Maria Perez

    • Member Type(s): Content Publisher
      Communications Professional
      Media - Freelancer
      Media - Broadcast
      Media - Print Journalist
      Media - Student Journalist
      Media - Web-only/Blogger
      Media - Other
    • Title:Director, Audience Content
    • Organization:ProfNet
    • Area of Expertise:ProfNet

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    Building a Platform: How to Promote Your Blog and Yourself

    Friday, May 6, 2011, 10:01 AM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    I had the pleasure of attending the annual American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) conference held in New York over the weekend. The conference, for writers at every level of their career, featured more than 70 sessions covering a variety of topics, such as how to score a big book deal, how to break into women’s magazines, how to write white papers, and more. I was able to attend several of the sessions, and will recap them here over the next few days.

    When Jen Singer launched the community for mothers in 2003, she was promoting a new medium with old media, so she had to think creatively to build her platform and become the go-to person for media outlets looking for a quotable source.

    “I had platform envy,” she joked, referring to the impressive list of credits she would see in other writers’ bios. She knew that in order to get publishers to take a chance on the books she wanted to write, she would need to build her own platform.

    First, she signed up for ProfNet and started answering leads, becoming the go-to person for last-minute quotes. “I give good quote,” she said, “and you should be able to, too.”

    She also went against traditional wisdom and pitched Woman’s Day with an essay. While it wasn’t picked up, the editor told Singer she wrote “with flair,” which encouraged her to keep trying.

    When her first book came out in 2004, TV outlets started calling. CBS’ “The Early Show” was looking for “desperate housewives,” and Singer’s friend suggested they contact her.

    Soon after, Pull-Ups asked her to be their “potty-training partner.” They provided her with media training and sent her on a TV tour all over Canada, which was a great learning experience.

    In the beginning, she did television, print and radio interviews for Pull-Ups. Now she finds herself answering potty-training questions on Facebook and Twitter, and even hosting Twitter parties.

    “You have to learn how to do it,” she said. “This is where it’s headed.”

    In 2007, an editor from HCI Books wanted Singer to create a book based on Later that year, she discovered she had stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and had to finish parts of the book in a hospital oncology floor.

    “I knew the promotions [of the book] would be up to me,” said Singer, who continued working on promoting and building her platform.

    She was an early Twitter adopter, and had been following @todaysmom on Twitter for several months. She saw they were looking for a mother who had been bullied online. “The next day, I’m dusting off the coffee table for the ‘Today’ show,” she said.

    Singer offered tips for bloggers looking to promote themselves and their blogs:

    • Learn social media. “As much as you might hate it, it’s something you need to do.”
    • Learn to speak in sound bites.
    • Focus on the writing. “Save journalism. It’s a great time to be a writer.”
    • “Co-ompetition”: “Be in cahoots with your competition. Recommend their books. Comment on their sites. Retweet their tweets.” Then, when you launch a book, blog, etc., you have a group of people who will help you promote it.

    “One-way things don’t work for bloggers,” she added. “Ask questions, share stories, share feedback.

    [To view my previous recaps from the conference, see Breaking into Finance Markets, Writing for Women’s Magazines and Beating Blog Burnout.]

    Breaking into Business and Finance Markets

    Thursday, May 5, 2011, 11:48 AM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    I had the pleasure of attending the annual American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) conference held in New York over the weekend. The conference, for writers at every level of their career, featured more than 70 sessions covering a variety of topics, such as how to score a big book deal, how to break into women’s magazines, how to write white papers, and more. I was able to attend several of the sessions, and will recap them here over the next few days.


    You don’t need an MBA to write about finance and business, but you do need the right approach. In this session, “Breaking in: Business & Finance Markets,” editors from three major financial news outlets shared insight into what they cover, what they’re looking for, and how to get – and keep – their attention.

    Marcia Layton Turner, an accomplished freelance writer and best-selling author, moderated the panel, which featured:

    Following are highlights from the panelists:

    Ellen Cannon, QuinStreet

    QuinStreet, Inc., owns websites covering financial services, education, medical, home services, B2B and other topics, and is a publicity traded company (Nasdaq: QNST).

    Cannon oversees the financial services sites, including,,,, and

    For 12 years, QuinStreet had primarily been keyword-driven, but has changed to reported articles to compete with top journalism providers on the Web, said Cannon. It has also partnered with top sites such as and Huffington Post, offering even more opportunities for freelancers.

    Cannon said her challenge has been to find journalists to write interesting, informative, entertaining stories. “It’s easy to write savings stories,” she said, “but we’re looking or much more actionable, nitty-gritty stories, so it’s really important to understand the topic.”

    Cannon suggested some good places to learn about financial information, including the Reynolds Center for Business Journalism,  which helps writers find personal finance angles in any beat, and Poynter Institute, which offers online courses, especially for multimedia journalism.

    The latter is especially helpful to Cannon, who said she uses a lot of slideshows. “We’re always looking for stories like that,” she said.

    Not all QuinStreet sites have managing editors, so writers can send pitches to her and she’ll find a place for it.

    Laura Lorber,

    Entrepreneur readers consist of four primary groups:

    • Small-business owners who have been in business for several years. These readers are seeking innovative strategies to grow their business but are also interested in new business ideas and opportunities, as well as current issues that affect their companies.
    • People who are either dreaming of starting their own business or have a business that’s less than 2 years old. These individuals don’t necessarily have a lot of money, so they’re looking for shoestring startup ideas and low-cost ways to start and run their businesses. They need how-to advice, articles that keep them on top of business trends and motivational articles to get (and stay) psyched up.
    • Home-based business owners. These readers need information unique to the home-based entrepreneur. Like the entrepreneurs described above, they’re seeking information that will help them run their businesses better.
    • People interested in purchasing a franchise or business opportunity. They want accurate, reliable, unbiased information from a source they can trust. They want to learn what they need to know before plunking down any cash – as well as where to find the cash to plunk down.

