Posted in Education, multimedia journalist, Technology

My Tools & Apps for Digital Journalists: What You Missed at #NABJ18

Screen Shot 2018-08-01 at 12.30.21 PM

By Benét J. Wilson

One of my new favorite features at the NABJ Annual Convention and Career Fair is the Innovation Bubble. These are one-hour sessions where you can learn about digital tools and resources you can use in your newsroom that help you work smarter and better.

I was delighted when I was asked to do a session on all the digital tools, apps and resources that I use in my job every day. The room was packed, and it went pretty quickly, so I promised that I’d share the presentation, along with other tools recommended by the audience. My goal was to show you things you could use as soon as you returned to your newsrooms on the Monday after convention.

Click here to see my Prezi presentation with all the tools I shared. But I also got input from the audience on other tools and tech you may want to consider. Please feel free to add your favorites in the comments!

  1. EasyGif: Use this tool to make your own gifs.
  2. Atlas: From the publishers of Quartz, this tool to create your own charts that you can embed into stories.
  3. Pixlr: This desktop and mobile app is that is a Swiss army knife for those who work with photos, including photo editors, a screen recorder and a photo-sharing service.
  4. Google Scholar: Looking for experts to add to your story? This website serves as a repository of professors, scholars and lawyers who can help. Type in your topic and watch the magic!
  5. Hootsuite: This free tool allows you to schedule your social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube.
  6. Buffer: The free and paid versions of this web and mobile app also allows you to schedule social media posts. The paid version gives you great analytics about your posts.
  7. Over: Take your photos to the next level by using this tool to add captions, change fonts and play with filters. It comes with more than 4,000 editable templates, millions of commercial-free stock images and 20,000+ graphics.
  8.  Tape-A-Call: This app allows you to record calls that convert into MP3s that can be easily shared. Make sure to check your state’s laws on recording phone calls.
  9. Google Translate: This desktop tool and mobile app (iOS or Google Play) can translate more than 100 languages. It isn’t perfect, but it does a good job for basic things. You can type, speak or write words or short phrases. You can hold your smartphone camera up to a sign and have it instantly translated. You can download any language and use all these functions even if you don’t have Wi-Fi or cellular access on your phone.
  10. Knightlab tools: One I recommended in my presentation was Timeline JS. But Knightlab has three other tools designed to help you tell your stories. Juxtapose allows you to compare two photos taken at different times. Soundcite allows you add short audio clips to your story right under any text you choose. Storymaps allows you to create maps and add text that helps illustrate a story.
  11. Ground: This new app, created by a journalist, uses artificial intelligence to help users verify news events happening around them.
  12. Nappy: Looking for free African-American stock photos? This website has wonderful pictures of our people at work and at play.
  13. Snapz Pro X: Use this tool to record your screen or save it as a QuickTime movie or screenshot that can be e-mailed or shared on the web.
  14. Snagit: This is another tool that allows you to record your screen for videos and photos.
  15. EasyPrompter: This web-based app turns your computer, tablet or smartphone into a teleprompter.
  16. Hunter: Looking for the email of someone who works at an organization? This tool scours the web to find their name and email address.
  17. Whentogram: Let this app tell you the best times to post to Instagram.
  18. Unum: Use this app to craft layouts, create and tailor grid, save posts to drafts and plan the perfect Instagram feed.
  19. TilePic: Turn your photos into tiled banners that can be posted on Instagram.
  20. Google Keep: This tool allows you to take notes, lists, photos, and audio to keep up with your life.
  21. Quertime — 15 Online Tools to Create E-Magazines, eBooks and Digital Newspapers
  22. Quertime — 15 Online Tools to Create Impressive Resumes

Benét J. Wilson is the travel + rewards associate editor for and She is also owner/editor-in-chief of Aviation Queen LLC, a freelance writing and consulting business.

