Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, Entrepreneur, Equipment, Innovation, journalism, multimedia journalist, Social Media, Technology, Uncategorized, Webinars

Calendar of Multimedia Training and Events


  • The National Association of Science Writers conference will be held Nov. 1-5, 2013, in Gainesville, Fla. NASW members have crafted a slate of professional development workshops, and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing has recruited scientists from all over the country for the 51st New Horizons in Science briefings on emerging research.

  • The 35th Annual Society for News Design Workshop and Exhibition will be held Nov. 7-9, 2013, in Louisville, Ky.  The Society for News Design (SND) is an international organization for news media professionals and visual communicators – specifically those who create print/web/mobile publications and products. Our members art direct, design, edit, report, illustrate, make photos and video, visualize data – and write code. The Gannett Louisville Design Studio is this year’s host.

  • The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard offers short-term visiting fellowships to individuals interested in working on special research projects designed to advance journalism. Publishers, programmers, Web designers, media analysts, academics, journalists and others interested in enhancing quality, building new business models or designing programs to improve journalism are invited to apply. The proposed project may be completed during the time spent at Harvard or be part of a larger undertaking. All visiting fellows are expected to be in residence in Cambridge during their study and present their findings to the Nieman community at the end of their research period. The application deadline for the 2014 fellowships is Nov. 8, 2013.

  • UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Berkeley CA will hold a Data Visualization for Storytellers Workshop on November 8-9. A deluge of data is being made available for public use. In it’s raw form, large complex data sets are difficult to understand and interpret. Having the tools and techniques to present illustrated data to your audience with aesthetic form and functionality are critical for conveying ideas effectively. Data Visualization for Storytellers is ideal for people interested in a rapid-paced, immersive experience in data visualization tools & techniques. This workshop is ideal for scientists, communication professionals, journalists, bloggers, educators and those interested in becoming proficient in learning to communicate data with clarity and creativity. Tuition: $645.  Click here to register.

  • The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism will hold a free online workshop, “Sourcing with Social Media: Tips from a Corporate Sleuth,” Nov. 13 at  4:00 p.m. ET (noon PT).  Trying to find new sources? In this one-hour webinar Nov. 13, you’ll  learn the tools and techniques that competitive-intelligence experts use every day to find people who know their stuff. During this free, hour-long webinar, the principal in a competitive-intelligence firm will teach you how to harness social media to identify  regional and national “influencers”  in industries you cover and how to contact them successfully.

  • The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism will hold an “SEC Filings Master Class,” Nov. 13-15 at  4:00 p.m. ET (noon PT). Have you ever wondered if you’re missing good stories because you don’t know where or what to look for? This free webinar with Michelle Leder, who makes her living unearthing news in SEC filings, is designed to help you feel more confident in your SEC-document sleuthing.

  • Poynter’s News U will hold a free webinar, “Location-Based Social Media with Geofeedia: A Digital Tools Tutorial,” on Thursday, Nov. 14 at 2:00 p.m. ET. User-generated content from social media networks is a rich data source for today’s newsrooms. By leveraging new, advanced tools, media organizations have the opportunity to rapidly identify primary sources at the scene by tapping into rich sets of images, tweets and videos coming from the scene. Geofeedia enables hyperlocal search and discovery of social media across social networks such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr and Picasa. By searching first by location, Geofeedia helps journalists to rapidly identify new data sources that other prominent social media services miss.

  • The Graduate School of Journalism UC is hosting the New Media Storytelling, Innovation & Technology Fall 2013 workshop Smile: You’re On Camera. When someone portrays a great on-camera presence we assume they are a “natural.” The reality is a natural on-camera presence requires training and practice. During this one-day workshop we’ll give you the confidence to become a “natural” through skill building exercises with live on-camera practice. Date: November 16, 2013. Tuition: $365.
  • The Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California-Berkeley is hosting the New Media Storytelling, Innovation & Technology Fall 2013 workshop “Writing for Infographics”. Infographics have become an ubiquitous tool for those communicating complex information in an easy to understand visual format. The best infographics are often the product of collaborations between teams of creative professionals. In this two-day Writing for Infographics workshop kdmcBerkeley is teaming with Visually to train a new generation of professionals in the art of research and writing for the infographic. Date: November 19-20, 2013. Tuition: $545. Click here to apply.
  • The Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism at Ohio State University is looking for innovative journalists who want to use social media to build a stronger following, develop new sources and better cover their beats. The program also aims to sharpen your digital media public-affairs reporting skills, helping you hold government and institutions accountable. We’ll talk Twitter, Deep Web searches, crowdsourcing, public records, spreadsheets and online data visualization. The fellowship runs from Sunday, April 6, through Friday, April 11, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio. Applications are due by Nov. 30, 2013. Apply here.


