Posted in Conferences & Conventions

10 Packing Tips For #NABJ13

By Benét J. Wilson, chair, NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force & social media/eNewsletters editor, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association


I am a world traveler who has been on the road since taking my first flight — New York to London — when I was six.  And as an aviation journalist, I have taken more than my fair share of trips and have become an expert in packing, especially now that airlines (except for Southwest and JetBlue) charge for checked bags.  As you prepare to pack for your upcoming trip to Orlando for the NABJ Convention, please allow me to offer you some of my best packing tips.

  1. Choose a primary color, like black, navy or brown, and accessorize accordingly. Bring basics like pants, skirt and blazer, and use accessories and different shirts/blouses to mix and match;
  2. Roll with it! Roll your clothes to make sure things fit accordingly. If you don’t want to roll, then buy Space Bags to compress your outfits;
  3. Pack older underwear. You can wear them and throw them away;
  4. Limit yourself to 3 pairs of shoes, including the ones you travel with;
  5. Weigh your luggage BEFORE you leave. Airlines limit that first bag to 50 lbs; after that, hefty fees kick in. They also kick in after the first checked bag.  To see just how much, click here;
  6. Pack important/valuable items in your carry-on. Also include a portable toothbrush, underwear and a small deodorant just in case you luggage is lost;
  7. Keep your luggage claim tags in your purse or pocket. It is 1000% easier for the airline to find your luggage if you have your bag tag number.
  8. Take a picture of your luggage. If it’s lost, you can show it and email it to the airline. If your bag is black, put a colorful tag, tie or even duct tape to make it more easily identifiable.
  9. Keep a list of what you packed in case your luggage is lost and you have to file a claim with the airline; and
  10. Don’t overpack. You know you’ll pick up materials at the convention, and you’ll want to have room for them — plus you do NOT want to pay those extra baggage fees!
Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, journalism, multimedia journalist, Webinars

Help The NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force In Philly

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

Like everyone else, I’m running around taking care of last-minute details before I leave early Tuesday morning for the National Association of Black Journalists’ Annual Convention and Career Fair in Philadelphia.

One of those details was to print out raffle tickets for DJTF’s second annual airline ticket raffle.  This year, we’re raffling off 3 pairs of tickets on JetBlue and one pair on AirTran Airways.  Our tickets are $3 each or 2 for $5.  And we’re asking that you buy tickets to support us.

After the Tampa convention in 2009, DJTF decided to step up its game and offer more programming for NABJ members.  We started this blog and began offering FREE training and holding discussions on the latest in digital journalism.

After the San Diego convention in 2010, we decided to take our efforts to the next level by purchasing our own GoToWebinar account so we could offer more dynamic and interactive training — again, all FREE.  Thanks to our raffle sales and a $2,500 grant from the Gannett Foundation (spearheaded by DJTF Treasurer Melanie Eversley), we were not only able to offer at least once webinar a month, but we were able to help NABJ chapters, task forces and the Elections Committee with their programming needs.

We’ll be selling tickets at the following events:

  • The DJTF Reception Thursday, Aug. 4 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. in the Associate Member Suite (room number to be announced);
  • The Associate Member Luncheon Friday, Aug. 5 from noon to 2 p.m. in a room number to be announced;
  • The DJTF Annual Meeting Saturday, Aug. 6 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Room 115B; and
  • The Visual Task Force Photo Auction Saturday, Aug. 6 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Room 120BC.

But we need your help to do even more.  So please support us by buying raffle tickets.  Even if you don’t win the tickets, you still benefit by the services we’ll offer for the rest of 2011 and into 2012.  We thank you in advance for your help!!

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Technology

NABJDigital: My Top 5 iPhone Travel Apps

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

Those who know me know that I’m not only an aviation journalist, but I’m also an aviation/travel geek (you can see my personal writing on this over at As we all prepare to travel to Philadelphia next week for the National Association of Black Journalists’ Annual Convention and Career Fair, I thought I’d share the top five travel apps on my iPhone that can help you organize your travel to and from Philly.  All are free, unless otherwise noted.

  1. Gate Guru.  This app was featured in an Apple iPhone TV commercial. It gives locations and user reviews (including mine as Aviation Queen) of retail, restaurants and services at airports across the country.  I was in Atlanta last week and needed a drug store at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.  Gate Guru told me that Drugs & More was there, pre-security, in the atrium. Nice!!  And when you have a tight connection and want to make sure you get something to eat for the plane ride, this app is a godsend.
  2. Currency Converter, by Oanda. This app converts currencies from the Afghan Afghani to the Zimbabwe Dollar, quickly and easily — so I don’t have to!
  3. I HEART Travel Packing ($1.99). Kids, my mind isn’t what it used to be, so I need all the help I can get. Believe me, it is NOT fun to realize you’ve reached your destination and forgotten to pack underwear (yes, this has happened to me). This app has sample lists for men and women; it also allows you to create your own list and create a master catalog where you can drag items for new lists.
  4. Next Flight ($2.99). Let’s say you’re at JFK Airport and your flight to San Francisco is delayed or canceled. What do you do? Go to this app, type in the city-pair and it will tell you what airlines have the next flights going there. Call your airline (using the Flight Sites app for the phone number), give them the options and voila-you’re on your way, while the rest of the crowd is standing around the gate agent desk praying they get on a flight.
  5. FareCompare. This app gives you real-time air fare alerts from the city of your choice.  As of this morning at 10:08, I can go to Boston for $107.  It will let you post the fare you found on your favorite social media outlet.  It will even take you right to Orbitz to book the flight.

So what apps am I missing? What travel apps are on your smartphone?

Posted in Uncategorized

Why Social Media Really Matters for Journalists, Bloggers

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

In my day job, I cover the aviation industry, and I’m now back on the security beat after a year hiatus.  I’m fortunate, because my job also happens to be my lifelong hobby.  As such, I not only write about the industry, I’m also involved with discussion groups, clubs and very active chats on Twitter.  Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few weeks, you know about the alleged attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit.

In the aftermath, the Transportation Security Administration tightened airline security and issued a now-rescinded security directive on how passengers should be handled.   Two of my aviation pals — blogger and photojournalist Steven Frischling and travel writer/advocate  and blogger Chris Elliot — had sources that independently gave them copies of the SD, which they both published on their blogs, here and here.

I admit that legally, it’s against the law to release these documents, despite the fact that they go out to thousands of officials at more than 500 airports across the country.  But if I had a dime for every time reporters leaked documents for the greater good, I’d be sitting at my beach house in St. Croix.  Remember the Pentagon Papers?  The SD was picked up by hundreds of media outlets, including mine.

After the SD was published, both Frischling and Elliott received visits from agents of the TSA.   Frischling chose to submit to the subpoena, while Elliott got a lawyer.  They both related their experiences on their blogs and via their Twitter accounts — @flyingwithfish and @elliottdotorg.

The aviation tweeters on Twitter are especially active and far-flung.  A campaign to get the word out about the subpoenas was started by Mary Kirby (@runwaygirl) an editor and blogger at Flight Global, an aviation publication.   From there, the story caught on, with stories across the blogosphere and media outlets including the New York Times, CNN, the BBC and the Economist.

You can read Mary’s story on the #TSAfail campaign here.  If you are STILL sitting on the fence, as a journalist, on whether to include social media tools in your toolbox, this story, which is still getting buzz, shows why you should get off the fence and do it.  No surprise — Frischling and Elliott have legal bills to pay; if you want to make a donation, click here and here.

I’d love to hear your comments on this story.  Where Frischling and Elliott right or wrong to release the SD? Did the TSA handle the situation in the correct way?