Fall Conference Focuses on Freelancers’ Rights and Responsibilities

Newspaper staffs continue to be cut and some Nebraska Press Women members are choosing to be freelancers as they retire from full-time work or simply want to be self-employed.

The keynote workshop at NPW’s fall conference Oct. 8 provided valuable information for current, transitioning and future freelancers.

Speaker Jennifer Nelson is a senior staff attorney with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, where she leads its pre-publication and pre-broadcast review practice, oversees the publication of and updates to the Reporters Committee’s legal guides, and supervises its hotline for journalists.

With more work being done by freelancers, knowing one’s rights and responsibilities becomes increasingly important. What, for example, should you always want to see in a freelance contract or work agreement you’re expected to sign? What stipulations should ring alarm bells? Do you need to carry your own libel insurance? What are the tax implications of freelancing? Do you need to establish a formal business and, if so, what type? What if any control can you maintain over the work produced? How are freelancers typically paid; should you have a set rate; how can you best negotiate fees?

The afternoon speaker was NPW member Eileen Wirth, a professor emeritus of journalism at Creighton University and author specializing in Omaha history. She will talk about her recently published book, “The Women Who Built Omaha,” and have books to sign and sell.

Past Conferences

Spring 2022

Nebraska may be late to the non-profit news movement party, but that’s not necessarily bad, according to the leaders of the Cornhusker State’s two non-profit news entities. Cate Folsom, editor-in-chief of the Nebraska Examiner, and Matt Wynn, executive director of the Nebraska Journalism Trust, which funds the Flatwater Free Press, discussed the challenges of launching these new non-profit media outlets at the Nebraska Press Women Spring Conference in York. Both said Nebraska’s relatively late entry into the category gave them a chance to see what worked – and didn’t work – at other non-profit news
outlets around the country. The two non-profit publications are based on different models, but both dedicate themselves to providing journalism as a public service that fills some of the gaps in the existing media.

Fall 2021

Nebraska Press Women celebrated its 75th anniversary during its Fall Conference October 9 in Grand Island with the theme 75 Years of Truth Telling. Keynote speaker was Sherri Burr, attorney, educator, TV arts program producer, newspaper columnist, travel writer and Pulitzer Prize-nominated author. She also is New Mexico Press Women president and the 2021 National Federation of Press Women Communicator of Achievement.

Burr’s topic for the evening banquet was “The Story Behind the Book.” She talked about her book, “Complicated Lives: Free Blacks in Virginia, 1691-1865.” Published in 2019, it was nominated for a Pulitzer in the history category.

Her morning presentation was on “The Illusion of Control in the Digital Era.”

Spring 2021

The virtual event featured a photography workshop by Scott Umstattd, a travel and documentary photographer with more than 30 years of experience shooting around the globe.

In addition to continuing his own photography endeavors, he is a presenter at photography workshops and is the author of “Fighting the Evils of Darkness: A Low Light Photography Survival Guide,” which was his focus for the Nebraska Press Women presentation. He also has written hundreds of informative articles on his photography blog, What Makes a Picture Powerful at picture-power.com.

Fall 2020

Held virtually via Zoom, the program focus was “Newspaper Start-ups.”  Gothenburg Leader General Manager Rebecca Steward and LuAnn Schindler of Clearwater, publisher and co-owner with her husband, Scott, of The Summerland Advocate-Messenger, talked about their newspapers, how and why they decided to create startups, and the difficulties and rewards of doing so.

Fall 2019 

Kristin Gilger, co-author of the book “There’s No Crying in Newsrooms: What Women Have Learned about What It Takes to Lead,” was keynote speaker for NPW’s fall conference on Oct. 12, in Fremont.  Gilger, the Cronkite School’s senior associate dean at Arizona State University and a UNL alum, talked about her book and lead a conversation about the challenges and opportunities for women in leadership.

A panel discussion, “When Disaster Strikes, Nebraska Strikes Back,” focused on the media’s response to flooding earlier this year. Panelists were Erin Grace, Omaha World-Herald columnist; Rose Ann Shannon, retired news director of KETV; and Tammy Real-McKeighan, news editor of the Fremont Tribune.

Spring 2019

NPW’s 2019 Spring Conference April 26 and 27 in Broken Bow featured a field trip to a ranch north of Broken Bow to see the giant wind turbines on the pasture hills. Matthew Haumont described the pros and cons of the wind farm project for his family, one of the first ranch families to approve land leases for turbine construction.

The keynote workshop by Laurinda Weisse, an assistant professor in Calvin T. Ryan Library at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, focused on digital filing system options for photographers, self-employed freelancers and others.

