Posted in journalism, multimedia journalist, Uncategorized

Spotlight’s On: Kelly Virella

Kelly Virella, Founder of the Urban Thinker magazine
Kelly Virella, Founder of the Urban Thinker magazine

Kelly Virella wants to bring today’s reporting into the 22nd century. Her new online magazine Urban Thinker plans to do just that. The journal will be based on in-depth, truly thought-provoking reporting on topics that are important to African-Americans but often go overlooked in media.




How did you start the Urban Thinker magazine?

When I first started working in a newsroom after j-school, one of the first things I noticed was how little diversity there was in terms of [news] coverage. The African-American population was only 10% in [our] area but, I started thinking about how that reflected in a lot of the news coverage on tv, even the coverage in “majority Minority” cities. A lot of “majority Minority” cities tend be very relaxed in their racially diverse news coverage. I knew then that I wanted to go into entrepreneurship and do something that was really about serving the community. As I developed more and more in journalism, I could see the tides changing in terms of what people were interested in. A lot of brands are getting into thoughtful journalism to distinguish themselves. I am creating a magazine to be a part of this moment.

How do you make long-form journalism something people will love to read in world of “quick and easy” blog posts?

It really just depends on the interest level of the individual. A lot of people swear by [long-form journalism] and some people are just not interested. One of the reasons why it is so interesting is that it’s because it’s based on characters. It’s just like you’re reading a novel, your getting into characters, you’re getting into all those elements that make it interesting for a person. It’s a form of entertainment as much as it is journalism for a reader. This is really for people who still enjoy the activity of finishing off their day with reading.

How did you go about finding reporters for the Urban Thinker?

My goal was to recruit reporters who had much experience as possible. I knew a lot experienced reporters who I was friends with. So it was really a matter of who [I knew] at the time could commit to writing something right now. So I was able to get some really cool people to write some pieces. Eventually, we will be expanding our network.

How do you plan to incorporate videojournalism into Urban Thinker?

I’m thinking about using it for front of the book or back of the book pieces. We are interested in having conversations with people who have solved various types of social or economic problems or political issues that the Black community has faced. We would give them time to talk on camera about what they did to solve these different kinds of problems.

Virella plans to uplift and inspire her readers with the intelligent journalism that we need now more than ever. Find out more about the Urban Thinker at and Kelly Virella at

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 video editor for Higher Education Channel Television (HEC-TV).

Posted in Uncategorized

A Patch (.com) Of Hope…

Hyper-local online news company announced last month that several of its websites would be shut down or consolidated by October 15th. While those sites are undergoing these processes this week, Ohio University is looking to bring the hyper-local news structure into the educational sphere with impending web experiments.

Associate Dean for Innovation, Research/Creative Activity and Graduate Studies, Scripps College of Communication, Dr. Michelle Ferrier recently spoke with Patch editors of the closing and consolidating sites. While the editors are dismayed at losing their jobs there is a sense of hope and optimism that permeates with this group. AOL, which owns Patch, also seems to be rectifying their mistakes, Ferrier says.

“Patch editors have identified a couple of key points where AOL made certain business decisions and assumptions about the marketplace that may have been incorrect,” she says. “I think what Patch has learned is that doing hyper local online news is hard. There are costs associated with it and there are certain communities that are able to support those kinds of activities and others that are not. So they are regrouping through these layoffs to get back that core set of Patch sites that can be profitable by the end of the year.”

Of the possibility of Ohio University partnering with Patch to create new university–run hyper-local news sites, Dr. Ferrier says don’t rule it out.

“While Patch is soliciting commercial partners to be able to take on some of their sites, Ohio University and [I] are in active negotiations with them to try take on some of those low performing sites to build [a network] that is more of a non-profit, private-public partnership model that looks at building the investment of a community in its own communication vehicle,” Ferrier says.

“Our goal, “ Ferrier continued, “is to work with Patch to try and identify those communities for which a viable commercial media is impossible and then look at ways to partner with higher education entities and local government and local foundations to keep those site alive and to keep them fresh with news and information.”

Dr. Ferrier further explains that the new model will experiment with different styles of leadership which may include student-run, student-led sites or even former Patch employees teaching students community journalism through a university curriculum.

Though no tentative launch date has yet been set for this new model of online journalism, new life and hope is springing from Patch.

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 video editor for Higher Education Channel Television (HEC-TV).

Posted in Uncategorized

How Atlantic Media magazines, websites hire for intellect, generosity, digital dexterity

By Tracie Powell

ImageJob seekers: Want tips on how to get your foot in the door at The Atlantic Media Company? Their new online publication, which launches this fall, is hiring! This is a must read for college graduates, especially those just getting their graduate and/or doctoral degrees.

Media executives: While other news organizations struggle to survive in the digital age, The Atlantic Media Company is not only beating the odds, it’s surpassing them. Want to know their secret? 

When it comes to diversity, however…. meh. (Hint: That’s another reason to read this piece.)

Read more here.

Tracie Powell is a contributing writer to and a vice chairperson for the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force. 

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

The 2011 Groundhog Day Blizzard – Digital Prep

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snow-covered cars, streets and lawns

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

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

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

Posted in Uncategorized

Introducing The iPad

By Bliss Davis, Bowling Green State University Journalism Student

Photo courtesy of Apple

I’ll admit, when I first saw the tweet from @TheAppleBlog when the iPad was unveiled, I was more than unimpressed. First, I wanted to know who came up with the name, and not to congratulate them. Next, as an iPhone 3GS and MacBook Pro owner I wasn’t convinced having an iPad was that big of a deal. My sentiments were confirmed after looking at various news and blog outlets and their traffic commenting on it.

