Posted in journalism, Social Media, Uncategorized

Best of DJTF Blog: Open discussion: Separating your personal and professional life on social media

Editor’s note: We are taking this week off to enjoy the holidays with our families.  So this week, we’ll be re-running past posts.  Today’s post is from former DJTF intern Ameena Rasheed, who opens discourse on journalists having separate social media accounts personal and professional use.  It originally ran on Feb. 13.  Also, join the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force for a virtual conference “New Year, New You,” on Saturday, Jan. 11 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. In four hour-long sessions, attendees will learn mobile journalism tips and tricks, how to create an online portfolio, steps needed to create your journalism brand and taking your resume to the next level.  You can take 1, 2, 3, or all 4 webinars, and they will be recorded in case you can’t make it. Click here for more information.


Having separate professional and personal social media profiles is one of the first signs of mental illness. Ok, not really, but the stress of juggling several social media accounts is enough to make anybody go crazy — especially me.

There are some social media websites, such as LinkedIn, that cater to one’s professional network and nothing more. Other sites like Twitter and Facebook are not as clear. Platforms like those are used in various capacities, both professional and personal. For early adopters of social media, like myself, having social media began first as a leisurely activity, long before I ever thought about having it used as a vital part of my career.

It wasn’t until around 2010, when I started using social media to tell stories. In the fall of 2010, I took an online journalism course. While I was in that class, I fell in love with digital storytelling. I was forced to use platforms like Twitter and Facebook as reporting tools, which ended up leaving little room for me to be reckless on social media.

I could have created separate accounts just for that one class, but who has the time for that! I wanted my professor to take me seriously, but I didn’t want the hassle of juggling several accounts. Also, as a journalist I think that having separate accounts for your professional and personal lives might become a little confusing for those who follow your work. In my eyes, it splits your following and I would just prefer to send people to one place for each platform that I’m on. Plus, I have been to enough IRE functions to know that nothing is “private” on the web. If I’m trying keep certain thoughts and events of my life unknown to the greater public, I should keep certain things to myself.

On my accounts, I try to do a healthy balance of lifecasting, sharing my life, and mindcasting, sharing my ideas and the work of others. One of the best pieces of advice I received was about how to share content via social media was from founder and CEO of brand development company Medley Inc., Ashley Small.

She told me to think of three positive things that you want to be known for, three negative things you don’t want to be known for and then filter your content by what is on those lists. I think that NABJ member and Fox 26 news reporter Isiah Carey does this perfectly.

Of course, everyone doesn’t share my sentiments. NABJ-ers, what do you think about having separate accounts for personal and professional use? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Posted in journalism, multimedia journalist, Social Media, Uncategorized

Best of DJTF Blog: Kiratiana’s Mini Kickstarter Guide

Editor’s note: We are taking this week off to enjoy the holidays with our families.  So this week, we’ll be re-running past posts.  Today’s post is from DJTF co-chair Kiratiana Freelon, who explains how kickstarter campaigns can bring one’s dream project into reality.  It originally ran on Nov. 15, 2012.  Also, join the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force for a virtual conference “New Year, New You,” on Saturday, Jan. 11 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. In four hour-long sessions, attendees will learn mobile journalism tips and tricks, how to create an online portfolio, steps needed to create your journalism brand and taking your resume to the next level.  You can take 1, 2, 3, or all 4 webinars, and they will be recorded in case you can’t make it. Click here for more information.


When it came time to publish my second travel guide, Kiratiana’s Travel Guide to Multicultural London, I didn’t have enough money to do the research, and pay an editor, designer and proofreader. So how was I going to fund this project? Thanks to new crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo a lack of money can never prevent a dream project from coming to fruition.

I decided to use Kickstarter to help me fund my dream of publishing a Multicultural London e-book.

Kickstarter or IndieGoGo?

