Posted in Conferences & Conventions, journalism

Good Eats In New Orleans: Clover Grill

tumblr_lsx72bvTnh1r15wahPhoto by Benét J. Wilson

My mother’s family is from New Orleans and my grandmother’s family is from the Gulfport/Biloxi region, so I have a natural love for the food of my people.   And I’ve had the pleasure of spending many good times in the Crescent City, so I plan on passing along some of my favorite places to eat.

I discovered Clover Grill after a great night of partying in the French Quarter, back in my younger days.  When you’ve played that hard, you need good food to restore you, and Clover Grill fits the bill.  I had a delicious chicken-fried steak breakfast, but the star attraction is the hamburgers.  The hamburgers are cooked under a hubcap (yes, rims), and they are NOT to be missed.  And enjoy the “show” put on by the waitstaff.  Make this a late-night eating spot during the NABJ Annual Convention and Career Fair in the Big Easy! Preregistration ends on June 30, so register TODAY!!

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, journalism

10 Things to Do NOW to Prepare for #NABJ17


There’s only 63 more days until the NABJ Annual Convention and Career Fair in New Orleans. That seems like a long time, but it flies by quickly. You need to start working now to get yourself ready. Below are 10 ideas that will help.

10.  BUY your airline ticket. Fares are cheaper when you book at least 21 days in advance. After that, prices only get higher. And because New Orleans is a popular destination, fares will be higher, so use an app like Hopper to find out the best time to buy.

9. BOOK your hotel room. What are you waiting for? The room block is almost sold out, so you’ll either have to pay a higher price in the Hilton Riverside or pay more for nearby hotels.

8. CHECK your wardrobe. Now is the time to start mulling what you’ll wear. Look for rips, stains or alterations. Or start shopping for key pieces you may need. Also, do those shoe repairs you’ve been putting off.

7. LOOK at the exhibitor list. While you’re looking at that list, start making appointments with 3-4 companies you definitely want to see in New Orleans.

6.  Buy your ticket for the Sports Task Force JamThis is the not-to-be-missed event at every NABJ convention. This year’s party will be at the House of Blues. Early bird regular and VIP tickets are still available but tend to sell out. And the best part? The proceeds fund scholarships.

5. Check out the Dining Guide so you can scope out all the city’s great restaurants.

4. Order new business cards. Vistaprint has hundreds of designs or you can create your own. Click here for discount coupons. Or check out Moo cards, which uses based on your Facebook timeline.

3. Review and update your resume. Make sure you’ve updated all your jobs and skills. Keep a copy in the cloud and on a thumb drive so it’s easily accessible. And check out my DJTF webinar (registration is free) and my website on crafting a good one or if you need further help.

2. Create a portfolio website. You need to send potential employers to one place that shows to house your work and your resume. Don’t know how to get started? NABJ member Marissa Evans did a webinar on that!

1. Read VP-Broadcast Bob Butler’s “Tips for Young Journalists/Students at the NABJ Convention.” It targets the younger folks, but there are plenty of tips that apply to all of us.

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, journalism

Time Is Running Out for #NABJ17 Pre-Registration


If you participated in or read the Storify of the NABJ Students’ recent TweetChat about preparing for the upcoming Annual Convention and Career Fair, you know you don’t want to miss it.

Time is running out for you to pre-register for our convention Aug. 8-13, 2017, in New Orleans. After June 30, rates jump from $380 to $550.  You know you want to be there. You know there’s a strong chance of having FOMO (fear of missing out). You also know you’ll be MAD if you wait and have to pay an extra $170 for registration, so what are you waiting for?

I know, I know – you think you still have plenty of time to register, book a flight and get that hotel reservation at the Hilton Riverside. But you really don’t have that much time.  The truth is, the convention will be before you know it!!  So run — do not walk — to the NABJ website and get yourself registered TODAY!!

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, journalism

Get Your Eat on in New Orleans!


