Posted in Conferences & Conventions, journalism, multimedia journalist

10 Things I Learned At #ONA18

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I usually have this post done the Monday after the 18th annual Online News Association conference. But there was so much to unpack I needed extra time to process everything.  And for those of you who didn’t make it this year, it was just as good as it looked on social media, so I hope you’re preparing for New Orleans next year. So here’s my review.

Board elect

  1. The ONA board is very popular! We have a record 22 folks running for six board seats, including me. No matter who wins, the board will be in a great position to help implement ONA’s strategic plan, already in progress. Click here to see the video, listen to the audio or read the social media on the candidate’s forum. Did I mention there was a bar? You have until Sept. 27 to vote, here.
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Partial group photo of #NABJAtONA
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#TheBrownAndTheBeautiful photo at ONA, styled by Paul Cheung.

2. Diversity a thing! I remember when there were so few of us attending the ONA conference that we all fit into a picture. But not this year! My #NABJ tribe took a photo but had to take several in order to get everyone, and we still didn’t do it. I saw many more people of color and got to see many friends I made at my first (and the last true) Unity convention in Chicago in 2008. And my heart was warmed seeing how many NABJ members say they will attend ONA in 2019. Overall, the diversity at this year’s conference was pretty good. Wait until New Orleans! #NABJAtONA

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The HBUC Fellows and Leader Michael Grant at ONA’s awards banquet.

3. The ONA HBCU Fellows crushed it — again! THESE are the #ONA18 HBCU Digital Journalist Fellows at our awards banquet. Left to right: Xavier McKnight (Savannah State); Leah Proctor-Ford (Spelman); Shayla Simmons (Tennessee State); Kyla Wright (Hampton); Daja Henry (Howard); and Program Lead Mentor Michael R. Grant (Grambling State).  I strongly encourage you to check out their work here, under HBCU FELLOWS REPORTING. And if you’re looking to diversify your newsroom internships, contact them; they’re all seniors! Or contact me — I’ll help you find them and other deserving students of color in need of paid internships.

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4. I get by with a little help from my friends. I have to thank all of my friends who stopped by to speak with the HBCU fellows. They took time out of their busy schedules to share their experiences and wisdom with these young people. Most importantly, they made the HBCU fellows really think about the realities of a journalism career. So shout out to my boss Mandi Woodruff, executive editor at LendingTree; Rochelle Riley, award-winning columnist at the Detroit Free Press; 2018 CNN Diversity Fellow and SB Nation staff writer Tyler Tynes; Sarah Glover,NABJ President and NBC Social Media Editor; Ebony Reed, director of innovation and the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Futures Lab at the University of Missouri; Imaeyen Ibanga, senior producer and presenter with AJ+ and ONA board member (vote for her here); Akoto Ofori-Atta, senior editor of The Trace; and Jamal Jordan, 2017 CNN Diversity Fellow and digital storytelling editor at the New York Times.

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Award winner Marissa Evans.

5. And the winner is… This is my mentee Marissa Evans. Marissa worked in the Online News Association Student Newsroom (along with Anna-Lysa Gayle) in 2012. She is now the health policy reporter at the Texas TribuneShe was one of a few journalists of color to win an ONA journalism award for her story comparing the childbirth process in Poland and Texas. Marissa won a grant from the Pulitzer Foundation to pay for her trip to Poland (after meeting the granters at NABJ in New Orleans) to report on the story. These awards are prestigious and they are always competitive, but the right person won. P.S. If you’re looking to hire a talented journalist for your newsroom, you should definitely give Marissa a call. Or email me here — I have a lot of people who would be great for your newsroom. Seriously.

Wendy

6. Amy Webb was…soothing! Her panel, “Tech Trends For Journalists,” is always packed. It’s known for dropping some serious wisdom — and scaring the crap out of us. But this year, Amy flipped the script and focused on the optimistic side, and gave us cocktails to boot! You can view, listen to and read about her session here — and I highly recommend that you do.

