Posted in Entrepreneur, Innovation, multimedia journalist

Help Fund The Beacon Reader Project “HOW’D YOU GET THAT (MEDIA) JOB?”

Tracie Powell.
Tracie Powell.

Tracie Powell currently serves as the co-chair of the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force. She is also founder, editor and publisher of the amazing website, which has quickly become the go-to website for digital diversity media issues.

But things like don’t run on good will alone. Good journalism needs to be funded, which is why I’m asking you to consider donating to Tracie’s Beacon Reader project, “How’d You Get That (Media) Job?” Under the project, Tracie will do high-quality video interviews with diverse industry movers and shakers on how they ended up with the jobs they’re in.  The first one, below, is with Roland Martin, a past NABJ board member, media entrepreneur and host of TV One’s “Washington Watch with Roland Martin.”

Non-whites make up nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population, but only 12 percent of U.S. newsrooms. That’s according to a report released in 2013 by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE). The organization also found that 90 percent of newsroom supervisors at organizations that participated in the study were white.

Similarly, the Radio Television Digital News Association found that while the minority population of the United States has risen 10.4 percent, the minority workforce in television news is up only 3.7 percent, and the minority workforce in radio is up 0.9 percent. RTDNA’s 2012 diversity study also found that 86 percent of television news directors and 91.3 percent of radio news directors are Caucasian.

While women have made some progress, they still earn only 36 percent of bylines or on-camera appearances, and the number of women industry executives has declined. All Digitocracy seeks to help turn the tide by giving these journalists advice, insight and access to opportunities and by working closely with hiring managers to help make their newsrooms more representative so that they can better serve and engage with their respective audiences.

In a nutshell, All Digitocracy considers media questions and issues that aren’t covered—and your help will allow us to take this coverage even further with this new web series.

If you’re interested in funding good journalism, you can get more information here. Pledges start at only $5, but the deadline to show your support is Christmas Eve, so please consider making a donation today.

Benét J. Wilson is the vice president of education for the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force.  She also serves on the board of the Online News Association.  She is coeditor of and  a freelance aviation journalist and blogger.

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Entrepreneur, journalism

DJTF Partners With Knight Foundation On JournoPreneur Panel In Boston


nabj_djtf_200x200logo wordsThe Digital Journalism Task Force will be out front at the NABJ convention in Boston next month. We are very proud to have a special workshop, “JournoPreneurs: What It Takes To Build A Media Company,” that is being sponsored by the  John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.


Tracie Powell

DJTF Co-char Tracie Powell, owner of the All Digitocracy blog, said that with all the upheaval in the industry,more and more journalists of color are choosing to produce and distribute their own content instead of begging for jobs. “Whether we are doing it intentionally or not, we’re creating and launching our own media ventures or trying to, but we’re doing so on a prayer and a string,” she said. “We haven’t the faintest clue about business plans, market studies or venture capitalism. We are already entrepreneurial, but do we know how to take that next step and truly become entrepreneurs?”

Powell feels that journalists need to know how to apply their unique skills to being an entrepreneur. “As journalists the skills we have are necessary in the startup world. We are articulate and determined. Our ability to clearly communicate ideas to others, especially those unfamiliar with a given issue, can translate into success explaining and generating excitement from venture capitalists. Finally, we have the tenacity to pursue a challenging story; that same tenacity can be used to aggressively seek funding and gain users.”

“What we need is to better understand the difference between building a personal brand versus building a media company, and we need to know how to take an idea from concept to launch. That’s what this workshop is all about,” she said.

The workshop will start by helping attendees figure out if they really want to start their own businesses, said Powell. “If the answer is yes, then we will have the opportunity to talk face-to-face with media entrepreneurs who are already doing this,” she said. “Those of us who are really ready to make the leap will not only learn from the panelists’ expertise at the convention, we will leave with the workings of a business plan in hand and a possible mentor.”

So many journalists of color have been laid off and downsized, people with real talent, knowledge and skills that are of benefit to the industry and to their communities, said Powell. “That should not and cannot go to waste. We have journalism skills that we can apply to being entrepreneurs, heck, many of us are already doing it and don’t even know it. So why not?” she asked. “What else are you doing besides begging for a limited number of newsroom jobs, working for somebody else when you really want to work for yourself?”

