Posted in Education, journalism

3 DJTF Webinars To Prepare You For The 2014 NABJ Convention

It’s amazing, but the 39th Annual NABJ Convention and Career Fair, this year in Boston, is a little more than two months away.  This gives you plenty of time to start getting ready now.

You need to have a resume that’s on point, and you need to have an online portfolio to point potential employers to.  Also, it wouldn’t hurt to start either working on or sharpening up your personal journalism brand.

Lucky for you, the Digital Journalism Task Force did two great hour-long webinars in January on these very topics.  So now is the time to review these webinars so that you’re ready to shine in Boston.

You need to submit an email address, but the webinars are free.  I hope they help, and I look forward to seeing you in Boston!

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

Posted in Entrepreneur, Innovation, journalism, Social Media

How Digital Journalism Relaunched Rene Syler’s Career

By Crystal Garner, DJTF Intern

The desire to build something that no one could ever take away from her is what fueled Rene Syler, former anchor of “The Early Show” on CBS, after her termination in 2006. What Syler wanted to create was a brand, and using the tools of digital media, she did just that and more.

She is now the author of “Good Enough Mother,” a book and supporting blog targeted at “imperfectly perfect” mothers, host of “Sweet Retreats,” a family travel show on the Live Well Network, and co-host of “Exhale”, a provocative talk show in its second season on Magic Johnson’s cable network, Aspire.

Courtesy Photo
Rene Syler, Courtesy Photo

What am I going to do now?

A few weeks after losing her job at CBS, Syler underwent a preventative double mastectomy, a journey that was documented on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. “What am I going to do now?” she asked herself. “I had no job and my body was taking on a different shape.”

After telling her agent of 25 years that she did not want to do television anymore, he asked a similar question, “What am I going to do with you?”

Syler knew she would have to save herself.

“I had been relying on them to get me jobs,” she said. “I could either sit here and wait for the phone to ring or I could make it ring.”

Going digital to build a ‘bonafide brand’

Syler wrote “Good Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting” and secured the website’s domain in 2005 while still employed at CBS. The following year, she was fired. In 2007, her book was officially published.

“The only skills I had was the ability to write and TV,” she said. “It started with a book.”

Harnessing the power of digital media, Syler began to build what she now calls a “bonafide brand.”

“Your brand needs to be in sync with yourself,” she said. “Good Enough Mother,” the blog, was born.

“I started on Facebook, then moved to Twitter. The more I did it the more I understood its power,” Syler said in regards to her overwhelming introduction to social media.

“After almost 10 years, I have built a bonafide brand,” she said. “People need to think of blogs as living breathing business cards.”

“Good Enough Mother” has partnered with both General Motors and Disney and Syler attributes her recent television success to her digital presence.

Looking back, she said “Good Enough Mother” became much more than a book. It became a movement based on what a lot of women are experiencing.

Not for the faint of heart


Posted in Conferences & Conventions, multimedia journalist

New Year, New You – The Recordings

Thanks to everyone who participated in our four webinars, created to help you get a jump start on your career in 2014.  UPDATE – We now have all  four recordings uploaded for your viewing pleasure:

We will post the other two as soon as possible.  And watch this space for our next event, Freelance February!

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 Conferences & Conventions, journalism, multimedia journalist, Social Media, Uncategorized

Best of DJTF Blog: Twitter: Avoiding The Pitfalls and Building Your Brand

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 lists tweets from attentees of the Region 1 Conference who tweet their thoughts and reactions about a panel on brand building.  It originally ran on May 2.  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.


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Andy Carvin, senior social media strategist at NPR, with his Knight-Batten Award for being the [Twitter] DJ of the Arab Spring revolution.

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Posted in multimedia journalist, Social Media

Top Four Things Jalen Rose Can Teach YOU About Branding

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF chair & freelance aviation/travel journalist and blogger

I am addicted to the Jalen Rose Podcast on the Grantland Network.  With an hour-long commute each way to work every day, I need my podcasts to break up the monotony of random song searches and NPR.

I can’t even remember how I found out about the podcast, but I love it.  Back in the day, I was a HUGE NBA fan, even buying partial season tickets for the team that was the Washington Bullets.  But something happened and all desire for anything NBA was killed — until the Jalen Rose podcast.  But it’s not all about basketball. Jalen gives us the lowdown on what athletes really think and do, his thoughts on football (which are sharp and spot-on) and a healthy dose of celebrity dish (he loves Bossip).

Regular readers know I’m a BIG proponent of journalists branding themselves (I’m the Aviation Queen). So I’m in the car, and I start thinking about how effective Rose has been in developing and nurturing his brand and what we all can learn from him. So here’s what I’ve learned and what you can use as you develop your own brand.