Having funded more than 10 Kickstarter projects, I always knew that I wanted to use the Kickstarter platform. When I was researching other platforms around May of 2011, IndieGoGo appeared to be the lesser platform, the one that people used when they didn’t to get accepted to Kickstarter. It was for people who were too scared to do the ALL or NOTHING model. But I have come to respect IndieGoGo in recent months.

To use Kickstarter, you have to propose a PROJECT, which pretty much eliminates non-profits and trips. With Indiegogo, there is no specific type of campaign you must have to raise money. Anything goes. Indiegogo also allows you to raise funds and keep some of the funds if you do not reach your goal. Another plus for Indiegogo – it’s open to international people. As of now, Kickstarter is only open to the United Kingdom. Now I think the platforms are equal to each other and Indiegogo might have even passed Kickstarter as the most respected platform.

How Much?

Your decision on how much money to raise will be the most important decision of your campaign. Obviously, everything starts with the question of how much your project needs. But if your documentary or book needs $50,000 to complete, will you go for that?

Kickstarter says the average pledge is $70. That means for $50,000 you would need 714 pledges. A documentary that I’m working on, Fast Dreams needs this amount to be completed. Unfortunately the director, Harry Davis, is not a super networker (no Facebook or Twitter) and with me having tapped my own network for Kickstarter, our ability to raise $50,000 is limited.  To fundraise for a campaign so large, we would have to make it go viral. When I thought about my own Kickstarter, I knew that there were about 80 people out there willing to support me.

When calculating money, also think about the fees (5% on Amazon Payments and 5% on Kickstarter) and the few people whose credit cards will not go through. So the $6,000 just became $5,500 after all the fees.

How long?

Kickstarter recommends that you do 30 days or less to keep the momentum going through a campaign. I chose 35 days just to give myself a little leeway. If you look at the chart below, I did not really do anything for the first five days. It finally took a friend to push me to start campaigning the day before memorial day weekend. If you have the supporters and really push your campaign I don’t think it will matter how long your campaign is (30-60 days). But do you REALLY want to be doing a Kickstarter campaign for TWO MONTHS?! No.

The campaign went nowhere when I didn’t do anything for the first five days.

The Video & Description & Prizes

I spent more than 20 hours creating the video, description and prizes. For $6,000 everything had to look GREAT. When Kickstarter first began, many of the projects only had pictures. These days all successful projects have a video that describes their project. When you are creating your video, make sure that it can have a use after the Kickstarter project. With a little tinkering, I may be able to use my video as a trailer for my new book.

Creating prizes that were worth their value was very important to me. I had no intention of using Kickstarter for people to GIVE me money. I would offer them something of value you return.

$10 got you the book.

$25 got you the book and Black Paris Guide

$45 got you the book, Black Paris Guide AND PDF.  Okay I’ll admit that one was priced slightly more than it should have been priced.

Do you see a pattern?

Having a spread like this gives someone, no matter what their financial situation, the opportunity to pledge to your campaign. A young person out of college can pledge $10 and your mother can pledge $500.

The Strategy

 I had a relatively simple strategy to jumpstart and sustain my campaign.

1)   Call my relatives and closest friends to personally ask for pledges.

2)   Develop an email campaign for my friends, family and acquaintances.

3)   Reach out to travel bloggers for support in the campaigns with blogs.

4)   FACEBOOK and TWEET it to DEATH.

The last one is what would really put me over the edge. In hindsight, I really wish I had focused on number 3 more. When I posted something about the campaign on the Racialicious blog, it started to go viral.

Facebook versus Twitter

Before I began my campaign I knew that I wanted to use twitter and Facebook to promote it. I also wanted to see if I could leverage my twitter following (about 3,500 at the time) to support the campaign. So I did the following:

1)   Encouraged celebrities to retweet the information about my campaign. While I am sure that this generated more awareness for the I could not find any connection between these tweets and pledges.

