In 1980, Joe B's dad brought home a TRS-80 home computer, which kicked off a lifetime of interest in games, programming, and general technology. Since then, he's learned about all sorts of hardware and software, and is also fascinated with how personal tech has become such a vital part of our lives. Joe has written tech content for magazines, newspapers, blogs and news sites, including a popular regionally syndicated weekly newspaper column about interesting Internet destinations. He's especially interested in current trends including mobile marketing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, streaming, Virtual Reality, wearables and the Internet of Things.
"What's happening?" Just ask Joe B., who enjoys following news about interesting people doing interesting things in performing and visual arts at the local, regional and national levels. He currently manages the content for an regional entertainment site, and also served as Entertainment Editor at a regional daily newspaper. Content in this role required a blend of national syndicated Hollywood/personality news plus features on local artists and regional cultural festivals. Joe is a wealth of knowledge about past and present movies, TV shows, and theater -- make sure he's on your Trivial Pursuit team! He goes to 'cons, follows a variety of entertainment blogs and Twitter feeds, and knows what a Kardashian is so you don't have to.
Joe B. is the Editor and a contributor to a multimedia Green Living/Sustainable Life print and online section. The print and digital initiative was designed to reach as many people as possible, so there was a monthly section in the print newspaper, a quarterly magazine, an active Web site, and a monthly e-newsletter. Stories highlighted interesting people trying to make sense of what ‘Going Green’ means in our current world; businesses who are learning that their bottom line could be enhanced by improving energy efficiency; and ways for average readers to understand the differing personal and political perspectives on complex topics such as climate change, cap-and-trade and those new light bulbs.
Even with the new business-speak of e-commerce, SEO, SSL and 'synergy,' the fundamentals of business still remain the same – create a great product or service that meets people’s demand. Repeat as needed. Though the formula is simple, Joe B. never tires of telling readers about businesses that are successful or at least hoping to hit it big, or perhaps what may have gone wrong along the way. There’s always going to be a significant learning curve, but he enjoys helping people get the word out through strong marketing. He’s written a variety of features and business profiles for a daily newspaper Business section, a monthly business magazine and a variety of business blogs. He’s also received past regional awards for profiles about a new business/education partnership, and the new spirit of collaboration seen between the modern natural resource industries and groups wanting to be vigilant of the environment.
Readers want and sometimes need info about good food! But that's where things get tricky, which is where good food writing comes in. Joe B. enjoys writing about all sorts of food as much as he enjoys consuming it. As a past Food Editor for a daily newspaper, he regularly wrote previews and reviews of new restaurants, plus a variety of fun stories from the best midnight donuts and favorite truck stop fare to the fanciest foo-foo spots in town. He also organized an annual reader cooking contest for several years. His food and beverage foundation includes industry work as well, starting with washing dishes and busing tables at a pizza place, cooking and serving at a fast-food burger chain and setting up, serving and breaking down in a busy hotel banquet center.
Great health writing goes way beyond scaring people or selling miracle cures. Though there are plenty of risky topics that the public should be aware of or take precautions for (flus, general hygiene, meat preparation, general sanitation), there are also other topics that shouldn't be scary once you know the right info (Ebola! Zika!) Joe B. believes the best health stories are ones that connect with and help readers, not just frighten them. He has written health and wellness news over the last 20 years, which includes dozens of physicians and four larger medical centers. He currently edits and writes for a semi-annual health and wellness magazine and a monthly cannabis/marijuana section. He also likes to connect health issues to other areas of the community, such as schools, business, politics, and family life. These days, with so much attention on health, readers need objective, accurate and not necessarily frightening medical advice.
Joe B. knows all about games, from casinos to video games to even basic board games. He saw his first video game at Circus Circus in Las Vegas in 1977 (Space Wars) and was hooked! Since then, he has observed the rapid growth of home and arcade video games and of the entire casino experience. Over the years, Joe B. has chronicled the growth of video games from simple coin-ops to home entertainment systems like Atari and Nintendo. Today, we see their legacy in the form of Xboxes, portable systems like the Nintendo DS and mobile games. It's easy to get geeky and drill deep about a particular segment or title, but he also likes to write about the bigger picture for players, their parents, and those nostalgic about retro games. Joe has written a weekly game column for 4 years for a daily newspaper, and has written about games and high-tech issues for a quarterly tech magazine, a gaming and pop culture blog. He also enjoys the occasional visit to area casinos, playing slots, table games, and other interesting diversions.
Some people set lofty travel goals like visiting every state, every national park or climbing every mountain. While this can be an excellent motivator and always assures one of new horizons, it also can limit your ability to go back to favorite places again and again. Joe B. tries to find a middle ground in his travel -- and travel writing. He and his family enjoy exploring new communities and seeing new sights but also returning to enjoyable spots. He's been writing travel and destination stories for more than a decade, everything from how to get wherever you're going (packing a car, making flight reservations, keeping kids occupied) to what to do when you get there. Over the years, he also has made some longer journeys, everything from a two-week road trip to Chicago, stopping at every roadside attraction, to Washington, D.C., to Europe. Joe thinks a good travel piece accomplishes a lot of things -- it lets people follow you on your journey, gives them ideas for things they can do if they take that trip, or even helps create a fantasy -- if they never make it to that particular place, at least they can enjoy your experience.
Joe B. had a revelation about 20 years ago -- a Wall Street Journal story made actual sense. After growing up thinking the newspaper was too technical and too dry, he realized that it actually told the story well of modern commerce. It's not always exciting, but informs company owners and investors about the bottom line -- what companies are making money and why, what companies are losing money and why and what forces are influencing future activity. Once this formula was figured out, Joe B. used it in his finance and business writing. He's worked in the newspaper industry for about 20 years, including 10 years writing a variety of topics including business and finance. He's created long-form stories looking closely at local companies, and features about how local companies are responding to national trends. Readers of these types of stories want interesting news but they also want to justify taking valuable time to read this article help their business.
