Freelance Journalist Interview with Ann Wilmer
US-Based Ann Wilmer is always on the lookout for feature ideas and has recently written articles for Grit and Lancaster Farming. Read on to find out what her most interesting work has been to date, and what she’d like to turn her hand to in the future…
About your journalism:
What do you write about?
Right now I am writing about agriculture in the Mid-Atlantic region. Over the years I have written about food, travel, business and a number of other subjects. One type of article that I particularly enjoy writing is a personality profile. Interviewing is something I enjoy doing and I find people incredibly interesting.
Where are we likely to see your work?
I have articles scheduled to appear in Lancaster Farming and Grit. My articles have appeared in several dozen magazines and newspapers over the years, most recently in the Musician’s Union newsletter in NYC.
What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
Recently, the most interesting story I have written was a ‘David vs. Goliath’ story about a well-funded environmental charity attempting to legislate by lawsuit against a small farmer who raises chickens on his farm. The charity did not respond to numerous requests for comment but researching the story was challenging.
Historically, there are a couple of articles that stand out in my mind as special, primarily because they were the result of months or even years of work. One was a story about the James Adams Floating Theatre, the subject of my graduate school research. I wrote several articles based on that research for various regional magazines. The other story was about wildflowers – which I have photographed on and off for years just for the fun of being able to identify them. A story in Maryland Magazine about where to find them was the first article for which I was paid ‘real’ money.
What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I would love to interview Jose Carreras. His fight to overcome leukaemia was inspiring and I love to listen to him sing. The feature I would love to have a chance to write is one about how the Adoption Reform Movement finally achieved victory and secured the right for adult adoptees to have their original, unaltered birth certificates.
About you and PRs:
Where do you source ideas for articles?
I get article ideas from my editors but also from PR persons in the states that I cover. And I get ideas from some of the agribusiness persons I talk with.
How can PRs be useful to you?
I am always on the lookout for article ideas. Manufacturers that have new products or services of interest to farmers are very useful right now since I write regularly for Lancaster Farming. It’s particularly helpful if PR people can put me in touch with sources that are directly involved or affected by the issue I am writing about.
How and when do you like them to get in touch?
Drop me an email, any time. Include your telephone number in case I need to call you back.
Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
I haven’t been on any press junkets recently, but I have attended several professional conferences recently at which I learned a great deal.
If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
I’ve always found PR folks to be very helpful. Trading as Capital Letters, I also do some PR for a handful of local clients so I know that the mantra is to provide information efficiently and courteously – and that has been my experience on both ends.
How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
I’d probably end up in sales.
If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
Right now I would probably bank it because retirement is just over the horizon and I want to do some traveling when I retire.
What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
I have started re-reading several years worth of BOTM Club selections before I pass them on to friends or the library’s next yard sale. For fun I read quilt magazines. I also read SmartBrief online, which provides me a selection of excellent business articles in newspapers and on blogs. I’ve also been known to read the back of cereal boxes and soup cans in the store.
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