2)   Changed my twitter bio to reflect the twitter campaign. (Insert screen shot).  I was surprised by the impact of this relatively simple action. I received at least a dozen tweets from people who didn’t follow me telling me how cool the project was. Yes, twitter bios are extremely important.

3)   Near the end of the campaign, I DM’d my best followers to they could tweet out the message below. Once again, I did not see a direct connection between any tweets and pledges but I am confident that twitter helped to increase the awareness of the campaign.

Now your use of twitter could also depend on the type of project you are proposing. Nick Disabato publishes a quarterly magazine about design and technology and he’s raised more than $25,000 on Kickstarter. According to my twitter chat below with him, most of his campaign promotion is split between an email campaign and a twitter campaign.

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Screen shot 2013-12-21 at 4.56.50 PM

The Facebook Campaign

My Kickstarter campaign did not jumpstart until I launched it on Facebook. Obviously the easiest thing you can do is post it on your wall. Just doing that will not work. If you follow the steps below, I will guarantee you that your Facebook friends will start to pledge.

1)   Create an event for your Kickstarter campaign. When you create an event, make the duration of the event, the duration of the campaign. Then INVITE everyone from your friend list to the campaign. Once you finish inviting them, then start posting into the Facebook group about your Kickstarter. I found that when ever I posted or sent a message to this event, people ALWAYS started to donate.

2)   Send a Facebook message to 200 of your Facebook friends (Believe me people will be mad at you.

3)   Post your Kickstarter project on your Facebook page and tag about 15 of your closest friends. This will help it to go viral and friends will start posting the project on their pages.

4)   Tag anyone when they pledge to your campaign. When someone pledges to your campaign, give them props by tagging them in a Facebook Thank you post.

5) If I were launching a Kickstarter campaign today, I would use Facebook promoted posts to launch and sustain my campaign. Remember, people won’t give the first time they see the campaign. But after several viewings, they will probably do it.

The Email Campaign

Another important part of your campaign will be email. You MUST have an email campaign in which you send out multiple emails. I used Mailchimp to develop a nice looking email campaign.

1)   Send your email to your closest friends and acquaintances.  I sent an email to about 350 people. I sent the email twice to this list, but looking back I think I could have sent out one more email.

The Blogger Outreach and PR Campaign

This is something that I really wish I invested more time and energy into. I reached out to a few bloggers to blog about my campaign and they did as you can see here, and here. I think that their blog posts helped to raise awareness of the campaign but I can’t determine if it led to pledges. But with your fundraiser, you need awareness because on average, a person will not take action until they have seen something seven times.

It wasn’t until I did a guest post for Racialicious that I saw how reaching someone’s audience could help my campaign. It was only until then that I really saw my kickstarter go viral. I started to see new people that I didn’t know before pledge to the campaign.

The Final Product

After four months of researching, writing and fundraising for the book, I finally published it last week. Thank you to all of my Kickstarter funders, many of whom belong to the NABJ for helping me reach my 2012 dream.

Multicultural London

After five months of hard work (with the Olympic and Paralympic Games thrown in there), I finally published my book, Kiratiana’s Travel Guide to Multicultural London

Posted in Education, journalism, multimedia journalist

10 Links To Get You Started For 2014

Editor’s note: Join the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force for a virtual conference “New Year, New You,” on Saturday, Jan. 11 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. In four hour-long sessions, attendees will learn mobile journalism tips and tricks, how to create an online portfolio, steps needed to create your journalism brand and taking your resume to the next level.  You can take 1, 2, 3, or all 4 webinars, and they will be recorded in case you can’t make it. Click here for more information.

So here we are at the end of 2013. It’s only natural to look back, but also to look ahead.  In 2014, DJTF is stepping up its efforts to give journalists of color all the tools they need to step up their digital game.  So below is a list to get you started.  Happy New Year!!