    Before pitching a story to Entrepreneur, be sure to read a variety of the articles on the site so you can tailor your pitches to meet content needs. Lorber said she rejects many of the queries she receives because the subject matter in no way matches what she’s looking for.

    She added that Entrepreneur doesn’t typically write profiles of specific business owners unless their story warrants it, so there needs to be a compelling reason to write about an entrepreneur. For example, it can’t just be that he/she is achieving record-breaking sales. Readers want to know why they’re achieving record-breaking sales.

    “Everything has to have a takeaway,” she added. “It has to be something [readers] can put to work immediately in their business.”

    Hot topics of interest:

    • Technology: how tech can help small-business owners/entrepreneurs run their business better.
    • Franchising: “It’s a peculiar niche,” said Lorber, “but one we want to cover more.”
    • Money: finding financing, cash flow, getting paid on time.
    • Finding customers.

    Lorber also detailed some of what she looks for in pitches:

    • Does she know the writer? “It’s really important to me to know and trust the writer,” she said. “My advice: Do a lot of networking and try to get to know editors in person. And don’t be afraid to drop names of people who can vouch for you.”
    • Have an online clip file. It can be on WordPress, Twitter. “It doesn’t have to be fancy,” said Lorber.
    • Be to the point. “If you don’t get me in the pitch, the article won’t work for me,” she said.

    All queries for online articles should be sent only via email to All magazine queries should be emailed to Allow a minimum of six weeks for a response; no phone calls.

    Brendan Sheehan, NACD

    NACD recently named Sheehan to the new role of editorial director. The former executive editor at Corporate Secretary magazine will oversee production and editorial content for NACD’s bimonthly magazine, NACD Directorship, and the NACD news website,

    Sheehan said the magazine’s audience consists of CEOs, corporate directors and chairmen, and covers what goes into running and overseeing a corporation. Because it’s such a specific niche, his biggest challenge is finding writers who really understand that audience.

    Sheehan offered the following tips for pitching:

    • Include why the story is important. “The ‘So what?’ factor is missing in so many pitches I get,” said Sheehan.
    • Look at the website. “Don’t pitch what’s already on there,” he said. “Instead, give an alternate idea or slant on the topic.”
    • Don’t be afraid of taking a risk and being a little “out there.” Example: With businesses becoming more global, how do they protect their CEOs when traveling abroad? “It doesn’t have to be a straight business story,” he added.
    • Don’t send three-page pitch letters. He gets 25-30 pitch letters per week.
    • Don’t write the story in your pitch; give him bullet points.
    • Show him you’ve researched what you’re writing about.
    • Don’t say you have great attention to detail and meet deadlines. “You shouldn’t be in this business if you don’t.”


    Q: What kind of background do you want to see from freelancers when pitching?

    Lorber: “Mine is very much a generalist publication, so it helps to know what you’re writing about. But you don’t necessarily need to have worked at Bloomberg to pitch me.”

    Cannon: “Good writers, good reporters that are accurate, creative and can write stories in a way that will interest the audience. I judge it by the creativity of the writing and the accuracy. (We don’t have the staff to be meticulously fact-checking.) It helps to be creative with a topic we read about over and over.”

    Sheehan: “It does help if you can say you’ve written for The Economist, but you can say you’ve written for Home and Garden. It shows me you can write, you can take editorial direction. Also, passion is important. Pitch to magazines you like to read, because that’s what you like reading.”

    Q: What are your freelance rates?

    Sheehan: “Rates vary from 85 cents to $1 a word, depending on the length of the article and other factors. Also, we’re moving to a model of per-story fee. I find per-word fee doesn’t really work for online.”

    Cannon: “We range from 10 cents a word to 50 cents a word. I know those are low rates, but we can make up for it in volume.”

    Lorber: “We pay on a per-story basis: $400 for articles of 600-700 words; $50-$200 for blog posts.”

    Q: Does do tech stories?

    Sheehan: “Technology is very important to our audience, especially from a risk management perspective -- how it impacts a company’s finances, whether the company can be sued, etc. We don’t do much on social media (no Twitter, etc.).”

    Q: How do you feel about pitches with multiple ideas?

    Lorber: “I generally prefer one idea per email, but it doesn’t bother me if I get more.”

    Cannon: “Since I’m in the volume business, I’m interested in multiple pitches at the same time.”

    Sheehan: “I prefer one, and I also like to have a time frame on how long it would take you [to get the article done] and who you would interview – not necessarily names, but types of people.”

    Q: Are there any other resources you can recommend?

    Cannon: “Besides the Reynolds Center and Poynter, I also recommend the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) courses.”

    Lorber: “It’s really important to read the Wall Street Journal every day, and the front page and business section of the New York Times. Two other sites, especially for technology stories, are Mashable and TechCrunch, because they do cover articles about tech angles for small businesses. Also, use Twitter to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on online. We like our writers to socialize their stories, so if you’re not on Twitter, get on Twitter.”

    Sheehan: “Go to the SEC website once a week. Search for Richard Ferlauto – he runs a division that relates directly to directors. Also, look into going to trade conferences – they usually let journalists go for free.”

    Q: How do you feel about freelancers writing for competing websites?

    Sheehan: “I don’t mind it, and don’t really have a choice, given how few writers know our market. But just let me know when you pitch.”

    Cannon: “I don’t have a problem as long as they’re not pitching me the same stories.”

    Lorber: “I don’t have a problem with it unless the writer is easily identifiable as writing for that site.”