I’m not going to lie-I’m a girl who likes a good meal. And in New Orleans, you always eat well, even if you’re broke. My mother’s family is from Lousiana, so I grew up eating food like crawfish etouffee (see above), red beans and rice, muffuletta and po boy sandwiches.

Below are five places I try not to miss when I visit the Crescent City.

1. Compere Lapin. The brainchild of former “Top Chef” contestant (one of my show favorites) Nina Compton, this restaurant blends Caribbean and New Orleans cuisine that’s delicious.

2. Clover Grill. This is down home diner cooking at its best. They cook the burgers under a hubcab, and they are among the best I’ve ever had. And the amusing attitudinal waitstaff is a bonus!

3. Deanie’s Seafood. I took Dr. Syb Brown during the last NABJ convention here in 2012. The seafood is fresh and the portions are massive. A large catfish/shrimp platter is more than enough for two!

4. HiVolt Coffee and BakeryI’m a big fan of this eatery, which has great coffee and is famous for its breakfast sandwiches and breakfast bowls.

5.  Daisy Dukes.  Just on the edge of the French Quarter, it’s open 24/7 and has great breakfast options. But it’s also known for its $8 bottomless Cajun Bloody Marys.

Pre-registration for the convention ends on June 1, so register here. I’ll see you in New Orleans!!

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, journalism, TwitterNewsChat

#NABJ17 TweetChat: Preparing for the 2017 NABJ Convention

NABJ17 FB Banner

NABJ Student Representative Wilton Jackson held a TweetChat on May 25 to help student and NABJ members prepare for the NABJ Annual Convention and Career Fair Aug. 9-13, 2017, in New Orleans.
Jackson threw questions out to panelists Tierra Smith, Victoria Walker, Malika Andrews, Tyler Ricky Tynes, Cameron Wolfe, Brianna Williams, Tierra Carpenter and Polly Irungu to offer advice and help students be successful navigating what can be a career-changing event.  this preparing for the upcoming #NABJ17 convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. Click here to see a complete Storify of their tips!
If you have any additional questions, follow them on Twitter: @ByTierraSmith@vikkie@malika_andrews@TylerRickyTynes @CameronWolfe @CestLaBrianna@TierraMC_@pollyirungu @wiltonreports.  Be sure to follow the @NABJSTUDENTS Twitter account, @nabjstudents75 on Instagram and join the NABJ Students Facebook group.
Don’t suffer from FOMO. Pre-registration for the convention ends on June 1, so register here TODAY!! See you in New Orleans!
Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, journalism

10 Reasons Why You Should Register for #NABJ17 TODAY!


10. Convention registration prices for members jump from $380 to $550 after June 1.
9. The host hotel, the Hilton Riverside, is running out of rooms.
8. Give back to New Orleans by participating in NABJ’s Day of Service.
7. Feed your body and spirit at the Gospel Brunch.
6. Dress to the nines for the Salute To Excellence Gala.
5. Shake your groove thang (and help a worthy cause) at the must-attend NABJ Sports Task Force Jam at the House of Blues.
4. Attend plenary sessions on the hottest news topics.
3. Brush up on skills and learn the latest in newsroom innovations at the workshops.
2. Meet dozens of employers at the Career Fair.
1. Meet and be with people who look like you and are doing what you’re doing, for advice and encouragement.

And yes, that is my daughter, Baby Digital, behind the mask!

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, journalism

10 Great Ideas for #NABJ17 Workshops


By Benét J. Wilson, NABJ VP-Digital

The Call for Proposals for the 2017 NABJ Convention and Career Fair is now open. The organization relies on volunteers to put on workshops that help members stay relevant in their journalism and communications careers.  As a past program chair (2012 and 2013),

As a past program chair (2012 and 2013), I regularly heard from members who complained about not seeing the workshops they wanted.  I always asked, “did you submit anything?” Nine times out of 10, it was a no.

