Welcome to Journalist Spotlight, where we go behind the scenes with a journalist and ProfNet user. This installment features Dale Buss, a writer and regular contributor to major outlets like Forbes and the New York Times.
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Dale Buss is an experienced author and journalist with deep credentials in the world of business publishing. He is a major Forbes.com contributor on the auto industry, a contributing editor to Chief Executive Magazine, and a regular contributor on business topics to the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, and many other outlets.
Buss also has been a regular commentator on the opinion pages of the Journal on issues of business, public policy, media, religion and culture. He is author of the book Family Man: The Biography of Dr. James Dobson.
He also acted as an editorial consultant and cooperating author to business executives including Joel Manby, CEO of SeaWorld, for his 2013 book Love Works; Jeff Weedman, since-retired vice president of external innovation for Procter & Gamble; Jeremy Anwyl, CEO of Edmunds.com; and Dennis Zeleny, one of America’s leading HR executives.
We spoke to Buss recently about his career as a journalist and writer. Here’s what he had to say about his path, what’s changed, and how he uses social media as a communication tool.
Did you always know you wanted to be a journalist?
Pretty much from a young age I started writing science-fiction stories, a “novel,” and even poems. Then when I was 12 years old I took over a gig from a friend who was writing up weekly reports on Little League baseball action for the local newspaper, the Reedsburg (Wis.) Times-Press. I was hooked; became the sports editor of the paper at age 15; and by age 16, thanks to a wonderful editor and mentor named Paul Dysart, I was winning statewide “best sports section” awards against experienced editors twice and three and four times my age. So I was hooked early.
Where was your first job in journalism?
At that little weekly newspaper, for real. During college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison I enjoyed internships with the Wisconsin State Journal and Green Bay Press-Gazette, which landed me an internship in the summer of 1980 with the Wall Street Journal in Pittsburgh. A semester later after I graduated, I got my first full-time job as a reporter for the Journal in Dallas.
Can you tell is about the type of stories do you like to write and report about most?
I enjoy noticing developments and trends in business and society ahead of the curve, putting 2 and 2 together to make 5, if you will.
What’s your advice for those who may want to pitch you?
Use e-mail. Be concise, clear and succinct. Try to understand what might intrigue me about a subject, company or person – what I and my outlets such as Forbes, Brandchannel and Chief Executive might get out of it – instead of making the mistake of positioning the pitch only for the benefit of your client.
What type of experts do you prefer?
What has changed the most from when you began your career as a journalist/author?
Digital demands. They’ve turned the job into a 24×7 pursuit for everyone. Some days I feel like I’m back to the Eighties when I was a reporter for the Journal. And, of course, the sad demise of newspapers. Also the obvious political bias at practically every media outlet. The rise of branded content lately is another huge development whose ultimate effect has yet to be understood.
How do use social media and what is the best thing about it?
I wanly tweet and post my stuff on Facebook but I’m too busy to spend my days doing that. The best thing about it is it creates new ways to communicate and provides real new means of transparency into people, organizations and areas where it didn’t exist before. The worst thing about social media, though, is that everyone has to keep track of it.
What advice do you have for new journalists and even for those who aren’t so new to the field?
Your skills and enthusiasm will be enough to get you through a period that is difficult because of technological disruption. People will always need editorial gatekeepers, and the more “information” there is to digest, the more we’ll be needed. It’ll just be online instead of on paper.
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Evelyn Tipacti is a audience relations specialist at ProfNet. She is a former broadcast journalist with years of experience behind the television camera and radio mic.