  •  Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford offers 20 journalists the opportunity to spend 10 months experimenting, testing and developing innovative ideas for the future of journalism. Open to full-time journalists, journalism entrepreneurs and innovators (which can include independent journalists or developers) and journalism business and management executives. Deadline: Dec. 1. Apply now.
  • The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism will hold a free online workshop, “The Fracking Revolution: Finding Energy Stories Everywhere,” Dec. 4 at  4:00 p.m. ET (noon PT).  In this one-hour, free webinar, Marilyn Geewax, a senior business editor with NPR, will help you understand how this unleashing of massive supplies of fossil fuels is changing all of our lives. In addition to having a broad impact on the environment, tax revenues and politics, this energy revolution is making U.S. manufacturing competitive again and could soon be generating millions of jobs from Maine to California.

  • The CBC-UNC Diversity Fellowship Program is an intensive hands-on workshop led by professionals at WRAL-TV in Raleigh, N.C. and the University of North Carolina journalism faculty in Chapel Hill, N.C. The program, scheduled for March 12-16, 2014,  is geared toward college seniors pursuing broadcast careers as producers, reporters, photojournalists and web editors. The deadline to apply is Dec. 15.


  • If you have the skills, passion and determination to be a journalist of the future – a trained professional who knows a good story when they see it and who has the confidence to tell it in a way that best imparts its relevance and importance to news consumers – an 18-month Hearst Fellowship may be right for you. Applications are open through January.

  • The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism will hold a free workshop, “Investigating the Business of Government,” Jan. 23, 2014, preceding the Winter Convention of the Kentucky Press Association Jan. 23-24. If you dread analyzing the annual municipal budget for news and wonder how to tie government contracts to campaign-donor lists, come hone your skills at this workshop taught by investigative reporter John Cheves. The workshop will be held at the Hyatt Regency, 401 W. High St., Lexington, Ky.

  • The Reynolds Fellowship in Community Journalism is accepting applications. This fellowship is be awarded to “a journalist of accomplishment and promise who is committed to the role of the community press.” Open to journalists working at a U.S. daily and weekly newspapers with a circulation less than 50,000, journalists doing online work for community newspapers, or journalists who have established independent local news websites in communities where the circulation of the local newspaper is less than 50,000. Must be a U.S. citizen. Deadline: Jan. 31, 2014. Apply now.
  • The Nieman-Berkman Fellowships in Journalism Innovation are a collaboration between two parts of Harvard (the Nieman Foundation for Journalism and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society). This fellowship involves spending a year in residence in Cambridge, and full participation in both the Nieman and Berkman fellowship communities. Applicants must propose a specific course of study or project relating to journalism innovation. Open to working journalists or others who work for a news organization in a business, technology, or leadership capacity. Independent journalists are also welcome. Deadline: Jan. 31, 2014.Apply now.
  • The Knight-Wallace Fellowships at Michigan is now accepting applications. Spend an academic year at the Univ. of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Fellows devise a personalized study plan with access to UM courses and resources, and are encouraged to nurture their creative and artistic tendencies. Includes twice-weekly seminars as well as domestic and international travel. Deadline: Feb. 1, 2014. Apply now: U.S. and international.
  • The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism will hold a free workshop, “Perfecting Personality Profiles,” Feb. 5-6 at 4:00 p.m. ET (noon PT). To make your beat coverage more accessible and engaging, you need to focus on people – those in positions of power or influence, and those who consume goods and services, work for wages and pay taxes. In the first hour of this lively two-part webinar, Pulitzer winner Jacqui Banaszynski will explore the characteristics of memorable and accurate profiles, as well as offer a range of profile approaches that can suit your purpose, publication and audience. In the second hour, on Feb. 6, she’ll dive more deeply into the reporting and writing techniques that can help any beat reporter pursue sparkling profiles.
  • Investigative Reporters and Editors and National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) will hold their 2014 Computer-Assisted Reporting Conference in Baltimore, Md., Feb. 27, 2014 – March 2, 2014. Join IRE and NICAR for their annual conference devoted to computer-assisted reporting. Come and learn about tools you need to dig deeper into stories and give readers and viewers the information they want.

