Jillian Keenan

Jillian Keenan is a freelance writer in New York with interests in press freedom, Shakespeare, international human rights, theater, and travel. As a 2010 - 2011 Fulbright Scholar in Singapore, Jillian used Shakespearean literature to examine local perspectives on taboo socio-political subjects such as government control and the death penalty. She received her master's degree from Stanford University's Graduate School of Journalism, where she focused on long-form magazine writing and press freedom. For her master's thesis, Jillian travelled to Havana to cover the ongoing conflict between new-media dissident journalists and Cuban government censors. She also received her B.A. in English Literature from Stanford. Jillian speaks English, Spanish, and just enough Omani colloquial Arabic to get into trouble. To learn more, please visit www.jilliannyc.com or find her on Twitter at @jilliankeenan.


5 ways to get a grant that will finance your journalism career

I’ll let you in on a secret: most of my career thus far was built with other people’s money.

I’ve conducted research in Cuba and Oman, lived in Singapore and England, and traveled around the world — all thanks to full or partial support of grants. Without those grants, my resume (and, more significantly, my life) would be pretty boring.

These days, grants are an amazing and invaluable way to boost a journalism career. There are hundreds of grants, and they are incredibly diverse. There are small grants to fund specific short-term reporting projects, and larger grants to fund months or even years of work. There are grants for every beat, interest, region and medium; you just have to know where to find them.

Here are five ways to get grant money:

Be specific in your application

Think of a topic, project or proposal that you are excited about. Then make it more specific. Read more

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5 tips for finding mentors in journalism, even if you don’t work in a newsroom

In 2009, I left journalism school full of vim, vigor, and visions of a working in a newsroom. I imagined myself reporting under a crack team of editors, who would push me to greater heights of professional success by day and regale me with stories from their own careers by night.

It was going to be awesome.

Of course, things didn’t go quite according to plan. Newspaper jobs were scarce, so I decided to freelance on the side while I looked for a full-time job. Before I knew it, I was (barely) making ends meet as a freelancer. I fell in love with the freedom and flexibility of independent journalism, but there was one problem: without long-term editors to supervise my work, it seemed like I’d never find those inspiring mentors I had imagined.

It’s a cruel conundrum. Young freelancers need mentors perhaps more than anyone else, but without a consistent set of colleagues, where can an independent journalist find sources of wisdom and advice? Read more

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How to pitch (stories) like a girl

Hours after yet another study confirmed that male bylines continue to dominate the media, hundreds of women (and a few men) crammed into a standing-room only bar in Brooklyn to discuss ways to close the byline gap.

At “Throw Like A Girl: Pitching the Hell Out of Your Stories,” which was organized by women’s nonfiction storytelling organization Her Girl Friday, a panel of experienced journalists and editors rejected suggestions that sexism or gender bias is exclusively responsible for the gap. Instead, they emphasized the need for young female journalists to develop the confidence to let rejection roll off their backs.

“You can’t see rejection as a real reflection of your value,” said New York Times metro editor Carolyn Ryan. “Every day, seasoned reporters pitch and get told no. Practicing pitching makes you a better pitcher. Rejection is part of the process.”

New York Times reporter Amy O’Leary, who hosted the discussion, said that as a young reporter she was so afraid of rejection that she would often agonize over her pitches for weeks or even months at a time. Read more

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