Posted in Social Media, Webinars

NABDigital Celebrates Social Media Day!

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

Yesterday was the first-ever Social Media Day, as declared by the Mashable blog.   The day, according to Mashable, was created to “acknowledge and celebrate the revolution of media becoming social. A day that honors the technological and societal advancements that have allowed us to have a dialogue, to connect and to engage not only the creators of media, but perhaps more importantly, one another.”

While Mashable asked people to create social media meetups across the country, I didn’t think that was feasible, given the wide geographical distribution of members in the Digital Journalism Task Force.  So my solution was to create a Blog Talk Radio show episode to talk with black practitioners in the field.

Our guests yesterday were Walter Fields, founder of and Dr. Sybril Bennett, associate professor of journalism at Belmont University in Nashville. Georgia Dawkins, a graduating broadcast journalism senior at Florida A&M University and the student representative on the NABJ board, was unable to make it so I put my summer intern, Mike Gwira, an incoming senior at Tuskegee University on the spot to offer the student view. We talked about how — and why — journalists and “old media” companies should use social media tools in reporting on stories, and what will happen if they don’t board the train before it leaves the station.  You can click the logo above or click here to hear the full 60-minute show.  I’d love your comments on it!

Posted in Uncategorized

Dr. Syb’s First Webinar Tips, Trips and More

By Dr.  Sybril Bennett, Associate Professor, Belmont University and inaugural executive director of the university’s New Century Journalism Program

Now that my first webinar is complete, I feel compelled to discuss the experience with you. It was a presentation for the Radio Television Digital News Foundation’sHigh School Broadcast Journalism Project. The effort is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Participants included high school teachers, professional journalists, program directors and colleagues. The entire presentation including q & a lasted approximately 50 minutes. To see my webinar go to the HSBJ site and click on the watch social media tools archived webinar link on the left side of the page. I also captured the experience on my Flip Cam, which you can see here.

Fundamentally, Webinars are seminars presented over the web. I prepared a Power Point presentation and literally went through it speaking into the external microphone that is plugged into my computer. I advanced the slides as well as monitored chat questions that popped up on the screen from participants. Indeed, the ability to multitask well is mandatory. Thanks to David Mathison’s Be The Media book for providing the added encouragement to jump into the webinar waters.

For once in my life, I actually completed the power point slides in advance and ran through the entire presentation. This was invaluable in many ways. Given that I had not done this type of presentation, it helped answer many questions in advance.

Prior to completing my webinar, I participated in two. One by Paul Kandell for HSBJ and the other by CNN Tech Guru, Mario Armstrong. I strongly encourage you to participate in a webinar prior to presenting. There are so many free opportunities, just google and find one of interest to you.

Webinars are archived and can be held behind a pay wall. The one that I did was free and is accessible on the HSBJ website. Therefore, I am sharing the link with you as well. This is an invaluable marketing tool. Some may not understand why I would share the presentation. For one, it will force me to learn more and not present canned speeches or presentations. Two, it will hopefully grant me exposure to a larger audience. Three and most importantly, I am an educator. If I can’t teach, I don’t feel alive. Sharing is in my nature.

It is wise to gather questions from the participants in advance. This afforded me the opportunity to include the answers to several questions in the slides. I also answered those questions throughout the presentation and during the Q &A at the end. This greatly enhanced the flow of the presentation.

Other Webinar Tips:


When doing a webinar, keep it moving
Don’t overdo personal narrative
Make it more interactive, ask questions throughout the presentation (we included poll questions in mine)
When you use a question from participants either online or submitted previously, state the question because other participants can’t see it. Also, state the name of the person. This humanizes the presentation.
Give your audience a reason to focus, they are multitasking
You must have an entertaining and engaging delivery, voice energy is critical
Realize creating a Power Point is now an art
If possible, provide an outline for participants in advance
Don’t make a webinar feel like an online one-dimensional
Use humor-relevant, deliberate, sparingly
Be sure to add a slide with your contact information
Allow the audience to participate any way possible (polls, chat, etc.)
Give the audience what THEY want, not what YOU want

Other thoughts:
If you don’t know something, admit it.
If a participant makes a point via chat, acknowledge it and the person who made the comment.
Side note: In order to chat with the presenter, you must be registered for the webinar.
Smile while presenting, keep water with you.
Unplug your LAN line and turn off your cell phone.
If you are in your office, put a note on your door so hopefully, you won’t be disturbed
Whether paid or free webinar, if you are doing one for someone else, get permission to share the link to the webinar with your colleagues and potential clients, it’s a great way to showcase your abilities to different audiences

I’m sure you’re tired of reading, if you want more information, just ask.

