By Benét J. Wilson, chair, NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force & social media/newsletters editor, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Voting for the 2012-13 Online News Association board opened on Saturday, during the annual convention in San Francisco. On that day, the 15 candidates (running for seven slots) outlined their visions for ONA and what they would do if they were chosen to serve. Below are my reasons for running. I hope you’ll support me.
- “I Just Wanted To Put A Little Color On The Bridge.” This is a quote from “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry. He used it to describe the Uhura character to the NBC executives when he was selling them on the show. ONA has come a long way, but as current board member Robert Hernandez asked during the candidates’ forum: where are the journalists of color at this convention? I would take that a step further and ask why more aren’t ONA members and what can we do to change that? As a member of the diversity and membership committees, these are questions I would try to answer as a board member.
- I Believe That Students Are Our Future. One of the things I love about the National Association of Black Journalists is its embrace of student members, from nurturing college chapters to giving a student a seat on the board. There are too many great journalism schools (UC-Berkeley, USC, Syracuse, Howard University, City University of New York, University of Maryland-College Park, Arizona State University, UT-Austin and Ohio University, to name a few) that don’t have ONA student chapters. This would be a focus of mine, designed to bring in revenue and ensure the organization’s long-term future.
- Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks. I’m an old-school print journalist (I started my career on an electric typewriter) who has transformed — thanks to organizations like ONA — into a 21st century multimedia, multi platform journalist. But there are still too many folks of my generation and just below that still lack these skills. As a board member, I would work to pair our younger, more savvy members to help teach older journalists who are open to learning these skills.
- To Serve Man (And Woman). You can’t have great organizations like ONA, NABJ and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (I’m a proud member of all three) without stepping up to the plate and serving. With ONA, I served as a judge for the inaugural Google-AP Scholarships. I’ve been a member of the membership and diversity committees. And I brought ONA Camp to the 2012 NABJ convention. I serve as chair of NABJ’s Digital Journalism Task Force, where we use our blog, Facebook and Twitter to disseminate jobs, events, tips, tech and tools for anyone who follows us. We also do monthly free webinars and TweetChats on key topics. I’m in my second year as NABJ Program Chair, responsible for creating workshops and learning labs for the organization’s annual convention. I also do free resume reviews and mentoring for any student or young journalist who asks.
- Taking It To The Streets. I’m a West Coast/East Coast girl who’s lived around the world. Board candidate Mandy Jenkins made a good point during her remarks at our forum: ONA is an east/west organization and tends to leave mid-America out of the mix. I would tap my network of SPJ, NABJ, AAJA and NAHJ members in middle America and encourage joint events with ONA and encourage folks to join the organization. ONA should make creating new chapters and holding events in the Midwest, the South, the Mountain region and the Southwest a priority as a way to make the organization more regionally diverse.
In my remarks at the candidates forum, I noted that ONA members have a great slate of potential board members to choose from. You get seven picks; I’d love to be one of them.