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

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

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

Posted in 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 Education, journalism

Journalism Professor Uses Crowdsourcing To Track Patch Layoffs

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

The rumors about layoffs at AOL-owned hyperlocal network Patch had been growing and stories started appearing on Aug. 9. But when the announcement was made on Aug. 16, Michelle Ferrier was already on the job with a Wiki and a blog post to encourage people to help document the job losses.

 Ferrier, a professor at Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication has had a long-time interest in hyperlocal sites, seeing them as an antidote to media deserts and media organizations that tend to neglect the news of diverse communities. She created the wiki because, she said, it was hard to tell who was let go and what websites were being shuttered.

“My ultimate goal is to find sustainable models in journalism for low-served areas,” said Ferrier.  “I’m trying to validate that with data from the wiki. We’re using it to find out which sites were cut and editors were released and match that to local demographics to see how media deserts are created.”

Ferrier, creator of,  is hoping to use this and other data to research what journalism models can sustain hyperlocal ventures. “We put together a database that has more information that’s on the wiki,” she said. “We wanted to list all the Patch websites, then go back in a month. If they haven’t been updated, we will assume they have been shut down.”

The project started on Aug. 9,  when Ferrier started using social media to find laid-off editors and the names of decommissioned or consolidated Patch websites. “The wiki itself just went up on Aug. 20. We have about 1,000 sites on the list. We created the list so that folks could add information and offer a layer of transparency,” she said.

The goal is to let people know there was a source available to offer information on which Patch sites have shuttered. “We also wanted a place for those affected by the layoffs to tell their  stories,” said Ferrier. “I have already spoken with some Patch editors,who are telling their stories.”

Ferrier said she hopes she can see patterns in how things functioned, how things were out of whack with what was being asked and how communities have lost a local news source. She is looking at data including what the affected communities look like, their demographics, and possible solutions.”The Patch layoffs address a critical issue to democracy,” she said.

The wiki is using existing news sources and offering links on specific sites and former editors who lost their jobs, said Ferrier. “Our goal is to then compare these news reports and go back in a month to look at all the sites and see if they’ve been updated,” she said. “At this point, there’s still shuffling going on and AOL is still consolidating, but we want to capture what we do know.  We’re also trying to see if journalists of color and those communities were affected.”

Ferrier is using Facebook, Twitter, journalism and hyperlocal news groups and word-of-mouth to get the word out about the Wiki. “We want to get the word out, and we hope that people will spread it across their own networks.”


Posted in journalism, News, Social Media

UC Berkeley Students Get Hyperlocal

By Brandon Pope, President- Ball State Chapter of National Association Of Black Journalists & Multimedia Reporter-

It can’t be stressed enough; experience is crucial for aspiring journalists looking for a career in media. Students at the UC Berkeley School Of Journalism have received a tremendous opportunity to polish their craft.

With the help of the Ford Foundation, students have created three hyperlocal news sites for the Bay-Area. These hyperlocal sites are staffed by J-School students and have become vital sources of information for under served communities in the region.

The trend of hyperlocal sites has spiked in the past few years. Traditional media like newspapers, television, and radio used to build audiences by bundling together sports, weather, lifestyle and entertainment news into one product. The internet boom dismantled those bundles, creating opportunities for niche products. Hyperlocal sites deliver more extensive, in-depth coverage for local areas.

UC Berkeley launched their hyperlocal journalism program in 2008. You can check out the promotional video they did for their Digital Media Initiative here (

Since then, the sites have continued to evolve.,, and produce content year round.

Mission Local covers San Francisco’s Mission district. It provides news in both English and Spanish to better service the diverse community they report on. Mission Local was honored at the 13th annual Webby Awards, winning a Webby for “Best Student Site”.

