CAMP 2017: What I’m looking forward to as a first-timer

by Jennifer Oldham, JAWS member

Sometimes I miss the newsroom.

Not the balding septuagenarian who alternated between snoring, cursing at sources and trying to pick up thirty-somethings as they walked by.  Nor the editor who shouted instructions to reporters on deadline. And certainly not the mice that periodically appeared unannounced under our desks.

But the adrenaline-fueled story meetings to map out how to cover breaking news, the understanding ear of a fellow writer and the shared satisfaction of a published byline are routinely lacking in my home office.

Instead, I’m surrounded by rooms littered with dirty socks and dishes courtesy of my kids. My writing companion is a long-haired tabby who loves to stand on my shoulder and yowl.  The drone of backhoe loaders racing to keep up with Denver’s pell-mell growth provides a periodic distraction.

Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t trade the freelance life for another anxiety-inducing newspaper job, at least not until my boys are grown. I am, however, in the market for some girl time. And time with ambitious female journalists is all the better.

I’ve established myself as an independent writer and editor since leaving Bloomberg News a year ago. I’ve still got a lot to learn about the world of online journalism, where to pitch stories, podcasting and how to find and apply for grants and fellowships.

I could use advice on whether I need to cultivate a specialty, how to find story ideas when I’m not a beat reporter for a specific entity and what subjects are in demand by publishers.

I’m hopeful I will find some of this and more at Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP) in Hot Springs. I’m also eager to reconnect with former colleagues and to network with new friends. I would like to explore taking on a bigger role at JAWS as well. Looking forward to seeing you all in Hot Springs!