There are whole communities that are consistently ignored by mainstream newsrooms, Powell observed. “Launching our own media companies — whether it be developing mobile news apps, websites or innovative tools that connect communities with the information they need to strengthen our democracy — is one way we get to do the important work that we crave and that our communities need,” she said. “This is especially true as many of us find ourselves displaced and unemployed.”

Powell called the speakers for JournoPreneurs her personal dream panel. The panel consists of entrepreneurs at varying stages in the launch process, which will make this even more interesting and beneficial to those in attendance. “I thought of everybody that I would want to meet and learn from, then I invited them to Boston,” she said. “Of course, the Knight Foundation stepped in and offered to help make connections with some of the panelists and they also gave the task force some money to help turn the dream panel into a reality. That was a real plus.”

“We wouldn’t be here without them. I wouldn’t be here without them. I’m really looking forward to this being the start of something truly special in terms of nurturing our members and equipping them with the tools to become digital media entrepreneurs,” Powell said about the Knight Foundation. “I’m serious about this being a long-term project and a long-term relationship, not just some one-off chance encounter at the convention, and I believe Knight is too.”

Powell hopes that attendees will walk away from the workshop with a business plan and a mentor. “We’re looking to identify promising ventures by a handful of journalists and hope to bring those media entrepreneurs back together in the next couple of months at a entrepreneurial media institute, or at the very least, enable them to meet personally with their mentors,” she said. “That part is still a work in progress, but it will all start at the convention in Boston.”

The workshop is on Thursday, July 31 from 2:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

JournoPreneurs: What It Takes To Build A Media Company

When it comes to digital media innovation, journalists of color are largely missing from the landscape. Earlier this year, the American Society of News Editors surveyed 68 online news organizations about the percentage of journalists of color inside their newsrooms and found that 43 sites didn’t have any person of color on staff. Meanwhile, more journalists, including journalists of color, are creating their own media companies or hyperlocal sites. JournoPreneurs: How To Build Your Own Media Company will provide hands-on experience with drafting business plans, filing articles of incorporation, advice on how to access funding and build teams as well as concrete steps on how to launch a media company and what happens after the launch. #nabj


Michael Bolden, Knight Foundation

Ezra Klein, Co-Founder, Vox Media

Carlos Watson, Founder,

Kelly Virella, Founder, Dominion of New York and The Urban Thinker

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

Posted in journalism, multimedia journalist

Never Say ‘We Can’t Find Talented Journalists of Color’ Again

journalism diversityBy Tracie Powell, Co-Chair and Benet J. Wilson, Vice President, Education of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Digital Journalism Task Force

Now that the lack of diversity at journalism startups has been sufficiently underscored by others, this is the perfect opportunity to provide a set of principles to follow for those interested in  creating diverse newsrooms.

Diversity is not just about checking a box. In light of demographic changes that show the white, male audience is dwindling, diversity in newsrooms is good business. It just makes sense.

For some these guidelines will be a reminder, but for others they can serve as a new source of information that we hope you’ll make a permanent part of your company’s recruiting process and employee retention efforts. At the very least, these guidelines should go a long way in helping digital media funders and founders to never again say: “We can’t find talented journalists of color.”

1. We’re not here to bash or criticize, we’re here to help

The NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force has a strong record of providing free training for anyone who wants to participate and serving as a resource, mainly through the @NABJDigital Twitter account using the #mediadiversity and #journojob hashtags, for those looking for diverse candidates to fill jobs. Companies like NPR, American Public Media, CNN, TBS and NBC, to name a few, have reached out to us directly to promote their jobs and pass along qualified candidates.

In addition to @NABJ Digital, digital startups also get the resources and strong network of the Online News Association, with ONA board member Benet Wilson, who chairs the Diversity Committee, and DJTF Co-Chair Tracie Powell, who serves as a committee member. We are more than willing to meet with anyone for a friendly conversation and information on how we can help. We can meet with folks in person or via Google Hangout.