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Innovation, journalism, multimedia journalist, News

NABJ 2012 Serves Up a Powerful Learning Experience in NOLA

By Serbino Sandifer-Walker, Multimedia Journalism Professor, DJTF Past V.P., Contributor

Left to Right: Nakia Cooper, Mark Luckie, Serbino Sandifer-Walker, Misha Leybovich

NABJ stepped up in a big way at the 2012 convention in New Orleans to show its members journalism today and of the future. There were so many terrific sessions featured June 20-24. I think the learning labs were brilliant and gave members the opportunity to go into depth on topics and experience hands-on training.  This year, I had the opportunity to facilitate a learning lab titled Free Tools for Journalists and moderate a workshop titled One Man BanningFree Tools for Journalists showed members tools they could use to add depth, context and breadth to stories. I worked with some amazing people including Mark Luckie, the former Washington Post social media and innovations editor, now Twitter’s creative content manger of journalism; Nakia Cooper, digital content producer for KHOU-TV in Houston, Texas, one of a few African-American women in a position like this, and Misha Leybovich, the CEO of Meograph, a startup designed to make digital storytelling a breeze.

Free Tools for Journalists was loaded with impressive multi and social media tools journalists could use to powerup their stories. From Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Storify, Pinterest and Instagram, we showed step-by-step how journalists are using these tools to bring greater context to storytelling. For instance, Twitter is much more than a social networking site for journalists; we showed how it’s being used as a newsfeed, source aggregation network and breaking news hub.  I showed how I developed a newsfeed with the hashtag #TwitterNewsChat and how to properly write a power tweet to generate reader/viewer engagement.  I explained that a hashtag is a user generated term on a topic used in a social media post, preferenced with a hash (#) symbol and adds layered context.  We created a hashtag specially for the session titled #NABJPowerUp.  We had all of the members to tweet about what they were learning and I showed participants how to write a journalistic tweet. The best tweets are written like news headlines, brief and to the point. I also showed how mobiles and tablets are revolutionizing how we report the news. The multiple apps give reporters flexibility to produce stories on the devices and post instantaneously to the news organization’s websites and blogs.  Luckie made the session magical with a presentation that had everyone in awe. He showed why Twitter Lists are a must use tool for journalists. Lists can be crafted around beats, community leaders and experts in many fields; there were social media analytics tools like Topsy and Social Mention; data graphic tools like Infogram; mapping tools like Umapper; photo tools like PhotoShop Express for mobiles; 360 Panorama and Pano for panoramic photos. There was even a tool; although it was not free, that provided a teleprompter for your iPad.  It was called Best Prompter Pro. This tool could be very useful for field reports in both radio and TV and radio newscasts. I really loved the Google Voice tool and how Mark used it. He developed a story that allowed Washington Post viewers to go interactive and play train conductor.  The story took reader engagement to the next level and had everyone jumping on the train.  See the Google Voice tool in action here .  Nakia helped attendees understand the power of Facebook as a reporting tool and its Subscribe feature. The feature allows a person to subscribe to your Facebook feed and not necessarily the photos you post. She also explained Facebook’s algorithm and how it affects viewer/reader engagement.  Misha brought great excitement with his presentation, which focused on his new startup, Meograph. This is a four dimensional Internet tool that lets users incorporate Google Maps, video, audio and photos into a presentation. So far, journalists have tested the tool.  The most popular story on Meograph was on the Trayvon Martin case


The Free Tools for Journalists learning lab showed members multiple ways to add greater context to their stories by using the tools that maximized effective storytelling.  This session helped to arm members with tools for today, tomorrow and the future. It was a powerful session that drove home the importance of the digital evolution in newsrooms across the nation. I advised participants to only use tools that added value and context to their stories.

Sandra Gonzales, Serbino Sandifer-Walker Mara Schiavocampo, Blayne Alexander

The One Man Banning session was excellent.  It featured these extraordinary digital journalists who do it all.  They included Sandra Gonzalez, WGNO-TV in New Orleans; Blayne Alexander of WXIA-TV in Atlanta, Ga. and Mara Schiavocampo, NBC’s first digital journalist. Each one of these journalists had a powerful story. Blayne is the fierce young reporter who embraces the power and freedom of telling stories as a solo journalist; Mara was a global backpack solo journalist who produced stories with great depth before joining NBC and Sandra produced these gritty stories of the Crescent City that made everyone ask for more.