    Q: Is open to column pitches?

    Lorber: “Yes, we are. We’re always looking at our column roster. People come and go. Send a pitch fleshing out what it would be about, as well as an introductory column and 2-3 ideas for the column.”

    Q: How would you like to be pitched?

    All three panelists agreed they prefer email pitches:





    [For more from ASJA 2011, read my Beating Blog Burnout and Writing for Women's Magazines recaps.]

    Writing for Women's Magazines

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011, 2:30 PM [General]
    4.1 (2 Ratings)

    I had the pleasure of attending the annual American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) conference held in New York over the weekend. The conference, for writers at every level of their career, featured more than 70 sessions covering a variety of topics, such as how to score a big book deal, how to break into women’s magazines, how to write white papers, and more. I was able to attend several of the sessions, and will recap them here over the next few days.

    Women’s magazines are some of the most sought-after clips in the industry, but how do you get your foot in the door and score a byline from a top-tier magazine?

    This session, “Breaking in: Women’s Markets,” looked at what two major women’s magazines look for in article pitches – and what to do once the pitch is accepted.

    The panel was moderated by Gina Roberts-Grey, a freelance writer who has written scores of articles for women’s print and online magazines, including Glamour, Better Homes & Gardens, Woman’s Day, Redbook, Self, Essence, and many others. Rounding out the panel were Lynya Floyd, senior editor, Essence; and Celia Shatzman, associate editor, Family Circle.

    Following are highlights from the panel:


    Q: What are each of your markets currently looking for, and what’s the best way for someone to break in?

    Floyd: We’re obviously looking for something that comes through the lens of an African-American woman, specifically women’s health. Start with smaller pieces – the “Fit and Fab” column, a fitness column, nutrition pieces – and work your way up to bigger things. Whatever new spin you can put to those stories is fantastic. Why is this important to African-American women, and how do you spin it so it’s different? You can spin a story three or four different ways. If it doesn’t work for one magazine, you can tweak it and pitch it to another.

    Shatzman: We cover a broad variety of features aimed at moms of teens and tweens. Toddler-related news is not of interest. Start out with a one-page column and work your way up from there. The best columns for a new writer are the “Good Works” and “Pets” columns. What sets anyone apart is something really new.


    Q: What percentage of articles is contributed by freelance writers?

    Floyd: The vast majority (85-90 percent) are freelance pieces. Stories with celebrities or real people are usually done in-house.

    Shatzman: At Family Circle, the beauty, fashion and home articles, as well as columns, are done in-house. For the rest, about 75 percent is from freelancers.


    Q: Do references impact who you go with?

    Shatzman: They go a very long way. I’ll definitely take a few extra minutes to read the pitch.

    Floyd: I couldn’t agree more. There’s so  little time in the day. If someone puts a reference in the subject line, or in the first few sentences, it helps. And use a subject line that’s headline-worthy, and flesh out the story. Also, persistence does work for me. I will remember your name when I’m assigning stories. “Wow, she has some well fleshed-out ideas and really wants to get in the magazine.”


    Q: Do you prefer pitches of letters of intent (LOIs)?

    Shatzman: It depends on the letter. Include a couple of paragraphs – introduce yourself, what you’ve written for, what your interest is.

    Floyd: For me, LOIs don’t make a huge impact. What I’m more interested in is your ideas and if you’re the right person to write the story, and I can usually get that from the query letter. Add personal experiences – anything to let me know what makes you the right person to write the story.


    Q: Can you tell us what you consider a good, fleshed-out pitch?

    Shatzman: Write the beginning of the pitch like the beginning of the article. Make it catchy. Two to three paragraphs is enough. Include possible interview subjects, studies, what makes it timely. Explain why you’re the right person to write the story. If it’s your first time pitching me, include what other things you’ve written in this area.

    Floyd: One page will suffice, but remember we’re pitching to other people, too, so include as much information as possible. You want to make sure I have  the answer to any questions I’m going to get from my editor. Make me look good.


    Q: What are some mistakes writers make when trying to establish a relationship with a new editor?

    Shatzman: My biggest pet peeve: Your email needs to be professional, especially with the way you address someone. Err on the side of formality.

    Floyd: When someone misspells my name, or when someone pitches me for an area/column I don’t handle. Also, an overly generic pitch -- it really has to be specific to our magazine. If you have a website with your clips, definitely include that in your pitch. Also, I am not a phone person. I do 90 percent of what I need to do by email.


    Q: Regarding follow-ups, what’s a good time frame, and how often?

    Shatzman: I welcome follow-ups. It sometimes takes months to assign an article because I have to pitch to my editor, who has to pitch to her editor, etc. If an editor says, “I’ll tell you in a month,” wait for the month before following up. I also don’t like phone calls; email only.

    Floyd: We have a two-month turnaround for pitches. Please don’t follow up the next day. I know it’s hard, but it’s a process and it does take time. I don’t mind if you include a deadline. After that, you can move on if you haven’t heard from me.

    Shatzman: When you do follow up, make sure you include your original pitch. We get so many pitches, we can’t keep track.


    Q: If you do reject a pitch, should the writer pitch another article right away or wait?

    Floyd: Span out your pitches. It shouldn’t be something you can crank out in a day. To me, that means you haven’t really tailored it to my magazine. You can pitch again, but wait a few weeks and flesh it out.

    Shatzman: Take the time to tailor it to the magazine. And remember, I don’t always have the time to tailor a response to everyone. I might just write back with, “No, thanks.” Don’t take it personally. I just don’t always have the time to give specific feedback.


    Q: Do you mind if writers ask for feedback on a pitch that’s rejected?

