She joined NFPW and her Arizona affiliate 52 years ago while she was in college and she has been a leading communicator ever since. She excels in everything she does. She won sweepstakes honors in the NFPW communications contest. She has written for a large daily newspaper, many nationally known magazines, owned a communications company with her husband and has taught college-level communications classes. She played a key role in the 2012 NFPW conference in Arizona. She just continues to excel at everything she works on. Meet Carol Osman Brown, another unique and unbelievable NFPW member.
Name: Carol Osman Brown
Hometown: Payson, Arizona (about 100 miles north of Phoenix)
Affiliate: Arizona Professional Writers (formerly known as Arizona Press Women—name change in summer of 2014)
NFPW and Affiliate Leadership:
I am currently serving as Rim Country District Director. I was APW State President in 1993, and also served several terms as Central District Director when I lived in Phoenix.
NFPW and Affiliate Honors:
APW Communicator of Achievement award in 1991, Sweepstakes Award in Arizona Communications Contest in 1990 and the 1992 Sweepstakes Winner of the NFPW Communication Contest. Winner of numerous APW and NFPW awards for writing and photography over the years. APW hosted the NFPW National Convention in 2012 and it was both a challenge and an honor to help arrange speakers for a variety of professional development workshops and to share Arizona’s Centennial history with NFPW members.
I joined APW and NFPW in 1962 and have been a member for 52 years. I was honored for 50 years of membership in 2012. I was a senior at Arizona State University, majoring in Mass Communications at the time I joined APW, and was working 30 hours a week as a reporter for The Phoenix Gazette, a large daily newspaper.
Tell us a little about you:
I was born in New York, and following the end of WWII, my parents moved to the West to find a climate that might help cure my asthma. As a child, books and magazines were my windows to the world. I’ve always loved travel, nature, art, museums and history. Bitten by the journalism bug early, I was editor of my high school newspaper in Phoenix and then the college paper at ASU. I married James C. Brown (Bing Brown) while still in college and we both were reporters at the Phoenix Gazette. I also freelanced for Associated Press and UPI wire services. I soon realized that newspapers offered limited story space and that I could write in-depth pieces for magazines. So I started freelancing articles and photos to a variety of regional and national publications. These included Arizona Highways, Sunset, Native People’s, AAA Highroads, Guidepost and various publications of the U.S. Information Agency. Always curious, I love journalism because it gives me a license to be nosy and ask questions. Every person has a story and like an anthropologist, I love to make new discoveries and unearth hidden facts.
I left the Gazette to become editor of Arizona Currents, a tabloid newspaper that covered news of rural electrical utilities in 14 Arizona counties. This job was at a PR agency, where I also wrote news releases for a variety of clients and handled special event publicity for the annual Arabian Horse Show and other events.
A move to a larger agency allowed me to write press kits for Ice Follies and Ringling Brothers’ Circus. I also helped run the press room for the Arizona State Fair and the Arizona Livestock Show for several years. Then I decided to start a family, but still continued to freelance magazine articles and photos with my husband. We took our two little boys on many camping trips, and I wrote magazine stories about camping with kids, the value of early swim lessons and various articles about education. I did not know of any other moms who were freelance writers and I relied on my APW friends and NFPW networking for help with research and industry connections. Then my husband and I formed our own firm, Carrington Communications, which focused on special event PR and publicity for small businesses, non-profit groups, artists and authors. I was an editor of several publications and I also spoke at several Reader’s Digest Writer Workshops and other writing conferences. That led to teaching writing courses at Rio Salado Community College and then journalism classes at the Walter Cronkite School of Mass Communications, Arizona State University. I recently resigned from Rio Salado College, where I had been teaching a writing course for nearly 30 years; I taught it as an online class for the last decade. Now I am doing freelance editing, writing and working on some children’s book projects.
Any career advice you would give?
As a freelancer, you are always juggling article deadlines, with client meetings, family needs, volunteer work and sometimes a job, such as teaching. I think that building a journalism career involves a cumulative process of adding new skills to your bag of communication tricks. Be ready to embrace new tools such as changing technology as well as employer, client or consumer needs. I was among the first people to buy the first IBM personal computer on the market, despite its high price, because I viewed it as a time-saving tool to help me grow my freelance business. Within the first year, I landed a job producing a national press kit for a new firm, Mail Boxes, Etc., which was used by all their franchise owners. That job paid half the cost of my computer purchase. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself as well your career. Take time to attend a writing workshop, upgrade your photo skills at a class or learn a new language before taking a trip to a foreign country. Stay curious and keep growing as an individual.
Try to do interviews in person because you pick up so much additional information about the person by watching body language, noticing awards on the walls and seeing how the person relates to staff or family members. We can do phone or email interviews to get facts, but only the face-to-face interview will yield the human interest elements that bring a story to life. Be a good listener and ask questions that are specifically designed to yield interesting answers. Trust your intuition and be willing to take some risks in order to get a good story.
Remember that words have power, so use them wisely. Don’t cringe with fear when facing a looming “deadline” … just change it to a “finish line” and you’ll feel more motivated to succeed.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I would like to have a great singing voice so I could sing to a wide variety of music.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
I would like to live in Hawaii due to the climate, friendly people and rainbows. I love to chase rainbows and photograph them.
What book are you reading?
I am always dipping into several books at one time; favorites include self-help, fiction, non-fiction, history, travel and books about writing. Currently I am reading a historical mystery, The Romanov Prophesy by Steve Berry, as well as Breaking Night by Liz Murray, a memoir about a girl who travels from homelessness to Harvard, plus a spiritual book, the Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer.
What might surprise people?
People might be surprised to learn that I’ve traveled to 23 foreign countries. Also, I have a latent gene for silliness that pops
up occasionally. Once I donned a large pink rabbit costume and pretended to ice skate in front of TV cameras. The real skater was running late for an appearance on a kids’ TV show and the director was getting desperate. So I volunteered to glide across the stage and had some fun!
Why APW and NFPW are important to me?
As a young reporter, I was honored to be welcomed into APW, a group of established reporters and photographers. I watched these dedicated women journalists do their work with great skill and dedication. Several became mentors and encouraged me through editing, as well as sharing ideas at APW workshops, meetings and state conferences. I found them to be feisty, funny, wicked smart and always helpful. Later, as a mother struggling to find time to freelance, and maintain a career, I relied on their wisdom and support.
Networking with NFPW members proved helpful for story research, travel contacts and helpful advice. Later at NFPW conferences, I was able to expand my horizons with wider networking and seeing friends I had only talked to on the phone. I believe in helping others and being of service to our organization. APW and NFPW exist to help others through continuing education in our broad communication field. We are dedicated to excellence in journalism and strong advocates for First Amendment rights. Yet we are like an extended family, honoring the wisdom of our mature members and relishing the energy and initiative of younger members for help us change with the times, yet keep our vision clear and fresh. I still like to try new things. APW hosted a weekend writer’s retreat in the cool pines of Payson for the past two summers. W plan to partner with Gila Community College present the first Payson Book Festival on July 25, 2015.
Ways to connect with you:
I am on Linkedin, but admit that I do not check it often. Since hackers created havoc with personal information at my bank, doctor’s office, college and several department stores, I now prefer to keep a low profile. So if you wish to contact me, just use email: email@example.com or the telephone number listed in the NFPW directory.