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Emma Carew Grovum (leader, Journalism Mentorship Collaborative), Kim Bui (board secretary), Mandy Jenkins (board president) Benet Wilson (board VP), Charo Henríquez (board member) and Rubina Madan Fillion (board candidate).
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The annual #BlackGirlMagic photo at Amy Webb’s tech trends presentation.

7. Women rule. This is a photo of women who are kicking ass, both on the ONA board and in their careers. I hope that every one of them ends up running ONA, now and in the future.

Missed

8. Time management. The truth is, I *suck* in this area. There was always a workshop to attend, a person to have coffee with, mentees to hug, board duties to perform, receptions and parties to enjoy, dinners to eat and cocktails to enjoy (thanks, Mandy Jenkins for making me stay up when I really wanted to sleep).

Midway
Companies participating in the ONA Midway.

9. I saw the future of journalism. One of my favorite things about the ONA conference is The Midway. I call it an exhibit hall on steroids because you have great companies creating interesting tools and tech that help us do our jobs smarter and better. There are hands-on demonstrations and presentations on what’s next. Check out this 2:10-minute video on what you missed.

ONA staff

10. The ONA staff kicks ASS! Led by Executive Director Irving Washington, this staff — a perfect blend of full-timers and great consultants — always manages to raise the bar with our conference every year. If there were issues, we never saw them. Every single time I saw a member of the ONA team, they were cool, collected and smiling. And a BIG shout out to the newest member of the staff, Diana Lopez, who started on the job mere days before we descended on Austin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, journalism, multimedia journalist

10 Online News Association Panels Relevant to Digital Journalists

The 18th annual Online News Association (ONA) conference is happening this week in Austin, Texas.  The conference has become the must-attend event for digital journalists and storytellers. Full disclosure  — I’m currently VP of the ONA board, running for re-election and I’d really appreciate your support. Keep up with NABJ members attending the conference via the hashtag #NABJAtONA.

It’s well known that attending ONA isn’t cheap. Every year, the conference sells out because people see the value it brings to the table. But one of the many things I love about this particular event is how open and accessible it is.

If you can’t be in Austin, you can still join us — for FREE — thanks to our amazing video, audio and social teams that cover almost every workshop. And we’re also doing, for the first time, we’re also doing the ONA on Air podcast, which will be available on Soundcloud, Google Play, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher.

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Look at the “How’s My Story Doing? Custom Analytics and Empowered Local Newsrooms” workshop. The Audio and Screen symbols mean that this particular session will be live streamed and also have audio available. You can also sign up to gets notifications when the live stream and social conversation begin. Not every session will be live streamed, but between that, audio and social, you’ll get access to the majority of our programming. It’s not like being in Austin, but it’s pretty close.

So below are my picks of 10 workshops that can help digital journalists of color remain relevant in their newsrooms.

  1. 11th Annual Tech Trends For Journalists (AUDIO & VIDEO): This is THE must-attend session of the convention every year. If you had the chance to see a version of journalist and futurist Amy Webb’s presentation at NABJ’s Philadelphia convention in 2011, then you know what I’m talking about. If not, check out a presentation where Webb will blow your mind via insights into what trends will impact journalism, what tools are on the horizon and how newsrooms can use them, while also avoiding potential disruption.

  2. Notes from the Journalism Diaspora (AUDIO & VIDEO): This year’s NABJ Region I conference included a Diversity and Management training program led by former Deputy Regional Director Nicki Mayo. One of the panels, “New management and leadership skills for journalists,” featured Justin Ellis, a journalist who wrote for Neiman Lab and ESPN the magazine. At that time he had taken a job as a researcher on former “Daily Show” correspondent Wyatt Cenac’s new HBO show “Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas.” As newsrooms continue to cut editorial jobs, this panel discusses how journalists can develop skills that are useful within and outside of news media.
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    Screenshot of AirTran Airways’ website on Aug. 15, 2000.

    Setting the Record Straight by Going Wayback (AUDIO): If you attended my NABJ Innovation Bubble workshop, “Tools & Apps for Digital Journalists,” you know that one of the tools I highlighted was the Wayback Machine, The Internet Archive, which allows anyone to see archived versions of web pages going back to 1996. Site director Mark Graham will discuss how newsrooms and journalists can use it to build out their archive-sourcing capabilities and leverage the internet’s long memory because it’s true — just because you delete it or archive it doesn’t mean it’s gone forever.