Fall 2018 

“Recording Memories:  Writing and Rewinding History” was the theme for NPW’s Fall Conference held Oct. 6, 2018, in Neligh. The morning session focused on historic writing, with author Marie Krohn, a Neligh native.  A former teacher, Krohn left the classroom after 17 years and em­barked on a writing career. Gloria Christiansen, a former educator from the Clearwater and Neligh areas, provided an overview of The Rural School Project. Christiansen spearheads a local committee which secured a former country school, moved it 10 miles to Neligh and is in the process of renovating it, as part of the Antelope County Museum complex. NPW member and History Nebraska board member Eileen Wirth spoke on “History Nebraska: Building Our Future on Our Past.”

Read an overview of the conference in the Winter 2018 Newsletter.

Spring 2018

Paula Lavigne, an ESPN investigative reporter working primarily for the Outside the Lines brand on television and online, was keynote speaker for NPW’s spring conference May 5, 2018,  in Omaha. Lavigne is also co-author of the book “Violated: Exposing Rape at Baylor University Amid College Football’s Sexual Assault Crisis.” She is a specialist in data journalism and statistics and also trains colleagues on databases and investigative reporting techniques. She has degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Creighton University.

Lavigne presented a workshop on “Navigating ‘Multi’ Media: Setting Yourself Apart” where she talked about how in today’s market there’s an expectation for journalists to be flexible and skilled in different types of media – digital, print, radio, TV, social media, etc. — and what you can do to set yourself apart at both specializing and broadening your skill set.

Read an overview of the conference in the Summer 2018 Newsletter

Fall 2017 

NPW’s fall conference on Sept. 30, 2018, in Osceola, Neb., featured the expertise and achievements of members. NPW Professional Development Director Jill Claflin organized two panel discussions, one focusing on freelancing, the other on the creating award-winning contest entries for the communications contest.

Read an overview of the conference sessions in the Winter 2017 Newsletter.

Spring 2017 

Melissa Matczak photo

Melissa Matczak

“Striking the Balance” was the theme for the Nebraska Press Women’s spring conference April 29 in North Platte. Topics were work-life balance and balancing the “post it now” demands of social media with the need to produce well-written, error-free copy.

Melissa Matczak, the first female executive editor of The Omaha World-Herald, talked about how she has balanced her career with raising a family of three daughters. She also led a session on online news, including social media. Matczak joined the World-Herald in 1997 as a reporter and became an assignment editor in 2001. She served as features editor, assistant managing editor and managing editor before being named executive editor in January 2017.

Fall 2016

The celebration for Nebraska Press Women’s 70th anniversary continued during the Oct. 8, 2016, fall convention. The “Down on the Farm” event featured jeans and boots, outdoor workshops focusing on polishing the sense of place in your writing and photography, and lunch built around beef brisket and chicken from a smoker next door to the restaurant in a converted barn. The conference was held at Burchell’s White Hill Farm northwest of Minden.

Spring 2016

Speaker, Jane Hirt1Former Chicago Tribune managing editor Jane Hirt was the keynote speaker at the NPW’s spring convention on April 23, 2016, in Lincoln. A 25-year veteran of the news media industry, Hirt embodies the NPW’s 70th anniversary convention theme of “Embracing the Future, Respecting the Past.”

The UNL journalism graduate was called a “charismatic leader who could make change happen” by Gerry Kern, the Chicago Tribune editor who recognized her abilities and tapped her for managing editor/vice president of the Tribune in 2008, a position she held until Nov. 24, 2014, when she stepped down to pursue personal interests.

Past Convention Locations

Spring Fall
2022
2021
2020
2019
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
2001
2000
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
York
Virtual
Conference canceled
Broken Bow
Omaha
North Platte
Lincoln
Lexington
Ogallala
Omaha
Peru State College
Halsey
Lincoln
Council Bluffs, IA
Norfolk
Mahoney State Park
Lincoln
Broken Bow
West Point
Valentine
Council Bluffs
Ogallala
Beatrice
North Platte
Lincoln
Chadron
Grand Island
Norfolk
Kearney
Kearney
Grand Island
Virtual
Fremont
Neligh
Osceola
Minden
Genoa
York
Lincoln
Grand Island
Omaha/Council Bluffs
Red Cloud
Gothenburg
Central City
Kearney
North Platte
Hastings
Lincoln
Lexington
Minden
Aurora
Kearney
Columbus
Red Cloud
Cozad
Nebraska City
Valentine
Lincoln