Posted in journalism, multimedia journalist, News, Social Media, Social Media Correspondent, Weather

The 2011 Groundhog Day Blizzard – Digital Prep

By Andrew Humphrey, CBM
Founder & Co-Chair, DJTF | Meteorologist & Station Scientist, WDIV-TV

Now the Midwest gets a taste of a blizzard before Winter 2010-11 is over, and the largest one of the season is on the way. The soon-to-be 2011 Groundhog Day Blizzard is taking shape. As viewers make preparations buying groceries, snow shovels and snow blowers, meteorologists and reporters can prepare for coverage with several digital tools.

The National Weather Service (NWS) is an excellent source for the basic information all weathercasters rely on. already has a top-of-the-page discussion dedicated to the impending, historic winter storm.  Clicking on “Details…” at the end takes you to a map with winter weather advisories drape over more than half of the states in America.  Several links of the various warning and watches are underneath to take you deeper into the details exact cities and counties covered by them.

Tons of raw weather graphics are located on the NWS site, also.  They may not be fit for broadcast, but they are extremely helpful for looking at where the storm is right now.  Clicking on “Satellite” will show you where its cloudy and where snow and ice may be falling.  To know where precipitation is hitting the ground more accurately, you can click on “Radar” for a national view, then place your cursor anywhere on the map and see a local radar picture with another click.

Once in the thick of this significant snowstorm, gathering weather data from your own viewers is very useful and creates a closer connection between you, your station and them.  The most valuable information includes what is falling from the sky (snow, sleet, rain, freezing rain or a combination), what is on the ground (snow, ice or liquid water) and snow totals (the amount of newly fallen snow and the total amount of snow on the ground).  Other important items include temperature and wind speed to know how cold it is, how cold it feels and whether lack of visibility is an issue.

The traditional means of collecting weather conditions by phone and email are okay but much more cumbersome than the newest methods by social media.  Facebook and Twitter are excellent web sites for transmitting what the weather is like at the station or in the field and for soliciting the weather situation from audience members.  I tweet and update my personal and company Facebook status every morning before I do the weather on Local 4 News Morning whether we have good or bad weather with at least these two questions:  “Where are you?” and “What is the weather where you are?”  At least a dozen viewer responses appear from viewers who are local or elsewhere in the country or the world.  From this, I can direct them (along with the rest of my TV and web audience) to Channel 4 (WDIV-TV in Detroit) or our show’s livestream, which simulcasts the news program on

Snow-covered cars, streets and lawns

In addition, the customary phoners with viewers, road commission officials or any other authorities can be replaced with Skype or other video calls.  In addition to getting verbal information first-hand, the camera on the other end of the line can be used for an impromptu liveshot; peering through windows and doorways to bring precise, real-time weather pictures to families.  Today, my co-anchor Rhonda Walker asked our audience members to email us if they would like to Skype with us when the 2011 Groundhog Day Blizzard hits via Facebook.  All of us are eager to see what develops.

Forecasting the scope and impact of a natural catastrophe as soon as possible is and will remain the greatest challenge to weather forecasters everywhere.  The invention the barometer, then satellites, then Doppler radar from the 17th through 20th Centuries gave us an earlier and earlier jump on alerting the public about the danger of imminent disasters.  Now 21st Century inventions and innovations are giving us an even earlier head start.  They are a benefit for this week’s blizzard and any other future calamities, natural or man-made.

Note:  Please try some of the above techniques and comment below on how effective they are.

Posted in Education, journalism, multimedia journalist, Social Media, Webinar

Who Are Your Digital Gurus?

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair, Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group

On Jan. 26, the Digital Journalism Task Force held a joint webinar with Knowledgewebb entitled 10 Steps to a Tech-Savvy You.” Owner Amy Webb went through 10 terrific steps that anyone could take right now to enhance their work.  The notes to that session are here, and you can also take a look at the Twitter chat here.

Step #8 is Find Your Digital Guru, and this one really struck me.  I thought about how much I’ve developed as a digital journalist, and how much further I need to go to continuously improve my craft.  And I think about all the gurus in my life who have gotten me to this point.  I started my digital journey at NABJ’s 2006 convention (my first one) in Indianapolis.  That’s where I sat in on sessions with the Washington Post’s Mark Luckie (former owner of the 10000 Words blog) and Arizona State University’s Retha Hill.  It was the wisdom they imparted there that got me on the road to blogging.

