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Journalism organizations that offer training, networking, industry news and more —recommendations from AHCJ members

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AHCJ is my favorite journalism association. I have made many friends networking at the annual conferences, found editors through PitchFest, obtained access to expensive journals, and discovered a variety of valuable resources on the website.

I also belong to other journalism organizations to supplement what AHCJ offers. I regularly visit websites such as the Poynter Institute and the National Press Club Journalism Institute for expert panels or tip sheets that would help me grow my business or improve as a journalist.

After asking other core topic leaders and members of AHCJ’s freelance committee for suggestions and doing my own research, I’ve compiled a list  of links to organizations that I encourage all AHCJ members to check out. The list can be found at the Freelance Center’s Running a Business tab under the Networking and branding heading.

Freelance medical writer and editor Erin Boyle, a member of AHCJ’s freelance committee, recommends the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). “AMWA has been a great resource for me, particularly as an independent journalist, in providing me with the nuts and bolts of setting up my freelance business from sessions at its regional and national conferences,” Boyle said.

“It’s also a great organization to meet and network with a diverse group of medical writers and receive more education about the medical writing side of things,” Boyle added.

Fellow freelance committee member and independent journalist Katja Ridderbusch praises the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ). “ICFJ has plenty of international fellowships, grants and educational opportunities, from webinars to conferences, and for journalists interested in international reporting or just tapping into an international network of journalists, this is a great organization to connect with,” Ridderbusch said.

Ridderbusch, who is originally from Germany, received an international reporting fellowship 20 years ago through ICFJ that brought her to the United States for three months. It was an “amazing experience that really opened my horizon, made me a better reporter and, literally, changed the course of my life,” she recalled. “I probably wouldn’t’t have immigrated to the U.S. without the experience.”

Liz Seegert, AHCJ’s core topic leader on Aging, suggests writers look at the Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS), which advances women’s professional empowerment and personal growth in journalism. Seegert is a long-standing member and former board member of the group.

“The women of JAWS are the kindest, warmest, most giving people I know,” Seegert said.  “A big focus for JAWS is mentoring younger journalists by more experienced members; however, it often becomes a two-way street because learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum.”

JAWS conferences — see the   for information about its 2021 conference — and local chapter meetings provide training on issues such as contract negotiation for freelancers, journalist mental health, how to pitch story ideas, expanding diversity in newsrooms and staying safe in dangerous reporting situations, Seegert said.

“But we also have fun, through formal and informal networking, socializing, and talking about shared experiences as women and as women journalists,” she added.

The National Press Club Journalism Institute is a favorite for Bara Vaida, AHCJ’s core topic leader on infectious diseases. Its daily email “has a good roundup of national stories on the media that others in the media may have interest in reading about,” Vaida said.

“Also, they always offer good tips to journalists, whether it be a seminar on writing or tips on managing a newsroom or tips for managing stress or words of writing wisdom from other journalists,” Vaida said.

If you have a suggestion to add the list  of organizations that journalists should consider joining or following, please email me at freelance@healthjournalism.org.

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