Blayne Alexander, Multimedia Journalist (One Man Banning Panel Organizer)

This session showed how in news markets across the nation, some reporters are shooting video, writing, and editing stories, essentially doing it all.  The ideal situation would be to have a photojournalist to shoot, edit and take stills of the story; however, the multimedia journalist is a one (wo) man operation.  We wanted members to know that they shouldn’t limit themselves in anyway and to embrace multimedia journalism.

NABJ12 Audience – One Man Banning

What I loved about this session was the generational representation of the journalists and the precision in which they told stories. You had reporters from 24 to 50 sharing how they searched daily for authentic stories about the communities they cover.  Sandra became a multimedia journalist at 43 and she loves what she does. The message here is that you can be a digital journalist at any age as long as you have the skills. You also need to be disciplined at multitasking, timeliness and not easily distracted. This type of reporting may not work for everyone or every situation because there are times when a photojournalist is a must.  The breaking news story is the perfect example of when a photographer is a must.  Also, if you find multitasking overwhelming, this may not be for you.  Overall, this was an inspiring session.  We helped members understand that there is a trend happening in American newsrooms and they need to be ready to fill the position of multimedia journalist (MJ), digital journalists (DJ), video journalist (VJ), solo journalist (SOJO), blogger, tweeter and the list just keeps growing.  What an exciting time to be a journalists; a little exhausting too.

And this was only the beginning of NABJ 2012.  See some other events below.

-#NABJ12 Storination

-NABJ Monitor

-Republicans Spurn NABJ

-NABJ conference arrives in N.O. amid tough times for local journalism

-See all of the Learning Labs:

-See all of the workshops:

Posted in Uncategorized

The ‘new guard’ in black media

Joy-Ann Reid, Managing Editor, theGriot

By Tracie Powell

The black press began in 1827 when John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish started Freedom’s Journal in New York. Black newspapers were most popular during the 1920’s and ’30s, when major papers virtually ignored black America (they wouldn’t even run African American obituaries). 

Black newspapers and magazines were once the dominant means of communication for African Americans, as depicted in the documentary “Soldiers Without Swords.” But with circulations in free fall, their continued relevance had been questioned in recent years.

Coverage of Trayvon Martin’s story is turning that idea on its head. READ MORE


Tracie Powell is a regular contributor to Poynter Online and Vice Chair of Education & Policy of the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force. 

Posted in Conferences & Conventions

Hey Mashable – How About Adding Some Color To Your Media Summit?

By Benet J. Wilson, chair, National Association of Black Journalists’ Digital Journalism Task Force and independent multimedia journalist

I am a big fan of Mashable.  I have it in a high spot on my Google Reader, and I also have the app on my iPhone.  I appreciate how they keep me up to date on all things social and digital media.  But I have a bone to pick.

Mashable is holding its annual Media Summit in New York City on Nov. 4.  The event has become one of the hot conference tickets in the social/new media realm.  But there’s a problem.  When you look at the list of speakers, there’s no people of color on the agenda — not one.  And I have a problem with that, since this is an issue that has come up again and again in the past few years.

Did you not read my blog post on the lack of diversity at last December’s News Foo invitation-only event at Arizona State University spurred by a post by NABJ member and ASU professor Retha Hill on the event? Did you not check out a PBS MediaShift Twitter chat in January asking if people of color are missing at new media conferences?

Mashable, how could you miss this spreadsheet created by Star-Tribune multimedia journalist (and Asian American Journalist Association member) Emma Carew and curated by other journalists of color (including me) listing journalists of color that are doing amazing things in the new media space and want to talk about it?  And here’s my blog post explaining the project.

