M. Sharon Baker's Story
Art, Agriculture or Advertising?
As a high school student trying to decide what to do next, M. Sharon Baker never made it passed careers starting with A: Should she pursue art, agriculture or advertising?
She decided she wasn’t good enough to make a living as an artist, and found, despite working in a large greenhouse in the summer, she really didn’t like her high school botany class. So she decided to major in advertising.
Sharon threw out that plan after taking Journalism 101, a required course for advertising majors at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. Her first story about a resident advisor chasing a thief with a hockey stick not only earned her an A from a professor that didn’t give A’s out, but it ran in the student newspaper and caught the attention of the daily Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
She went on to write about the annual panty raid at nearby Nazareth College and after dozens of stories, her fate was sealed.
Go West with a Journalism Degree
While a summer intern at her hometown newspaper, Sharon earned her first front page story, covering 38 Special performing at the county fair. At The Citizen, she was the editor and sole reporter for the now defunct Farm Forum.
Newspaper jobs were scarce when Sharon graduated from college. There were no openings at her hometown newspaper, so she went west to Seattle because that’s where her boyfriend (and later husband) wanted to live.
She left her home without: a job, having ever visited Seattle, knowing anyone or ever taking a road trip alone for longer than three hours.
Oh, and being counseled by a Seattleite that landing a newspaper job would be extremely difficult if not impossible for a rookie.
First Reporting Assignment: Cover Microsoft, McCaw
Undaunted, she landed in downtown Seattle, and found a roommate who helped her land a temporary job at the U.S. District Court. Out of the blue, she received an interview invitation from a resume she had sent out months earlier and landed a job as a business reporter for the now defunct Journal American in Bellevue.
Her first assignment? Cover high technology and this little company called Microsoft Corp. and telecommunications, which included writing about a rapidly growing but debt-laden company McCaw Cellular Communications. The year was 1987, one year after Microsoft had gone public.
Sharon found it ironic that she was covering business, when as a high schooler, she had asked her dad why in the world would he want to read such boring magazines and newspapers as Forbes and The Wall Street Journal, which are now among her favorite reads.
Sharon’s 15-year newspaper career enabled her to meet a number of fantastic business owners, many entrepreneurs and venture capitalists and really neat people. She wrote countless stories on Nintendo, Microsoft and McCaw Cellular as well as Redhook Brewery, Traveling Software and the Seattle Mariners.
Coverage includes Nuclear Submarines, Floods and Baseball
She felt very privileged to write profiles and features on Western Wireless’ John Stanton, Microsoft’s Patty Stonesifer, Edmark’s Sally Narodick, the Mariner rookie Alex Rodriguez, and Traveling Software’s Mark Eppley, among many others.
She got to cruise Hood Canal on a nuclear submarine, be the first to break stories on new ventures and IPOs, be on hand for the opening of Safeco Field and Vancouver’s BC Place, and to chronicle Seattle’s early foray into the then-foreign world known as the Internet.
She won a C.B. Blethen Award along with the staff of The Skagit Valley Herald during the floods of 1991, and was an annual award winner in the Society of Professional Journalism’s Pacific Northwest awards.
After nine years at The Puget Sound Business Journal, Sharon and her young family drove East, and landed in East Aurora, New York, hometown of Fisher Price Toys.Jobs in the Buffalo area were scarce, however, and the family returned to Seattle area three years later.
Freelance Writing Offers Flexibility
Sharon now freelances full-time, writing articles for various publications and helping CMOs and marketing directors create B2B content that connects with customers.
A lifelong learner, she's currently devouring content related to sales and marketing and how the two have dramatically changed in the past three years.
Marketing automation, B2B storytelling, and measuring success all rely on the knowledge of who a company's customers are, and each is a research topic within itself.
Like most journalists, she is a voracious reader. Her current "to-buy" list requires a sum of over $350, but until she reads the 14 books she checked out of the library, she has prohibited herself from investing in more.
When she’s not writing or reading, Sharon and her family press apples into cider and grow trees, pumpkins, other vegetables, and flowers. Inbetween times, you are most likely to find her on a soccer pitch or drawing and painting in the few spare minutes she has available.
She smiles while admonishing her three teenagers for reading too much, enjoys carting them around to soccer matches and to Canada for lunch, and now walks her youngest to high school each day.