    Shatzman: It depends on the stage the pitch has gotten to. If it has gotten to a higher stage – I pitched it to my editor, who pitched it to her editor – I might spend a few extra minutes to tell you why it didn’t work.

    Floyd: If you want feedback, you have to be open to feedback that might not be nice to hear.


    Q: Do you have to be a woman to write for women’s magazines?

    Floyd: You don’t have to be a woman and you don’t have to be African-American to write for Essence.

    Shatzman: If you have a great idea, we don’t care who it comes from.


    Q: Do you like it when writers suggest extra elements for a story, such as video, sidebars, etc.?

    Shatzman: Any time you add extra elements, it shows you’ve done your research.

    Floyd: It helps.


    Q: Once a writer has the assignment, what are some mistakes that make you think, “Never again”?

    Shatzman: Being late is not a good thing. If you’re going to be late, always ask for an extension vs. going MIA. Also, turning in a completely different story than was originally pitched. If something changes, keep in constant contact with the editor.

    Floyd: 1) Turning in a story late. There has to be a serious reason. If you know it’s going to be late, tell me ASAP. If you hand it in early, we’ll totally assign to you again because then we’ll know you’re a writer we can go to in a pinch. 2) When we ask for revisions, read the suggestions and make changes. Ultimately, 15 other people will have an idea about the story. Go with the flow. Be flexible. Don’t fight us on it.


    Q: Are revisions commonplace?

    Shatzman: There are always revisions. Always expect them. Editors change their minds. Sometimes it’s just a handful of questions.

    Floyd: It runs the gamut, but unless you’re Maya Angelou, there will probably be some revisions.


    Q: In what format do you want clips?

    Floyd: Please do not send me attachments. Links are at the top of the list.

    Shatzman: It’s also good to include two clips from the same magazine. It shows the editor there went back to you.


    Q: How do you want to be pitched?

    Shatzman: Email:

    Floyd: Email:


    [To read my first installment of recaps from ASJA 2011, "Beating Blog Burnout," click here.]

    Beating Blog Burnout

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011, 1:06 PM [General]
    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    I had the pleasure of attending the annual American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) conference held in New York over the weekend. The conference, for writers at every level of their career, featured more than 70 sessions covering a variety of topics, such as how to score a big book deal, how to break into women’s magazines, how to write white papers, and more. I was able to attend several of the sessions, and will recap them here over the next few days.

    Producing an engaging and successful blog means coming up with new ideas while staying energized, but how do you find inspiration, and generate creative and fresh ideas, time and time again?

    This session, “Beating Blog Burnout,” provided helpful, concrete advice on how to spot trends that will increase your blog traffic, how to generate ideas, and how an editorial calendar and style guide can help you avoid blog burnout.


    Following are some highlights from their presentations:



    Blogging became popular in 1994, and what started as very personal sites has morphed into larger sites like Huffington Post, where individuals blog under the banner of one website. Levine said she loves the editorial freedom of blogging: “You are free to write what you want to write about.”

    It also helps her develop a relationship with her readers and keep on top of the topics that are hot. Through analytics, she can find out where her readers are coming from, which helps her understand her audience better and ultimately helps her with her brand identity.

    The first step to beating blog burnout? “Make sure you’re writing the blog you really want to write,” said Getgood. “Think about what you’re doing that meets your objective and the needs of your audience, whether one or 1 million. Are these the stories you really want to be telling? If not, shift it. When I have trouble writing, I find it’s because I’m not writing what I want to write about.”



    Getgood detailed nine steps for creating your blog:

    1.       Identify objectives

    2.       Find your niche

    3.       Create your editorial mission

    4.       Design and develop the blog

    5.       Identify and train your bloggers

    6.       Build and maintain your blogroll

    7.       Create your blog policies

    8.       Write the blog

    9.       Promote the blog

    The first three steps apply directly to burnout:

    Identify objectives: What do you want to achieve with your blog? Who is your audience? What will you share that only you can provide to your readers? “You have to have a clear picture of where you’re going.”

    Find your niche: Who are your competitors? What do they do well and not so well? Do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of yourself and your competitors. “Doing that upfront will help you during the noncreative moments, because you’re created a framework for everything you do.”

    Create an editorial mission: “Your blog ‘charter’ or editorial mission is the most important, most critical element,” said Getgood. It’s the reason why the blog exists. Write it out as a mission statement. How frequently will you post? Will you allow comments?

    “If you do the hard work upfront,” she added,” it’ll be easier down the road. There’s too much competition now. If you want to grab the readers, you have to think of it as a business, even if you don’t want to monetize the blog.”



    Getgood also shared some possible sources of inspiration for bloggers:

    Editorial calendars: “If you want to be serious about your blog, you have to have an editorial calendar,” said Getgood.

    Your editorial calendar should have two parts: a framework (what kind of content you’ll be posting: recipes, op-eds, travel stories, etc.) and a schedule of posts (how often you will post; when you will write the posts; whether you need photos, visuals, etc.).

    “Be your own editor,” she added. “It will give you the structure you need.”

    Archives, blogrolls and comments: Do roundups of your favorite posts, whether yours or from your favorite colleagues. Re-read comments – are there any you never addressed or that you can use for a post? Check out what leaders in your field are writing – can you offer another perspective? Line up guest writers – they will return the favor.

    Your social networks: What are people on Facebook and Twitter writing about?

    Keeping up with trends is also a good way to come up with ideas for posts. Getgood shared her tips for spotting trends:

    • Read, read, and read some more. Write about what you’ve read in books, newspapers, magazines.
    • Keep a notebook of ideas. You can use social bookmarking sites like Delicious and Diigo to tag posts you might want to write about down the line.
    • Subscribe to newsletters in your area of interest.
    • Keep an eye on market research about your topic.
    • Listen to your friends – they may know something you don’t.
    • Predict, and don’t be afraid to be wrong.