And if that weren’t enough, check out this great panel discussion on the diversity in new media held at last month’s Online News Association annual convention.  The panel was moderated by Retha Hill and ANY of her speakers — including Joel Dreyfus, managing editor of AND a founder of NABJ — could more than hold their own at your Media Summit, Mashable.

And Mashable, why didn’t you look in-house and tap the talents of Jessica Fay Carter, who has blogged for you on…wait for it…new media/social media diversity issues.  She is the CEO of Heta Corporation, an advisory firm that helps companies use social technologies to engage women and multicultural groups—as consumers and employees.  She is also the founder of Black Social Media Professionals.

As an online publication that has its finger on the pulse of all things new media, I find it really hard to believe that you either couldn’t find people of color or just decided not to include them.  Either way, it’s a bad call.  I’ll help you out and give you 10 names off the top of my head (outside of the ones already mentioned in this blog) that would be assets to your summit.  I hope you take me up on adding them or others.

  1. Dr. Michelle Ferrier, & professor at Elon University;
  2. Bruce Koon, news director at KQED;
  3. Sam Diaz, a Silicon Valley-based freelance writer, ghost writer and communications consultant;
  4. Dagny Salas, web editor for Voice of San Diego;
  5. Dori Maynard, president The Maynard Institute;
  6. Elise Hu, NPR’s digital coordinator of the StateImpact initiative;
  7. Mark Luckie, National Innovations Editor at the Washington Post and author of “The Digital Journalists’ Handbook”
  8. Robert Hernandez, professor at USC/Annenberg;
  9. Shawn Williams, president, Dallas South News; and
  10. Sree Sreenivasan dean of student affairs & professor at Columbia Journalism School, contributing editor, and
    co-founder, south asian journalists association.
Posted in Social Media, Technology

Group, Website Shine Light On Digital Professionals

By Jeannine Hunter, News Producer, Washington Post

Jessica Faye Carter

Jessica Faye Carter is the founder and chief executive officer of Heta Corporation, a professional services firm that advises corporations and small businesses on social technologies and cultural and gender diversity. She is a frequent speaker on these issues and the author of Double Outsiders: How Women of Color Can Succeed in Corporate America, an award-winning practical guide for professional multicultural women.

The former corporate lawyer has a J.D. and an M.B.A. from Duke University and a B.A. from Spelman College. In 2010, she established a new organization and website, Black Social Media Professionals. During an engaging conversation, Carter explained why she developed BSMP and the importance of branding, marketing and staying on top of innovations.

Jessica Faye Carter, left, speaks during a session at the Social Media Brasil 2010, the country’s largest social media conference

“The goal of Black Social Media Professionals is to provide resources for Black professionals and entrepreneurs in the social media industry, and to make social media resources and information available to non-profit and community organizations,” Carter said.

The growing site features a blog, a directory of professionals, and an area showcasing members’ sites and projects. Sections for social media resources/tools and job listings will be added soon.

She wanted to create a way to spotlight what people of African descent are doing with social technologies because there is “so much cool stuff people are working on.” She recently started to add videos to the BSMP YouTube channel, which features members offering tips and sharing their own stories about how they got started in social media.

BSMP is also a space where individuals with similar interests can learn about one another and engage online or “in real life” as they attend events such as the recent Austin, Texas-based South by Southwest, one of the world’s largest media conferences. “In the future,” said Carter, “we hope to offer informal get-togethers in the context of the larger technology conferences.”

Providing a place where prospective employers and conference organizers, etc., can diversify their pool of job candidates and speakers is a knock-off benefit of the site. “It’s important for conferences to be aware that there are Black professionals using social technologies in business, education, politics, journalism, and philanthropy,” Carter said, adding that some of them are top-flight professionals who reinvented themselves via social media tools.

Retooling one’s skills and branding are essential as careers, industries, and activities become increasingly shaped by evolving technologies and tools.

