by Rebecca Fairley Raney
A two-decade tour of hope and disaster
Even after 27 years in the news business, sometimes I don't think I've had a very interesting life. Then I remember the fires, floods, plane crashes and murders, and I realize that I don't have much in common with the neighbors.
This choice of career has involved a fair amount of sacrifice. In the spring of 1987, after I graduated from journalism school at the University of Missouri, I packed up a rusted-out Ford and headed out for a three-month internship in California.
I was 21 then, but I had been on my own since I was 17. When I got to the Golden State, I didn't have enough money to get a place to live.
Like most reporters of my generation, I started near the bottom of the business. In those early years, after rent and student loan payments, I had less than $1.50 a day left over for food.
But the stories made the sacrifices worth the trouble, and in 1997, I started writing a column for The New York Times on the Web. That column evolved into day-to-day coverage of the development of the Internet as a force in politics.
These days, I'm working as a freelance writer.
In recent years, I have written for the Web sites of Discovery Communications and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and I'm doing some occasional legwork for the Los Angeles bureau of The New York Times. In 2010 and 2011, I ran workshops on editorial data analysis for the National Education Writers Association and the California HealthCare Foundation Center for Health Reporting.
From 2002 to 2009, I taught writing and computer-assisted reporting at the Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of Southern California. My freelance credits include working as a contributing editor for Interactive Week, and I have written for several publications, including The New York Times newspaper, Red Herring magazine, Writer's Digest and The Atlantic online.
And I'm still looking for that next great story.
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