“I’m just stringing along.”

Yesterday, I became a stringer…

The Independent Coast Observer, published in Gualala California, asked me to replace a retiring reporter. I’ll be researching, writing and photographing feature stories. Wow, I feel like I’ve finally earned the journalist badge I wear.

itwpa badge-01 24x BY CHARLEBOIS

April 2017 will mark 48-years this small town weekly has served Mendonoma coast. (Mendonoma is a nickname for Mendocino and Sonoma Counties where they touch and the county line blurs a bit.) ICO is the only source of local news in the area, covering the coast from tiny Elk to Jenner, about 70 miles.

ICO is a printed newspaper, surviving against tough odds in a screen-obsessed culture. ICO prints breaking news, community issues, births, deaths, meetings, entertainment and events. You’ll find local sports scores, classified ads, legal notices, video picks and a park ranger nature column. A section called Sightings, is for reader submitted wildlife photos. It all hits local newsstands and subscriber’s mailboxes each week.

I’ve worked with editor Steve McLaughlin, since May of 2015. Steve has published my stories and photos in the Fort Bragg-Mendocino Coast Packet, a tabloid covering entertainment, food and shopping in Fort Bragg/Mendocino area. Steve gave me my first ink on the coast. He and the Packet staff have been superb to work with. They’re wonderfully supportive of my ideas and submissions.

Thank you for your confidence in me, News Editor, Chris McManus and Editor & Publisher, Steve McLaughlin. I am honored to be included. ICO is an American treasure, an endangered and quickly disappearing treasure – the independent, small-town newspaper.

Thanks for stopping by, —MaryGo

13 Comments Add yours

  1. Dawn says:

    Oh my gosh!!! So happy for you MaryGo. Now GO do your thing girl and have fun! Good things are all lined up for you.

  2. Thank you Dawn. I’m a happy gal. Can’t believe I was asked to do this.

  3. maidsdayoff says:

    Congrats! As a newly minted freelance writer (but with no background in journalism – and at my advanced age!) I bow down to your awesomeness 🙂 I’ve been given tiny business articles for a local business journal (another surviving print newspaper) and it’s such a thrill to actually see my byline. I dream of the day someone would give me such an opportunity as yours. Best of luck!

    1. Hello, (sorry don’t know your name) thanks for your comment.
      We never know when opportunities will come our way. This one was unexpected, but very appreciated. I worked hard for it. I showed I could write, meet a deadline and submit original ideas.
      I don’t have a journalism background, and I’m certain my 66 years on the planet are a bigger number than yours. 🙂 I started my boomer-career in writing by picking up the phone and calling the editor that gave me my first ink. I pitched two stories and they were accepted. In the writing business, it often boils down to having the right story, at the right time, for the right publisher. That assumes you have a command of a language and its rules of engagement. It never hurts to have a photo or two, but not essential. Calling a publisher may not be the best way to pitch your stories or get an assignment, an email is the preferred form I’ve since learned.
      I focus most of my time on travel writing, but I write about my local area quite a bit. Travel stories and local news stories often cross-over for me. My first assignment for ICO will be about a local sheep ranch. I’ve published two stories in travel publications about the ranch because they offer immersive farm-stays and camping on the property, it’s also news in the county because the owners are new to the area.
      What are you interested in? Do you have special interest, skills or knowledge about something? I suggest you go local on a topic you are comfortable with. Grow where you are planted. That’s exactly what I did in 2015. All my stories about local destinations, events, activities, etc. have led me to my goal as a travel writer – travel. I’m a life-long nomad. I need to GO.
      I’m not a huge success, but I’m proud of what I’ve done. I don’t have vast or secret knowledge about getting published, but I’m happy to share any info I have that might help you realize your dream. I had loads of help along the way myself, I like to pay it forward. –MaryGo

      1. maidsdayoff says:

        Thanks for such a thoughtful response and some great advice! (I’m Rita by the way, over at Maid’s Day Off.)
        I write business articles, but my background is in accounting of all things! My last job before going freelance was for a CPA firm. I was there for 14 years and wrote a quarterly newsletter. In it I’d feature a business client, tell their story and how our firm had helped them succeed. The clients loved being featured and it was good advertising for both us and them.
        I quit last April (they changed me to part time and after the death of both my parents in late 2015, I was busy travelling to their home to settle their affairs and sell their house, etc.) I had thought about doing freelance writing for years and it felt like the universe was telling me it was a good time to do it.
        I’ve been writing short bios and articles for a local business journal. My parents’ stuff is all taken care of now, so I finally have time to see what else is out there. I’ve actually got a meeting today with a business coach to discuss how I can help her clients write their website material, blog for them, etc.
        People like you are an inspiration to me – you’re out there doing what you love! You’re absolutely correct when you say to grow where you’re planted. I know that telling entrepreneurs’ and businesses’ stories is what I’m good at – and I’m excited to do it full time!

  4. ckendallwp says:

    Good for you, Mary. Congratulations – what a great opportunity for you!

    1. Thank you Scott. It was a surprise, but I think I’m up for it. –MaryGo

    2. Wow Rita, it’s sounds like you are on your way. That’s wonderful. You have a grand journey ahead. It’s fulfilling, exciting, scary and filled with surprises.
      The need for business writers seems pretty high, especially for the web. I predict loads of success for you. Have you reached out beyond your community to business publications in print or online?
      Some of my followers on this page are freelance writers. They understand what you are experiencing as you put yourself out there and build your business.
      Rita, please keep us posted on your freelance writing adventure.
      Till next time, –MaryGo

  5. John Bechtel says:

    Awesome! I’m already shopping for the perfect press hat for you! Nothing you do could surprise me.

    1. I know this will surprise you, but I have a big head. All this hair and brains. 🙂 Thanks kiddo, your my wind.

  6. jessmcombs says:

    That’s great! I’m so happy for you! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much! –MaryGo

  7. rosa says:


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