Posted in Awards, Conferences & Conventions, Social Media

My Top 8 Nominations For The 2011 Black Weblog Awards

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

Editor’s note: the replay of today’s  NABJ Reinvention Committee and Digital Journalism Task Force  BlogTalkRadio “In the Thick of My Career: Searching for the ‘New Me,’” is now posted, here.  Click here for the replay of our first show in this series — “The Young & the Restless: Keeping Hope & Journalism Alive,” which aired on April 15.  Our third and final show in the series will be “Laid Off, Bought Out & Scared: Managing My Life and Finances.”  This session with Past NABJ President Sidmel Estes of BreakThrough Inc., targets journalists who may have recently lost their jobs or fear they may lose them. We’ll discuss what you can do now to prepare for the worst, how you adjust to life without the office and offer Budgeting 101 tips.

I have written extensively about the Black Weblog Awards in NABJDigital.  You can see my past stories here.   The deadline for nominations for the 2011 awards is Saturday, May 7,  and I hope you’ll consider nominating National Association of Black Journalist members and others for this worthy endeavor.  Are you having trouble deciding who to pick?  Below are my top 10 nominations. You can also click here to see the list of finalists for 2010.

The deadline to submit is Saturday, May 7, so click here right now and support awards founder Maurice Cherry, along with your blogging peers!

  1. Greg Gross, I’m Black and I Travel:  Greg is my travel brother from another mother, and his blog is amazing.  My NABJDigital profile of him is here.
  2. Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig, shades:  Michelle is my Bay Area sister who created a blog/magazine that focuses on women of color.  My profile of her is here.
  3. Dr. Michelle Ferrier, and organizer, Journalism That Matters Create or Die 2, 2011:  I first met Michelle back at the BlogOrlando conference in 2008.  She’s one of those people who does so much you’re tempted to hate them, but instead, you’re amazed at their breadth and depth of work.  My profile of her is here.
  4. Kiratiana Freelon, Kiratiana Travels:  Kiratiana is one of those blogging superstars I love to promote.  She not only handles her own blog, but she also oversees American Airlines’ Black Atlas blog.  My NABJDigital profile of her here.
  5. Marcus Osborne, Your Straight Male Friend:  I met Marcus at last year’s NABJ convention in San Diego, when we were on a panel together.  He is the poster child for making lemons out of lemonade, and my profile of him is here.
  6. The Professor Diva Diaries: I did a similar post on the awards last year, and I “met” the divas after they posted to this blog with their own recommendations.  They moved from the newsroom to the class room and blog about their adventures.  Thanks to them, I found the graphic designer — Julia Edwards — for my logo.  She did theirs, too!  And my profile of them is here.
  7. Brown Girls Fly: They had me with their tag line: a melanin-infused perspective on travel.  I like their travel tips, and I like that they are brown girls on a budget who still manage to travel the world.  And it’s my own bad that I haven’t profiled them here — yet!
  8. Natalie McNeal, Frugalista: I have been a fan since she did her first no-spend month blog post back in the day.  I loved her book, The Frugalista Files.  I know she’s been busy, but I wish she would post more!
Posted in Awards, Conferences & Conventions, Social Media

Nominations Open For The Black Weblog Awards

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

About a year ago, I had the chance to do a two-part interview with Maurice Cherry.  Part one covered how he created the Black Weblog Awards, which showcases the best and brightest in the Black blogosphere in more than 30 categories.  Since creating the awards back in 2005, Cherry has watched it grow.  This year, he has shifted the nominations and awards dates so that winners can be presented live at the Blogging While Brown conference, scheduled for July 8-10 in Los Angeles.

“When I spoke at the 2010 Blogging While Brown Conference, it was a rare opportunity to not just be recognized for the Black Weblog Awards, but to speak directly with voters, nominees, and winners,” says Cherry. “Since I had supported the Blogging While Brown Conference since day one, the thought of collaborating for the 2011 Black Weblog Awards was a no-brainer.”

