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Career GPS

A weekly conversation about following your passions and your paycheck.

Picture of Angilee Shah

Think about the news in the last month. What sticks out? What connected with you?

It's much more likely that the dramatic image of a young girl in Afghanistan on the Aug. 9 cover of Time magazine is rising to the top than any text-heavy feature you marveled at this month. The power of images is clear -- they provoke, they tell stories, they resonate.

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Last week, Ed Yong over at the Discover blog Not Exactly Rocket Science wrote a brilliant post.

And when I say brilliant, I mean to say that it is brilliant because he didn't write much at all. The post is called "On the Origin of Science Writing" and it's a lovely example of the power of crowd-sourcing. At last look, 124 people have commented to explain how they became science writers.

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Sheri Fink won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting this year for her compelling narrative about life-and-death choices made by health care providers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. While the story ran in The New York Times Magazine, she did her reporting while enmeshed in the nonprofit journalism world, as a Kaiser Media Fellow and later as a reporter at the nonprofit newsroom ProPublica.

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One of the central ironies for beleaguered journalism job hunters today is that the demand for content is huge. If you are among those who regularly scour journalism job sites, you might have noticed that some of the most common listings are calls for writers to produce short articles at low piecemeal rates.

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Joanna Lin graduated from USC in 2008, just before the U.S. economy began to nosedive. Since then, she has worked for five different media outlets, grew a professional journalism career in a time of upheaval, and developed a philosophy and fortitude about doing the work she loves.

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After a 30-year career writing about health, Susan Brinks found herself in the throes of her own medical story.

She has been a freelancer since being laid off from the Los Angeles Times in October 2008, and her COBRA -- the post-employment extension of her health insurance -- runs out on July 20.

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Tom Linden seemed to be on a fast track to a successful career in journalism.

He was the editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper in Southern California. As a college student at Yale University, Linden got his reporter's legs at the Yale Daily News and covered the New Haven Black Panther trials for the Los Angeles Times. When he graduated in 1970, he won a fellowship and secured a book deal to write about army deserters in exile who were protesting or escaping the Vietnam War.

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Welcome to the inaugural post of Career GPS, ReportingonHealth's new blog about pursuing your passions while looking out for your pocketbook. Here, we will discuss career opportunities, growth and development for journalists and media professionals working on health topics. We'll talk about new kinds of media jobs and have Q&As with people who have taken interesting turns in their careers. Please do join in the discussion by commenting and posting your own entries about your experiences.

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Do you have a great idea for a potentially impactful reporting project on a health challenge in California?  Our 2020 Impact Fund can provide financial support and six months of mentoring.

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