Here are the physical specs for the iPad, per Apple:

Height: 9.56 inches
Width: 7.47 inches
Depth: 0.5 inch
Weight: 1.5 pounds Wi-Fi model; 1.6 pounds Wi-Fi + 3G model

More specs are at

Pricing starts at $499, with the priciest model (64 GB with Wi-Fi+3G) at $829. The highest price is much less than the anticipated $1000 estimate circulating when the iPad was a mystery. Even so, it doesn’t quite sound all that spectacular. Listening in on the unveiling it appeared Steve Jobs focused heavily on convincing everyone why they should get it. Was he wondering the same, perhaps?

Whatever he was wondering aside, the following are the ideas that grew on me in the hours surrounding the announcement:

Wandering through Twitter I came across one person in particular who was very excited about the iPad. Photographer @JeremyCowart had this to say about it, “I’m pumped about the Tablet announcement today cause it’s really going to help the photography industry I think. Especially editorial.”

This makes perfect sense. In terms of front end content, the iPad is on to something. Delivering content is the meat of what the device can do, and it’s meant for those with specific goals in mind. I can easily envision a reporter using it to look up news RSS feeds before morning meeting. Sure, you can do this on a smart phone or take a quick look at your computer when you arrive at your destination, but the screen in the former and the need to get to information quickly in the latter is remedied when an iPad steps into the picture.

An iPad would also be useful in the field, though I admit I would still prefer my laptop until I got a hold of one to test out. With a combination of Wi-Fi capabilities and the revamped version of iWork, the iPad is ideal. Its pricing is fairly competitive compared to other tablets out there, though an only issue would be it’s lacking innovation. If Apple wasn’t synonymous with cool these days, it probably wouldn’t stand out too terribly against its PC counterparts. Combine that with a lack of camera, and it’s even less impressive. I’m definitely eager to get my hands on one in a few months to see how it stands up to other tablets.

Another idea that crossed my mind was it’s potential usefulness in areas where a way to access the internet and transfer info is crucial. If you’ve ever followed Haitian news closely, you know that there currently isn’t much Haitian generated news to follow. Haitian journalists in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding region have had very little resources to work with since the January 12th earthquake. If Apple made a “rugged” version of the iPad (akin to the Panasonic Toughbook tablets often seen in hospitals), they would have my vote as something field-worthy. Thin may be in for now, but to be useful in the field it likely needs a more heavy-duty backbone.

Only time will tell when it comes to Apple. Known for new models and updates with features consumers wanted in the first place, the future looks optimistic the iPad. For now, we’ll have to see how content creators take advantage of the it. Are these possibilities even exclusive to the iPad? We’ll see come spring.

Posted in Uncategorized

Great Holiday Gift Ideas for Journalists

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair,

Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group

It’s only 10 days until Christmas (where does the time go?) and I thought now would be the time to do the first annual NABJ Digital blog gift idea list.  It looks like my favorite 10000 Words blog beat me to the punch with its list (I want numbers 2, 6 and 17, please).  A few weeks ago, I asked members of the Digital Journalism Task Force for their ideas, which are listed below.

Mario Armstrong is my go-to guy for all the coolest tech toys, and he recommends three things: the Livescribe Pulse Pen and the Kodak Zi8 pocket video camera.  Eba Hamid of the Wichita Eagle recommends the Flip Video Camera, a 4-16GB USB/flash drive and a subscription to the online AP Stylebook.  For the really ambitious, she also suggested a netbook, a copy of the Adobe Creative Suite, a DSLR camera and a domain name/hosting space for their own portfolio Web site.

Natalie McNeal – AKA The Frugalista – really likes the Flip HD Video Camera.  Bob Butler, VP of broadcast for the National Association of Black Journalists recommends a decent pair of headphones, like the Klipsch Image S4.  And Renee Turner suggests a digital recorder.  I’m a big fan of the Olympic recorders, myself.

DJTF co-chairman Andrew Humphrey offers up a 500 GB external hard drive and a charging pad.  And on my list: the Blue Eyeball Web Cam, the Asus EEE PC,  the Belkin Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger and the Bobarra Lady Lindy Laptop Bag to carry it all in.  Merry Christmas and Happy Kwanzaa!

Posted in Uncategorized

Deciding Where, When and How to Post Content

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair,

Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group

I work for the Aviation Week group, where we have myriad platforms for our stories.  We have a weekly magazine, 2 monthly magazines, 2 weekly newsletters, 2 daily newsletters, a free web site, a premium paid web site and 8 blogs covering defense, aviation and aerospace.  We also have a photography gallery, a podcast channel and a video section.

That’s a lot of content to fill.  In the old days, I’d write a story for a specific medium, send it off to my editor and wait until it was published.  Not any more.   Now when I decide to do a story, I have to think about all the platforms it can fit into.  As an example, I do a feature for our weekly newsletter called “5 Good Questions.”  I now always ask extra questions and slice and dice it in the following ways:

  • Original story in the newsletter;
  • Short version for the Aviation Week Intelligence Network premium site;
  • 2-3 questions for the monthly magazine;
  • Photos submitted to the gallery;
  • Blog post with extra questions, including a quick podcast or video clip.

None of the pieces are exactly the same, so even if a subscriber has access to all our publications, they still find new information in each source, but the don’t lose the impact of the interview if they don’t go to all the sources.   For more insight, check out this post on the Wired Journalist network.

And Happy Thanksgiving!