    If you’re still stuck, “go surfing,” advises Getgood. Go to Google, type in a keyword and press “I’m feeling lucky.” You never know what you’ll find out.

    If your blog is about your hobby, spend an hour actually doing it, rather than writing about it. You can also move to a “different window” – go to another place in the house. “It can often be the easiest way to get unstuck,” said Getgood.

    Above all, stay focused on your objectives. “Stay on the path to writing what you want to write,” said Getgood. “It’s OK if your objectives change, but do it deliberately.”

    And if you do change them, make sure to do the first three steps (identify objectives, find your niche, create your editorial mission) all over again.



    “The truth is, blogging is very difficult,” said Blyth. “It’s really a job.”

    And while blogging has been good for writers, it has not been good for professional writers.  “The amount of money that has been spent for good writing has gone down and down and down,” said Blyth. “What the Web really needs is journalism – real journalism. That’s what moves around the Web.”

    Blyth also talked about the benefits of monetizing blogs. “I don’t understand why bloggers don’t try to write for a large website more than individually,” she said. “If you can blog for a larger site like Third Age, you get more views. If any of you write on health, relationships, celebrity, beauty, style, personal experiences of boomers, it makes more sense to come to me, because we pay – a little bit.”

    “Getting paid to write is a dream,” said Getgood, “and there are a lot of ways to monetize a blog.”

    One way is syndication. With BlogHer, you can register your blog at no charge. BlogHer’s editors troll the community and look for syndication opportunities and paid blogs. If the editors like a post, they will publish it on BlogHer and link to your original post.

    When you’re writing your blog, think about syndication and look for other ways to monetize: advertising, consulting, speaking, book deals.



    When asked to share top tips for making your blog rise to the top of the heap, the panelists offered the following suggestions:

    Getgood: “The most important part of the blog is the title and the first two sentences.” Use Google Ad tools to understand what keywords the advertisers are using. Also, be active in other social networks. Talk about what you’re writing on Facebook and Twitter.

    Blyth: Be more direct. If you write an article about carpet cleaning, for instance, don’t title it, “Out, Out, Damn Spot.” While that’s creative, a title like “How to Clean Your Carpet” will get better results because of search engines. “You have to think about keywords.”

    And don’t forget your friends. “Pay it forward,” suggests Getgood. “Write about other people and link to other people. They’ll do the same for you and you’ll both get hits.”

    Expert Roundup: Death of Osama bin Laden

    Monday, May 2, 2011, 2:51 PM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Following are experts who are available to discuss various aspects of the death of Osama bin Laden, including the impact on al-Qaida, implications to national security, the psychological impact, political implications and more. Additional updates will be posted on Wednesday. We have also started a Twitter list on this topic. You can view that here.

    **1. Zachary Roth, senior national affairs reporter for The Lookout, Yahoo!'s national affairs blog, can speak to the unfolding events surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden. He is a contributing editor to The Washington Monthly, and has also worked at Talking Points Memo and Columbia Journalism Review. In addition, he has written for The New Republic, The Daily Beast, Slate, Salon, and other outlets, and has appeared on MSNBC, NPR and C-SPAN. He was born in London, graduated from Yale University, and currently lives with his wife in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can read his column on Yahoo! News here. News Contact: Becky Auslander, Phone:+1-212-381-6909

    **2. Holly Bailey, a senior political writer for Yahoo! News, can speak to the unfolding events surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden and what it will mean for President Obama’s re-election bid. Previously, she was the White House correspondent for Newsweek, covering George W. Bush’s second term and the first year of Obama’s presidency. In 2008, she was the magazine’s lead reporter on the GOP presidential race, covering Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee and John McCain. She has written for Slate, Salon, Entertainment Weekly, Chicago Tribune and the Washington City Paper. She is based in the NYC area. You can read her column on Yahoo! News here. News Contact: Becky Auslander, Phone:+1-212-381-6909

    **3. Heather Cabot, Yahoo! Web Life editor, can speak to the online trends we are seeing related to this story, including numbers. Searches on Yahoo! for all things related to Osama bin Laden are spiking, including searches for his family, a map of Pakistan, American flags and more. Cabot can share what details the country is most interested in. In her position as Web Life editor, Cabot combines her reporting background with an everywoman approach to spot Web trends and advocate for consumers. She is a former network news anchor and lifestyle blogger who provides practical tips and perspective on how technology is reshaping our day-to-day lives. She has appeared on the “Today” show, “The Martha Stewart Show,” “The Rachael Ray Show,” “The Early Show,” “Fox & Friends” and more. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of The Well Mom (, a new weekly e-zine that empowers and inspires moms to better care for themselves. News Contacts: Carolyn Clark, Phone: +1-917-324-7206, or Beth Florina, Phone: +1-312-255-3074 Twitter: @YahooSearchData

    **4. Thomas Gibson, professor of anthropology at the University of Rochester, has taught on Islam and global politics for the past decade in response to Sept. 11: “Al-Qaida is a decentralized network of religiously inspired revolutionaries who failed to achieve their objectives in their home countries and were kept alive by the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, because it made the U.S. appear as the greatest threat to ordinary Muslims rather than their own corrupt governments. Recent pro-democracy uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria have made both ‘U.S. imperialism’ and radical Islamic revolutionaries seem less relevant to ordinary people. It is now clear to most observers that Arab dictators have been using the threat of Islamic extremism as an excuse to extract resources from the U.S. to maintain their power. So-called terrorist groups in South Asia are a different matter, and many of them are, in fact, tactical fronts for the Pakistani military's struggle with India. There is good evidence that the Pakistani military has deliberately played both sides in the Afghan civil war to extract military resources from Washington. The fact that bin Laden's villa in Abbotabad was just two miles from the Pakistani Military Academy and just 30 miles from the capital of Pakistan indicates that they have probably been using him as a bargaining chip for the past 10 years. The Obama administration may well use this as an opportunity to decrease its profile in the region, and Pakistan may turn to China, its other traditional ally in its confrontation with India. The Bush administration's attempt to cast foreign policy as driven by a ‘Global War on Terror’ can perhaps be finally laid to rest along with Osama bin Laden.” News Contact: Susan Hagen, Phone: +1-585-276-4061