  4. Vicarious Trauma Response Planning (AUDIO): We’ve had a year when it comes to covering traumatic events. This is a great panel for newsroom leaders and reporters on how to plan for this coverage and ensure that teams leave room for self-care.
  5. Beyond Audiograms: Audience Engagement in Podcasting (AUDIO): It seems like we’re seeing news-related podcasts being released on the regular. But it’s not enough to just throw one out there. In this workshop, panelists will look at things like social metrics, SMS, chatbots and Facebook groups that are portable, scalable concepts that promote products while also fueling storytelling.

  6. Alerts, Apps and Algorithms: Loyalty in a Mobile-First World (AUDIO): It seems like new and updated digital tools come out every day. This workshop is designed to help newsrooms building mobile channel strategies, decision makers trying to understand where traffic and loyalty intersect and anyone trying to get a handle on the impact of mobile OS-driven algorithms.

  7. Subscriptions, Metrics and the Newsroom: How Journalists are Getting Involved (AUDIO): Online newsrooms have always had a focus on these topics, but legacy newsrooms have been slower to the game. But we know that metrics are driving how stories are written and who stays and goes based on the numbers. This session is for anyone looking to get a handle on how to read conversion metrics.

  8.  Ten Secrets of Fast Writing and Powerful Storytelling (AUDIO & VIDEO): As newsroom leaders and editors push to create content to feed the beast, sometimes you can feel like you’re constantly grinding and not telling the stories you want to tell. This workshop helps you balance speed with good storytelling.

  9.  Meet Me IRL (AUDIO): Texas Tribune FestivalSlate Day! A Podcast Experience. Washington Post Live. Blavity’s AfroTech. Newsrooms are using these types of events to not only connect with their audiences but to help shore up the bottom line. Check out how they’re doing it and get tips on how your newsroom can map out a strategy to run them successfully.

  10.  Beyond Facebook: How to Survive and Thrive After Newsfeed Changes (AUDIO): Facebook, for good or bad, has become an important tool for newsrooms to push out their content. But every time you think you’ve mastered the algorithm, change comes, causing chaos to your feed. This panel will discuss how you can use tools like Reddit, Flipboard and Pocket to keep their audiences and reduce their reliance on things like Facebook and Google.

 

 

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, journalism

NOW Is the Time to Get Ready for #NABJ19 in Miami

Sarah

Do you see this? If you think Detroit was great — and it was a great as it looked in photos and on social media — you know Miami is going to be even better. So if you had FOMO about Detroit, the good news is that you have plenty of time to start saving your pennies now for Miami.

The Turnberry Isle Miami is a top Marriott property. People, it’s stunning. The basic room has two Queen beds AND a sofa bed. And students, I don’t know if you heard, but there’s going to be a special room rate just for you! Nearby is Sunny Isles Beach.

So let’s get to the point of this post — the money it will cost you to get to Miami.  I started saving for Detroit last June, and did the same for Miami this year. There’s a core group of us who help students and young journalists get to convention every year. I can’t speak for everyone, but do NOT contact me for help if you don’t have at least two of these three things — airfare, registration or hotel. And if you come at me last minute for help, it’s going to be a no — and a link to this post.

I don’t know what the room rate is, but I’m guessing it will be in the $200-$230 range, so let’s use that as the number. The rest of these numbers are on the high end, because I like to plan for every contingency.

Registration – $325. This is for Early Bird. If you belong to a chapter, that drops to $275.

Hotel – $1150 for Wednesday through Sunday. Divide this by four if you have roommates.

Airfare – $500. This depends on where you’re flying from. I did a quick check of Southwest Airlines fares from Baltimore to Fort Lauderdale in late February-early March, since that’s how long their schedule goes right now. it came to $499.28. But I expect that fare to drop, since August is not the high season for Miami.

