Association for Women Journalists - DFW Chapter

Notebook

March 2002

Notebag
AWJ Archived in Texas Women's History: In January, the AWJ Board of Directors voted unanimously to send three boxes of AWJ archives to Texas Woman's University in Denton.

These boxes contained old newsletters, scholarship and awards information, notes from the founding of AWJ and much more. Archivists at TWU's Women's Collection say they will spend several months taking inventory of the collection so that they can place a brief description of its contents on a national database and the university's own Web page.

The Collection will be made available to the public so that researchers from across the country can learn more about AWJ's role in Texas history.

The Associated Press Austin bureau reporter Connie Mabin was recently awarded the 2001-2002 Silver Apple media award by the Texas Classroom Teachers Association. Her honored work included stories on technology in the classroom and a new statewide health insurance program for teachers.

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"Freelancers: Go forth and get online"
by Suzanne Sprague

Sandi Smith says freelance journalists who want to launch their own promotional Web sites should follow five basic rules: know the Web, have concrete goals, maximize content, be aggressive with marketing, and utilize "eMetrics."


Smith, a management guru and technical writer, spoke to an audience of 15 at AWJ's quarterly Freelancers' Long Lunch on January 17. She was joined by technology writer Paula Felps, who focused her remarks on all the high-tech gadgets that are available to freelancers and newsroom journalists.

"What do you want your Web site to accomplish?" Smith asked those in attendance. "If you want to sell your books, then the first link on your home page should say 'Buy My Book Here.'"

Smith came to the quarterly luncheon full of such tips for budding Internet entrepreneurs.

She suggested, for example, not putting a flash file on any home page because it takes too long to load. Smith instead recommends placing a quote from an editor or a review about your work on your home page.


Freelancers should spend as much money on marketing a Web site as on building content for it, Smith said. It takes a $1,000 to $2,000 investment to generate enough sales/work to break even on the expense of managing the online site, she said.

Smith also suggested using eMetrics - a way of tracking how many visitors log onto a Web page - as a way to monitor whether you, the freelancer, are meeting your Web goals.

For more information, see Smith's website at www.sandismith.com.

During her remarks, Felps emphasized the importance of utilizing PDA's - personal digital assistants - as a way of keeping track of stories, notes and interviews.

"I love hand held computers," Felps said. "I can't imagine life without them."

The personal computers can maintain a database of phone numbers, an appointment calendar, and usually enough memory to compose the average length newspaper story.
Felps said that some companies make good systems that start around $150.

AWJ Board Member Nancy Schaadt said she has a system that contains a built in modem that can also be used as a cellular phone - provided that you buy the right expansion piece.

Schaadt uses the system with a fold-up, full size keyboard. She said it's like having a laptop computer that she can fit into a purse - all for less than $500.

"I take [it] home at the end of the day and put it in my hotsync cradle, which sends all the new information I've typed to my [desktop] computer in about five minutes," Schaadt said.

Schaadt said she also uses her system to download free maps from www.mapquest.com that she can easily use while driving to interviews.

Felps said using the dual PDA/cellular phone models can be a great convenience, but she cautions against rushing out and buying one without careful thought.

"You are locked in," she said. "It's like buying a TV/VCR combo."

The technology used in these systems is quickly improving and falling in price, Felps said.

"The longer you wait to buy one of these gadgets, the better the equipment you're going to get," she said.

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"Examples of Personal Digital Assistants"

  • Palm™--makes a good system that starts at about $150.
  • Handspring-makes a Visor PDA that can be used in conjunction with a Palm™ operating system and a built-in phone modem. This system can also be used as a cellular phone with the proper expansion piece. Visors run about $250. The phone accessory retails for $199.
  • Samsung-recently released its PDA/cellular phone combo, the SPH-I300, which features a wireless Internet connection and full-color screen. It retails for $500.

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Spotlight On Anna Tinsley,
Reporter, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Birth date/Birth place: May 12, Fort Worth

Family: My husband, Chris Williams; dad, Jack B. Tinsley; mom, Anne Miller; brother, Ben Tinsley; nephew, Jake Tinsley.

The best thing about my job is: I finally am writing for the paper I grew up reading - the Fort Worth Star Telegram, where my dad devoted nearly 40 years of his life and where my parents met and fell in love. On top of that, getting to cover City Hall is a great opportunity because it's a challenging beat that produces a variety of interesting stories, from local politics to potholes.

Previous jobs/experience: Before starting at the Star-Telegram last April, I worked for six years in the Scripps Howard Austin Bureau (formerly the Harte-Hanks Austin bureau) writing for four papers and the national wire about the Legislature, state agencies and any topic of local interest. Before that, I covered a six-county area beat and wrote a weekly column (South Texas Tales) for the Corpus Christi Caller Times. My first job was covering police and courts for the Odessa American, where I also had a three-month summer internship.

Biggest story I've ever covered: I don't know about the biggest, but there are two that are the most interesting - the 2000 Election Night presidential non-decision in Austin - a crazy night. And then, exclusive interview with Zsa Zsa Gabor and her legendary attorney Melvin Belli when her breach of contract lawsuit was transferred to Midland from San Antonio. Her courtroom theatrics-spritzing perfume during testimony, checking her makeup in a hand mirror and batting her eyes at the judge when saying that no woman should be forced to reveal her age while under oath-were classic.

If I weren't a reporter, I would be: Never really thought about it.

Last book I read: Weird, but true. The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook (it tells you how to do everything from land a place to wrestle an alligator).

Favorite Movies: Tombstone; When Harry Met Sally; Pay It Forward; While You Were Sleeping.

Favorite Vacation Spot: Las Vegas

People would be surprised to know that: I'm a part of Texas history. Before I left Austin to come to work for the Star-Telegram, a senator I had covered for six years passed Senate Resolution No. 723, commending me on my new job and expressing high regard from the Senate. The resolution will always be a part of the 2001 Legislative Session.

The advice I would give to young people: Give 100 percent of yourself every day, never get discouraged and never give up. Volunteer for everything and learn as much about every beat as possible-you never know what you'll cover down the line. Be versatile, be flexible and have fun with your job. Be daring and don't' be afraid to try anything-at least once. Above all else, be a team player. And as an editor once said: be pleasant or be quiet.

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