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Career GPS

A weekly conversation about following your passions and your paycheck.

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Andy Miller used his own money to launch the nonprofit website Georgia Health News last month. He's now in the midst of seeking foundation grants and donations. This week at Career GPS, Miller straightforwardly answers some questions about developing his new media venture.

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In November, we highlighted two freelance careers in health journalism. This week we have a first-person account of Karen Weintraub's freelance career.

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Robert Niles at the Online Journalism Review wrote a blog post on Nov. 12 listing his top five picks for beats at a local website or newspaper. He lists food, education, labor, business and faith. The omission of a health beat rankled some of Niles' readers and raised some important questions about local health reporting. Where should health as a specialized beat fall on the local news totem pole? Can health be covered well by food and business beats?

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When Linda Marsa received a copy of the December issue of Discover magazine in the mail, she was thrilled. Her story about climate change and its effect on long forgotten diseases in America made the cover. Never mind that she has been a journalist for 30 years, Marsa finds health journalism as riveting now as when she first began. And she is still learning ways to be a better freelancer.

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Depending on whom you ask, AOL's Patch is either an innovative and well-intentioned new venture to infuse local news back into American communities, or it's "the Walmart of news," a $50 million behemoth set on invading communities and running local sites from corporate headquarters. But they are hiring, and hiring en masse.

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Newsdesk and Spot.us are organizations intent on giving journalists financial support for in-depth reporting as mainstream media continues to shrink. They are seeking proposals for their "Los Angeles Toxic Tour," stories that will be told in text and multimedia to highlight environmental concerns in this sprawling city.

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It's the kind of thing that makes traditionalists in journalism cringe, and convinces them that technology will ruin the integrity of news. SEO is the tech acronym for "search engine optimization," ways to design websites and content that will rank highly in search results. What many journalists might not realize is that the techniques of SEO are actually not that far off from the fundamentals of hard news.

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Peggy Girshman, executive editor for online at Kaiser Health News (KHN), is hiring. This week, she pulls back the curtain for Career GPS readers and explains what she is looking for in a job applicant and shares her personal do's and don'ts for journalism résumés.

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Wendy Johnson spent five years as a reporter at newspapers in Cape Cod and then on Capitol Hill before taking the leap to the B2B (business-to-business) media world.

"It's something that I fell into accidentally," Johnson says. But she discovered that writing about one industry for a new audience of executives and others in healthcare was both "really interesting" and viable. "I could see that there was a career track here."

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For writers of most any stripe, getting the gig is only half the battle. Once you've finished your masterpiece, be it an investigative report or a quick blog post, how do you cut through the vast Internet -- Google has already indexed more than one trillion pages -- to find the readers for whom you have worked so hard?

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Announcements

Ready to take your journalism to a new level by honing your data analysis and visualization skills?  We're offering our highly acclaimed annual Data Fellowship through Zoom from Nov. 30-Dec. 4.

Do you have a great idea for a potentially impactful reporting project on a health challenge in California?  Our 2020 Impact Fund can provide financial support and six months of mentoring.

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