Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get the job done?

Sarah Mirk

Sarah Mirk

Journalist, editor (Bitch)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm a journalist who is curious about pretty much everything, but who mostly focuses on issues of gender, history, and social justice. I'm the online editor of national feminism and pop culture media outlet Bitch, so I work with about 100 writers a year to create thought-provoking articles and publish their work on Bitch. I do a lot of work in radio, too, as the host of Bitch's twice-monthly podcast Popaganda - it's a great show.

Over the past three years, I've been writing an open-minded book about dating called Sex from Scratch: Making Your Own Relationship Rules. It's a critical-thinking dating guide that focuses on nontraditional relationships and figuring out what will make you healthy and happy. On top of all that, I write, draw, and edit nonfiction comics (and am a voracious comics reader). So, I work in pretty much every medium and am always busy with creative projects.

What hardware do you use?

I really don't have anything fancy - everything I use for all of my projects needs to easily fit in a bike bag. I have a MacBook Air that I take everywhere and use for everything, plus an iPhone that's so old that people from San Francisco make fun of it. I use a Zoom recorder for podcast interviews (though we also record segments and the show intros in a professional studio).

When I was getting serious about journalism, I bought a used Canon Rebel XT and that's still reliable for taking photos - I mostly document protests and take photos that I can use to illustrate articles. For comics, I draw my own using pencil and paper, then scan them in using a big old scanner at Portland's Independent Publishing Resource Center.

And what software?

Does social media count? The technology I use most often for my work is Twitter - I love Twitter. I'm also a big fan of Tumblr, I love the conversations, communities, and art that I stumble across on there. The Popaganda podcast lives on SoundCloud, which I think is great both for listening to podcasts and for finding new music. Every week on Bitch we post a new feminist mixtape, which are hosted on 8tracks.com, which is another great site for finding music and sharing mixes. Also, I use Flickr pretty much every day to find photos that are in the Creative Commons to use for articles. Creative Commons is so fantastic! I add photos to it whenever I can - I think it's brilliant.

The most helpful piece of software I've discovered recently is online photo-editing platform Pixlr. It's like a free, very simple of Photoshop and is perfect for quickly making extremely basic infographics to run with articles. There are also a couple apps that make life as a journalist easier: I use Voice Record Pro for recording interviews on my phone and TapeACall Pro for recording phone interviews - both are super simple, get surprisingly decent audio, and make it easy to upload the files to email or Dropbox. To find new podcasts, I use an app called Swell, which learns your interests and recommends new shows.

As you can see, I rely heavily on software that's free. Bitch is a nimble nonprofit and we don't have a lot of money to spend on expensive licenses, so software that's free and open source makes me happy.

What would be your dream setup?

I think I've got it. I guess if I could have all this, plus an endless supply of coffee and a free bike mechanic, I'd be set for life.