But in order to accommodate the schedule for Blogging While Brown, as well as the location, there are some significant changes to the overall schedule for the Black Weblog Awards, says Cherry.  “In the past, the Black Weblog Awards was a full summer event which transpired from June to September,” he explains. “Now, our nomination period has been shortened to two weeks, and our finalist voting period has been shortened to a month.” Nominations begin today, he adds.

And this year, even more categories are being added.  “Even though we have more than 35 categories, there are still corners of the blogosphere that deserve recognition. So in order to expand our offerings to reach as much of the Black blogosphere as possible, we are currently accepting categories,” says Cherry.  Some that have already been submitted include Inspirational Blog, Best Fiction Blog and Best Lifestyle Blog.

In 2010, the award program received more than 27,000 ballots for its finalists, says Cherry. “I think with the live show, we should definitely exceed those numbers!”

Cherry is using the usual social media channels, including Twitter (@blkweblogawards) and Facebook, as well as via his huge email list, to get the word out about the awards.

Cherry began efforts last year to find sponsors for the awards.  “Last year was a real lesson for us when it came to actively seeking sponsorship. It’s the first year we really actively sought out sponsors, and it was a good learning experience,” he says. “Now that we are collaborating with the Blogging While Brown Conference, that doesn’t mean that we’re not looking for sponsors, because putting on a live show is still quite an undertaking! So if you’re a business or company that supports our mission and wants to help us, we want to hear from you!”

Cherry urges people who have just found out about the awards to enter.  “We get people every year who find out about the Awards and then say `oh, I’ll enter next year.’ Why wait? Why not throw your hat in the ring and get your readers involved?” he asks. “It’s all about knowing your blog’s worth and knowing your unique voice in the blogosphere. That’s why you should enter your blog.”

Journalists, especially National Association of Black Journalists members, should participate in the awards, says Cherry.  “There may be a few journalists who get it, but being able to embrace the new media as well as those are successfully navigating it is still a challenge to overcome,” he observes.

You can see the complete list of winners in 2010 here.

Posted in journalism, multimedia journalist, Social Media

New Media/Socia Media/Multimedia: Where Is The Diversity?

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

I was scrolling through my Google Reader earlier this month when I read this Dec. 8 post on Steve Buttry’s informative blog on multimedia.  He was writing about News Foo, an invitation-only event that was (as Steve wrote) a “stimulating and thoughtful interaction with creative and innovative journalists, entrepreneurs, digital thinkers and technology pioneers.”  The event was held at the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.  When I read Buttry’s post, my first question was “I wonder how many journalists of color were in attendance?”  You can see the list of attendees here.

I sent out some Tweets to people I would guess should have been invited.  A handful were, but chose not to attend for whatever reason.  But then this post from Retha Hill, director of the new media innovation lab at ASU – who did attend News Foo – offered more information.  And Hill asked the bigger question – why are new media conferences lacking in minorities?  That, in turn, led to a spirited live Twitter chat yesterday hosted by PBS Media Shift, which featured Doug Mitchell, chairman of NABJ’s Media Institute, among other things.  You can follow the chat at the #mediadiversity hash tag.  My big takeaway was one side saying “we don’t know where you new media journalists of color are” on one side and “here we are, but you ignore us” on the other.

Here at NABJDigital, we have worked hard to spotlight and champion journalists of color who we think are doing some interesting things on the new/social/multimedia side of the business.  Below are the ones we’ve done since starting this blog in October 2009.  If you know of others, PLEASE – let us know.!

Posted in Awards, Social Media

…And The Winners Of The Black Weblog Awards Are…

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

The winners for the 2010 Black Weblog Awards were announced today at noon.  I want to congratulate all of the winners of the judges and popular vote awards.  This year, more than 27,000 votes were cast.

I want to offer my personal congratulations to the winners I voted for:

  • Best Business Blog – Kiss My Black Ads, judge’s vote;
  • Best Culture Blog – Black Girl With Long Hair, popular vote (you can see my NABJDigital profile on this blog here);
  • Best Fashion or Beauty blog: Afrobella, judges AND popular vote;
  • Best Gossip Blog – Necole Bitchie, judge’s vote;
  • Best Group Blog – Very Smart Brothas, judges AND popular vote;
  • Best Political or News Blog – Black Snob, judges vote; and
  • Blog of the Year – Oh Hell Naw, judges vote.