Oakland North reports on the Temescal, Rockridge, and Golden Gate communities. Students put their multimedia skills to work to report on local issues in these diverse California communities.

Richmond Confidential reports exclusively on the city of Richmond, California. Student reporters gain experience covering a waterfront city with rich history, but an uncertain future.

You can find a feed for all the sites at

Sources: ( ) ( )  ( ) ( )

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

Create or Die 2: Journalists, Innovators and Investors

By Mike Green, award-winning journalist and Chief Information Officer and a co-founder of the Black Innovation and Competitiveness Initiative

Editor’s note: please join NABJ’s Digital Journalism Task Force TODAY for a free webinar, Tapping our Oral Traditions: How To Add A Podcast To Your Print Story, from noon to 1:00 p.m. EDT.  Join multimedia journalist Vanessa Deggins as she shows how to create a podcast to accompany a print story. She will allow us to listen to some of her work and she’ll answer questions on how you can get started. The NABJDigital blog will also have links to resources Deggins recommends for producing podcasts.

What happens when you combine the intellect and innovative talks of TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) with the high energy, passion and zeal of SXSW (South By Southwest: Music, Film, Interactive) and channel it into the media industry?

You get “Create or Die.”

Journalism That Matters is the umbrella organization that gave birth to this new paradigm of innovative spontaneous collaborations within the construct of a new kind of conference where people engage with the passionate purpose of bringing ideas to fruition.

“Journalism That Matters is known for creating high-energy, high-passion gatherings,” said Dr. Michelle Ferrier, one of the event’s organizers.  “Our goal is to bring together a network of thought leaders and doers in the digital space to reimagine a news ecology that serves all of us. Participants are always amazed at the creativity and action generated at the sessions. ”

Create or Die 2 (Innovate, Incubate, Initiate) is the second iteration of an event that focuses on journalism innovation and diversity. Building upon the success of the first Create or Die conference held in Detroit last year, Create or Die 2 will be held June 2 – 5, 2011, on the campus of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

“The challenges of bringing more diverse voices and creating more viable business models are issues that can be and should be addressed together in the journalism world. As new media finds its place, we can shift a tragic trend by bringing more resources and energy to involving an increasingly diverse public,” said Peggy Holman, co-founder of Journalism That Matters and author of Engaging Emergence: Turning Upheaval into Opportunity.

Imagine a gathering of highly energized innovators from across myriad industry sectors engaging with entrepreneurial-minded journalists within a series of “unconference” style sessions that promote brainstorming, sharing, collaboration and production of new ideas that can be matched to interested funders.

“The design, build, pitch format is designed to create a ‘competition’ with people cooperating on innovating new journalism entrepreneurial ventures,” said Ferrier. “We want more people and communities of color engaged in telling their own stories and finding the means to do so through innovation.”

It’s no secret the media industry is influx. A transformation has occurred that disrupted old business models and encouraged journalists to embrace entrepreneurial endeavors that capitalize upon their knowledge, skills and broad connections. New technologies have opened doors to new opportunities. Journalists who once witnessed their innovative ideas wither and die within the management of deadline-driven newsrooms have found new life within a collaborative entrepreneurial ecosystem comprised of game developers, technologists, entrepreneurs, educators, investors, artists, filmmakers, etc.

The three day event is expected to bring more than 100 journalists, technologists, bloggers, educators, hackers, funders, community activists, designers, social entrepreneurs, and others who care about telling stories in diverse communities.  The format provides attendees with the opportunity to discuss those topics that are most pressing, while creating effective projects that bring real solutions.

“We have two main goals,” Ferrier said.  “One, is to bring together a dynamic, diverse group of participants who can examine the shifting media landscape for journalism entrepreneurial opportunities. Two, we want to leverage the knowledge network we’ve created to advance systemic changes in the distribution of funds, resources and knowledge to people and communities of color for journalism enterprises.”


Dr. Michelle Ferrier is vice president of Journalism That Matters based in Seattle. She is an associate professor in the School of Communications at Elon University.  She is also the founder of, a a hyperlocal website focused on allowing citizen journalists and community members to build their community conversation through good local information and networking.  You can read the NABJDigital profile of her here.  For more information and to register to attend Create or Die 2, visit the website at

Posted in Innovation, journalism, multimedia journalist

How Does Online Hyperlocal News Work?