Transportation – I always budget about $100 for this, including a ride to and from the airport and downtown visits. A Super Shuttle from Miami International to the host hotel will be around $24 each way; the same ride from Fort Lauderdale is about $30 one way.

Convention Prep –  $200. This is anything you need to do to get ready for convention like clothes, business cards, resumes, hair, nails, clothing alterations, etc.

Meals/Bar – You can’t expect to get free meals every day. And you know you’re going to be socializing at the bar, so budget about $75 a day for this.

Ways to Pay

This all adds up to about $1700. There are ways to get this number down with creative budgeting, but let’s be real. This convention is not going to be cheap, but it can be done — if you start now.

Take advantage of the chapter discount for registration. Or consider volunteering to get a free one. That hotel cost will drop if you have roommates. The last time I had a room to myself was in 2006 in Indianapolis, my firs NABJ Convention.

When it comes to airfares, consider flights to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, which tends to have cheaper fares than Miami International Airport.

With transportation, you can share costs with others coming to Miami. You can also decide what you need — and what you don’t — for convention prep. I cut hair (I’m #TeamNatural), nails (again, #TeamNatural), business cards (if you want to find me, it’s pretty easy) and resumes (I haven’t applied for a job since 1992, plus anyone can go to my website), from my convention budget.

Meals/bar are always a big expense for me, because I don’t allow my mentees to pay when they’re with me. I know this and budget accordingly.

Show Me the Money

So how are you going to get the money for Miami? Start now! Below are 10 tips you can use to help.

  1. Start a savings account. Set one up on auto pay and walk away. My personal favorite is Smarty Pig because it takes out the money automatically and it’s in an account you can’t see, so you avoid temptation. Others include Digital (but it does cost $2.99 a month) Qapital and Chime.
  2. Happy Birthday/Merry Christmas-Kwanzaa/Graduation. Look for these and other celebratory milestones. Ask friends and family for contributions toward convention costs rather than gifts that can’t offer a return on your career future. Grandma can pay for a hotel night or two. Mom and Dad can spring for airfare. Auntie can give you a gift card you can use for incidentals. Your Uncle can take on registration.
  3. Early bird registration. As soon as NABJ announces this, register. Aside from the chapter affiliate discount, this is the lowest rate you’re going to get.
  4. Ask your employer. There are companies that have line items in their budgets for professional development. See if you can get some of that money to help pay for NABJ. Come correct; show them the convention schedule and show them the workshops you’re going to take that will help you do your job better. See if they’ll give you the time off without having to use vacation.
  5. Buy your airfare early. The earlier you book your flight, the cheaper the fares will be. Sign up for either Hopper or Airfarewatchdog, which will tell you the best times to buy that ticket.
  6. NABJ. Check the website and eBlasts for announcements on scholarships and fellowships that help cover convention costs. This year there were grants from Columbia University.
  7. Local organizations. See if your NABJ chapter offers scholarships to help students/young journalists.
  8. Facebook and Twitter. Follow accounts for convention information, including ways to fund your trip. They are: (NABJ) National Association of Black JournalistsNational Association of Black Journalists; NABJ Students; Marlon A. Walker, Your NABJ Vice President/Print 2015-2018; Benet J. Wilson, Immediate Past VP-Digital, NABJ; @NABJ; @NABJDigital; @NABJSTUDENTS; and @Marlon4NABJ.
  9. #SideHustle or part-time job. I have a day job, but I also have two writing-related side hustles. I always put a percentage of what I earn with those into my Smarty Pig account to help pay for convention.
  10. Carpool. If you are in driving distance of Miami (my limit is 8 hours in a car), get a group together and ride to convention.

So there you have it — your blueprint to get to #NABJ19 in Miami. If you start now, you’ll be ready to go Aug. 7-11. Only 345 more days to go!

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, journalism

Top 10 Things I Learned at #NABJ18

#NABJ18 logo

I usually write this post the week after the convention is over. But I’m not as young as I used to be and needed time to recover accordingly. Those of you who weren’t able to join us in Detroit, all I can say is that you missed a great one. Yes, there were some issues, but in the end, #NABJ18 is my second-favorite (#NABJ11 in Philly is still number one) annual convention. Read why, below.