Dr. Syb

Posted in Uncategorized

Making the Transition From the Newsroom to the Classroom

By Dr. Sybril Bennett, Associate Professor, Belmont University and inaugural executive director of the university’s New Century Journalism Program

Many journalists have been motivated by fate as well as by choice to seek alternative employment.  First of all, if you are reading this and you only have one stream of income, rush out and get a copy of Rich Dad, Poor Dad right now.  It is imperative that you have more than one revenue source at all times. In his book, How to Succeed in Business Without Being White, if my memory serves me correctly, Earl Graves talks about making money while sleep.  Whether the income is from book royalties, advertising or renting space on your blog, the stock market (if you’re money is on drug companies, ironic, I think not) or selling merchandise on eBay, it is imperative to diversify your internal portfolio. With that said, many people turn to teaching as a short or a long-term solution for career change.

On Saturday, Dec. 5, local educators and administrators participated on a panel sponsored by the Nashville Association of Black Journalists’ Professional Development Committee led by Tennessean Business Reporter, Getahn Ward (Twitter: NashvilleNABJ) to discuss making the transition from the newsroom to the classroom.  The session was moderated by the Nashville chapter President Harriett Vaughn, a Multimedia Reporter at The Tennessean. On hand were: Drs. Terry Likes, Department of Communications Chair at Tennessee State University, Dwight Brooks, the new program director for journalism at Middle Tennessee State University, and yours truly, Sybril Bennett, Associate Professor at Belmont University.

Although, I did not take notes, here are thoughts from the session:

  • Just because you want to teach, doesn’t mean that teaching is for you.  Teach Sunday School, become a substitute teacher, become a guest lecturer, teach at a community college. Get some experience not only to set yourself apart but also to determine if this vocation is for you. Teaching is a service just like journalism. And like journalism, it isn’t for everyone.
  • Don’t just focus on the colleges and universities, investigate teaching opportunities at private K-12 institutions as well.
  • There are different levels of teaching on the collegiate level:

-Adjunct Professors-They work part-time, do not receive a salary or benefits. Pay per class can range from $1500-$3000 depending on the university and state of course, but that’s a ball park figure to consider.

-Instructors and/or Lecturers may be salaried, could be full-time and may receive benefits, however, they are not on track for tenure or promotion.  Like adjunct professors, they serve at the will of the department chair and/or Dean.

-Assistant Professors are full time, tenure track employees on salary and with benefits.  They are eligible for tenure which basically means that if achieved a person has a right to work at the institution without having their position terminated without just cause. Typically, the offense must be extreme.  On average it takes 5 to 7 years at most institutions to achieve tenure.  This factor may be negotiable based on years of experience. Nothing beats a failure but a try.  An Assistant Professor can receive tenure without being promoted to the rank of Associate Professor.

-An Associate Professor is a faculty member who has been promoted and more than likely has tenure. It is possible to be promoted without it. Faculty usually spend another 5 to 7 years before achieving the rank of full Professor.

-Full Professor’s are normally tenured with promotion obviously given the title change. They are the most stable employees at an institution and difficult to fire and in some cases to motivate as well because they don’t have the fear of termination.

-Professor of the Practice is yet another designation, typically reserved for someone with a lot of professional experience who may not have a terminal degree but fulfills the requirements to teach.

  • Types of Institutions
    • There are different types of institutions of higher learning. For example, Tennessee State and Middle Tennessee State are research institutions. Therefore, tenure-track faculty are expected publish articles in peer-reviewed journals. The expectation is to focus on Research, Teaching and Service in that order of priority and importance.
    • At Belmont University, a private, Christian, liberal arts institution, the focus is on teaching. Therefore, in order to achieve tenure the focus is on teaching, service and research respectively.
    • Teaching Requirements:

For Public Institutions, requirements vary by state.  For example, in order to teach in the Department of Communications in the state of Tennessee, a bachelor’s degree is required and six graduate level courses in communications or journalism that’s 18 credit hours. The rules at Private Institutions are governed by the institution.  Always ask to find out what the rules are.  Most institutions want a master’s degree but many will make allowances. Make no assumptions, find out for yourself.