  1. “Got To Give The People, Give The People What They Want.” This is the song that Rose sings at the beginning of each show, and this is what he delivers on during each episode. Great brands give the people (their audience) what they want.
  2. Mix the expertise with personality. Rose uses his unique personality to deliver news, analysis and observations using a healthy mix of his own experiences and pop culture references.
  3. Find your niche, but don’t be afraid to expand. Rose’s niche is basketball — college and professional. But he’s a man with many interests and because we already trust him as a great basketball analyst, it’s not too far of a stretch to trust him with topics like football, entertainment and even education (he founded and runs the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy , a public charter high school in Detroit).
  4. Promote yourself! The Jalen Rose Podcast has quietly become one of the most popular on iTunes — achieving this strictly by word of mouth. He’s on Twitter, has a great website, has a Facebook Page, a YouTube channel and you can watch him live on Ustream as he records the podcast. He uses all his social media platforms to promote the podcast and his other activities — but without being pushy about it.
Posted in Education, multimedia journalist, Social Media, Technology

Twitter: Avoiding The Pitfalls and Building Your Brand

  1. Share

    Great turn out. #NYABJ #Harlem
    Wed, Apr 25 2012 21:34:57
  2. Share

    Great group of panelists at @NYABJ Twitter panel – follow discussion at #nyabjTwitter
    Tue, May 01 2012 20:37:51
  3. Share
    @nyabj Panel discussion. Speakers: @jozenc @abelleinbk @dcfab @geedee215 @marioarmstrong #nyabjtwitter
    Tue, May 01 2012 18:52:29
  4. Share
    When you put photos & comments on Twitter & Facebook, those sites own that, unless you take them down, says @dcfab. #nyabjtwitter #cuj12
    Tue, May 01 2012 20:24:47
  5. Share
    Twitter is a huge news feed if you follow journalists @GeeDee215 #nyabjtwitter
    Tue, May 01 2012 19:27:22
  6. Share
    Your aim shouldn’t be number of followers you have. You should use the platform to cultivate sources & find stories. -@dcfab #nyabjtwitter
    Tue, May 01 2012 19:29:22
  7. Share
    according to @DeeGee215 there is no such thing as over tweeting – as long as the dialogue is fact-base! #NYabjtwitter
    Tue, May 01 2012 19:33:57
  8. Share
    A good way to get followers is tweeting at events many people are not / cannot attend. Also using hash tags, says @dcfab. #nyabjtwitter
    Tue, May 01 2012 19:40:09
  9. This is excellent advice. NYABJ President Michael Feeney will tell you that I semi-stalked him to get a hashtag for this panel discussion. I knew it would be good (especially since my Baltimore homey Mario Armstrong was representing) and I wanted to be able to share it with the larger community.
  10. Share
    Aspiring journalist should follow other journalists. Send he/she a compliment if you like there work and hope they follow back #nyabjtwitter
    Tue, May 01 2012 19:42:23
  11. Looking to build your Twitter following? Check out the Twitter lists I’ve developed over at the @NABJDigital Twitter account.
  12. Share
    @jozenc @marioarmstrong “attach your twitter handle to any publication you do” #nyabjtwitter @NULYP
    Tue, May 01 2012 19:46:24
  13. Share
    #nyabjtwitter what are you trying to do? Are you trying to build a personality or drive people to a destination/website? -@Marioarmstrong
    Tue, May 01 2012 19:47:50
  14. Share

    @NYABJ Twitter panel discussion at Columbia – follow the discussion #nyabjTwitter
    Tue, May 01 2012 19:50:42
  15. Share
    .@jozenc says it’s a tough balance b/w personal & professional tweets. He says he’s never claimed to have an all “pro” account #nyabjtwitter
    Tue, May 01 2012 19:54:11
  16. @jozenc is better than me. I’m currently juggling three separate Twitter accounts for the different parts of my life — aviation geek, personal and journalism.
  17. Share
    #nyabjtwitter discussion now is around the delicate line between personal and professional tweets
    Tue, May 01 2012 19:55:17
  18. Share
    @marioarmstrong where r u trying to go, what do u want professionally which will dictate how u self manage your tweets. @NULYP #nyabjTwitter
    Tue, May 01 2012 19:59:00
  19. Share
    NEVER put who you work for at the end of your Twitter handle! Things change. Nothing personal, just business! #nyabjtwitter #NABJ12 #cuj12
    Tue, May 01 2012 20:06:36
  20. Amen to that! I was @AvWeekBenet, but after i got laid off, I switched to @AvQueenBenet. But this affected the lists and references to my brand.
  21. Share
    Hey @NYCCarrega, you need to talk with @mfeeney @NYDNmfeeney about managing two accounts. He does a good job at it! #nyabjtwitter
    Tue, May 01 2012 20:50:58
  22. Share
    .@marioarmstrong says Blacks can leverage voice on Twitter to create, not just to consume #nyabjtwitter
    Tue, May 01 2012 20:09:01
  23. Share
    ”I would never break a story on Twitter.” – @dcfab on using social space to gather report news tips, sources, and stories #nyabjtwitter
    Tue, May 01 2012 20:12:50
  24. Share
    .@dcfab encourages journalists to use twitter to find sources for stories. #nyabjtwitter #cuj12
    Tue, May 01 2012 20:13:06
  25. Share
    A tip I got from @acarvin was use hashtags and check people who are talking about the topic you are writing about. #nyabjtwitter #cuj12
    Tue, May 01 2012 20:15:22
  26. Share