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    Students in a pep talk on the first day of newsroom operations.

    The kids are all right. For the third year in a row, I had the honor of doing a Google News Lab tools training for this year’s student newsroom. The students came correct this year; I didn’t have to send anyone upstairs to change, nor did I have to lock anyone out because they were dressed and ready to go at exactly 7:30. Big shout out to NABJ Founder Allison Davis (and my personal Digital Journalism sensei) who reached into her bag of tools and came up with a projector for my presentation. Check out the work they did in the NABJ Monitor.

  2. IMG_4047Volunteers make the convention work. NABJ saves a fortune in labor expenses because our members step up and volunteer to make this convention work every year. Former NABJ President Will Sutton took over as Volunteer Coordinator at the 2017 convention and he was in full force in Detroit. He helped SO many young people who were struggling to get to Detroit, including three of my babies. Much love to everyone from the student newsroom mentors to the folks at the airport and in the hotel who greeted members and offered help with a smile. read about Alexis Grace’s volunteer experience here.
  3. Benet ToolsEach one teach one. I was thrilled to be part of the team — shout out to former educator board rep Michelle Johnson and Google’s Sam Stewart — that did a day of Google News Lab Tools training. Want to bring this FREE training to your newsroom, NABJ chapter meeting, regional conference or other events? Click here to learn more about the program and request me (or others) to do your training. Did I mention it’s FREE to bring me or other trainers in? I also had BIG fun doing an interactive — and packed — presentation in the Innovation Bubble on my favorite tools, tricks and tech that help me do my job smarter and better (click HERE for a post where I share my presentation).
  4. 38470895_10156819064857018_1196883406869233664_nTeach where you are. Teaching doesn’t just happen in workshops. When you bring young people along with you on events, they meet people who are always ready to pass on wisdom. The hotel lobby bar is a great way to do resume reviews (shout out to Kim Bardakian), or teach a master class on being the best television producer (shout out to Carol Ash). My mentee Shayla Simmons (one of two students I sponsored this year) also happens to be a student of Founder Sandra Long Weaver, so you can bet she had an amazing experience in Detroit!
  5. The future is digital. As a recovering print journalist who has transformed into a digital one, I really appreciated this year’s theme, “NABJ18: Driving Journalism, Technology & Trust.” We had some good digital programming in Detroit, both inside and out of the Innovation Bubble. It’s clear now that digital is the future of our industry and I hope we have even more workshops in Miami that will let our members stay relevant in their newsrooms.
  6. Step up and serve. The vast majority of us owe our jobs and careers to 44 Founders who risked theirs to start NABJ on Dec. 12, 1975. So it’s disappointing to see so many board seats either uncontested or open.  Half the board — president, vice president-digital, vice president-broadcast, secretary, Region I, Region III and student representative — will be up for election or re-election, so please consider running. We all have seen first hand the importance of both voting and stepping up to serve. If board service isn’t your thing, then join a task force or committee, volunteer to help plan and execute next year’s convention or get involved with your local chapter. If you’re in Baltimore, I’m the Baltimore Association of Black Journalists chapter president and we’d be happy to have you join us.
  7. S38422335_10157669978394606_1590279231244337152_nupport the millennials! This group now makes up the largest segment of NABJ members. They will be the ones who keep our organization growing in the future, so we must support them now. I made and donated this quilt as a fundraiser for the Young Black Journalists Task Force so they can do their important work. This is part of a larger discussion I hope NABJ will have about supporting — and funding — task forces because they are an important part of helping the association meet its mission. It’s also a great place to groom our next generation of leaders.
  8. I overpacked for Detroit. Damn it! I overpacked for New Orleans and swore I’d do better. I will do it for Miami!
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    Justin Hinton and Kirstin Garriss

    Feeling the love. Most of us work in newsrooms where we are either the only or one of a few. Even though I now work for the most diverse newsroom of my 30+ year career (shout out to my boss Mandi Woodruff), it still brings me much joy to see so many people who look like me doing the work I do. But I have the most love for my babies, who are doing SO well in their careers. I’m so very proud of you. A few (but the list is SO long) of them include Kirstin Gariss, Marissa Evans, Justin Hinton, Stephon Dingle & Justin Madden (who both killed in the Student Newsroom), Ashley Jolicoeur, Sia Nyorkor and Tierra Carpenter. Please note — this is an incomplete list, so don’t be mad at Auntie!