“Many people don’t realize that social technologies are changing everything from the way we do business to how we interact with our local government officials,” Carter said. “We’ve moved beyond socializing online to managing important parts of our lives with technology. That’s part of the reason that it’s really important to understand and leverage social tools and not get left behind.”

In the last decade, “the proportion of Internet users who are black or Latino has nearly doubled – from 11 percent to 21 percent,” wrote Aaron Smith, senior research specialist for the Pew Internet and American Life Project, last fall about trends in technology among people of color. “At the same time, African Americans remain somewhat less likely than whites to go online.”

“Similarly, African Americans have made up substantial ground in the last year when it comes to home broadband adoption. However, even with these gains they continue to trail whites in broadband use at home,” wrote Smith, who also noted that blacks are also less likely to own a desktop computer yet are on par in laptop ownership (as are Latinos) and more likely, as are Latinos, to use mobile devices (report here).

This fall, Carter hopes BSMP will have a volunteer day where members could help non-profits and community groups develop or refine their online identities. Members would be able to use their talents to help others demystify the Internet and get online, an especially valuable service in communities where people may be unconnected to the Internet, lack the appropriate tools to get online, or are generally unfamiliar with the benefits social media affords.

Posted in Conferences & Conventions

NABJDigital Offers Preview of Annual New Media Women Entrepreneurs Conference

By Talia Whyte, founder and director of Global Wire Associates and freelance journalist

As journalists are trying to find new directions into reinventing their careers, many of them are considering going out and becoming their own bosses.  Over the last year, NABJ and other organizations have been exploring ways journalists can use their communication skills for entrepreneurship.  J-Lab will be hosting its annual New Media Women Entrepreneurs Conference Nov. 8 in Washington, D.C.

Photo courtesy of Talia Whyte

I have been self-employed for over 10 years not only as a freelance journalist, but also as founding principal of my own new media consulting firm, Global Wire Associates.  I attended last year’s conference with the hope of meeting other women on the cutting edge of media and innovation, and I found that and more!

It was great to meet both professional and citizen journalists who have turned their interests and skills into thought-provoking niche blogs.  I met women who were blogging about everything from military family life in Oregon to the Latina experience in Chicago. The big question that came up frequently was how to make these blogs profitable, as most of the bloggers were doing their work voluntarily or receiving small amounts of ad money or nonprofit donations.  Unfortunately, there were no clear answers, but I am sure as niche blogs become more popular over time, there will be more pressure to discuss and find a sustainable business model at this year’s gathering.

There were other women at the conference who were not necessarily looking to start a news site, but rather to learn about how to use new media for advancing their non-tech business ventures, like Carol Spinney, a Toronto-based food writer who is in the process of starting up a public relations firm for celebrity chefs.  At the time she said she was building her own website and “taking baby steps” with Twitter and Facebook.

Then there were also attendees who were only there to test the waters and see if entrepreneurship was for them.  I think it’s good for those on the fence to attend conferences like these to see whether or not they have the skills set to go out on their own.

I realized many years ago that I had the skills to be enterprising, and the information I gained at the conference was useful.  Since last year’s conference, I have not only stayed in touch with many of the women I networked with, but we are working on projects together.  Because of one relationship I developed, I was able to get funding and resources for a series of basic Internet trainings for Nigerian immigrants in Boston my team did this year (picture above) and I am in the beginning process of planning a similar training for low wage foreign workers in Malaysia sometime next year.

I am glad that I went to the conference, and I hope many of you will consider going to see if you have what it takes to be a new media entrepreneur!


Posted in Uncategorized

Say What? CNN Sees FACEBOOK As Its Biggest Competitor?

Klein at NABJ 2009 conference Photo by Benet J. Wilson

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

I received an email from Natalie McNeal, aka Frugalista, with a link to this post on the Mashable blog: CNN Sees Facebook As Major Competitor.  I had to do a double take, thinking maybe there was an error.  I mean, how can a major global news outlet say its biggest competitor is a social media site?

