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.

Posted in Conferences & Conventions

NABJ Social Media Checklist #NABJ2012

– NABJ Social Media Team 

For many of you this will be your first NABJ convention on twitter. That means it will be your first time using an NABJ Convention hashtag, your first time retweeting convention tweets, your first time enjoying the “backchannel” that often dominates the digital conversation during major events. Your digital self will be alive during this convention and the NABJ Social media team will do everything to keep you engaged.

This year NABJ has a robust social media program and we want to make sure that everyone knows how they can engage and share what they’re learning, or better yet, how they’re enjoying New Orleans.



NABJ is on twitter and we’d love to hear from you! Tweet us! NABJ has two regularly updated twitter channels, @NABJ and @Nabjdigital. The PR student project team of Christopher Nelson and Bartees Cox will be manning the official @NABJ channel. You can expect announcements, live-tweeting, questions, scavenger hunts and NABJ student articles tweeted from this account. As usual, Benet Wilson will provide her unique and enlightening tweets on the @nabjdigital account.

Hashtags Hashtags!
The OFFICIAL hashtag of the conference is #NABJ12 (not #NABJ2012). To promote engagement among members who are at the conference and who aren’t able to attend, please tweet all panels and events with the official hashtag. Each workshop will also have it’s own hashtag which you should also include. This will aid people who want to go back and seek information from the panels.


Twitter Scavenger Hunt
Starting on Thursday, the @NABJ will be running a twitter scavenger hunt at NOON on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Prizes include the following:

  • VIP Ticket to the Sports Task Force Jam
  • Tickets to the Gospel Brunch
  • Meet & Greet opportunity with Cedric The Entertainer, Niecy Nash, Rosie Perez, and Viola Davis

Follow the @NABJ account for clues to find Bartees Cox, who will be within a half mile of the Hilton. Once you find him, you’ll have to answer some trivia questions.

Join us on Facebook!

Stay up to date with NABJ news and connect to other attendees!

Facebook Page – Look out for the day’s best picture as well as photo albums from each day’s events.

Facebook Group – The Facebook group continues to be a place for community around the 2012 NABJ conference. We encourage you to continue to post announcements, photos and questions on the group during the conference.


Create a Storify from Your Panel!

Storify is one of the best ways to create stories and archive social media content from your panels. We’re really pushing for NABJ conference panelists and members to create a storify for EVERY PANEL. Please tag ALL of your stories with #NABJ12. We’re aiming to create at least 30 storify stories from the convention. Afterwards we’ll compile this media into a Storination.

New Social Media Site – Instagram!

NABJ has a new social media account on Instagram – NABJofficial. Please follow us and look out for the best pictures from this week’s convention.

Check in on Foursquare

Follow NABJ and check into the 2012 NABJ Convention and Career Fair. If the check in doesn’t immediately pop up then do a search. Please also add photos to your check in.


Do you plan on blogging the NABJ Conference? Don’t forget to tweet us the link so we can tweet it or facebook it!

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, multimedia journalist

NABJ and ONA Show The Love To New Orleans Journalists

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

As we prepare to attend the  National Association of Black Journalists‘ (NABJ) 37th Annual Convention & Career Fair, we arrive with heavy hearts.

In an ironic twist, it will be a week to the day that Advance Publications, parent of the iconic Times-Picayune newspaper, announced that 84 of its 173 people in the newsroom were losing their jobs, effective Sept. 30.  On the same day in Alabama, three major daily newspapers laid off approximately 400 employees, many of them in the newsrooms at The Birmingham News, the Press-Register in Mobile and The Huntsville Times.

Among those losing their jobs were Birmingham chapter founding member Eddie Lard — the newspaper’s lone African-American editorial voice — along with former chapter president Sherrel Stewart and current officer Roy Williams.

NABJ this year partnered with the Online News Association to bring their popular ONA Camp to New Orleans.  ONA Camp brings one day of world-class digital journalism training to those trying to beef up their skills.  Courses available include Mobile Newsgathering, (Mostly) Free Tools and Google Fusion 101.

In light of what has happened in Alabama and Louisiana, we are opening up registration in ONA Camp to anyone affected by the layoffs. So whether you are an NABJ member or not, you can pay $10 and attend this great training.  Click HERE to register.  We hope many of you will take advantage of this offer, and look forward to seeing you!!