But I didn’t really get into the whole package until almost a year later, in June 2007.  I was covering an airport marketing/communications conference at a beautiful resort in Tucson, Ariz.  It was the last session of the conference’s second day.  Most people had left for happy hour, pool time or a visit to the spa.  But those of us who stayed and listened to Josh Hallett of the Hyku blog and Voce Communications were given a real treat.  Hallett spent his time showing the possibilities of social media in our work and the tools available to help.  I was transformed.

And it also helped that Hallett is an aviation geek (check out his aviation-related photos at his Flickr account) like me.  We spoke the whole time after the conference.  A month later, we met up at the BlogPhiladephia conference, where he introduced me to many social media/new media folks.  After that, I spoke at his BlogOrlando conference for the next two years on how journalists could use social media for their work.  Thanks to Hallett, I was linked into a community of really cool people doing cutting edge stuff that has greatly helped me in my career.

But there are some great gurus within NABJ that are always willing to help fellow members.  You can check out some of them and other journalists of color doing cool things in the multimedia play pen here.  But some of my current NABJ gurus include:

  • Dr. Sybril Bennett, Associate Professor of the New Century Journalism Program at Belmont University and chair, NABJ convention Programming Chair
  • Doug Mitchell, NABJ Media Institute co-chair; Entrepreneurship/Career Coaching/Project Management/Media Consulting/Classroom Teaching
  • Gina Gayle, photojournalist and professor of practice, Univ of Southern Mississippi
  • Dr. Michelle Ferrier, Associate Professor at Elon University and founder,
  • Mario Armstrong, Tech show Host, Commentator, Digital Lifestyle Expert, Small Biz Tech Advocate
  • Natalie McNeal, Southeastern Regional Editor AOL City’s Best; owner, Frugalista website

I have even more outside of NABJ, including Amy Webb.  But by following and befriending gurus, you only improve your own work.  And here’s a gentle reminder: you have until Wednesday to take 30% off the normal $129 year-long subscription to Amy’s Knowledgewebb site.  Use the code NABJDIGI. You won’t be sorry!!

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, journalism, Webinars

Calendar of Multimedia Training and Events

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair, Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group

Editor’s note: NABJ members have until Wednesday, Feb. 2 to take advantage of a 30% discount off the regular $129.00 price for a year-long membership to Knowledgewebb.  Just use the code NABJDIGI to get the discount!!  And Feb. 1 is the deadline to submit your workshop proposals for NABJ’s 2011 Convention and Career Fair.

Webbmedia Group has a great calendar of events that catches things not covered below.  If you want to subscribe to the calendar, click here. You can also subscribe to this calendar so the information appears on your personal Google Calendar. Just go to the Webbmedia Google calendar, click the “+Google Calendar” icon at the bottom right, and then click “Yes, add this calendar” in the dialog box.)

The Donald J. Reynolds Journalism Institute has updated its calendar of free workshops and webinars from now through May 2011.  And Media Bistro has its current course list available through the end of March.


