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5 Questions With Jodie Jacobs

Today I’d like to introduce a new series we’ll be starting at Freelance-Zone.com. From here on out we are going to be featuring various writers throughout the year. We’ll be asking them five questions about the writing life and sharing their insights here with you.

One of the questions is inspired by an article I read some time ago in Writer’s Digest–it was a piece on writers and what their desks looked like. I found it fascinating to look at the work space of other people in the field and see what they were doing….

So today we’ll be kicking off this series with writer Jodie Jacobs. Enjoy–and be sure to check back for more soon.          -Catherine

jodie 0011. Can you tell readers a bit about the road you took to become a writer?

My dad was in advertising which I liked because it combined art and writing – my two major interests. So I applied and, to my astonishment, was accepted by Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. I went into its advertising sequence but I have heard that today the sequence is no longer an option. My mom wanted me to have an education degree so I added an education major. Because of that my first journalism job was as Education Editor for a chain of suburban papers. I never did end up in an advertising job.

2. What are you doing now in the field?

After years of covering hard news, city and school meetings and features on money, home and family, I started doing places to go and things to do for the Tribune. When I found out how much fun it was I turned to travel writing which is what I do now. Most of my writing is online. Because I also studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and other art schools, I’ve added an online art column to tell people about good exhibits to see.

3. What is the best advice you can give to other writers?

Don’t look at just traditional print journalism for work. Explore all the avenues open to writers. Network online and at gatherings. Join organizations that can help your career. Put your profile up on such sites as Linkedin, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and Media Bistro. In addition, look for professional groups in your field either writing in general or a specific area such as business, family or travel.  

4. What does your workspace look like?

I’m lucky I have had a dedicated space at home for an office for several years. I have two huge business size file cabinets plus a horizontal furniture piece that has two long file drawers. I also have a full four-piece business desk setup for my computers, camera equipment, desk top files, tapes, shredder and more stuff. That doesn’t mean I’m really organized and everything is neat. I write on scraps of paper tho I do have pads on the desk and I haven’t kept up with the filing.

my office 003

 5. Can you share a special moment from your writing career?

Again, I’m lucky. I’ve had several special moments. Probably the one I look back to with the most disbelief is my interview time at the White House during the Clinton Administration. I was doing a feature on Clinton’s secretary (gate keeper) for the Chicago Tribune because she was from the Chicago area. Our interviews took place in the White House near the Oval Office. I did pinch myself to see if I was dreaming as I walked up the path. Clinton’s secretary was a wonderful interview. She was a caring, honorable person.


Jodie Jacobs is a 25-year veteran of Chicago print media. She has covered everything from breaking news and business stories to senior and singles issues. Jodie has also written about education, home improvement, health, family, art, restaurants, museums, theater and places to go. Currently, she is covering art and travel, mostly for online sites such examiner.com, Demand Studios, her own blog at travelsmartwithjodie and USA Today Travel Tips. She also does travel stories for the Chicago Tribune where she has written for every section since 1990 except sports (but did stories on the Chicago Bears and Chicago Bulls as features.) Jodie’s articles have also appeared in North Shore Magazine (was a Sun Times Publication), Crain’s Chicago Business, Footlights, Chicago Women/North Shore and LA Times. Before writing for the Chicago Tribune, she wrote for the News Sun and a suburban weekly chain. Jodie graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL where she majored in journalism and education.  

She can be reached at   jjtravelsmart(at)gmail(dot)com