When Joe B. first was asked to "fill in" as Outdoors Editor at the daily paper he worked at, it was one of those "gulp" situations. Though he had camped and hiked all his life and lived for most of his life in the Northwest, a region known for impressive natural resources, he felt others more passionate or proficient with a gun or fishing pole should have the job. But nevertheless, he rose to the challenge and in the process helped create an interesting, informative and entertaining section. In the process, he also learned much about the outdoors culture, which ranges from the occasional hiker who wants some fresh air to the hardcore climber and BASE jumper. There are many different viewpoints and cultures every season, from snowmobilers who love doing crazy things with their sleds to Nordic skiers who love the tranquility of a quiet winter evening. Joe is able to unpack his adjectives to describe some great outdoor pursuits and also put some thoughts together to help objectively describe a current outdoor issue (road removal, species management, conservation efforts.)
Joe B. doesn't know why strange and wonderful things occur in this world, but enjoys talking to many people who believe they do. Hearing these diverse opinions helps in his spiritual path, and also helps him learn ways to better explain basic truths from other religions and general spirituality to readers. He's written Faith and Spirituality stories for a daily newspaper for five years, everything from discussing activities at the local parochial schools to what makes representatives from differing faiths come together to find common ground. Joe B. is happy to help educate readers objectively about common faith trends or help explore the deeper reasoning and traditions in many cultures. He's even interested in non-religious ways of looking at the world such as astrology. Along with newspaper writing, he's been a Reverend, a member of the Knights of Columbus and has studied comparative religions in college.
When Joe B. first began covering education, he was told "When you understand school financing it's time to move to another beat." The first reason for this is that school financing is so complex that it takes much study to fully understand the complex mechanics involved in selling bonds, tax rates and appealing to the community for more support. It's certainly more of an intricate topic for an "Education Writer" than 'Fun local teachers inspiring fun students' types of stories readers really prefer. But it shows that a good education writer must go beyond the basics to fully immerse himself or herself in all the components that make up current education -- not just classroom magic but so much vital behind-the-scenes activities, from curriculum review to nutritional planning in the cafeterias.
Joe B. spent more than five years covering schools in the Northwest. His 'beat' included everything from innovative pre-K programs to active programs to get senior citizens to keep boosting their brains long after they've left the classroom. He's covered creative teachers and bright students at the K-12 and higher education levels, efforts to accommodate too many students trying to access too few facilities, and how private efforts can go hand-in-hand with public support. These days, parents have so many more choices when trying to find the best educational outlets for their children, from public schools to private schools to homeschooling to charter schools to Common Core. Every good teacher and every good parent want the best for their child, but the methods certainly vary. As a writer, Joe B. enjoyed telling every aspect of the schools story. He's able to understand the detailed jargon of the industry and get readers to learn a little more about the challenges and opportunities facing today's youth and tomorrow's future community members.
A veteran sales person once told Joe B that good marketing is simply convincing people to feel good so they'll buy more stuff. Good marketing is quick and creates an emotional response. Better marketing paints a picture and sells an experience with words and visuals. Joe B loves how strong writing can help a company sell a product, a service, even an idea or concept. Along with 20 years of newspaper work, he has written marketing content for various clients -- short, sweet and snappy pieces designed to get people thinking, feeling and ultimately buying. With today's audience making decisions faster, often on their mobile phones, being brief and effective is the name of the game.
Music scholars say we all follow certain natural, internal rhythms, and when we hear ours, it makes us feel great and want to move. Joe B. loves this description of the power of music, which helps explain how so many people can love -- or hate -- so many kinds of music yet there's something universal about how we respond. The feeling we get from music is only half the equation -- the other half is the technical, mechanical stuff. Joe B. has covered entertainment at a daily newspaper for about five years, and a big part of its local music coverage. It gave him a chance to get to know many area artists, from the regular players at the nightclubs to angry high school punk rockers to members of the local orchestra. He wrote a weekly column about local performers and tried to explain a band's appeal to the readers even if the music may not be something that appealed to everyone. He also took several music classes in college which gave him an understanding of the role of music in our current Western culture, including some of past musical periods. This foundation helped his knowledge and added a greater depth to his writing. He enjoys just about every type of music, and his musical library consists of everything from old-school hip-hop to modern country to opera.
Being of the male persuasion, Joe B. initially encountered a big learning curve being able to write about the beauty industry. But as an accomplished writer and researcher, he's put as much effort into learning about the sometimes complex world of style and fashion that he would to any technical project. In the process, he learned that it isn't such a secret world after all, and everyone can find ways to make themselves look and feel better inside and out. Writing-wise, he was Fitness/Style Editor at a daily newspaper, has written marketing copy for several beauty product companies, including cosmetic, hair and spa products.
“Other” is an excellent word for the stories that don’t fit into any category, and these are the ones Joe B. writes well. As a daily newspaper reporter for 20 years and a longtime freelance writer, he knows that there’s no end to catch-all stories, from obscure industries to sub-genres of hobbies to anything-goes topics. But solid writing skills and excellent research abilities make it easy to make them relevant to readers.
Joe B. may have been the only one of his peers whose favorite part of “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” was Ace’s menagerie, rather than the rest of the movie. Until he is able to live out in the country and pay for that much critter chow, he’ll have to make due writing about furry friends. Or scaly friends. Or any kind of animal companion. He’s written a variety of pet- and animal-themed stories for a daily newspaper, including care tips, plus features on area vets.