    Mon, Apr 30 2012 16:41:46
  27. Andy Carvin, senior social media strategist at NPR, with his Knight-Batten Award for being the [Twitter] DJ of the Arab Spring revolution.
  28. Share
    [excellent point] #nyabjtwitter Build your network before you need it. -@Marioarmstrong
    Tue, May 01 2012 20:18:25
  29. Share
    .@abelleinbk says you can use the number of followers you have as “leverage” when finding / pitching for jobs. #nyabjtwitter #cuj12
    Tue, May 01 2012 20:33:28
  30. Share
    @dcfab @nyabj @NULYP #nyabjTwitter If you have a niche, know when you’re winning in your space!
    Tue, May 01 2012 20:42:38
  31. Share
    @abelleinbk says ask for Twitter handle to be added to your stories as a print reporter. Asked for photo online, etc #nyabjtwitter
    Tue, May 01 2012 20:47:38
  32. Share
    So bottom line is, Twitter’s like real life: you either obsess over who does/doesn’t like you, or you don’t. Latter is easier. #nyabjtwitter
    Tue, May 01 2012 20:39:58
  33. Share

    The panelists: @marioarmstrong @dcfab @jozenc @abelleinbk @GeeDee215 #nyabjtwitter
    Tue, May 01 2012 21:10:17
Posted in Conferences & Conventions, multimedia journalist, Social Media

Who Are You? Social Media and Branding

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

If you”re one of the thousands of digital journalists who are establishing brand identities either for yourself or your organization, come learn the tools and best strategies for building a community, carving out a distinct image, and building your authority and reputation without comprising your own or that of the company signing your paycheck.

So, for the second time in a month, I’m on a panel discussing journalists and branding.  You can get 100 journalists in a room to discuss this topic, and they’d have different views on whether it needs to be done, and if so, how. Below is a link to the panel I did in August at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Philadelphia.
Brand You: Creating Your Online Identity

