March 15, 2012


Well-written words wield great power. They shape our perceptions of the world or create imagined worlds we easily inhabit. Artful word choice and arrangement awake our senses and emotions. Clarity and brevity maximize comprehension. Relentless research infuses writing with surprise and substance. Achieving these qualities is both the challenge and reward of my work as a writer, editor, and researcher. Looking at my keyboard, I see more than faded letters and coffee stains—I see clients and readers with high standards awaiting prose that illuminates. No more inspiration needed.

From where do these beliefs spring? Think of the answer as a story with four chapters: 1) Reading enchants young boy who loves biking to his small-town library and losing himself amid the shelves. 2) Years working in newsrooms as zealous reporter and editor hones research and word skills. 3) Running entrepreneurial online businesses pays handsomely but lacks essential drug—creativity. 4) Creativity reclaimed in return to roots, focusing on finding and crafting stories.

Scroll for details and click to my bio. Links to my favorite work samples are below. Find many more samples in Portfolio. For more insight into how I think and write, my blog features eclectic and highly personal offerings. And even more is laid bare on Twitter and Facebook. Not enough? Please email me.

Skills & AttributesTop

Writing with style, voice, and length appropriate for the subject and target audience.

Conveying a wide range of content in prose forms that engage and linger with readers.

Writing and editing that achieves accuracy, clarity, and cohesion.

Making complex subjects easy to understand without trivializing them or diminishing their significance.

Discovering many types of information, including the hard-to-find and unexpected, in service of quenchless curiosity.

Keen sense for news and other story types that make people take notice. In other words, knowing a good story when I find it.

Deep regard for truth—absolute, conflicting, nuanced, and shaded—coupled with the ability to present it with attention to context and perspective.

Interview style that puts people at ease and encourages candor.

Favorite WorksTop

Shades of a Renegade

1911 Bucking Finals: Controversy Lingers

His Newsreel Camera Never Blinked

And the World Will Fall to Pieces

Black or White

Twitter and Burritos to the Rescue 


First place, graduate non-fiction writing award, Portland State University.

First place, graduate fiction writing award, Portland State University.

Co-winner, best short story, Ooligan Press.

Co-winner, Tribune Management Award, for development of interactive media services for the Orlando Sentinel and Tribune Company.

Editor award for leading nation’s most comprehensive coverage of space shuttle Challenger disaster, Orlando Sentinel. 

Press & PraiseTop

“… the real highlight of the book is the section on the famous 1911 bronc-busting competition between three cowboys, one white (John Spain), one black (George Fletcher) and one Nez Perce Indian (Jackson Sundown), that ended in a disputed victory for Spain. It’s one of the great Western stories of all time, and Bales tells it well to the accompaniment of some truly remarkable photographs.”
— The Oregonian review of Pendleton Round-Up at 100: Oregon’s Legendary Rodeo

“This extravagantly illustrated book commemorates the centennial of the Round-Up and captures its enduring appeal in Oregon, the Pacific Northwest, and the world of rodeo.”
University of Oklahoma Press on Pendleton Round-Up at 100

“Thank you Mike Bales for your careful reading and editorial skill.”
Loretta Stinson, author of Little Green: A Novel

“Mike Bales has exhibited versatility, creativity and strong management skills in launching a number of new media ventures in the past year. Most notably, Orlando Sentinel Online is exceeding financial expectations.”
— Nomination for Tribune Management Award 

Work HistoryTop

Freelance writer, editor, and researcher, and graduate student during the last decade. Highlights:

  • Co-authored intensely researched and highly praised book, Pendleton Round-Up at 100: Oregon’s Legendary Rodeo.
  • Curated “Tall in the Saddle: 100 Years of the Pendleton Round-Up,” an exhibit featuring hundreds of artifacts and thousands of words of text, collected and written for the Oregon Historical Society and Tamástslikt Cultural Institute of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla.
  • Extensive reporting, writing, and photography for The Oregonian newspaper.
  • Student in the graduate writing program at Portland State University, creative non-fiction track. Completed 54 credit hours with a 4.0 average. Winner of first-place awards for non-fiction and fiction in the 41st Annual Nina Mae Kellogg Awards.

Staff reporter and editor at three daily newspapers for nearly two decades. Highlights:

  • Six editor assignments at the Orlando Sentinel during the last 11 of those years, including metro editor, Sunday editor, national editor, and deputy managing editor.
  • In these roles managed and edited the work of many reporters at many locations, and managed staffs of editors.
  • Journalistic milestones at the Sentinel included major expansion of local news coverage, leading months-long project examining the space shuttle Challenger disaster, and directing investigative news project that disclosed storage of Patriot missiles near tourist area.
  • Wrote hundreds of stories, mostly local news, for Florida Today in Melbourne, and the Thomasville Times-Enterprise in Georgia. Promoted from reporter to editing roles at both newspapers, including city editor.

Developed and managed online media businesses during nearly a decade starting in 1993. Highlights:

  • Started and managed the first online version of the Orlando Sentinel.
  • Served as general manager for Sentinel Interactive, a subsidiary of the Orlando Sentinel and its owner, Chicago-based Tribune Company, that operated the newspaper online and three other web sites: Digital City Orlando, Go2Orlando, and Black Voices.
  • Recruited by Intel Corp. to develop and manage a content service for an Intel-branded wireless web tablet. This role included hiring a staff of more than 20, developing a business model, and helping to establish business relationships with national brand content companies.



Bachelor of Arts, Mercer University.

Graduate Writing Program, Portland State University.

American Press Institute, Program for City and Metro Editors.

Tribune Company Leadership Program.

Advanced Executive Program, Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management.

Don Murray Storytelling Seminar.

Numerous other journalism and management seminars and conferences.