From Andrew Humphrey, CBM
Founder & Co-Chair, NABJ’s Digital Journalism Task Force
Meteorologist & Station Scientist, WDIV-TV |

The MIT Enterprise Forum held a fascinating panel discussion about online hyperlocal news at New York Times headquarters in the Big Apple last week. The panel included representatives from The New York Times,, and Outside.In.  All of them were optimistic about their survival as a crucial component of the future of journalism, but most conceded there is a challenge of earning revenue and increasing profits.

The presentations provided insight into how these organizations decide on the geographic locations they cover. president Warren Webster (left) said he and his team, including creator, ex-Google executive and now AOL head Tim Armstrong, analyze good old-fashioned U.S. Census data.  The distinctive criteria he highlighted were per capita income of an area’s residents and their projected advertising dollars available.  The greater the worth of a community, the more likely it would have a journalist dedicated to derive news.

Hyperlocal reporters came from various, yet still limited areas.  The New York Times’ Jim Schacter (left) said when it wanted to jump into the super-precise news preparation world, it realized they already had employees who live in the areas it want to cover (e.g., Fort Greene, Clinton Hill). founder & chief Michael Shapiro (right) said he partners with local journalism and communications schools where the students are reporters.  The New York Times has teamed up with City University of New York, New York University and other colleges & universities.

As for cultivating sources, each of the panelists recognized the value of establishing relationships with local community organizers, businesspersons, politicians, etc.  Outside.In’s CEO Mark Josephson was unavailable.  In his place, Business Development Vice President Camilla Cho (right) said their company has an computer algorithm that scans social media and breaks down local blogs to find out who the hyperlocale’s hyper-communicators are.

The information in their presentations left me with glaring, nagging questions that I asked.  Essentially they were, “Are you concerned about short-changing poor people and poor communities?  If Patch’s hyperlocal coverage area is based on how much money it makes, isn’t it automatically cutting out poor areas?  Has AltPress considered using students from inner city media programs?  Is susceptible to the digital divide where those with the most to say may not have the technological resources available at their fingertips because there is no money for schools, libraries or their programs?”

The only panelist with an answer close to but not quite adequate was’s Warren Webster who mentioned his corporation’s non-profit arm which seeks and makes donations in order to serve communities in need.  He expressed his hopes for the fulfillment of news coverage in impoverished areas in the future but could not specify when.  After the Q&A session, I was encouraged when approached I Michael Shapiro and Camilla Cho with my specific, successful experiences in Detroit.  Their openness and that of the rest of the panel and audience were a sign of hope for the financial profit of existing and soon-to-be hyperlocal news organizations, the informational profit of so-called disadvantaged districts and thus the universal profit of everyone.

Posted in Education, multimedia journalist, Social Media, Uncategorized

Listen to NABJDigital’s Hyperlocal Websites: Are They The Savior Of Local News?

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

Last night, the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force hosted a BlogTalkRadio show entitled “Hyperlocal Websites: Are They The Savior Of Local News?” Our guests were:

Our guests were:

  • Dr. Michelle Ferrier, an associate professor at Elon University in the School of Communications. She is the developer of a demonstration project called, a hyperlocal community platform and service model focused on local food conversations. She is also a steward in Journalism That Matters, helping to spark journalism entrepreneurship nationwide.
  • Holly Edgell, one of two regional editors for in Metro St. Louis where she is currently hiring 12 local editors, each of whom will be in charge of covering news for a community new website.  Before joining, Edgell taught journalism at the University of Missouri and Florida A&M University. She also worked as a television news producer in a number of cities, including Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
  • Shawn P. Williams is the founder, editor and publisher of the nationally acclaimed and highly recognized now known as Dallas South in June of 2006 where he serves as publisher and editor. The website has been featured on NBC Nightly News, The Chicago Tribune, CNN, NPR, BBC, and many other national outlets and is designed to promote positive images of African-Americans in the media.
  • Mike Green is a journalist-turned-entrepreneur with 14 years experience in media. He’s a New York Times Leadership Academy Fellow with training at and he led award-winning online experiments in local community engagement for the Dow Jones Local Media Group.