  1. Blogging Tips — What are Your Blogging Goals for the New Year?
  2. Media Twit A basic intro to digital hygiene for security-conscious journalists
  3. Huffington Post — 14 Social Media Habits to Start in 2014
  4. ProfNet — How to never run out of blog post ideas (suggestions from 8 @ProfNet bloggers)
  5. Mashable — The Beginner’s Guide to the Cloud
  6. Knight Digital Media Center — Learn Google Analytics with new, free online course
  7. Lifehacker — How to Change Your Email Address without Screwing Everything Up
  8. — Have all your digital files available at all time from all of your devices-keep them in the cloud
  9. Jodi on the Web — 7 powerful Facebook statistics you should know for a more engaging Facebook page
  10. Knight Foundation — Four tips to help journalists create more videos 

Benét J. Wilson serves on the board of the Online News Association. She is the immediate past chair of the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force and is the social media/eNewsletters editor for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.  She is also a freelance aviation journalist and blogger.

Posted in Entrepreneur, Innovation, journalism, multimedia journalist, Technology, Uncategorized

Spotlight’s On: Trina Chiasson

Trina Chiasson, CEO and Co-founder of InfoActive

The future of data journalism is looking brighter than ever. InfoActive, a data visualization upstart is turning data into eye-catching visuals to be used in stories. Co-founder and Reynolds Journalism Institute fellow Trina Chiasson designed this data graphics tool to help take professional data collecting and usage to the next level.

Tell us about InfoActive.

A little over a year ago, I started a web startup that simplifies the process of creating interactive info graphics with live data. We’re building a software in the form of a web application that is a self-serve platform that people will be able to use to import data and help them tell visual data-driven stories. We’re also working with the Reynolds Journalism Institute to do some research on how newsrooms use data visualizations.

What made you start your company?

I started InfoActive because I was having a hard time making data driven stories myself. Most data tools weren’t built for design and most design tools weren’t built for data. There was a gap in functionality; it required going through lots of different steps, and it was really difficult. At the same time, I’ve spent a lot of my life and my work on the web. I thought there should be an easier, simpler solution that takes advantage of the interactivity of the web. So I thought it would be fun to build it! I started playing with some code and talking to people to about it. Then, it started gaining attention, traction and interest.

Who are you targeting?

We’re definitely working with a lot of data journalists. They have a huge need for data visualization and it’s a difficult thing for small newsrooms to invest the time in creating the best graphics. There’s also a big need in nonprofits and academics institutions. Students need this as well. There’s also a big need amongst marketers, advertisers and companies that are trying to present information to their clients about campaigns they’ve been running. So, there’s a pretty wide variety of people who see value in this tool.

How is data collected?

Data is collected in so many different formats. It’s being collected automatically through analytics, online surveys and different social networks. We’re finding that a lot of organizations have data that they’re collecting [through] these different formats, and often data journalists are collecting it through governments that are getting much better about collecting data about their populations. There are also different data sets to work with, and it can be very daunting [to sort through]. For someone using the application [InfoActive], they would start with an existing data set that they have from any one of these sources—and sometimes they’ve collected data too using survey tools to collect information about their audience. Then they would import these data sets into InfoActive’s platform. Our platform programmatically looks at the data and then draws visualizations that make sense. You work with text blocks, interactive filters and different charts to organize the visualization story.

What are your future plans for InfoActive?

We’re expecting to launch a public beta in March. People will be able to login, try it out and create an infographic. For more advanced usage, there will be a monthly subscription cost. After we launch in March, we have a few stretch goals that we’ve hit through our Kickstarter campaign. Those include new visualization charts, an icon library, and analytics on how people interact with infographics. We plan to launch an API so people can connect their custom data streams to different infographics and build new ways to use our platform. The API is a way to enable developers to hook into our platform in more robust ways and create their own connections to our platform. For example, if they have their own custom data stream and they want to fuse that into infographic templates, the API would be a place to do that.