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair, Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group Creating your own journalist brand can help differentiate you from the news/blogger crowd as the industry continues to evolve. Having your own brand can also boost your profile at your current job, lead you to your next job or even help you create your own entrepreneurial website or blog.
Please come to the 10:15 #ONA11 panel: Who Are You? Social Media and Branding #ONA11 #firehose
September 24, 2011
Ben chimes in from Gangreyland… MT @gangrey: If journalists should be a brand, I want to be Hellman’s, or maybe Tony Chachere’s. #firehose
September 24, 2011
MT @gangrey: If journalists should be a brand, I want to be Hellman’s, or maybe Tony Chachere’s. #firehose //Mine? Scorned Woman Hot Sauce!
September 24, 2011
Best guess for #firehose explanation: Trying to keep up with social media is like “drinking from a firehose.” #ona11
September 24, 2011
“How many of you actually have your own brand or are working on it?” @benetwilson asks & a lot of us raise hands. #firehose #ONA11
September 24, 2011
.@AntDeRosa will be on the Social Media and Branding panel @ONAConf. Follow the discussion #firehose #ONA11
September 24, 2011
Could not resist session that sports @antderosa, @benetwilson & Mark Coatney (who was the best thing for & about Newsweek). #ONA11 #firehose
September 24, 2011
mark coatney: my family were cattle ranchers, we actually HAVE a family brand #ona11 #firehose
September 24, 2011
@mcoatney: People who say journalists should be seen and not heard are people who are well paid by journalism organizations #ona11 #firehose
September 24, 2011
At #firehose session on personal branding. Fewer than 30 mins in, @mcoatney and @AvWeekBenet have both referenced Weingarten column. #ONA11
September 24, 2011
.@Antderosa says @Reuters gives him a lot of leeway to build his own brand, which then brings in more audience to Reuters. #firehose #ONA11
September 24, 2011
Using his @tumblr, @AntDeRosa curated a lot of photos and videos from #arabspring. “Big, vibrant community there.” #firehose #ONA11
September 24, 2011
You have to be disciplined & take time away from social media to work on long-form, thoughtful pieces, says @AntDeRosa #firehose #ONA11
September 24, 2011
.@benetwilson is cracking us up with stories of Aviation Week’s blog and Facebook etc. #firehose #ONA11
September 24, 2011
Advice from @AntDeRosa re: different social media accounts: keep content unique, many people follow both. #ona11 #firehose
September 24, 2011
Ah, this guy nx to me is a journalism ethics prof. Thinks that social media corrupts news. #ona11 #firehose
September 24, 2011
.@mcoatney says that the desire to be liked on the web is something journalists have to be aware of. #firehose #ONA11
September 24, 2011
What’s the point of building a brand and an audience if you aren’t going to interact with them? #ona11 #firehose
September 24, 2011
J-ethics prof from Wash & Lee asks if building online brand leads to not writing about things you’d otherwise write about. #firehose #ONA11
September 24, 2011
“A blog is just a platform.” #ONA11 #firehose
September 24, 2011
@AvWeekBenet: People are looking for the content, not necessarily where it’s housed. #firehose #ONA11
September 24, 2011
Treat social media as conversation, not a publication. Not just promoting yourself but promoting what you’re interested in. #firehose #ONA11
September 24, 2011
Question about G+ & the panelists are not jumping on it at all. “It’s not relevant,” one says. #firehose #ONA11
September 24, 2011
The digital tools are important, but branding is knowing what makes you unique as a journalist and communicating that. #firehose #ONA11
September 24, 2011
Shameless plug for folks in #firehose session: I write, a blog w/ personal branding tips for journalists. #ONA11
September 24, 2011
LOVE this blog!!!@jghellum: I write, a blog w/ personal branding tips for journalists. #ONA11 #firehose
September 24, 2011
Digital tools help promote your brand, but your brand is about knowing yourself, having integrity. #Firehose session needs to cover this.
September 24, 2011
“I couldn’t do my job if I couldn’t snark on Twitter all day long,” says @AntDeRosa. +100. #firehose #ONA11
September 24, 2011
“I couldn’t do my job if I couldn’t snark on Twitter all day long: @AntDeRosa #firehose #ONA11// I would simply cease to exist w/out snark!
September 24, 2011
@hbillings It was weird. We had mix of experts, newbies. Next time, we should delineate better. Thanks for coming to #ONA11 #firehose
September 24, 2011
Takeaways from #firehose: choose platforms that work for you, make them what you want them be. And ‘don’t be an idiot.’ Lol #ona11
September 24, 2011

Posted in Education, journalism, multimedia journalist, Social Media

Friday Fast Five + Five

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

  1. 10000 WordsUse conversational video to bridge the gap between journalist and reader
  2. great examples of data journalism using Google Fusion Tables
  3. Journalists’ ToolkitFlash Journalism Updates
  4. MashableHOW TO: Find and Land Freelance Work
  5. MakeUseOf5 Interesting Ways To Use Google News RSS Feeds
  6. SmartBlog on Social  Media6 tools to measure your personal branding efforts
  7. MediaShift Idea LabHow to Design Fast, Interactive Maps Without Flash 
  8. Lost RemoteCrowdsourcing a live video interview via Twitter
  9. NetworkedBuild your own website for free
  10. CyberJournalistFacebook tips for journalists, from Facebook
Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, journalism, Social Media

Brand You: Creating Your Online Identity

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

Creating your own journalist brand can help differentiate you from the news/blogger crowd as the industry continues to evolve. Having your own brand can also boost your profile at your current job, lead you to your next job or even help you create your own entrepreneurial website or blog. Bring your laptops, because by the end of this interactive workshop, you will be well on your way to creating

The place: Philadelphia. The time: 11:30 to 1:00 pm. In a packed room, I had the pleasure of moderating this branding panel with three journalists who are branding giants: Natalie McNeal of, Jesse Washington, the race and ethnicity writer for the Associated Press and Mario Armstrong of, a technology show host, Digital Lifestyle Expert. Social Entrepreneur and Public Speaker. Each panelist shared their story, then we opened the floor to questions.  Here’s what happened.