  • The Donald J. Reynolds Journalism Institute is holding a free live chat with MediaStorm founder Brian Storm on Feb. 2 at 3:45 p.m. EST.  Brian Storm’s principal aim is to usher in the next generation of multimedia storytelling. MediaStorm is an award-winning multimedia production studio, where visual storytellers “create cinematic narratives that speak to the heart of the human condition.
  • The Poynter Institute is holding a webinar, Reporting on the Euro, Feb. 3 at 11:00 a.m. EST.  In this one-hour Webinar, you’ll learn how the euro works and how it affects the U.S. and other world markets. The Webinar will examine the 12-year-old currency and give you the background you need to report on the current crisis.  The cost is $9.95.
  • Seattle-based Creative Live is holding a free course, Website Makeover, Feb. 8. In this unique course, Erik Fadiman walks us through a complete website makeover for a local non-profit organization.
  • The Donald J. Reynolds Journalism Institute is offering a free webinar “Social Media 101, 202, 303,” Feb. 8-10.   Social Media 101 offers the basics for social media newbies.  Social Media 202 is tips for reporters about using social media sites as research tools. Social Media 303 will show how to filter to contain the clutter.
  • The Poynter Institute is holding a webinar, Write with Voice and Tone: Poynter Writing Webinar Series, Feb. 9 at 2:00 p.m. EST.  Memorable writing has a strong voice and appropriate tone. Whether you are writing Twitter updates, a blog or a long narrative, you want to hit the right chord when it comes to tone and voice. This will distinguish your writing from others and connect with your audience.  The cost is $29.95.
  • The S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University is taking submissions for the 2011 Mirror Awards.  Categories include: Best Single Article, Traditional Media; Best Single Article, Digital Media; Best Profile, Traditional Media; Best Profile, Digital Media; Best Commentary, Traditional Media; Best Commentary, Digital Media (including blogs); and Best In-Depth Piece, Traditional Media. Submissions cover work done in 2010; the deadline to submit is Feb. 10.
  • Seattle-based Creative Live is holding a free four-week course, DSLR Fast Start Workshop Series, on Thursdays starting Feb. 10. Cameras covered include: Canon Rebel T2i / 550D; Nikon D3100; Canon 60D; and Nikon D7000.
  • The Poynter Institute is holding a webinar, 100 Ideas to Make Your Journalism Better, Feb. 16 at 2:00 p.m. EST.  This unique Webinar will help you add more tools to your bag of strategies and approach your craft with new enthusiasm. And you’ll get great ideas to pass around to friends, colleagues and even family.  The cost is $24.95.
  • Seattle-based Creative Live is holding a free five-week course, Introduction to Final Cut Pro for DSLR Video, Feb. 16. Here is a perfect 5-week introduction to Final Cut Pro for photographers shooting video on DSLR cameras.
  • The Donald J. Reynolds Journalism Institute is partnering with the Investigative Reporters and Editors and the N.C. Press Association on a free Webinar, “Investigating Private Companies and Nonprofits,” in Raleigh, N.C.,  Feb. 23.  This Webinar help attendees find public documents on private companies and the basics of what you’ll find in those documents; understand the new Form 990 and the basics of nonprofits’ finances; and analyze and apply what you’ve learned — including discovering the power of spreadsheets to spot trends — to produce great stories.
  • The Freedom Forum Diversity Institute will hold its Multimedia Boot Camp for Journalism Professionals and Educators Feb. 23-27 at the John Seigenthaler Center in Nashville, Tenn. Participants will learn how to: produce multimedia on a budget, buy the right gear and find cheap ways to record and edit audio; use basic tools in Adobe Photoshop; edit an audio story with Audacity; produce an audio slideshow in Final Cut; produce two video projects, using Final Cut for storytelling and editing; and learn how smart phones can be used to gather news.  Tuition is $850.
  • Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), in partnership with Hacks/Hackers, will offer hands-on data visualization training at NewsCamp on Feb. 24 in Raleigh, N.C.  Registration is $100.


  • The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has opened up applications for its Journalism Fellowship for 2011-2012.  The Journalism Fellow will be responsible for ensuring that our publications are appealing to and understandable by our core readers — journalists who do not have any special legal knowledge. The fellow will serve as the primary editor of our single-topic guides and our daily news product, making sure the web site is updated regularly.  Applications are due March 1.
  • The Poynter Institute is holding a webinar, Understanding Internet Basics for a Better Online News Operation, March 2 at 2:00 p.m. EST.  This Webinar will introduce technical terms and concepts such as Web addresses and protocols, which will help you solve problems and give you new confidence when talking with your technical team.  The cost is $27.95.
  • The Donald J. Reynolds Journalism Institute is holding a free Webinar, “Covering the Green Economy – A Western Perspective,” in Los Angeles March 4.  The daylong workshop will help you learn the latest sustainable trends impacting your local economy and will give you practical tips for navigating one of the hottest topics around.
  • The Poynter Institute is holding a webinar, Short Narrative Bursts: Social Media Writing, March 9 at 2:00 p.m. EST.  This Webinar will help you apply traditional writing strategies to social media platforms. The cost is $29.95.
  • The Donald J. Reynolds Journalism Institute is holding a free live chat with Bloomberg’s John Gittelsohn on real estate March 16 at 1:30 p.m. EST.  He will discuss key housing trends to track locally.
  • The Conference on International News, Technology and Audiences will be held March 17-18 at the University of California-Berkeley.  The conference will bring together a broad range of academics, journalists and industry representatives in order to focus on some of the emergent, boundary-crossing constellations of news, technologies and audiences.  Registration is $250.
  • The Knight Digital Media Center at UC Berkeley has opened applications for its 2011 Multimedia Training May 15-20. The workshop offers intensive training that covers all aspects of multimedia news production; from basic storyboarding to hands-on instruction with hardware and software for production of multimedia stories. Participants will be organized into teams to report on a pre-arranged story in the Bay Area, and then construct a multimedia presentation based on that coverage.  Applications are due by March 18.
  • The Donald J. Reynolds Journalism Institute is holding a free Webinar, “15 Red Flags When Editing Business Stories: Online,” March 29 at noon or 4:00 p.m. EST. This free Webinar aims to bring business copy into your comfort zone — or at least closer to it — by exposing the biggest pitfalls editors and reporters face in dealing with business topics.


