Another post about the blog

I’m Caitlin Kelly, author here.

Since my last behind-the-curtain post about Broadside, this crowd has grown! Every day, new followers are signing up, men and women of all ages from across the globe, from Kenya to Indonesia to my hometown of Toronto — now at 2,300.

A few things to know about me, and what you’ll continue to find here:

I’m Caitlin Kelly, a career print journalist who’s worked as a reporter for three major dailies, the Toronto-based Globe and Mail, the Montreal Gazette and the New York Daily News, the 6th-largest newspaper in the U.S. Each of these experiences helped shape who I am as a writer, how I think and how I approach my stories, here and for my paid assignments.

I landed at the Globe when I was 26, with no experience at any newspaper, a fairly unheard-of trajectory. I’d been freelancing for them for seven years already, but suddenly had to meet daily deadlines. The Globe, being the national paper of record, and one with five daily editions, was a terrifying, inspiring, career-making place to work. No matter what the story, their standards were scarily high, even when they didn’t pay for it…like the prison riot in a city a 3-hour drive away that I had to cover, (the competing Toronto Star simply flew their reporters over by helicopter), while I just had to work the phones.

My newspaper staff jobs, which I still miss, taught me the professional values I live by today:

Get it first, run!, do it better, ask all the questions everyone else is too scared to, stay around longer, go places you’re not supposed to. Piss off the powerful. When the press pack turns left, head in the opposite direction. Get the quote! Talk to people with quieter, less-heard voices. Go find them. The perfect is the enemy of the good — just write the damn thing!

Never give up!

One of the reasons I so love news journalism as a training ground is that it forces you to meet and work with a wide range of humanity. You can hold any political or religious beliefs you choose, but you will  cover people who are utterly different from you and it is your job to listen to them carefully and respectfully. That’s a great way to live.

We all have a point of view and the more we listen to one another, the more we’ll learn.

Some of the many people I’ve met and/or interviewed include:

Queen Elizabeth, Rudolf Nureyev, Billy Joel, Olympic golf medalist Kim Rhode, Patty Varone, the NYPD cop who kept New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani alive on 9/11, convicted felons and set designers, professional ice skaters and female chefs, sailors and district attorneys.

I’ve loved the crazy variety, the constant demands of finding/wooing/interviewing people of all ages and interests, from a professor of nuclear physics whose Scottish accent and rapid speech made note-taking almost impossible to the doctors I had to interview, in French, while working in Montreal.

Since losing my Daily News job in 2006, I’ve been working full-time as a freelance writer, editor, blogger and paid speaker on retail work. I write often on business for The New York Times, for their Sunday section. I’ve also written for Marie Claire, Smithsonian, USA Today and dozens of others.

Along the way, I’ve won five fellowships and have written two well-reviewed non-fiction books.

I hope you’ll click the links to these books — you can read a few sample chapters free — and buy them. I know that some of you are teachers and professors. I hope you’ll take a look at them for your classes as both books have also been course-adopted as they’re lively, easy-to-read and fact-based.

I’m happy to write a guest post or do a Q and A with you about any aspect of writing and publishing.

The first book, “Blown Away: American Women and Guns” came out in 2004. I came up with the idea after I discovered a friend and colleague owned a handgun. I grew up in Canada, where civilian gun ownership is not nearly as prevalent and there is no equivalent of the Second Amendment, which many Americans use to justify their gun rights. To research it, I traveled across the U.S., to Ohio, New Orleans and Texas, interviewing 104 men, women and teens about the issue. It was a difficult subject, and I experienced secondary trauma as a result. It happens to journalists (and others) whose work exposes them to others’ trauma, whether sexual, war-related, as victims of crime and violence.

My newest book, which will be published in China in March 2013, is “Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail” which describes, firsthand, low-wage work in the U.S. It’s rough: part-time, no benefits, little chance for advance scheduling, few raises or promotions. It’s been compared to the best-seller Nickeled and Dimed, in which another writer went behind the scenes to work for low wages.

So when you read and link to Broadside, you’re reading the work of a trained career journalist who plays by old-school rules. You won’t read anything that’s false, made up, exaggerated. When I write about my husband, Jose, a photo editor at The New York Times and a Pulitzer winner, I tell him or ask his permission first. I don’t accept payment for anything I write, nor I do I accept freebies or giveaways or discounts.

I blog because I enjoy it.

I blog every other day, sometimes on the news, often far from it. As some of you already know, I’m passionate about a few things: women’s rights, travel, design, work, living a full and balanced life, emotional connection.

I blog because, more than anything, I want to hear from you!

A lively global conversation is my goal.

Thanks for being here!

20 thoughts on “Another post about the blog

  1. Frank

    Grammar Nazi here. One of the last few paragraphs. It starts with “So when you readandr link to Broadside…”. The second sentence should be corrected. It reads: “You’re wont read anything…”

    1. I live north of New York City. I did live in Montreal twice; at 3432 Peel Street when I was 12 (since torn down) and at the corner of Lambert and Lincoln Closse in 1986-1988 when I worked at the Gaz. I try to come back and visit every few years.

  2. I’m looking forward to reading what you have to say about blogging, especially comparing it to all the other forms in which you write. I’m curious about how it changes your process, and the way you approach the subject matter, and how you feel about writing. It’ll be interesting to work by someone who’s written in a lot of different contexts.

    1. I’ve blogged about blogging before, but more along the lines of “how to”; like the one from Dec. 30, 2011 on “15 Ways to Make Your Blog Irresistible”. It’s in the archives.

      Blogging allows me to test out ideas I may later sell as magazine or newspaper stories or book content. It helps me see what readers are (most) hungry for. I sometimes see blogging as the writing equivalent of an artist’s proof; the version of a work on paper they strike before running the whole edition.

      Does that make sense?

      1. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I like the idea that it’s a public “artist’s proof” idea, especially– a bit of a look behind the scenes at the process, or a record of how you through through your ideas.

      2. It gets pretty meta at times. I may also do this differently because I earn my living by writing — I don’t have hours to lavish on my blog so often write them quickly, even if I edit them several times.

  3. Hi Caitlin, Rian from Truth and Cake suggested I follow your blog when I told her about my plans to apply for a journalism school next year. I’m glad I found your blog; it’s a goldmine of information and inspiration for the aspiring journalist that I am. Thanks for sharing your experience and keep up the good content 🙂

      1. Yes, I’m aware of that. But I’m pretty open about the sort of job I’ll do after the program. I think the internet needs more and more trained writers. We’ll see!

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