    **5. Mark Ensalaco, director of the Human Rights Studies Program at the University of Dayton: "The hand of justice may not be swift, but it is sure. Bin Laden chose violence but died violently. However, I conclude in my book this will not end until senior clerics preach that blowing yourselves up in the name of martyrdom and Islam isn't acceptable. Bin Laden is dead, but his movement is dying as well. Everywhere he preached his message has turned into a disaster for him. You see that in the pro-democracy movements in the Middle East. I would advise President Obama not to show the photos. That's beneath us." Ensalaco is the author of “Middle Eastern Terrorism: From Black September to September 11.” He has taught Political Science 452 – “the terrorism course" -- since 1989, started a concentration in peace and global security at the University of Dayton, and speaks regularly about political violence. He has experience with national print, radio and TV media. News Contact: Shawn Robinson: Phone: +1-937-229-3391

    **6. Sean Kay, Ph.D., politics and government professor at Ohio Wesleyan University, NATO expert, and author of “Global Security in the Twenty-first Century: The Quest for Power and the Search for Peace,” says the outcome “is a great testament to the military and civilians who have kept vigilance on attacking bin Laden, but reveals serious questions about what bin Laden was doing so well-protected in Pakistan, serious questions as to why military forces should remain in Afghanistan, and a major need to divert resources from Afghanistan to supporting the revolutionary moment in Egypt and beyond – where the war on terrorism has really been won.” At Ohio Wesleyan, Kay serves as chair of the International Studies Program and teaches courses on global issues, American foreign policy and international organizations. He also is a Mershon Associate at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at The Ohio State University. News Contact: Cole E. Hatcher, Phone: +1-740-203-6908

    **7. Dr. Steve Yetiv, professor of political science and international studies, Old Dominion University, is an expert on global oil security, including American foreign policy, the Middle East, terrorism and solutions to global oil dependence. His forthcoming book, “The Petroleum Triangle” (October 2011), explores how oil and globalization mixed to produce the al-Qaida threat. That threat had been decreasing in some ways and now more so with Osama bin Laden’s death, but it remains because, as the book says: "Al-Qaida affiliates, in particular, were the greatest threat to the United States. The status of these affiliates in relation to the original core organization is not fully clear, but they often appear to act like franchises of al-Qaida, with varying levels of allegiance to, direction from, and inspiration by the core al-Qaida group." News Contact: Susan Malandrino, Phone: +1-757-683-4683 Website:

    **8. Kevin Sweder, professor of forensic science, Forensic and National Security Sciences Institute, is an expert on DNA identification. Sweder's basic research in the areas of genetic toxicology, DNA repair and genomic stability form the foundation for his extensive expertise in applying that research to the development of new biochemical tools for bioforensic and bioterrorism detection to bolster national security efforts. Sweder's research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the New Jersey State Commission on Cancer, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Center of Excellence at Rutgers - The State University of New Jersey and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. News Contact: Judy Holmes, Phone: +1-315-443-8085 Website:

    **9. Dr. Joseph Skelly, professor of history, College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, N.Y., is a nationally recognized expert on terrorism and the Middle East. He is the author of several books, including “Political Islam From Muhammad to Ahmadinejad” (2010). Skelly’s articles are widely published in such publications as the Washington Times, and he frequently contributes to the online version of National Review. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his “exceptionally meritorious service” in Iraq, and he served as a Foundation for Defense of Democracies Fellow and participated in an intensive anti-terrorism program for a highly selective group of academics in 2003-2004. News Contact: Erin Walsh, Phone: +1-718-405-3345

    **10. Kiron K. Skinner, associate professor of social and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon University and director of its Center for International Relations and Politics, is one of the country's most renowned experts in international relations and U.S. foreign policy. Skinner serves on the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Executive Panel, the National Security Education Board and the Council on Foreign Relations. From 2001-2007, she was a member of the U.S. Defense Department's Defense Policy board as an adviser on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. News Contact: Shilo Raube, Phone: +1-412-268-6094 Twitter: @CMU_HSS

    **11. Dr. Bradley Thayer, professor of political science at Baylor University: "Osama bin Laden’s death has a large symbolic impact, because he was a huge figurehead, the soul of al-Qaida. This is a great victory for the U.S. But practically speaking, after Sept. 11, his time was past. Although he still had the ability to inform targets and attacks, al-Qaida has gotten used to operating independently, so this is a modest  practical blow." Thayer said Islamic terrorists will be angered by United States celebrations of bin Laden’s death, but nevertheless, “it’s right and proper that the American people celebrate. However, we should recognize this is a long struggle, and there are many battles to come in this war on Islamic terrorists." Thayer has briefed the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment, as well as other components of the Department of Defense, and served as a consultant to the Rand Corporation. He has taught at Missouri State University’s Department of Defense and Strategic Studies, a department located in the Washington, D.C. From 2004-2008, he was an associate editor of Politics and the Life Sciences, the scholarly journal of the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences, to whose executive council he was elected in 2005. He focuses on international politics, including international relations theory; grand strategy; United States national security policy generally and nuclear deterrence, proliferation, and terrorism specifically; the rise of China; NATO and transatlantic relations; and insights derived from the life sciences into political-behavioral topics, including the origins of war and ethnic conflict and the dynamics of suicide terrorism. Thayer has been a Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and has taught at Dartmouth College and the University of Minnesota. News Contact: Terry Goodrich, Phone: +1-254-710-3321 or +1-254-644-4155 Website: Twitter: @BaylorUMediaCom