I’d also like to give a shout out to awards organizer Maurice Cherry for putting the spotlight on some very deserving blogs.

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Social Media

South By Southwest 2011 Interactive: Update on Diversity Panels

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

Back on Aug. 24, I did a post on how the interactive part of South By Southwest (SXSW)  has become THE place to come to hear the latest in digital/social/new and multimedia.  That post included a plea from organizers to have more diverse panels.  The panel picker was released last month, and I went through all 2,400 submissions to pick out the ones I thought addressed the diversity issue.

Well, leave it to Maurice Cherry, owner of 3eighteen Media and founder of the Black Weblog Awards, to find some I missed.  Cherry compiled the “Tentative List of SXSW Panels by Black People in Technology.” I urge you to look at this list and my list ASAP and make your picks.  And please include comments — the organizing committee takes those into account.  And also, do it quick, since voting ends today at 11:59 CDT.

And speaking of voting, please also support Cherry’s Black Weblog Awards, which recognizes the best in African-American blog writing.  Voting ends on Aug. 31, with winners announced Sept. 1.  Thanks!!

Posted in Social Media

Please-Vote for Finalists in the Black Weblog Awards

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

The list of finalists from the Black Weblog Awards have been released.  I’m happy to note that one of the blogs I recommended and NABJDigital has profiled — Haute Travels —  made it as a finalist in the Travel category.

I really hope that everyone will participate by voting.  There are some really great blogs about and for people of color, and they deserve the recognition that this award brings.  Some of the finalists I’ve discovered because of this blog includes: Afrobella; Bossip; Very Smart Brothas; The Black Snob; and Kiratiana Travels.  And NABJDigital has also profiled nominees Haute Travels and Black Girl With Long Hair.

Voting ends on Aug. 31, and the winners will be announced on Sept. 1.

Posted in Social Media

Deadline Approaching For Black Weblog Awards Nominations

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

July 25 at midnight is the deadline to submit your nominations for the 2010 Black Weblog Awards. The awards were created by Maurice Cherry, owner of Atlanta-based firm 3eighteen Media.   He created the awards program in 2005  after seeing other Internet award vehicles not recognizing Black bloggers that he knew were doing phenomenal work and had a presence in the blogosphere.

So far, Cherry says, he’s received more than 10,000 nominations, and is experiencing its highestt web traffic ever (it usually triples or quadruples every year).  “I think the new website design and increased presence on social media networks has helped out with that a lot,” he says.  “This year, we also brought on a sponsorship director and an intern to help us do more with the tools we currently have, as well as seek out sponsorship dollars that we desperately need to keep the awards going and growing.”

Finalists will be announced on August 1, says Cherry.  “Winners are announced now on September 1. We have also kicked off a pledge campaign via Kickstarter to raise money for the 2011 Black Weblog Awards to finally have a live ceremony,” he says.  “We’re fortunate that the strategic partnerships we’ve made have helped us get one step closer to making this a reality.”

Below are my choices for blogs worthy to be nominated:

Posted in Uncategorized

Nominations For The Black Weblog Awards Open June 1

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

Back on April 14, I did a two-part interview with Atlanta media entrepreneur Maurice Cherry.  Part one of the interview was on his creation of the Black Weblog Awards.  Now nominations for this year’s awards will open on June 1 and close July 25.

The award has 35 categories, so there are plenty of opportunities to find someone to nominate.  Have you been blogging consistently since Jan. 1, 2005? Then enter yourself for the Aaron Hawkins Award, which is chosen by a panel of judges.  Other categories include blog design, blog post series, cooking or food blog, fashion/beauty, group, micro, new blog, political/news, sports and travel, to name a few.  There’s also the Blog of the Year and Blog to Watch.

