Posted in Conferences & Conventions, journalism

10 Things to Do NOW to Prepare for #NABJNAHJ16


The 2016 NABJ/NAHJ Annual Convention and Career Fair is happening in only 37 more days.  In order to have a successful convention, you need to be prepared. Below are 10 things you need to do now to be on your game in Washington, D.C.

  1. Buy your plane ticket. The closer you get to the convention date, the more expensive that airfare will be. I’ll be driving to D.C. from Baltimore, but I bought my ticket for #NABJ15 in Minneapolis in February. The closer it gets to the convention the more your ticket will cost. I tweet airline fare sales regularly at  @NABJDigital or @AvQueenBenet. Also, set a fare alert on to be informed about the lowest fares.
  2. ClznqjvXEAA5k2FBusiness cards. Get them now. Vistaprint has a great selection of templates so you can have cards that stand out. Click here for two specials that expire on June 30: $1.99 for 100 no-frills cards or $9.99 for standard business cards (minus shipping). I’m also a big fan of Moo cards, which come in different shapes and sizes, and allows you to highlight photos or copy on the back. Mine shows off my aviation pictures from around the world. They cost more than Vistaprint (starting at $19.99 for 50 cards), but I feel it’s worth the investment.
  3. Resume/online portfolio. Now is the time to make sure your  resume and online portfolio are completed so you can impress recruiters at the convention. Need help? Check out the DJTF webinars covering online portfolios and resumes. They’re free to watch, but you must register. And in a shameless plug for my new Resumes By Benét business, I can help you get ready for the convention or your next career move at very reasonable rates.
  4. Check your social media profile. Google yourself and see what comes up. Check your Facebook profile and Twitter timeline and make sure there are no embarrassing photos or posts because potential employers will be checking.
  5. Look at the convention schedule and list of exhibitors. Work out a plan on what workshops you want to attend and create a schedule on your smartphone. Prioritize who are the must-see employers on your list, start making appointments and get a jump start on the crowds.
  6. Start making a list of all the people you want to see in D.C. The schedules of those attending the conference are very tight. Start now to create that list of must-see people and map out appointments, interviews and chat times. And consider breakfast meetings, since schedules tend to slip as the day goes by.
  7. Find ways to save money. Going to the convention is not cheap, but you can do it and not break the bank. Find folks to share a hotel room at the NABJ Convention Roommate Bureau. If you’re checking a bag, tuck in some non-perishable snacks and water. Reach out on NABJ’s listserves and social media channels for ride shares to and from the airport or take the Metro subway, which stops right in front of the Marriott Wardman Park at the Woodley Park station on the Red Line.  Check out sites like Yelp and Zomato to find places in the hotel’s Woodley Park neighborhood and around the city to eat that are less expensive than the hotel’s offerings. Search Hotwire and Priceline for nearby hotel deals.
  8. 17225139376_19b2842b5f_qCheck your wardrobe. See what clothes fit and what don’t. See what needs to be cleaned or altered. And if you need to buy things, do it  now. Consider thrift shops like or Goodwill, where you can find real bargains, especially on designer labels. See this suit I wore in Minneapolis last year? It’s a designer Elie Tahari suit I bought at Savers for $10.99. My dress for Salute to Excellence? $12.00.
  9. Check yourself. Our convention is all about fun and family, but it’s also a professional event. You never know who will be watching. So enjoy yourself, but don’t overdo it.
  10. Hang out with your friends now. The convention is the time to meet new people and grow your network. It is not the time to hang with the same group of people that you do at home. As much as you love them, they are not going to get you a job, so break away and expand your horizons.

The Digital Journalism Task Force is doing its annual convention preparation TweetChat on Tuesday, June 28 at 8:30 p.m. ET. NABJ convention veterans will offer great tips and advice to get ready for D.C., and they’ll also answer your questions and share stories. Follow along using the #NABJNAHJ16 hashtag.

Benét J. Wilson is the vice president-digital on the NABJ board. She is a long-time member of the Digital Journalism Task Force and is secretary of the Online News Association board. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Aviation Queen LLC, a freelance writing company.

Posted in journalism

9 More Holiday Gifts For Journalists 2013

One of the blog posts I look forward to the most as far as journalism is concerned is the 10000 Words annual holiday gift list for journalists. The blog lists 25 great items to buy for the ink-stained wretch in your life.  While this list is pretty good, I’d like to add another nine for your consideration. Enjoy!