On December 18th, InfoActive’s Kickstarter campaign generated nearly 5 times its pledge goal of $12,000. Chiasson talks about her excitement about the campaign and launch, “I really appreciate all the support we’ve gotten so far. It’s been really amazing to watch customers get involved in the process and see the product evolve because of that. I’m really excited for all of the new supporters that we have through the Kickstarter campaign and to launch our public beta in March.”

To learn more about InfoActive, visit : 

Sadiyyah Rice is the digital intern for the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force, recording secretary for the Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists and producer and editor for Higher Education Channel Television (HEC-TV).

Posted in Education, journalism

Why I’m Donating $10 To The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas – And You Should Too

I know, I know — it’s the holiday season. We’ve spent money on gifts, parties and our own selves. So it’s really tough to get an appeal for a donation right in the middle of this time of spending excess.

But when I got my appeal from Rosental Alves, director of the Knight Center for Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, for a mere $10, I had to give it.  I spend more on my Starbucks latte, and I can bypass them for a week.

For those of you not in the know, the Center has offered seven  Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) — for free.  Classes offered included “Development of Journalistic Projects for the Web: an Introduction to Entrepreneurial Journalism,” “Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization,” “Introduction to Data Journalism,” and “Data-Driven Journalism: The Basics.” You can read my story about Alves’ efforts further in the fall edition of the NABJ Journal, page 16.

These are the courses that will help journalists of color remain relevant in their newsrooms as more employers seek — and hire — those with digital skills. So help the Center continue to offer these quality courses for free by making a $10 donation, here.

Posted in Education, journalism

Calendar of Multimedia Training and Events


  • Join the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force for a virtual conference “New Year, New You,” on Saturday, Jan. 11 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. In four hour-long sessions, attendees will learn mobile journalism tips and tricks, how to create an online portfolio, steps needed to create your journalism brand and taking your resume to the next level. Click here for more information.
  • If you have the skills, passion and determination to be a journalist of the future – a trained professional who knows a good story when they see it and who has the confidence to tell it in a way that best imparts its relevance and importance to news consumers – an 18-month Hearst Fellowship may be right for you. Applications are open through January.

  • The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism will hold a free workshop, “Investigating the Business of Government,” Jan. 23, 2014, preceding the Winter Convention of the Kentucky Press Association Jan. 23-24. If you dread analyzing the annual municipal budget for news and wonder how to tie government contracts to campaign-donor lists, come hone your skills at this workshop taught by investigative reporter John Cheves. The workshop will be held at the Hyatt Regency, 401 W. High St., Lexington, Ky.
  • The Reynolds Fellowship in Community Journalism is accepting applications. This fellowship is be awarded to “a journalist of accomplishment and promise who is committed to the role of the community press.” Open to journalists working at a U.S. daily and weekly newspapers with a circulation less than 50,000, journalists doing online work for community newspapers, or journalists who have established independent local news websites in communities where the circulation of the local newspaper is less than 50,000. Must be a U.S. citizen. Deadline: Jan. 31, 2014. Apply now.
  • The Nieman-Berkman Fellowships in Journalism Innovation are a collaboration between two parts of Harvard (the Nieman Foundation for Journalism and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society). This fellowship involves spending a year in residence in Cambridge, and full participation in both the Nieman and Berkman fellowship communities. Applicants must propose a specific course of study or project relating to journalism innovation. Open to working journalists or others who work for a news organization in a business, technology, or leadership capacity. Independent journalists are also welcome. Deadline: Jan. 31, 2014.Apply now.


  • The Knight-Wallace Fellowships at Michigan is now accepting applications. Spend an academic year at the Univ. of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Fellows devise a personalized study plan with access to UM courses and resources, and are encouraged to nurture their creative and artistic tendencies. Includes twice-weekly seminars as well as domestic and international travel. Deadline: Feb. 1, 2014. Apply now: U.S. and international.
  • The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism will hold a free workshop, “Perfecting Personality Profiles,” Feb. 5-6 at 4:00 p.m. ET (noon PT). To make your beat coverage more accessible and engaging, you need to focus on people – those in positions of power or influence, and those who consume goods and services, work for wages and pay taxes. In the first hour of this lively two-part webinar, Pulitzer winner Jacqui Banaszynski will explore the characteristics of memorable and accurate profiles, as well as offer a range of profile approaches that can suit your purpose, publication and audience. In the second hour, on Feb. 6, she’ll dive more deeply into the reporting and writing techniques that can help any beat reporter pursue sparkling profiles.