    **12. Elan Journo, Fellow in foreign policy at the Ayn Rand Institute and the director ARI's Policy division, is available immediately for interviews. Journo’s book, “Winning the Unwinnable War,” looks at what went wrong with America's response to Sept. 11, and what we should do going forward in the face of an Islamist threat. He has appeared on Fox News Channel, PBS and NPR affiliates, and numerous nationally syndicated radio programs, including “The Thom Hartmann Program.” He has been a guest commentator on Front Page with Allen Barton on Video clips: and  News Contacts: Mark Goldman, Phone: +1-516-639-0988, or Ryan McCormick, Phone: +1-516-901-1103

    **13. Michael Barnes, attorney and political policy advisor with DCBA Law & Policy in Washington, D.C.: “The United States needed this victory to remind it of the strength of our will.” Barnes comments on a regular basis on “Fox & Friends,” RT TV, HLN and various radio outlets. Video clip:  News Contacts: Mark Goldman, Phone: +1-516-639-0988, or Ryan McCormick, Phone: +1-516-901-1103

    **14. David Selig is an NYC businessman whose business was affected by Sept. 11, and a former Marine. He has been seen on “Fox & Friends” and CBS, and has been heard on radio all over the U.S. News Contacts: Mark Goldman, Phone: +1-516-639-0988, or Ryan McCormick, Phone: +1-516-901-1103

    **15. Frank Farley, Laura H. Carnell Professor of Educational Psychology at Temple University and former president of the American Psychological Association, can discuss the psychological impact of the death of Osama bin Laden, including closure for many, as well as those who did not lose friends or loved ones; reduction in personal fear level for some; anger in some for what it has cost this nation to get him; increased pressure to get out of Afghanistan; pride in military; conspiracy theorists who will ask where his body is; increase in the positive atmosphere surrounding the developments in Middle East (e.g., Egypt, Tunisia) and the spread of freedom; and another major enemy of freedom gone. News Contact: Preston M. Moretz, Phone: +1-215-204-4380 Website: Twitter: @TempleU_SciTech

    **16. Gary W. Bowersox, world-renowned traveler and one of the few Americans who know Afghanistan and Pakistan like the back of his hand, has said for years that bin Laden could not have remained "hidden" this long without major support from politically connected "friends.” Bowersox has traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan every year for 35 years buying gems for sale worldwide, and is the author of “The Gem Hunter, True Adventures of an American in Afghanistan.” He served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense shortly after Sept. 11. The Department of Defense wanted to know about Afghanistan -- where the landmines were, the tunnels, where the troops were, and who's who in the Northern Alliance and where their loyalties lay. Few Americans have his depth of knowledge about the people, the war and the potential future of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Bowersox was personal friends with the late Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Northern Alliance leader bin Laden had assassinated a few days before the events of Sept. 11. News Contact: Scott Lorenz, Phone: +1-734-667-2090 Website:

    **17. Pvt. Christopher Durante, Army combat engineer, can discuss the death of bin Laden. The attack on Sept. 11 inspired Durante to join the Army, and he documents the brutal truth of the war in his photo documentary book, “330 Days: The Uncensored War in Iraq,” which is filled with photos taken by American soldiers. News Contact: Kelly Brady,, Alex Ingenito,, or Tyler Burrow, Phone: +1-212-966-7900

    **18. Dr. Sheila Carapico, professor of political science and international studies, University of Richmond, is a specialist on Yemen, known for years as an al-Qaida operations center, and has been on sabbatical teaching at the American University of Cairo in Egypt (staying during the protests and fall of the Egyptian government). She is watching events in the Arab world very closely. News Contact: Linda Evans, Phone: +1-804-289-8056

    **19. Pete W. Moore, associate professor of political science at Case Western Reserve University: “The killing of Osama bin Laden is more important for politics in Washington, D.C., than events in the Middle East and wider Muslim world. Bin Laden and his organization were never a serious political or social force in the region, as assumed by leaders in Washington and the dwindling number of Arab autocrats and monarchs who today cling to power. What gave his organization prominence was the claim by Washington and its allies that al-Qaida was behind so many threats to the U.S., the majority of which turned out not to be so. Sadly, that hype was used to justify deadly decisions to invade and bomb numerous countries, imprison and torture people, and curb the rights of American citizens.” News Contact: Susan Griffith, Phone: +1-216-368-1004 Website:

    **20. Robert W. Taylor, Ph.D., is adjunct professor of criminology at the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas and the executive director of the W.W. Caruth Jr. Police Institute at Dallas. Taylor has studied police responses to terrorism, focusing on issues in the Middle East. He is a consultant to the U.S. Department of Justice working with the Institute for Intergovernmental Research and acts as a lead instructor in the State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training Program responsible for training law enforcement and other related professionals (specifically, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces and the DEA High Intensity Drug-Trafficking Area Strike Forces) on Middle Eastern groups. He is also an instructor for the U.S. Department of State, Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program and teaches internationally to executives of foreign governments, and has authored or co-authored over 200 articles, books and manuscripts. Taylor was awarded the University of North Texas Regent's Lecture Award for 2003 for his work in the Middle East; most recently, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences presented Taylor with the 2008 O.W. Wilson Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to police education, research and practice. News Contact: Emily Martinez, Phone: +1-972-883-4335