The Frugalista

Stop the press! At the recent Teen Choice Awards, Ashton Kutcher lectured the crowd about using credit cards and going into debt when accepting an award. Whoa! Who knew that Ashton was down with the Frugalisto lifestyle? Hurrah!!! Here’s what he more… Hello, my Frugalistas! I’m checking in from the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia!
Mario Armstrong – Tech Expert, Tech show Host, Commentator, Digital Lifestyle Expert, Small Biz Tech Advocate, Youth Tech Motivator!

Mario Armstrong is an Emmy Award winning media personality. He is a Digital Lifestyle Expert, talk show host, media personality, social entrepreneur, public speaker and co-founder of an educational youth initiative:! He translates technology for non-tech audiences. He is the on-air tech contributor for NPR’s Morning Edition program reaching 17 million households.
#Blackunemployment raises tension btw CBC and Obama; they embark on dueling “job tours”:
August 8, 2011

One of the personal highlights for me was the question-and-answer part of the panel.  Hezzie McCaleb, a co-founder of the Barbershop Sports blog and BlogTalkRadio show.  We all know about the talk and wisdom created in barbershops, and he takes the sports angle.  He asked Mario Armstrong about making the move from BlogTalkRadio to AM radio.  And Mario turned the question around: why not try for FM? Mario spoke with Hezzie, then promised to get him in touch with folks at Sirrus XM Radio, where he hosts a tech show.  And check out the logo below – is that cool or what??

Our goal was to tell NABJ attendees how we created our brands and make journalists comfortable with creating their own.  I leave you with this quote:“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”

–Management Guru Tom Peters

Posted in journalism, Social Media

Make Sure There’s No Shame In Your Social Media Game

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

I went to college during a time when there was no Internet. I wasn’t a wild child, but I did have some fun during a trip to Fort Lauderdale during spring break my senior year in college. I didn’t have to worry about folks carrying smartphones ready to photograph and video the festivities.

But times have changed — drastically. This topic came up after I read a recent article in Gizmodo: “I Flunked My Social Media Background Check. Will You?” It serves as a precautionary — and frankly, scary — tale of how your social media past can be held against you by potential employers.

I do resume reviews for NABJ members (my offer to review yours — for free — still stands). As matter of course, I do a Google search of every name. I also look at Facebook and Twitter accounts. And trust me, employers are doing the same. You would not believe the materials that are floating out there.

As we all prepare to go to this year’s National Association of Black Journalists’ Annual Convention and Career Fair in Philadelphia Aug. 3-7, many attendees will be there looking for jobs. So now — not when you hand that resume over to a prospective employer — is the time to do a social media check.

Start by Googling your name. See what comes up, especially on the first page. When I did this, everything was professional — the top link was my company-linked Twitter account. The rest were links to blog posts about the aviation industry. There’s nothing in there that could cause any problems for employers.

Next, go to Facebook. Do a check of all your friends. Are they really friends or someone you met years ago and don’t really know? Start purging. I did this and managed to dump “252” people.

Also create separate Facebook friend lists to control who sees what. I have Friends, Professional Benet and Limited Profile lists, and everyone is in their proper place. Check out this great post on Strategies, Tips & Tools For A Wired Life on how to do it.

Go through your photo albums and pictures where you’re tagged. You may have had a really good time at that frat party, but a potential employer will not look kindly on you drunkenly “backing it up” on the dance floor. This Tutorial Bite post shows you how to protect your photo albums. And check your friends’ albums to make sure there are no embarassing photos of you.

I take lots of pictures at the NABJ conventions, and I ask people to go to my Facebook and Flickr albums to tag them. I have had some requests to remove some of my pictures, and I always comply. But what about others taking photos who don’t announce their intentions?

Next, go to Twitter. Make sure you have separate accounts for personal and professional. And don’t assume that just because you have a locked account, your Tweets won’t go out. Folks can easily retweet your comments for the world to see. So either create a personal account that covers your identity (like @FlyGirlBWI) rather that @benetwilson, or just resolve not to Tweet anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the New York Times.

Check your LinkedIn profile. Make sure it’s close to 100% completed as possible. Many employers are going to this site to find potential employees. And resist the temptation to link your personal Twitter feed or personal blog to your account unless you feel it’s relevant — and not damaging.

If you have a Flickr account, take the time to check the privacy settings. I have more than 1000 pictures of my daughter in my account, but no one but me can see them. You remember all those pictures you posted fron this year’s Urban Beach Week in Miami? Your potential employer doesn’t need to see them.

In the end, the absolute best way to protect your online identity is to make sure you don’t do anything that could cause a red flag. But should you find yourself in that position, be prepared to shell out some money for the services of a company like, which helps monitor and remove negative information about you. And I’ll see you in Philly!