Allow me to indulge and call out some people I think should consider — strongly — submitting their own blogs for awards this year.  They are:

I hope you will all support these worthy awards that recognize the writing from people of color.  Did I miss any blogs? Let me know.

Posted in Uncategorized

Part 2: NABJDigital Profiles Maurice Cherry, Owner of 3eighteen Media

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

Yesterday, we interviewed Maurice Cherry about his creation of the Black Weblog Awards.  Today, we speak with him about his day job as  founder of 3eighteen Media, a design studio based in Atlanta that specializes in web design, logo design, WordPress themes, e-mail marketing, copywriting, and a host of other services.  We speak with Cherry about his company and why journalists should consider his services.

Maurice Cherry

NABJDigital: You graduated from Morehouse.  What was your major?

Maurice Cherry: Mathematics

ND: How did your major prepare you for the work you’re doing now at 3eighteen media?

MC: Not at all, actually! I studied pure Math — advanced calculus, topology, measure-theoretic entropy… fun stuff like that. My masters degree is in network and telecommunications management, although it’s like a cross between an MBA and an MIS. The concepts I learned there about finance and project management have helped me immensely with my business.

ND: What does 3eighteen stand for?

MC: It’s the month and day of my birth (3/18). I decided to have it as 3eighteen because I thought it looked more unique. Plus, the number 3 and the letter E together sort of look like the glyph for my astrological sign, Pisces.

ND: It seems like shops like yours are springing up all over.  You have plenty of business and a great client list.  What is it that your firm offers that others don’t?

MC: I have a very broad skill set that you normally would not find in a one-man shop. I’m a web designer, logo designer, copywriter, e-mail marketing whiz and I’m very knowledgeable on the psychology behind web design. I know what works for a site’s design depending on what their business goals are, and I’m good with color theory and meaning. I’ve also worked with several different types of clients ranging from big government to small mom-and-pop businesses.

ND: With all the changes in journalism, more of us are starting to brand ourselves. What advice would you give for those who want to take this path?

MC: Don’t shy away from the Internet because you think it’s too technological. The path to entry for starting a blog, shooting a video, or recording audio is lower than ever. The tools are often either free or very affordable.

Learn from those journalists out there who have effectively branded themselves as multimedia journalists such as Amani Channel and Mark S. Luckie. Create your own stories. Talk to bloggers. The best way to amplify your voice is to help out others online. Get out there and be social with social media. There’s so much journalists can do to brand themselves online.

ND: You know journalists are all on a budget. What tools would you advise us to use in creating our own brand, if we can’t afford to use a shop like yours?

MC: Creating your brand isn’t all about creating a website. If you have a webcam and an Internet connection, you can have your own weekly show on YouTube or Kyte or  Audio editing tools like Audacity are free and easy to use. And of course for blogging, WordPress is free, and there are a lot of free themes available.  If a journalist is looking to create their brand, they shouldn’t lead with their wallet.  You may be surprised how many shops will work with you (particularly if they have a low overhead).

ND: Overall why do you think it’s important for companies to work with a firm like yours for their online branding and marketing needs?

MC: Companies should definitely do their homework when it comes to shopping for a firm. Check out their client list, look at testimonials, and don’t be afraid to ask the clients how they felt the firm worked with them. And of course, look and see what the company is doing for themselves in terms of branding and marketing. Do they have other projects they are involved with in ther community? What are they doing to give back to their industry as a whole? Those sorts of things are important to establish a relationship with a great firm.

ND: Among the work you’ve done for your clients, which projects are you the most proud of, and why?

MC: I am probably the most proud of the work I did with the Borders for Atlanta mayoral campaign. It was such an intense experience during such a short amount of time, and every day presented a new set of challenges. I worked with e-mail marketing, social media, content management, finance, fundraising, volunteering, canvassing…you name it. And while my client did not win, the work we did set precedents for how social media and technology  works with non-Presidential campaigns. As a matter of fact, I will have a book out this summer on how to use these tools in a political campaign.

