Author Archives: Jeanne Erdmann and Barbara Mantel

About Jeanne Erdmann and Barbara Mantel

Jeanne Erdmann (@jeanne_erdmann) is a member of AHCJ's board of directors and is chair of the freelance committee. Barbara Mantel (@BJMantel), an independent journalist, is AHCJ’s freelance community correspondent.

AHCJ’s freelance committee launches “Lunch and Learn”

Photo by Jeffrey Beall via Flickr.

Freelancers can find all sorts of tips and resources on AHCJ’s Freelance Center, but there’s nothing like one-on-one interaction. Now AHCJ freelance members have a monthly opportunity to trade advice and share expertise.

Members of AHCJ’s freelance committee, including independent journalists Jeanne Erdman and her co-chair Andrea King Collier, have organized monthly Zoom meetings called Lunch and Learns. These informal sessions, designed to build skills and community, occur at 1:00 p.m. EST every third Thursday of the month.

Each session highlights a specific theme. The first session in January focused on how to plan work for the year. Forty-seven members attended, and many joined the discussion.

“I thought it was great. There were over 40 people on the call — some I knew, some I didn’t — and many seemed eager to participate and share knowledge,” said Karen Blum, an independent journalist and AHCJ’s health IT core topic leader.

The January session spotlighted strategies for revising current business plans. For example, some freelancers used Quickbooks to see which clients paid the most or had the worst contracts in the previous year. One writer took three weeks off in December to come back fresh. Another freelancer said she makes a list of objectives each January detailing where she wants to be at the end of the year.

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Dozens of freelancers participate in AHCJ’s second virtual PitchFest

AHCJ’s second virtual PitchFest was held late last month with 67 freelance members participating. Writers pitched their ideas to top health editors from 21 publications, including AARP, Discover Magazine, Kaiser Health News, National Geographic, The New York Times and Scientific American.

Freelancers signed up in advance for 10-minute sessions with editors. These meetups allowed them to pitch a story idea and better understand the types of stories editors want today. Both sides welcomed the opportunity to get to know one another and consider assignments.

“I’ve always appreciated all the work and organization that must go into PitchFest to make it run so smoothly. Last year I had no idea how things would go when PitchFest moved online, but I ended up loving the accessibility and increased privacy (and I am still writing for one of the editors I met there!). I found this year’s new platform even easier to use. But I’m still looking forward to the next in-person event,” said Sheila M. Eldred, an independent journalist in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The one-on-one dynamics of the in-person event translated well to the online format, especially for Elizabeth Devita Raeburn, executive editor at Everyday Health, who calls herself an “extroverted introvert.”

“I love PitchFest, not only because it’s a pragmatic way to recruit new writers (and I always need them), but because it’s a novel way to get to know people in the field who I might not otherwise have encountered,” Raeburn said. “I’m looking forward to seeing all my people in person when AHCJ goes live again.”

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