A lot of the writing I’ve done in the last few months – white papers, case studies, marketing copy – hasn’t found its way online or hasn’t been under my byline, so I’ve not linked to it.
But here’s a profile that was just published. It’s about the work of Stanford Aeronautics and Astronautics professor Sigrid Close. I started working on it almost a year ago, but it got delayed for a variety of reasons. I’m glad to see it up – and amazed by the number of projects that Sigrid has going on. I didn’t even mention them all.
I’ve been enjoying the chance to write about faculty in Stanford’s School of Engineering recently. My latest effort profiles Stephen Quake, winner of this year’s MIT Lemelson-MIT Prize.
At just 43, Quake has already made an extraordinary number of major breakthroughs in applying measurement to biological phenomena.
I really like writing for Stanford’s alumni magazine. It always looks great, it’s run by people who know their stuff and, best of all, it takes as its subject the achievements, interests and opinions of people associated with the university. The caliber and size of the institution pretty much guarantee that any story that the bi-monthy commissions will be a pleasure to research and write.
Here’s my most recent article for them. This was an interesting one. It started out as a straight forward narrative, but then developed into more of a picture story.
Watching Avatar while sitting next to a Stanford professor had me (and the professor) wondering about the ‘Stanford’ t-shirt that Sigourney Weaver’s avatar wears very prominently in a number of scenes.
What was the story was behind the shirt’s appearance in the movie? Why choose that university? What was that choice meant to signify to the viewer? And who, I next wondered, might be interested in running a short article featuring the answers? The obvious candidate was the Stanford alumni magazine — one of the best of its kind — for which I’ve written before.
So the next day I pitched my editorial contact at the magazine and on Friday (just a couple of weeks later) the article was posted online.
The experience is a good reminder that a feature idea can have a lot of potential homes and be of potential interest to a lot of different people. But when it comes to getting someone to actually commission your idea, you’re best off pitching the outlet most directly aimed at readers with the maximum potential interest in the subject you are hoping to explore.