  1. Mophie Juice Pack — with all the ways we use our iPhones and iPads on the job, we will inevitably get to a place where an outlet may not be available. That’s when Mophie comes to the rescue. There are different versions, but I carry the Mophie Powerstation Duo, which allows me to charge my iPhone and iPad at the same time, quickly. Nice!
  2. Belkin Mini Surge Protector — Speaking of outlets, I carry this one, which has three plugs and two USB slots. The Belkin can be rotated to fit any outlet space.
  3. QuietComfort 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Earbud Headphones — sometimes when I’m working on deadline, I need to listen to one of my calming playlists and cut out the noise in the newsroom. So I decided to pay $299.00 for a pair of these puppies, which can also be used for conversations on the iPhone.
  4.  Brydge Bluetooth iPad Keyboard — You can read my review of the Brydge here.
  5. Newsprint skirt —  I saw a woman wearing this skirt at this year’s Online News Association convention and loved it. It is custom made by the Vintage Galeria Etsy store for $45.95.
  6. AP Stylebook app — I’m loath to actually pay for an app. The most you’ll get out of me is 99 cents — until I saw this app. It costs $24.99, but it is worth every penny, putting the book on your iPhone. You can mark your favorites.
  7. Typo — one of the great things about having the Blackberry was the cool keyboard that made it easy to type. Back in 2007, I actually typed a story and filed it from my Blackberry because the hotel WiFi was beyond crappy. I cannot do that on my iPhone because I can’t type well on glass. But thanks to Typo, I can snap a Blackberry-like keyboard onto my iPhone.
  8. GorillaPod Flexible Tripod — Jeremy Caplan of CUNY Graduate School of Journalism did a great presentation at this year’s ONA conference, “21 Ways to Awesome-ize Your Mobile Toolkit,”  and one of his tips was using this tripod when shooting video with an iPhone.
  9. Membership in a journalism organization — nothing shows the love like paying for your scribe to network and work on their craft in professional organizations. I’ll recommend the three that have me as a member — the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the Online News Association (I’m on the board).

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

Posted in Education, journalism

How To Become A Knight Journalism Fellow: The Recording

As part of ongoing efforts to seek a more diverse talent pool, the  John S. Knight Journalism Fellows at Stanford University worked with the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Asian American Journalists Association to recruit journalists of color for its 2014-15 class.

Last night, a conference call was hosted by NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force Co-chair Tracie Powell. On the call were Knight Director Jim Bettinger, 2013-14 fellow Keli Dailey, 2010-11 fellow Phuong Ly, and 2011-12 fellow Claudia NúñezThe recording is here.

Applications for the  2014-15 John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships are now being accepted. The deadline for international applications is Dec. 1, 2013 and the deadline for U.S. applications is Jan. 15, 2014. The 2014-15 fellowships program begins Sept. 1, 2014 and ends June 5, 2015.  Check out what past and current fellows are doing, here. And consider applying for a fellowship that will change the way you practice journalism.

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


Posted in Education, journalism

Conference Call: How To Become A Knight Journalism Fellow

The  John S. Knight Journalism Fellows at Stanford University is actively seeking a more diverse talent pool and is reaching out to journalists of color for its 2014-15 class.

To that end, the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force, along with the Asian American Journalists Association and the National Hispanic Journalists Association will hold a conference call on Tuesday, Nov. 19  at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time to discuss the application process with Director Jim Bettinger. Also on the call will be  one current and two past Knight fellows:

  • Keli Dailey, currently a 2013-14 fellow, was most recently the lead food writer for U-T San Diego. Her first real job was with a food bank, which introduced her to socio-political issues tied to nourishment. Her first press pass came from the Los Angeles Times. She has covered politics in San Antonio, community news in Calaveras County, Calif., and, as a freelancer writer and photographer, has done stories on Belarus’ elections and American streets named after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A native Texan, Dailey earned two bachelor degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Phuong Ly is executive director of the Institute for Justice and Journalism, which seeks to improve media coverage of social justice issues through trainings, journalism fellowships and digital projects. One of IJJ’s most acclaimed programs is Migrahack, hackathons on immigration data that bring together journalists, programmers and community members. Ly was a 2011 John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University, where her projects included founding California Immigration Journalists, a networking group of more than 80 members, and developing media training for nonprofits serving immigrants. As a reporter for the Washington Post, she wrote award-winning stories about immigrant communities. She also has worked as a consultant to nonprofits and as a regular contributor to the Stanford Social Innovation Review and
  • Claudia Núñez is an investigative journalist and the force behind MigraHack, a data visualization network on immigration data that brings journalists, programmers and community members together. She began to develop MigraHack while a 2012 John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University. As an award-winning reporter, Núñez specialized in immigration and U.S.-Mexican border issues, working for National Geographic, La Opinión, the largest Spanish-language daily newspaper in the United States, and the Mexican States Editors Association. In 2008, she was named Latina Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Hispanic Publications. She currently serves as the Spanish-language Web editor for Human Rights Watch.

To join us, please call 1-267-507-0240, and use the code 878554. The call will be recorded and made available for those who can’t join live.  Please feel free to email your questions to me at benet AT aviationqueen DOT com.

Posted in Education, journalism

Interested In Becoming A Knight Journalism Fellow? We Tell You How!

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

Join the NABJ’s Digital Journalism Task Force, along with the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Hispanic Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association for a conference call on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time to discuss the application process for the 2013-14 class of John S. Knight Journalism Fellows at Stanford University.  The program is actively seeking a more diverse talent pool and is reaching out to journalists of color.  The call will feature one current and two past Knight fellows:

Knight Fellowships director Jim Bettinger will give an overview of the program and introduce the fellows. The fellows will discuss their application process, the work they did during their 10 months at Stanford and offer tips for those who may consider applying.  We’ll then open it up to questions.
The call will be recorded for those who can’t make the live call. You can also tweet your questions to @NABJDigital or email questions to auntbenet AT Gmail DOT com.Dial-in Number: 1-213-226-0400
Conference code: 878554

Application link:

We look forward to your attendance!

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, multimedia journalist

How Improving Your Math Improves Your Journalism

By Malik Singleton, Contributing Editor at City Limits

Want to write better stories? Do the math.  It’s a great post on the Online News Association’s site about reasons math skills are more essential in reporting than ever before, especially since readers have ever-increasing access to information and they’ll fact check your credibility to pieces (just recall Dan Rather’s Bush 43 fiasco).

Seems obvious after the fact, since reporting is supposed to stress getting news right over getting it first (just recall the media’s recent premature Joe Paterno death embarrassment, as covered in the New York Times).

So numbers should be every journalist’s trusted weapon, especially we investigative journalists. In his post, Lucas Timmons says:
“Don’t be scared of math. It’s a strong storytelling tool that journalists need to embrace and use to do their jobs better… The lack of basic math literacy can lead to shoddy journalism.”

Timmons points to this 2011 post by Libby Copeland on Slate about misreading and misreporting numbers,  “Church Makes You Fat and News Stories Make You Stupid.”

I’m pointing out these perspectives as I prepare to attend Investigative Reporters and Editors & NICAR’s  conference dedicated to computer-assisted reporting, happening the last week of February in St. Louis.  Yes the name of this concentration is totally outdated and antiquated because it was coined in the forgotten era when reporters used noisy, clunky typewriters — what are those?

Meanwhile we all use computers now, so who are these hermits at this conference who haven’t noticed that we’re all assisted by computers now? Well, they’re still running circles around computer users who mostly copy/paste from Word into a CMS.

Most panels and workshops at these events delve deep into ways to improve your reporting by mastering data and statistics analysis. The topics can get very technical and start to seem geared toward software programmers more than to people who we think of as news reporters, but programming skills, math skills, and data-driven journalism skills are being demanded increasingly by news organizations large and small so it pays to pay attention.

If you’re interested — if not for this year then hopefully for next year — believe me, the CAR conferences definitely have plenty of sessions geared toward total newbies; ripe green novices who feel they have no natural ability whatsoever. That’s how most folks start out and then surprise themselves so don’t dismiss this area too early because, hey, there will be opportunities to do the work that others freak out about or give up on doing.

It’s one thing to master multimedia and social media skills and consider yourself tech savvy, but you will step it up tenfold if you master math and data and news app programming skills. I really hope to start seeing more NABJ and NAHJ folks up in NICAR’s conferences.