So ensure that you get the programming you want to see in New Orleans and submit a proposal here by the February 15 deadline. You must be an NABJ member to submit a workshop. Below are 10 panel ideas you may want to consider.  Good luck!!

  1. Ways to search for that next job
  2. Copyediting your stories when there’s no copy desk
  3. Using your journalism skills in non-journalism jobs
  4. How to use the latest data journalism tools
  5. Want to start podcasting? Here’s how
  6. Ways to shoot live video (Facebook Live, Periscope)
  7. How to break into INSERT BEAT HERE
  8. How to develop and produce multiplatform stories
  9. Multimedia training for veteran journalists
  10. Tips for breaking into freelance journalism
Posted in Conferences & Conventions

The Amazing Sarah Smith Offers A Student Primer On How To DO An NABJ Convention – AMENDED

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF chair & freelance aviation/travel journalist and blogger

Editor’s note: the Saturday before the NABJ Convention in New Orleans, I got a Facebook message from Sarah Smith asking for help to get to the convention. I’ll be blunt; I wasn’t inclined to help. I had received pleas from several students and dug into my pocketbook to help (I love the NABJ Babies). But she dropped the name of Kirstin Garriss, one of my absolute favorite mentees, so I bit.  And I’m glad I did. Sarah is an amazing person, and her story is below. Enjoy!

Sarah Smith with Soledad O’Brien

Do I really want to be a journalist anymore? It has been months since I officially graduated college. I landed two major Hollywood internships while in school, but yet they aren’t knocking down my door. I didn’t even get the receptionist position at my local news station because they said I’m over qualified. And lastly I have no reporter reel!”

That was me venting to my godmother on May  28, 2012.  And that was the night she introduced me to her best-kept secret — her niece, Kirstin Garriss.

Sarah Smith with Kevin Frazier of “The Insider”

Kirstin is a NBC Desk Assistant in Washington, D.C. We spoke over the phone and she immediately told me different things I needed to do, such as sending her my resume and cover letter for critiquing.  We emailed, texted, and spoke over the phone for the next few days.  Once my resume was good enough, it was time for that next step.

Kirstin told me about the 2012 NABJ Convention in New Orleans and my first reaction was I would love to but, I don’t have the money. How can I afford to pay to invest in my future when I can’t even pay my rent in the present!  So I gave up on that nice idea — briefly.

A few days later, Kirstin emailed me about a CNN Reception at the convention; they were looking for recent graduates to fill entry-level jobs.  Immediately my eyes lit up! CNN! I must go! I love CNN and  Soledad O’Brien is in my list of favorite people! So I emailed the contact and completed the information that they requested of me.  This was an RSVP-only event and I was now locked in. The only catch was, it was in New Orleans.

Soon after I was confirmed for the job reception I thought to myself “what have you done?  You know you don’t have the money!” But then another thought came over me.  This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten myself into a sticky situation and the way I got out was talking to people and exhausting every resources.

I figured out how much I would need and sent out text message asking people for as little as $10. When doing something like this I say proceed with caution, because you’ll soon realize who’s willing to support you and who’s not. I had people not respond, some lie  and say they would help, and some say they couldn’t help.  Those response didn’t outweigh those who were willing to help though.  But that wasn’t enough; I needed to have more determination and assistance.

After making a lot of calls,  I was lucky that my old boss knew Anita Blanton, a news anchor for KOCO in Oklahoma City.  My boss explained to Anita my financial situation and explained that if I came to New Orleans, I would need somewhere to stay.  Anita contacted some of her journalist friends in the area who were going to NABJ and they agreed to allow me to share a room with them.  Yes! I thought, one thing crossed off my to-do list.

Editor’s note: Sarah asked me to include the paragraph below.

The day before I was flying out to N.O. Kirstin reminded me to bring business cards and my resume. I only had enough money to print my resume but not any business cards. I called a local print shop in Oklahoma City, Joy & Trinity Printing and explained my situation to a Mr. James Bryant.