Posted in Uncategorized

Part 1: NABJDigital Profiles Maurice Cherry, Creator of the Black Weblog Awards

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

As I was going through my myriad postings and blogs covering last month’s South By Southwest Interactive conference held in Austin, Texas, my eye caught a presentation by Atlanta’s Maurice Cherry.  Cherry moderated the “Black Blogging Rockstars” panel at SXSW.  The feat was incredible because the conference organizers let attendees decide what panels will be featured at the event every year.  And I know from friends who have attended that people of color do not make up a high percentage of attendees and presenters.  He is also the creator of the Black Weblog Awards, which showcases the best and brightest in the Black blogosphere in more than 30 categories.  Below, NABJDigital chats with Cherry on the award program.  Tomorrow, we profile Cherry about his company, 3eighteen Media.

NABJDigital: How did you come up with the idea for the Black Weblog Awards?

Maurice Cherry

Maurice Cherry: I came up with the idea for the Black Weblog Awards after seeing other Internet award vehicles not recognize Black bloggers that I knew were doing phenomenal work and had a presence in the blogosphere. After giving it some thought, I decided to start the Awards in 2005, and it’s really taken off ever since.

ND: How much has the contest grown since it started in 2005?

MC: Traffic-wise, the Black Weblog Awards has quadrupled every year since 2005, which has been absolutely phenomenal. I still think we have a long way to go in terms of mainstream knowledge. We were fortunate to get a lot of love from NPR’s “News and Notes” in terms of featuring Black Weblog Award winners in particular segments. Black Weblog Award winners have also gone on to capture media attention from several mainstream outlets.

ND: In the beginning, how hard was it to even get people to submit?

MC: Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard. I was already aware of several bloggers who helped me get the word out, and I was a part of a few LiveJournal communities which also helped spread awareness of the awards. I would almost say it’s been easier in the beginning than it is now.

ND: How many entries did you get in that first year, and how many entries did you receive in 2009?

MC: In the first year, we received somewhere between 300-400 nominations. In 2009, we received just under 10,000 nominations.

ND: You have some interesting categories? How did you create the list?

MC: The category list has grown and changed a lot since 2005. I would say 90% of input on the categories comes from people who comment on the Black Weblog Awards website. That’s how we’ve been able to expand from 11 to 31 categories in five years. The remaining 10% comes from our internal process of determining category popularity based on voting percentages. Because of this, we have had some categories drop off, change names, or even split into separate categories. The public has more power over the categories than we do!

ND: In 2007, you split categories into judges and popular.  Why?

MC: Aside from recognition, I have been concerned with creating a curated experience with the Black Weblog Awards. Many people have come to us saying they always go through the winners every year and find new blogs to read.

However, the public vote had started to skew more towards entertainment blogging in nearly every category, and we got tired of receiving mail about why we didn’t “pick” a certain blog as a category winner. Truth is, we don’t pick anything — the public does! The judges’ vote was introduced to include that level of curated content from those who know the Web and know the blogosphere.

ND: Who do you tap to be judges for the awards?

MC: I’ve been really fortunate to have judges from every facet of the Web. Past judges have included Lynne D. Johnson, vice president of social media at the American Research Foundation, J. Smith, a pioneering blogger who has been actively online since 1997, and many more. The people we choose as judges are usually those who exhibit an extremely high aptitude not just for the web, but for the trends in blogging as well.

ND: How much influence do you think the Black Weblog Awards has brought to mainstream blogging?

MC: Honestly, I’d say little to none. We’re not covered by mainstream media outlets like Wired, Reuters, or ABC News. We don’t have a huge ceremony at SXSW every year. After five years, we are still bootstrapped even though we ask for sponsorship every year. People still get us confused with the Black Web Awards (which is a totally different Internet awards event). I think it’s the Black Weblog Award winners who are influencing mainstream blogging. Our winners include the outspoken B. Scott, the informative and funny Baratunde Thurston, and many others who are household names. The Black Weblog Awards themselves are still getting there.

ND: What are three blogs you read every day, without fail?

Mashable, Lifehacker and Smashing Magazine. (Editor’s note: all three of these sites are on my Google Reader.)