Posted in Equipment, Innovation, multimedia journalist, Social Media, Technology

Did You Love The NABJ 2011 Convention App? Here’s The Back Story

Michelle Johnson

Editor’s note: Michelle Johnson is the Associate Professor of the Practice, Multimedia Journalism at Boston University’s Department of Journalism.  She’s also the co-chair of the Online News Association’s (ONA) 2011 convention in Boston Sept. 22-25.  Below, she writes about the ubercool app that was created in conjunction with Guidebook to keep NABJ members in the know about all the events at last week’s convention in Philadelphia.  Not a bad word was said about the final project.

This all started at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. I heard that NAHJ didn’t have a conference app and wondered if we could whip one up. I knew about a company called Guidebook because we’re using them to do the ONA conference app.

Their prices are pretty reasonable, but we had zero budget, so I contacted them to ask if they might be willing to comp us an account in exchange for a sponsor logo. They said yes, and I had some students painstakingly enter the schedule into a spreadsheet which we uploaded to get the app up and running.

A week later, I heard that NABJ wouldn’t have a convention app this year because it was cost-prohibitive. So, once again I got on the phone with the CEO of Guidebook and we agreed on a reduced fee and sponsorship link. We didn’t have much time to turn this around, just a couple of days.  And NABJ, unlike NAHJ, didn’t have the schedule in a spreadsheet already. In fact, it was worse this time because it was in a pdf and there were sooo many sessions.

So me and the other student mentors — Ingrid Sturgis, Allison Davis and Jennifer Dronkers — did a cut-and-paste relay. I started by cutting and pasting from the pdf into the spreadsheet. Then I send it to Jen Dronkers at the Poynter Institute. She did a couple of hours then passed it on to Ingrid Sturgis in Washington, D.C. Ingrid worked on it and passed to Allison Davis in New York. Allison then sent the completed spreadsheet back to me in Boston around 11 p.m. We had started in the morning!  I’m not sure how many sessions it was in total, but we got the entire schedule copied over in a day, uploaded it and, bam — instant app.

I’m very impressed with Guidebook. It’s economical and offers lots of bells and whistles in the premium version. One chief advantage is that you download it to your phone. No need to be online to access it. Whenever we update it on the back end, it pushed out a notice to users that there’s a new version and offers them a download. So, that’s the story of the very first NABJ convention app.

Posted in Awards, Education, Entrepreneur, journalism

Update On New U Voting

By Doug Mitchell, Co-Project Director, “The New U: News Entrepreneurs Working Through UNITY.”

Voting for the UNITY/Ford Foundation entrepreneurship program for minority journalists has entered its second week.   Voting closes at midnight Sunday, Oct 17th.  There will be one winner per group and each winner will get a start-up grant of $5,000.  So here’s the tally as of Oct. 10:

Toan – 37.0 %
Anny – 33.0%
Mariel – 20.6%
Raghu – 8.8%

Ciara – 37.5%
Juontel – 24.2%
Yanick – 23.3%
Cassie – 15.0%

Rose – 51.5%
Priscilla – 19.9%
John – 16.4%
Debra – 12.2%

Raymond – 48.0%
Elizabeth – 32.2%
Claudia – 15.2%
Marimer – 4.5%

So far, nearly 2,500 people have cast votes.  And there’s a high number of people who are only voting for one group.  Still, vote totals per group are relatively close.  This is a wide open vote; you do NOT have to be a person of color or a member of one of the associations to vote.  So please help these people achieve their entrepreneurial dreams by clicking here to vote.
Thanks for your participation!
Posted in Awards, Conferences & Conventions, Education, Entrepreneur, journalism

Time to Vote – Finalists for UNITY’s NewU: News Entrepreneurs Projects

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

Back on April 13, UNITY Journalists of Color, Inc. received a $100,000 grant from The Ford Foundation to create the New U: News Entrepreneurs Working through UNITY (New U) project.  The effort was designed to support the creative ideas of participating journalists of color through a series of two-day “boot camps” held at each of the four summer 2010 UNITY alliance partners’ conventions.

A key component of New U is  a competition for $5,000 in start-up funding to help news entrepreneurs to realize their ideas.  Now that participants have completed their training at their national conventions, it’s time to vote for the winners from the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association.  Click here to see 30-second proposals from four journalists from each organization.  Your support of this deserving enterprise is appreciated.