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that contracts I have been asked to sign have gotten longer and more complex. I have often been asked to take on all the legal responsibility if someone should sue over an article. 

And most contracts now demand that the article is a work for hire, which means if I were lucky enough to have an agent approach me about writing a book or a script or hosting a podcast based on the story, I would be out of luck; the publication would own all future rights. I have tried negotiating my way out of onerous contract clauses, but I haven’t always succeeded. In those cases, I hold my nose and sign, or I try to take the idea elsewhere.

Continue reading

The Freelance Center now has more than 30 market guides

Photo by Vlada Karpovich via pexels.

Before I begin talking about AHCJ’s latest market guides, I would like to remind members who are freelancers that I will be moderating a webinar on Thursday, Oct. 6 at noon CT about navigating freelance contracts. It will feature attorney Charles Glasser, former global media counsel for Bloomberg News who has worked on several freelance contract guides for Freelance Investigative Reporters and Editors (FIRE). Bring your contract questions.

Continue reading

How to take advantage of AHCJ’s Freelance Center

The AHCJ website is packed with information that is sometimes difficult to find. That should be remedied early next year with AHCJ’s planned website redesign. In the meantime, I thought it would be a good idea to review the offerings of the Freelance Center

Continue reading

Tips and resources for learning the basics of data journalism

Photo by Lukas via pexels.

I routinely use data in my articles, but I rarely do more than pull numbers from tables on federal websites. Sometimes I have to do a little math to figure out percentage changes. But I have never downloaded raw data into a spreadsheet to perform an analysis for a story or to comb through it for investigative story ideas. However, I would like to know how. And judging from emails I’ve received from AHCJ members, other freelancers would also like to learn some data journalism tools.

So, I turned to Cody WinchesterInvestigative Reporters & Editor’s (IRE)  director of technology and online resources. Winchester, who served previously as IRE’s senior training director, spoke with me about how freelancers can learn the basics of data journalism. (The following Q&A has been edited for brevity and clarity.)

Continue reading