But CNN President Jon Klein says that the social network is more of a threat to his business than other broadcast media organizations, writes Mashable’s Jennifer Van Grove.  At BusinessWeek’s Media Summit, Klein told Editor Josh Tyrangiel that he was more worried about Facebook’s 500 million users more than FOX News channel’s mere 2 million viewers.  Media Bistro has more on Klein’s remarks here.

“The people you’re friends with on Facebook or the people you follow on Twitter are trusted sources of information,” Klein said in the Media Bistro story.  “People bemoan the state of journalism today, but … the audience wants in. They don’t want to turn their backs on information.”

And journalists are still afraid to use social media to push and highlight their content?  I digress.  Mashable’s Van Grove noted that Klein’s statements come on the heels of a report from  Hitwise showing that Facebook’s new role is becoming that of a news site.  One of my fellow new media journalists nailed it for me:  “this is the surrender of mainstream media. Their job is good reporting and they will now let others do the transmission.”

So what do you think? Is Klein right?  Is the mainstream media surrendering its role as transmitter of news?  Tell us what you think!

Posted in Uncategorized

A Musing on the Future of Media for Journalists of Color

By Mike Green, freelance journalist and former Web Editor for the Dow Jones Local Media Group

What is the future of media? It’s an important question to answer if the National Association of Black Journalists plans to establish a firm foothold that continues to help Black media professionals develop and thrive in an uncertain media industry that struggles to see where its going.

There are entrepreneurs currently building the roads upon which media will likely travel. And they are getting the funding that isn’t coming our way.  These are folks building the next platforms upon which communities, small and large, will communicate and interact daily. Media will use these platforms to reach communities of subscribers.  Here’s a link to a variety of brand new platforms currently generating a feeding frenzy of millions in investment capital.

These platforms will dictate how media will reach consumers in the near future. Think of AOL, MySpace and Facebook as platforms upon which numerous opportunities can be built to connect with the base subscribers.  The iPhone is a piece of hardware, yet still another platform that spawned an industry of applications designed specifically to reach the customer base of the iPhone. The resulting deluge made the iPhone a more valued commodity.

Kindle is a platform as well. And it also has future rivals already. The New York Times is a media organization, yet recognized the need to establish itself in the platform industry. So it built a platform upon which its readers could receive the Times according to the trends in consumer behavior.  See this video for a mind-blowing demonstration of what’s coming:

Future platforms are certainly going to dictate how consumers communicate with one another. And when media seek to reach those consumers, consideration to the platform will be high on the list of priorities.  Content is king among media. But the most valued commodity online is COMMUNITY. And communities value connections to friends, families and co-workers. In other words, the current trend today is building communities via platforms that establish easy connections.

NABJ is a community. So is the Black Press. HBCUs are as well. Sororities and fraternities also have communities. Yet, who is developing the platforms by which these communities can all come together?

BET established a community. Then it was bought out by White investors.  AOL Black Voices did it. It, too, was bought out. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I’m saying it’s an indicator that the most valuable commodity is the platform upon which communities are built. And while we’re creating cool content, the road to power, influence and control runs through community platforms.

When we speak of expanding our scope to include ownership of media that carries the content we produce, it seems prudent that we recognize and take advantage of the opportunities that exist in the trends. And right now, angels and venture capital firms (some of the most well established and well-known) are investing buckets of cash into new media platforms that establish targeted communities.

Are there any entrepreneurs in Black America building such platforms? If there were, would they have access to capital? Would we assist them? Could we assist them?  Are there Black investor networks? If so, can they be shared in this forum, or are they secret societies? Or perhaps we’ve identified a missing rung in the ladder to success?

Can NABJ play any role at all in developing an in-house resource of knowledge and networks that can help Black entrepreneurs whose ideas may impact the media industry?  Some nonprofits do play such roles. Here’s one in Canada:  http://naoangelinve stor.wordpress. com/ is the most prominent U.S. investor network for entrepreneurs that I’ve heard of.