  • Google is your friend.  Use it to read job descriptions and find out exactly what each institution requires.  In addition, look up syllabi and use the templates provided to create your class. Don’t copy, remix. In other words, get inspiration from others but create your own class based on the requirements of your respective department.
  • Get on Twitter and follow journalism professors like Drs. Serbino Sandifer Walker (a board member of the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force),  Barb Iverson Mindy McAdams and Dr. Syb. (Please respond to this post and add more)
  • Get online and strengthen your multimedia and storytelling skills.  Try taking courses at:, the Knight Digital Media Center or take a course at the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute in Nashville, Tenn., all are worth your time.
  • Partner with journalism schools now and create positive relationships.
  • The biggest change from the newsroom to the classroom for the panelists was speed. In the newsroom clearly, deadlines were important. In the academy, not so much. They typically move much more slowly than the industry, although some private institutions may be more flexible than some public ones.

I know your time and attention are scarce so I’ll end there. If you want more, we are all happy share. The session was a huge success and hopefully many of you with determine whether the classroom is really for you. This is Dr. Syb, The Multimedia Maven signing off, Peace!!!

Posted in Uncategorized

The Multimedia Maven Weighs in on Comacast-NBC Universal Deal

Dr. Sybril Bennett

Editor’s note: the post below was reprinted with permission from Dr. Sybril Bennett, a Vanderbilt educated, Harvard trained, two-time Emmy award-winning multimedia journalist, from her Multimedia Maven blog.  We thank her for the contribution.

The Comcast NBC Universal deal is done. The ink isn’t dry but of course, the stain is already visible. Yet another huge media consolidation so close after the divorce of AOL and Time Warner. For most people, the new arrangement won’t have much impact unless, Comcast raises their rates once again. This would be an extremely short-sighted strategy. Given the massive financial success of iTunes, it is amazing that other companies would not replicate this model. Comcast Universal (the name I’m giving them for now) could yield huge profits if they would lower the barrier of entry and make their services more affordable to more people. Unfortunately, conventional wisdom dictates that they will exploit the opportunity and potentially alienate subscribers forcing them to flee to Hulu, Netflix, iTunes or to the Internet in general.

As for diversity, please, most industries do not understand basic biology. When biodiversity is compromised, species die. It’s just that plain and simple. Just ask Bill Nye, the science guy. This is America’s tragedy, we are among the most diverse populations in the world, yet we do not know how to leverage that cultural wisdom. Corporations that understand balance are doing better than those that do not. Comcast Universal needs to be responsible and present a sustainable model for the future. To learn more about what different media companies own, visit the Columbia Journalism Review’s “Who Owns What” site.

With that said, to Comcast’s credit, their revenue model is far more feasible than the major broadcast networks. Since television’s inception in the 1940s and 1950s, ABC, NBC and CBS have primarily depended on advertising dollars to sustain their business. It was beyond shortsighted to depend on one revenue stream. (Hint, if you only have one source of income in your house, you are not the brightest bulb in the bunch either.) Comcast generates revenue from subscriptions, advertising, pay per view, On Demand and a myriad of other sources. As long as they don’t exploit the pay for play or itemize their audience into obscurity, they should be able to maintain. More industries need to understand this concept and diversify their portfolio.

I was pleased to see that Comcast understands that the audience wants what they want, when, where and how they want it. If only the movie industry would finally stop promoting a film and release it on the spot on iTunes, Netflix, in theaters, on DVD, on mobile devices, etc that would severely undercuts piracy. But I digress.

If you’ve read this far, you are very committed and interested. Many people don’t have or take the time or the attention span to focus for any length of time. So here’s your reward. Comcast’s new position is an opportunity for entrepreneurs. Don’t focus on the negative, focus on the positive. What opportunities are now available. If I am an aspiring artist, producer, director or writer with an innovative idea that will reach emerging markets, I am getting in position to present my ideas to Comcast now. HBO is the clear leader (”It’s not TV, it’s HBO) in its field. Comcast needs to be prepared to forage for it’s own survival in a landscape that has been shaped by HBO. In order to do that, they will need an infusion of fresh water, new ideas, new voices and a new paradigm.

In the end, it really doesn’t boil down to the survival of the fittest, it is the survival of the richest and that doesn’t just mean money anymore. And now Comcast has an arsenal, let’s see if they shoot blanks or bullets.