  10. 38660549_10157673184909606_6027202983152844800_nFind your tribe. You need friends to keep you sane at NABJ conventions. This group — special shout out to DR. Carol Ash — is the one. We talk in the time leading up to convention and we see each other at different events. But we ALWAYS end the convention with a lovely brunch outside the host hotel to catch up and bond. It’s a great tradition. I hope you’ll consider it with your tribe in Miami.

 

Posted in Education, multimedia journalist, Technology

My Tools & Apps for Digital Journalists: What You Missed at #NABJ18

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By Benét J. Wilson

One of my new favorite features at the NABJ Annual Convention and Career Fair is the Innovation Bubble. These are one-hour sessions where you can learn about digital tools and resources you can use in your newsroom that help you work smarter and better.

I was delighted when I was asked to do a session on all the digital tools, apps and resources that I use in my job every day. The room was packed, and it went pretty quickly, so I promised that I’d share the presentation, along with other tools recommended by the audience. My goal was to show you things you could use as soon as you returned to your newsrooms on the Monday after convention.

Click here to see my Prezi presentation with all the tools I shared. But I also got input from the audience on other tools and tech you may want to consider. Please feel free to add your favorites in the comments!

  1. EasyGif: Use this tool to make your own gifs.
  2. Atlas: From the publishers of Quartz, this tool to create your own charts that you can embed into stories.
  3. Pixlr: This desktop and mobile app is that is a Swiss army knife for those who work with photos, including photo editors, a screen recorder and a photo-sharing service.
  4. Google Scholar: Looking for experts to add to your story? This website serves as a repository of professors, scholars and lawyers who can help. Type in your topic and watch the magic!
  5. Hootsuite: This free tool allows you to schedule your social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube.
  6. Buffer: The free and paid versions of this web and mobile app also allows you to schedule social media posts. The paid version gives you great analytics about your posts.
  7. Over: Take your photos to the next level by using this tool to add captions, change fonts and play with filters. It comes with more than 4,000 editable templates, millions of commercial-free stock images and 20,000+ graphics.
  8.  Tape-A-Call: This app allows you to record calls that convert into MP3s that can be easily shared. Make sure to check your state’s laws on recording phone calls.
  9. Google Translate: This desktop tool and mobile app (iOS or Google Play) can translate more than 100 languages. It isn’t perfect, but it does a good job for basic things. You can type, speak or write words or short phrases. You can hold your smartphone camera up to a sign and have it instantly translated. You can download any language and use all these functions even if you don’t have Wi-Fi or cellular access on your phone.
  10. Knightlab tools: One I recommended in my presentation was Timeline JS. But Knightlab has three other tools designed to help you tell your stories. Juxtapose allows you to compare two photos taken at different times. Soundcite allows you add short audio clips to your story right under any text you choose. Storymaps allows you to create maps and add text that helps illustrate a story.
  11. Ground: This new app, created by a journalist, uses artificial intelligence to help users verify news events happening around them.
  12. Nappy: Looking for free African-American stock photos? This website has wonderful pictures of our people at work and at play.
  13. Snapz Pro X: Use this tool to record your screen or save it as a QuickTime movie or screenshot that can be e-mailed or shared on the web.
  14. Snagit: This is another tool that allows you to record your screen for videos and photos.
  15. EasyPrompter: This web-based app turns your computer, tablet or smartphone into a teleprompter.
  16. Hunter: Looking for the email of someone who works at an organization? This tool scours the web to find their name and email address.
  17. Whentogram: Let this app tell you the best times to post to Instagram.
  18. Unum: Use this app to craft layouts, create and tailor grid, save posts to drafts and plan the perfect Instagram feed.
  19. TilePic: Turn your photos into tiled banners that can be posted on Instagram.
  20. Google Keep: This tool allows you to take notes, lists, photos, and audio to keep up with your life.
  21. Quertime — 15 Online Tools to Create E-Magazines, eBooks and Digital Newspapers
  22. Quertime — 15 Online Tools to Create Impressive Resumes

Benét J. Wilson is the travel + rewards associate editor for MagnifyMoney.com and CompareCards.com. She is also owner/editor-in-chief of Aviation Queen LLC, a freelance writing and consulting business.

