Tony Kontzer

Freelance Writer and Journalist

Tony Kontzer, BJ '88

Degree(s): BJ '88

Whereabouts: United States, Albany, California

What do you do?
I’m a freelance writer and journalist. My focus is on information technology, and I write for a variety of publishers and corporations.

How did you get your job?
This is my second stint as a freelancer. The first was from 1996-2000. I had been working for a weekly business publication (the San Jose Business Journal) covering advertising and public relations. That turned out to be a perfect beat to make plenty of connections for freelance gigs, and so I left to make a go of it on my own. The ensuing four years were far smoother than I had any reason to expect. Then I went back into the job world and spent six years writing for InformationWeek before a family tragedy forced me to leave that job and, eventually, return to freelancing. I’ve been doing it ever since – more than eight years now.

What is the best professional lesson you learned at the J-School?
No matter how small the story may seem, there are always people who care deeply about it.

What advice do you have for current students?
You have so much at your fingertips that didn’t exist for previous generations of graduates. Use the tools to establish a brand for yourself and don’t be afraid to be independent. There is no job security left in this business, so learn how to provide your own job security. You’ll be glad you did, and you’ll have way more control over your life than you ever could with a traditional job.

What is your favorite J-School memory?
Working with my favorite J-School teacher at the time, Louise Montgomery, on developing a lengthy Sunday magazine piece on the explosion of jazz performance in Columbia at the time. During my two years in the J-School, jazz/blues names that performed in Columbia included Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Bobby Hutcherson, BB King and Dave Brubeck. If I could have spent the rest of my life writing such pieces, it would have been a dream come true. Alas, jazz writing doesn’t pay a whole lot.

Any additional comments?
It’s been 27 years since I graduated, and I still miss my time at Mizzou just about every day. Such a wonderful four years – and I wasn’t exactly a J-School insider. I just loved the experience of being in central Missouri after having grown up in Los Angeles. To this day, I consider my decision to attend Mizzou one of the best calls I’ve made in my life (along with deciding to marry my second wife).

Updated: January 15, 2015