School of Journalism and New Media

The University of Mississippi

Alumni Update: Mark Ray (MA, ’90)

Posted on: March 2nd, 2016 by

Mark Ray HeadshotThis July will mark my 18th year of fulltime freelancing—mostly writing but also some editing and a little project management. It’s been quite a run, especially considering that I’ve been able to thrive on referrals and a small amount of networking.

Over the years, I’ve done regular work for The Cobb Group/Element K Journals, Humana, the Courier-Journal, Culler Media, the United Methodist Church, and the Presbyterian Church (USA), but the Boy Scouts of America has become my major client. Especially recently, the BSA has kept me extremely busy (although I think that work is going to level out some going forward). In the last two years, I’ve edited/rewritten the Bear Handbook, the Webelos Handbook, and the Boy Scout Handbook, edited a new three- volume resource called Program Features for Troops, Teams, and Crews, and written the new two-volume Troop Leader Guidebook, among other projects. I also continue to sell a couple of self-published titles for Scout leaders, The Eagle Court of Honor Book and The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook.

I haven’t abandoned magazines, however! Since 2009, I’ve written the Roundtable section for Scouting magazine (circulation 1 million), which includes six articles per issue and has a strong service-journalism component, as well as contributing the occasional feature to the magazine. Since 2005, I’ve also written most of the National Eagle Scout Association magazine, now called Eagles’ Call (circulation 138,000), typically including one or two features and 10 or 12 briefs. The strong focus in Eagles’ Call is on profiles, and I’ve profiled everyone from astronauts and Olympians to politicians and CEOs. (It’s interesting to go from interviewing a 16-year-old Eagle Scout who doesn’t answer questions in complete sentences to interviewing a 78-year-old member of the Baseball Hall of Fame!)

Although I lost my pica pole somewhere along the way, the skills I developed in the master’s program at Ole Miss continue to pay dividends. With my books, I’ve done everything—writing, editing, design, layout, production, and marketing—and on other projects I’ve been able to effectively edit both my own work and the work of other people.