We had a spirited and informative discussion on future directions of hyperlocal websites.  You can listen to the complete show here.

Posted in Education, Entrepreneur, multimedia journalist

NABJDigital Profiles Dr. Michelle Ferrier of

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

Michelle Ferrier, courtesy of ANAC

Editor’s note: please join the National Association of Black Journalists’ Digital Journalism task force for our next BlogTalkRadio chat – “Hyperlocal Websites: Are They The Savior Of Local News?” – tonight, Tuesday, Sept. 28 from 8:00-9:00 p.m. Eastern time.  Click here for more details.  I hope you can join us!

Dr. Michelle Ferrier is an associate professor at Elon University in North Carolina, where she  teaches in the iMedia graduate program.  She was one of the chairs of the Journalism That Matters conference, held in Detroit in June that focused on entrepreneurialism in journalism.

Ferrier is the creator of, a hyperlocal website focused on allowing citizen journalists and community members to “focus on what they are most passionate about – building their community conversation through good local information and networking.” The website is an online community and mobile application designed to foster conversations around the locavore movement and uses the eating locally movement to generate conversation around sustainable, healthy lifestyles.

NABJDigital: How did you come up with the idea for LocallyGrown News?

Michelle Ferrier: The original idea came out of the McCormick Foundation’s New Media Women Entrepreneur proposal for grants.  I created a project that provided tech, content, shared marketing and shared promotion systems to create small hyperlocal online communities run by women.

ND: Why did you think there was a need for a website like this?

MF: I felt this system was needed. I wanted a way to package all the things an entrepreneur would need to get started.  It was actually born out of survivor’s guilt.  I created this online community – – at a legacy newspaper. I left after several rounds of layoffs.  A week after I left, my whole team was laid off. I wanted to support those laid-off workers and create something similar for them.

ND: How does work?

MF: First, those interested in developing a website can contact me. We did a soft launch in May.  We started by developing sites in Greensboro and Winston-Salem, N.C., to see what it would be like and test the technologies used.  This is a women’s community news franchise and we picked this topic to start because of the growth in local food movements. Local food will increasingly get more attention in creating jobs to grow local economies.

ND: What in your background do you think led to the creation of LocallyGrown News?

MF: I had three majors in college.  I started out in engineering, which gave me the computer science I needed.  Then I went into business, where I got accounting and marketing knowledge. Finally, I went to journalism.  All three gave me a good base for a future as an entrepreneur.

ND: You won a grant from the McCormick Foundation. How important was that funding for LocallyGrown News?

MF: The grant was for $10,000, which was used to cover development costs.  Those costs alone for can be staggering.  I looked at existing platforms, both free and charged.  But to really develop the online community I wanted, I would have to build my own platform, and that seed money helped me create my vision.  The content management system itself is extremely robust.  It runs on an engine that some newspapers run. It’s a very robust platform for print export that you won’t find on Blogger or WordPress.  It’s not a blog.  If someone is looking for a comparison, it’s a mashup of Facebook, WordPress and online news sites.

ND: What advice would you give to others who might want to apply for this grant in the future?

MF: One, you have to be very comfortable with your vision and promoting that vision.  In order to be able to talk to anyone about your idea — like venture capitalists and foundations — you have to have a clear idea of what you’re doing, why and who you’re serving.  My goal from the start was to ensure that laid-off female employees have an advantage in the market for entrepreneurship, and provide them with a product they can work with.  Be passionate about what you’re doing.  I’m committed to women entrepreneurs, local foods and local communities, and am making that commitment.  I am committed beyond financial enrichment for myself.

ND: Why do you think that journalism entrepreneurship has become so prevalent in conversations on where our industry is growing?

MF: One, because I think traditional legacy media have been retrenching as new and entrepreneurial activities grow.  In terms of innovation and products, some are doing that, but some have lost that innovation spark.  We want to offer opportunities after layoffs and severance packages.  Journalists have a set of skills that can serve a community, but no outlet to do it.  The market is ripe for these opportunities now.  Technologically, tools are way more sophisticated now than when online communities were first developed.  Communities and management systems are so much more sophisticated.  The cost and other barriers to entry are significantly lower, so it’s a great time to consider entrepreneurial journalism projects and apply them to online media.