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Uncategorized

What to Expect When Volunteering at a NABJ Convention

IMG_2842By Alexis Grace, Junior, Clark Atlanta University

As we recover from a phenomenal time at #NABJ18 in Detroit, let us take a minute to thank those who put everything together. From President Sarah Glover, Volunteer Coordinator and former NABJ President Will Sutton and the staff ,all the way down to the volunteers.

Volunteers are everyday people who may or may not have any involvement with NABJ. Some volunteers may be college students looking to network, a parent who wanted to learn more about what their child was involved in, or maybe even a resident wanting to represent for their community.

Either way, an NABJ convention can be quite pricey. Many expenses must be taken into consideration. You have transportation, housing (if you aren’t a resident of the convention city), food, and free time (spending time with friends or going out to the parties). Being a volunteer during a convention allows you to make connections, receive volunteer hours and gain access to the convention — for free.

If you are thinking about being a volunteer for #NABJ19, luckily, you have some time to consider your options. What you receive after being a volunteer for NABJ conventions is all about what you make of it.  Here are eight things to consider before committing to serve as a volunteer for next year’s convention in Miami.

  1.    Completing the Hours

To receive convention access, you must complete your required hours. That means if the required number of hours is eight, then you will have to complete them in to gain access. There is always help needed during the convention, so these hours should be easy to obtain.

  1.    Expenses

Even though registration is covered, there are still other expenses that need to be accounted for. These expenses include transportation, housing, food and free time.  Most volunteers are residents of the area where the convention is held. If you are not a resident, it is best to make sure you have everything else in order before signing up to volunteer.

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  1.    Connections

It was surprisingly an easy way to network. Being a volunteer, you could network with everyone before events, during events, and after the event is over.

  1.    Late Night, Early Mornings

There may be some early mornings and late nights, but thats’s what makes volunteering fun. Expect to create your own schedule, but you will always be asked to work a little bit more than expected, because extra hands are always needed.

  1.    Behind the Scenes

Working behind the scenes may be the coolest part of being a volunteer. You can see what goes on during the award shows, the workshops and the receptions that everyone loves so much.

  1.    Celebrities

One thing that seems to be every volunteer’s favorite moment is meeting all the fun celebrities who pop up at an NABJ convention. From Chance the Rapper to Bobby Brown, meeting all your favorite media personalities that you grew up watching can be a pretty big deal.

  1.    Being Social

One thing I find to be the most important is being social. As a volunteer at a convention filled with bright personalities and excitement, you do not want to be quiet all the time. You never know whom you can encounter just by speaking or complimenting someone.

  1.    Missing Events

It is best that you plan your schedule according to how you would like to attend the convention. For example, If you want to participate in multiple workshops on Tuesday, it is best to know that you have completed all of your hours by Monday so you’ll have convention access for that day. The worst thing that could happen is missing an event that you think could be beneficial. You also should remember the reason why you are at the convention —  to provide service. So remember to work first and learn later.

This being my first national NABJ convention as a volunteer, I wanted to make sure that everyone knows the importance of service and how far it can take you. If you love service and journalism, then this is the job for you. Be on the lookout for the opportunity to volunteer at #NABJ19! Hope to see you there!

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Uncategorized

NABJ Detroit 2018: A Recap

By Tyrik Reed, Freelance Journalist

IMG_2144Last week, I attended the NABJ Conference in Detroit. I wasn’t there for the entire conference, but I can honestly say that I received so much from the few days I was able to attend. From attending workshops, to networking with hundreds of Black journalists, it was my mission to make the most of this experience.

