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Seminar urges journalists to seek odd jobs in unusual places to stay afloat of economy

By Billy O'Keefe

By Mark Anthony Smith
Want to be a court reporter? No, not the kind who writes about court cases for a newspaper. This court reporter writes about cases for the courts themselves and posts them online for attorneys and government officials.
The theme for Monday’s “Weird Careers in Journalism” seminar was “keep your mind and eyes open.”
Michael Koretzky, outgoing SPJ director-at-large, advised a room full of journalists how to keep working in a dying economy. He works part-time and contracts with blogs, websites, newspapers and magazines.
“Jobs are out there,” he said. “You just have to look beyond the normal.”
Here are a few places to start:
• Blogger: Companies and publications are looking for professionals who can do the job right.
• Contract restaurant critic: Diners are selective in their choices and look to critics for guidance.
• Freelance investigative reporter: Some publications would rather pay per article than keep an investigative reporter on staff. Pieces can vary from long- or short-term series to smaller stories.
• Courthouse reporter: Courts recently have hired journalists to write case-related articles to post on their websites.
• Public relations writer: Public relations managers prefer to hire trained writers rather than PR specialists. And they can be cheaper, too.
Unconventional outlets:
• Alternative media: These publications vary in beliefs and purpose and offer pay comparable to that of traditional newspapers.
• Gay publications: Publications for the gay community have gained more respect and now hire journalists to report on various news topics.
• Tourism publications: Someone has to write the copy in hotel brochures.
• Newsletters: These “mini newspapers” allow writers to focus on specialized topics.