ND: You’ve announced plans to expand LocallyGrown News. Who is the ideal person to take on growing this site?

MF: That person would be either working part time in legacy media or freelancing. We’re looking at females with a broad journalist background.  We want someone that has the desire to grow and own a business, someone with hustle to make things happen. Those people also have experience with consulting and can do marketing.  On a good day, our footprint is smaller than a county area, so we need someone who can provide niche content and also has an interest in eating good food.  But it’s also broader that just food – we’re also looking at sustainable, economic living with a focus on food.  We offer opportunities for advertising and revenue that are untapped.

ND: How important has social media been in promoting the Locally Grown News websites?

MF: We have a Facebook fan page to cultivate a different audience for those who want in their neighborhood.  I’m using Delicious to curate and archive articles for a user library of resources.  I use Constant Contact to push out email newsletters each week. I use Google Analytics and the Open X ad server management system to manage ad campaigns on the site.  We’re adding new tabs that are resources, including using Google Maps to show a directory of farmers markets.  Our site allows readers to create a profile so people can see them across the community, a comment function, social bookmarking to push content and a Rate This function.

Posted in Education, multimedia journalist, Social Media

Friday Fast Five + Five

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

I’m starting to get to the bottom of my Fast Five folder, but I still have more items, so today will be another bonus five-day.  And I’d like to mention that my streak of including at least one 10000 Words entry in each column remains intact.  Enjoy!!

  1. 10000 Words – 3 Underrated but essential skills for journalists. (I can admit to having only 1 of the three)
  2. Smashing Magazine – How To Permanently Delete Your Account on Popular Websites
  3. Lifehacker – How to Record Great Video with Your HD DSLR Camera
  4. Mashable – 10 Beautiful Social Media Infographics
  5. Photojo Store – Fisheye, Macro, and Wide Angle Camera Phone Lenses
  6. Hyperlocal Blogger – TwitZip: Twitter’s Unofficial Hyperlocal News Network
  7. Teaching Journalism Online – Getting started with WordPress
  8. Blogging Tips – Reinventing Yourself and Your Blog
  9. Tech Radar – 50 really useful Android tips and tricks
  10. GigaOm – Freesound Project: Creative Commons Licensed Audio Snippets
Posted in Education, multimedia journalist, Social Media

NABJDigital Leads Discussion On The Growth Of Hyperlocal Websites

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

On Sept. 3, I wrote an NABJDigital post discussing a series of articles and blog posts on the past, present and future of hyperlocal websites, which are being touted as one of the possible saviors of journalism.  As I wrote the post, I thought about members of the National Association of Black Journalists who had their own experiences in creating and maintaining hyperlocal websites.

So I thought this would be a great topic to cover in our monthly BlogTalkRadio chats.  We will  broadcast “Hyperlocal Websites: Are They The Savior Of Local News?” on Tuesday, Sept. 28 from 8:00-9:00 p.m. Eastern time.  Our guests will be:

  • Dr. Michelle Ferrier, an associate professor at Elon University in the School of Communications. She is the developer of a demonstration project called, a hyperlocal community platform and service model focused on local food conversations. She is also a steward in Journalism That Matters, helping to spark journalism entrepreneurship nationwide.
  • Holly Edgell, one of two regional editors for in Metro St. Louis where she is currently hiring 12 local editors, each of whom will be in charge of covering news for a community new website.  Before joining, Edgell taught journalism at the University of Missouri and Florida A&M University. She also worked as a television news producer in a number of cities, including Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
  • Shawn P. Williams is the founder, editor and publisher of the nationally acclaimed and highly recognized now known as Dallas South in June of 2006 where he serves as publisher and editor. The website has been featured on NBC Nightly News, The Chicago Tribune, CNN, NPR, BBC, and many other national outlets and is designed to promote positive images of African-Americans in the media.
  • Mike Green is a journalist-turned-entrepreneur with 14 years experience in media. He’s a New York Times Leadership Academy Fellow with training at and he led award-winning online experiments in local community engagement for the Dow Jones Local Media Group.

I hope you can join us on Tuesday, Sept. 28 from 8:00-9:00 p.m. Eastern time.  It should be a lively discussion, and we’ll leave plenty of time for your questions.