I asked if he’d be willing to sponsor at least 50 business cards for me. He said he liked that I’m doing something for myself & would be glad to help. I emailed him my information and then an hour later instead of picking up 50 business cards, Mr. Bryant had 100 business cards waiting for me!

Now on to how I would get there. I made a lot of phone calls and even contacted my university about what I was trying to do. After hearing a lot of “no, we can’t help you,” I went to the most valuable thing I have — my friends. I let them know what was wrong and how I was just going to give up on going.  But then without even having to request it, they put their heads together and helped raise the money for me to come to New Orleans.

They asked people they knew and told them about me and my goals. We also attended the Oklahoma Juneteenth Celebration and gave out Blow Pops and Dots candy, asking for donations from the community.

My friends, who were pageant queens, wore their crowns and sashes so we could stand out from the crowd. I myself am a former queen and utilized skills that I learned.  I walked up to people to total strangers and told them who I am, this is what I’m doing, and this is how you can help me so that I can eventually help our community. The more people we spoke with the more I started noticing how us just being out there trying to achieve something, anything that it empowered people and ourselves.

At the end of the day, we counted our hard work and made enough money to get me to New Orleans.  Kirstin’s was thrilled when I told her I made enough to go but then my happily-ever-after moment was over once Kirstin told me I had to register for the convention.  I originally thought I’d go to the CNN reception, then check out NABJ as well.

After voicing my concerns to Kirstin, she told me to contact her Aunt Benet through Facebook and explain my story. I did exactly what she said and contacted Aunt Benet.  To my surprise Benet gave me an immediate response and told me she would handle registration for me but in return I had to be her intern, saying I needed to work for the bigger opportunity that she was trying to give me. I agreed and was re-energized once again!

I then had everything I needed — until I realized the tires on my car needed to be replaced, so I couldn’t drive. If it’s not one thing it’s another! Here I am, 2 days before the conference — now what do I do?

Again I was even more cut throat in finding away there! I had too many people who I couldn’t let down! I had a charge account and could bill a one-way flight. Not knowing how I would get back to Oklahoma, I took the risk. Then I received a phone call the night before I left that my assistant pastor would contribute enough money for me to book a return flight.

I woke up extra early, drove across town, picked up his contribution and then headed to the airport. Once I landed in New Orleans, I booked my return flight the next day! And the rest is history! I made it!

I’m currently writing this on my third day at the convention.  I met With CNN yesterday and blew them away. I did things that not everyone would do to get here.  Some people told me they would be too embarrassed to be out there asking for assistance for the fear of being looked down upon.  But that’s what’s so great about this — I was successful in what people said I couldn’t and shouldn’t do. I got here, I reached a short-term goal to set myself up for my long-term goals.

This conference and the CNN reception have shown me that I have the desire to be a journalist.  But my friends and my community pulling together showed me that they believe in my ability to be a Journalist.  I will never forget capturing this moment and cannot wait until it’s my turn to be the one to believe in someone else.

Posted in journalism, multimedia journalist, Social Media, Uncategorized

The Digital Journalist: ‘It’s Like My Paintbrush’

By Serbino Sandifer-Walker, Multimedia Journalism Professor, DJTF Contributor

Sandra Gonzalez, Serbino Sandifer-Walker, Mara Schiavocampo, Blayne Alexander at NABJ One Man Banning Workshop. Blayne Alexander organized the workshop. Serbino Sandifer-Walker served as the moderator.

Sandra Gonzalez of WGNO-TV in New Orleans, La. knows how to tell a story. The veteran journalist has been at it for two decades and can’t imagine doing anything else. Except one day, her TV boss came to her, gave her a camera and said go find the stories, alone. She was 43-years-old and she hasn’t looked back since because to Sandra being a digital journalist is not any old job. I moderated an NABJ session in New Orleans where Sandra was a panelist. She explained to me her job is like having a paintbrush in hand everyday. And everyday she’s determined to paint a Picasso.