  • The Institute for Interactive Journalism and the McCormick Foundation are seeking to fund four women-led projects that will rock the world of journalism.  The McCormick Foundation’s New Media Women Entrepreneurs program will fund individuals who have original ideas to create new Web sites, mobile news services or other entrepreneurial initiatives that offer interactive opportunities to engage, inspire and improve news and information in a geographic community or a community of interest.  Applications are due April 4.
  • The National Conference for Media Reform will hold its annual conference in Boston April 8-11, 2011.  The conference brings together thousands of activists, media makers, educators, journalists, scholars, policymakers and engaged citizens to meet, tell their stories, share tactics, listen to great speakers and build the movement for better media in America.
  • The Donald J. Reynolds Journalism Institute is holding a free Webinar, “Telling Business Stories with Soundslides” at Southern Methodist University’s Umphrey Lee Center in Dallas, April 8. Attendees must be registered for the Society of American Business Writers and Editors spring conference April 7-9.
  • The Donald J. Reynolds Journalism Institute is holding a free Webinar, “Covering the green economy – Follow the green money,” April 19 at noon or 4:00 p.m. Eastern time.  You will learn the skills to find the green money trail on your beat. He’ll show you how to track green stimulus projects and identify the other cash trickling from Washington into your backyard.


  • The Donald J. Reynolds Journalism Institute is holding a free Webinar, “15 tips on time management for business journalists,” May 3.  Participants will learn simple things they can immediately incorporate into their daily work and personal lives that will allow them to juggle more efficiently. You can attend the hour-long, interactive session at either noon or 4 p.m. EDT on May 3.
  • The Donald J. Reynolds Journalism Institute is holding a free Webinar, “Beyond Google: Mining the Web for company intelligence: Online,” May 17-18 at noon or 4:00 p.m. EST.  Here’s a chance to learn the tools and techniques that competitive intelligence experts use every day — and that you can use to keep tabs on the companies on your beat.



  • Internet Week New York City is being held June 6-13.  Internet Week is a week-long festival of events celebrating New York’s thriving internet industry and community.
  • The Knight Digital Media Center at UC Berkeley has opened applications for its Web 2.0 workshop June 13-17.  This training takes participants through the progression of reporting news for multiple digital platforms, starting with quick text posts and moving through photos and video and finally ending with a full multimedia presentation. The workshop provides hands-on training using Twitter and Facebook for reporting and driving web traffic, creating data-driven map mashups, dynamically updating a blog for breaking news, publishing photo galleries and audio slideshows, producing videos and editing videos using Final Cut Pro.  The deadline to apply is April 15.
  • The Donald J. Reynolds Journalism Institute is holding a free Webinar, “10 Tips for Turning National Stories into Great Local Ones,” June 21 at noon or 4:00 p.m. EDT.  Listeners will learn how to localize hot national stories.



  • The Donald J. Reynolds Journalism Institute is holding a free Webinar, “Unlocking Financial Statements,” July 18-22.  The weeklong online seminar covers income statements, balance sheets, cash flows and writing about numbers.



  • The National Association of Black Journalists is holding its annual convention and career fair Aug. 3-7, 2011, in Philadelphia.  Professional journalists, students and educators will take part in full- and half-day seminars designed to strengthen and enhance their skills. Workshops throughout the five-day convention will highlight journalism ethics, entrepreneurship, specialized journalism and transitioning journalism skills to book publishing, screen writing and media relations.

If you have any items that I’ve missed, please drop me an email via the DJTF Yahoo! Listserv or at regaviationqueen AT yahoo DOT com.  Thanks!