  • The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism will hold a free workshop, “Social Media ROI for Journalists,” March 4 at  4:00 p.m ET (noon PT). In 2013, more and more newsrooms will revisit their social media strategy and ask, “What’s our return on investment?” How do we know if our newsroom is doing social “correctly”? What does this mean for our organization’s bottom line? This free, one-hour webinar will help you answer those questions on March 4.


  • The best in the business will gather for more than 100 panels, hands-on classes and special presentations about covering business, public safety, government, health care, education, the military, the environment and other key beats at the 2014 IRE conference June 26-29, 2014 in San Francisco. Speakers will share strategies for locating documents and gaining access to public records, finding the best stories and managing investigations. Join the discussion about how to practice investigative journalism in print, broadcast, Web and alternative newsroom models.

If you have items you wish to include, please email them to me at benet AT aviationqueen DOT COM. Thanks!!

Posted in journalism

9 More Holiday Gifts For Journalists 2013

One of the blog posts I look forward to the most as far as journalism is concerned is the 10000 Words annual holiday gift list for journalists. The blog lists 25 great items to buy for the ink-stained wretch in your life.  While this list is pretty good, I’d like to add another nine for your consideration. Enjoy!

  1. Mophie Juice Pack — with all the ways we use our iPhones and iPads on the job, we will inevitably get to a place where an outlet may not be available. That’s when Mophie comes to the rescue. There are different versions, but I carry the Mophie Powerstation Duo, which allows me to charge my iPhone and iPad at the same time, quickly. Nice!
  2. Belkin Mini Surge Protector — Speaking of outlets, I carry this one, which has three plugs and two USB slots. The Belkin can be rotated to fit any outlet space.
  3. QuietComfort 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Earbud Headphones — sometimes when I’m working on deadline, I need to listen to one of my calming playlists and cut out the noise in the newsroom. So I decided to pay $299.00 for a pair of these puppies, which can also be used for conversations on the iPhone.
  4.  Brydge Bluetooth iPad Keyboard — You can read my review of the Brydge here.
  5. Newsprint skirt —  I saw a woman wearing this skirt at this year’s Online News Association convention and loved it. It is custom made by the Vintage Galeria Etsy store for $45.95.
  6. AP Stylebook app — I’m loath to actually pay for an app. The most you’ll get out of me is 99 cents — until I saw this app. It costs $24.99, but it is worth every penny, putting the book on your iPhone. You can mark your favorites.
  7. Typo — one of the great things about having the Blackberry was the cool keyboard that made it easy to type. Back in 2007, I actually typed a story and filed it from my Blackberry because the hotel WiFi was beyond crappy. I cannot do that on my iPhone because I can’t type well on glass. But thanks to Typo, I can snap a Blackberry-like keyboard onto my iPhone.
  8. GorillaPod Flexible Tripod — Jeremy Caplan of CUNY Graduate School of Journalism did a great presentation at this year’s ONA conference, “21 Ways to Awesome-ize Your Mobile Toolkit,”  and one of his tips was using this tripod when shooting video with an iPhone.
  9. Membership in a journalism organization — nothing shows the love like paying for your scribe to network and work on their craft in professional organizations. I’ll recommend the three that have me as a member — the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the Online News Association (I’m on the board).

Benét J. Wilson serves on the board of the Online News Association. She is the immediate past chair of the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force and is the social media/eNewsletters editor for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.  She is also a freelance aviation journalist and blogger.