Club Events Off the Record

Becoming the Ultimate Freelancer Workshop – March 2nd

February 25, 2013

A Professional Development Workshop Presented by

Press Club of Dallas

and Hosted by the

Southern Methodist University Division of Journalism

 Saturday, March 2, 2013, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

This information-packed, half-day workshop features three sessions designed to benefit working journalists, public relations professionals, current and graduating students and others who want to take charge of their careers. Each session includes a question-and-answer period.

Tickets must be bought in advance through Eventbrite

The Schedule

8:30 a.m.  Registration, networking and light breakfast

9:00 a.m.  Welcome and opening remarks

9:15-10:15 a.m.  SESSION ONE – Journalism Skills: More Valuable Than You May Realize

Sarah Bahari, Freelance journalist and writer. Sarah is a freelance writer with more than a decade of experience in journalism, writing, editing and public relations. She writes for a number of media outlets, universities, nonprofit organizations and private companies including the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, University of Texas at Arlington, Community Foundation of North Texas and the National Auctioneers Association.

Mike Drago, Vice president of content, Idea Grove. Mike joined the PR, online marketing and web design firm after a long career with leading news organizations, most recently as city editor of the Dallas Morning News. Through 23 years in the world of print and digital newsgathering, he led a wide variety of coverage efforts, from breaking news to investigative stories. His proudest newsroom accomplishments were helping reporters craft stories that made government better and improved peoples’ lives.

Kim Ritzenthaler Leeson, Owner, Kim Ritzenthaler Photography. Kim has been a professional photographer for more than 15 years, with clients that have included People magazine, the New York Times and a wide array of industrial, educational and corporate publications. Her work as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News from 1993-2004 earned multiple awards. Kim’s specialty is finding the extraordinary details of the natural world in urban environments.

10:15-10:30 a.m.  Break

10:30-11:15 a.m.  SESSION TWO – Legal and Ethical Issues

Mark Donald, Freelance writer/editor and adjunct professor at Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism, University of North Texas. Mark is the former editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer. He also practiced law in Dallas for ten years, wrote five plays and earned a master’s degree in fine arts as well as 30 writing honors. Mark has worked for Texas Lawyer newspaper and D magazine and written for many national publications, including Gentlemen’s Quarterly, People magazine, Cosmopolitan and Child magazine.

Thomas J. Williams, Partner, Haynes & Boone, and Board Member, Society of Professional Journalists, Fort Worth Chapter. Tom has been active in numerous charitable, civic and professional organizations including the Texas Board of Disciplinary Appeals, American Cancer Society, Tarrant County Bar Association, Texas Christian University, Rotary Club of Fort Worth, Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas and State Bar of Texas Public Affairs Committee. He received the Tarrant County Bar Association Professionalism Award in 2006 and has been listed in each edition of The Best Lawyers in America since 1991.

11:15-11:30 a.m. Break

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. SESSION THREE – Making the $$ Work

Natalie Blankenship, President and Founder, New Digital Strategies. Natalie launched her social media marketing firm specializing in community management, content creation and strategic digital marketing even before graduating from SMU in 2012. As an undergrad, she held six internships in Austin, Dallas and New York City and was the arts and entertainment editor for the SMU Daily Campus and the SMU Daily Mustang and the food editor for the SMU Daily Mustang. She has written That Foodie Girl blog for almost two years.


Richard Buse, Owner, Richard S. Buse Communications Services and Past President, International Association of Business Communicators. Richard has been an independent writer for more than 25 years, beginning with feature-human interest stories for the Milwaukee Sentinel. Before moving to North Texas in 2001, he wrote for clients in advertising/PR, health care, manufacturing, nonprofit and professional services. Most of his current work focuses on accounting, engineering and technology topics

Donald Claxton, Owner, Claxton Creative, LLC. Always on the cutting edge of technology and a noted iconoclast, Donald is now leading the development of interactive books for the iPad and EPUB, HTML5 and interactive magazine formats for computers, tablets and smartphones. The former communications director for Dallas ISD, Donald has extensive experience in market research, brand management, business model design, social engagement and public relations and blogs at

The Details

Cost: $20 for Press Club of Dallas members, $30 for non-members and $10 for full-time students with ID and recent graduates (recent grads, contact Jake Batsell to confirm eligibility).

Tickets must be bought in advance through Eventbrite.

Note: These price are for tickets purchased in advance through Eventbrite. Same-day registration at event will be available if seats are available. Same-day tickets may be bought on-site with a credit card and will be $50 each.

Location:  Umphrey Lee Center/ 2nd Floor

3300 Dyer Street, Dallas

Map to Umphrey Lee Center

Parking: There should be plenty of free parking in the Faculty B lot right next to Umphrey Lee Center, 3300 Dyer Street, at the corner of Hillcrest and Dyer. When you pull into Dyer from Hillcrest, you’ll first see a bunch of spaces that are always reserved for dorm residents. Don’t park there — instead, follow the U-shaped turn toward the flagpole. Once you make the U-turn and find yourself on the other side of the U (the side closest to Umphrey Lee Center), park in one of the Faculty B Lot spaces, which are not enforced on weekends. If the first row of B Lot spaces is full, the B lot continues around the perimeter of the Umphrey Lee Center. And if the B Lot is completely full (not likely), there’s always street parking on Hillcrest Avenue, which also is not enforced on weekends.

Twitter hashtag: #pressclubsmu

Live blog (powered by The Daily Campus): The full workshop will be live-blogged and archived onThe Daily Campus‘ website. The link is

Computers/laptops/WiFi: About 40 desktop computers are available for attendees to use, but if you would prefer to bring your own laptop, you are free to log in to SMU’s guest WiFi network, “SMU1911.”

Pre-registration deadline: 11:59 p.m March 1, 2013

Submit your questions for the panelists in advance and get news about the event on Twitter with the hashtag #PressClubSMU

Questions: Press Cub board member Allen Manning or SMU assistant professor Jake Batsell will be delighted to help if we can.