While I’m grateful that I was given this opportunity, it was a tough road getting to this point. After attending the NABJ Region III Conference in Atlanta this past April, I found myself broke and with little resources to put towards going to Detroit. I assumed that the national conference would basically be the same so it should be fine if I didn’t attend this year. But after talking to my cousin, current WWAY-TV anchor Amanda Fitzpatrick, I realized how wrong I was. She told me that unlike Atlanta, there would be a huge career fair that I needed to attend if I was serious about finding work as a producer.

But even after that conversation, I continued to dismiss the idea of going because of my financial situation. It took a few more conversations with multiple people for me to realize that I needed to be in Detroit.

I contacted a producer that I met in Atlanta, and after telling him about my situation,  he gave me the email address for one of his contacts, Benét Wilson, president of the Baltimore Association of Black Journalists. I reached out to her expressing my interest in attending the conference, and after an honest conversation about waiting until the last minute to prepare (which was well deserved), she agreed that she would help me in whatever way she could.

IMG_2245She connected me to former NABJ President Will Sutton, who was the Volunteer Coordinator for this year’s conference. He agreed to cover my registration fees if I would be willing to help volunteer during the conference. Wilson also reached out to Travel Service Provider John Dekker, who graciously covered my airfare to Detroit! I wouldn’t have been able to attend this conference if it weren’t for Benet and her desire to see my goal come to fruition.

My first couple of days in Detroit was specifically for volunteering before the conference. It was my job to greet fellow NABJ attendees as they arrived at the Detroit Metro Airport. We were there to answer any questions they had about transportation options to the hotel in addition to general questions they had about the conference.

It was through these conversations that I learned about the do’s and don’ts associated with being an “NABJ Baby.” Upon completion of my two volunteer shifts, I was given clearance for two days of the conference, including the career fair and any workshops and events I wanted to attend. On Tuesday night, I attended a town hall forum as well as the NABJ opening reception.

Wednesday was the official start of the convention. I attended two workshops geared toward preparing first-time convention goers for the career fair. Led by a group of talented professionals covering all aspects of media, these classes showed me how to establish connections with potential employers, what should be a part of my resume and demo reel and the importance of standing out and making a lasting impression.

It was then time for me to visit the career fair. I was extremely nervous walking into the exhibit hall.  It was overwhelming to say the least. But even though I was afraid, I reminded myself of why I was there and that this was my moment to prove to myself that I belonged here.

I visited a handful of companies that first day including Tegna, Cox Media Group, Hearst Television, Raycom, and Scripps. Everyone I talked to was down to earth and willing to have a thorough conversation with me, especially after I told them I was interested in becoming a producer. Even though I knew that I didn’t have the same amount of work experience as other potential candidates, I truly felt like I was being listened to.  Later that night I attended a welcome reception sponsored by Disney.

IMG_2252Thursday was the second day of the career fair and my final day in Detroit.  I entered the career fair as soon as it started. This time I visited the other companies on my list that I wasn’t able to go to the day prior. This included Graham Media Group, Gray Television, Sinclair Broadcasting Group, Heartland Media, and Fox Television Studios. I also visited ABC News, CNN, and NBC Universal.

Like Wednesday, I received great advice from veterans on what employers are looking for in a producer and what I need to do to continue improving my skills and making myself more marketable to employers after I leave Detroit. I also had the fortune of meeting an amazing individual, who like me, is trying to transition into a career in journalism after realizing that she wasn’t passionate about her current job.

Hearing her optimism about her experiences at the career fair reminded me that even if I don’t receive a job offer from the conference, my time here wasn’t wasted. There was a reason why I was given an opportunity to attend this conference. I may not see it immediately, but I know that this will be a pivotal moment in making a my goal a reality.

I am incredibly thankful to the people who gave their time and resources in order for me to be able to attend this conference. There is no way I would have been able to do this alone. Attending the NABJ conference has ignited a flame that I pray never burns out. I will become a producer, by any means necessary, and I hope that I’m able to help someone else realize their dreams in the future just like I was helped with mine.