    **21. Raymond F. Hanbury Jr., Ph.D., is part of the American Psychological Association’s Disaster Response Network. He participated in response activities to Sept. 11 in the New York/New Jersey area. He has also participated in a number of federal disaster exercises/drills. He is a member of the Disaster Medical System, Disaster Medical Assistance Team for New Jersey. He is a private practitioner and a consultant to police departments. He is based in Manasquan, N.J. Hanbury: or

    **22. Gerard Jacobs, Ph.D., director of Disaster Mental Health Institute, University of South Dakota, participated in response efforts following Sept. 11. He is an internationally renowned disaster mental health expert and has been teaching the subject for more than 15 years. He is often tapped to consult with U.S. federal agencies and other international organizations. Jacobs:

    **23. Laura Barbanel, Ph.D., private practice, taught at the School of Education, CUNY - Brooklyn College, School Psychology program. She has been active in the psychological work in the aftermath of Sept. 11 in New York City, and has trained others to do trauma work. She was involved in the design and development of the “Firehouse Project,” whereby clinicians were assigned to firehouses that lost members on Sept. 11. She also co-chaired the APA taskforce on Promoting Resilience in the Response to Terrorism. She is located in Brooklyn, N.Y. Barbanel:

    **24. Sheila Erlich, Ph.D., private practice, supervises interns at Mt. Sinai Hospital as part of their psychotherapy training, and can discuss trauma, Holocaust survivors and bereavement. Erlich did some counseling for Sept. 11 terrorism victims. Erlich:

    **25. Carol Goldberg, Ph.D., president, Getting Ahead Programs, can discuss Sept. 11 issues, PTSD, resilience; psychological testing, including learning disabilities; psychological reaction to news events. Since 2001, Goldberg has been host and producer of her own TV show, "Dr. Carol Goldberg & Company," a weekly interview show on health topics. She is located in Syosset, N.Y. Goldberg: Websites: and

    **26. Susan Lipkins, is a psychologist and CEO of Reel Psychology, LLC, has been in private practice for 20 years and is also a school psychologist. She can discuss the effects of Sept. 11 on children and adults, and those directly and indirectly affected. She is located in Port Washington, N.Y. Lipkins: Websites: and

    **27. The following experts from American University are available to provide expertise and commentary on President Obama’s announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death, the Middle East, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Abbottabad region, terrorism, al-Qaida, Islamabad, social/political reaction about justice, freedom and democracy, Ground Zero, World Trade Center, Pentagon and more:

    -- Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, has been called “the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam” by the BBC. The former Pakistani Ambassador to England, he has advised General Petraeus, the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and met with Presidents Obama and George W. Bush, in addition to other high-ranking officials: “This is a seminal moment in 21st century history. America finally has closure for Sept. 11 and has no real reason to stay in Afghanistan, and the Muslim world can now see Osama bin Laden’s method brought nothing but death and destruction. The way ahead is to strive for democracy and dignity as in Arab revolutions. As for Pakistan-U.S. relations, I suggest there is more to it than meets the eye. It was in interest of both to say this was a U.S. operation and Pakistan did not know about the mission. This is a significant moment for both U.S. and Muslim leaders and gives new, more hopeful direction to world.”

    -- Jordan Tama, assistant professor, School of International Service, is an expert in security strategy, terrorism, intelligence, Congress, the presidency and advisory commissions. He is the author of “Terrorism and National Security Reform: How Commissions Can Drive Change During Crises” (Cambridge University Press, 2011): “The killing of bin Laden is a great achievement for the United States and great news for the world. We owe thanks to all of our public servants who have worked so hard in a very difficult environment to track and capture or kill him over the past decade. The fight against al-Qaida is far from over, but this is a big step forward in the dismantlement of its central leadership.”

    -- Kristin Diwan, assistant professor of comparative and regional studies, School of International Service, is an expert in Middle East politics, Arab politics, Gulf politics, politics of Islamic finance, political economy of Islamism; specifically, how Islamic political movements build support and further social Islamization through the economy. Diwan’s most recent project entails researching the social and institutional origins of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Gulf region.

    -- Diane Singmern, associate professor, Department of Government, is an expert on Middle East politics, urbanism in the Middle East, youth in the Middle East, gender politics, marriage and its financial costs in the Middle East, the informal economy, economic and political development, Islamist activism, religion and politics, social movements, and studies of resistance. She can speak Arabic.

    -- Gordan Adams, professor of U.S. foreign policy, is a former legislative director to President Clinton and can discuss national security policy and the defense policy process: “The U.S. made Osama bin Laden in the 1980s; the U.S. has taken him off the stage 25 years later. He became the symbolic focus of a major deployment of American force into the Middle East and South Asia. While he may be gone, the consequences of that deployment will be with us for decades to come.”

    -- Allan Lichtman, professor, Department of History, is an expert in public opinion and politics. Known for his “13 keys” system, which allows him to predict the outcome of the popular vote solely on historical factors, Lichtman has predicted another Obama win in 2012.

    -- Danny Hayes, assistant professor of government, and Fellow, Center for Professional and Presidential Studies, can discuss political behavior and political communication in American politics, public opinion, political participation and the media.

    -- Leonard Steinhorn, professor, School of Communication, can discuss politics, and the media’s role in politics and elections. He teaches politics, strategic communication, and courses on the presidency.

    -- Jane Hall, associate professor, School of Communication, is a former media reporter for the Los Angeles Times. She is an expert on media issues, and can provide insight on politics and the media, and young people and politics.

    -- Additional experts are available at American University’s searchable expert’s database.

    News Contact: AU Communications Office, Phone: +1-202-885-5950


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