2. Build a more inclusive network

  • Talk with and partner with organizations and individuals with community connections that reflect the demographics that you serve or want to serve, including organizations like NABJ.

  • Go to diversity conventions yourself. Do not depend on recruiters. “My old boss at the Boston Globe came to a National Association of Black Journalists convention to actually meet people he never heard of, and they were talented. He hired two people and still had many on his list,” said Greg Lee, immediate past president of NABJ. “You have to get out and expand your personal pool.”

  • Lisa Williams, Program Chair of the Online News Association’s 2013 conference and Director of Digital Engagement at the Investigative News Network, wrote in her Life and Code blog, “Any call for diversity in hiring in the information industry (and in that I include the tech industry and the news industry) is usually met with a lament at how HARD it is to find female candidates, or candidates who are people of color.  Except for one thing.  It’s not.  All we had to do was….ask. That’s it.”

3. Say “YES”

Accept invitations to participate in panel discussions or workshops before diverse audiences where you can talk up your organization and the benefits of working at your company. In the past three years, the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University has done presentations with DJTF at NABJ conventions and held an online Q&A for potential applicants with DJTF, in conjunction with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Asian American Journalism Association. As a result of that and other outreach efforts, Knight has reported seeing more diverse applicant pools for its fellowship, according to the program’s director, Jim Bettinger.

4. Step outside of your comfort zone

We naturally tend to gravitate toward those we’re most comfortable with. For white men, that means mingling with other white men; the same holds true for people of color. That paradigm must be broken, especially in today’s newsrooms.

The most powerful line in a piece recently written by Shani O. Hilton, deputy editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, for Medium was this one: “The journos of color and women aren’t networking with white dudes doing the hiring because it isn’t in their DNA,” she wrote. “Call it the Twice as Hard Half as Good Paradox: Many of us are so busy working twice as hard and hoping to get noticed that we don’t do the networking that seems like bullshit but is actually a key part of career advancement.”

It is true that more journalists of color must pull back from their daily grind to network in order to ensure career advancement. But startups and venture capitalists must do the same thing. This effort can not, and should not, be one-sided. Go to mixers and seek out journalists of color. Go up to them, shake their hands, ask about what they are doing now, what they’d rather be doing instead or what they want to be doing in five years. You might meet your next game-changer.

5. Read publications and writers outside of those you normally read

Just as aspiring writers are taught to read those more established in order to improve their craft, editors need to do the same thing. Not only because it helps you identify new talent, but because it also clues you in about issues and ways of telling stories that you may be missing. You never know what gems you will come across. Some publications we recommend are ColorLines, Richard Prince’s Journal-isms and Racialicious.

6. Ask employees for referrals

Talk with managers, but more important, talk with your rank-and-file employees, who likely know others who are in the job market. Offer rewards for successful referrals, but don’t rely solely on employee networks, which may also be white and male.

7. Retaining is just as important as recruiting

Once you recruit diverse job candidates, keep them by offering benefits such as on-site daycares, non-gendered bathrooms, and quiet rooms employees can use to meditate or recite daily prayers. Offering these services also lets potential employees know that your company accommodates gender, family and religious diversity.

8. Make a seat at the table

Don’t just send employees of color to conventions as recruiters just to show that you have employees of color; if you send them, make sure they have hiring authority.  If your company does not have diverse candidates in key positions, then engaging diverse high-level employees in the recruiting process — even if they do not have hiring authority — can be helpful. Having someone at the table is important.

Even if you do not connect with NABJ Digital, you should be, at the very least, posting and connecting with other job boards that specialize in reaching diverse job candidates, including NABJ and JournalismNext. If you are not doing this, then you’re not really looking.

You can reach Tracie Powell at and Benet Wilson at We look forward to hearing from you!

Posted in Webinar, Webinars

GOOGLE HANGOUTS – How To Make It As A Freelancer – Saturday March 22 10:00am EST – 2:45pm EST

nabj-hangout-flyer CORRECT

To RSVP for the Google Hangouts, go to the following Hangouts:

All Times in EASTERN

10:00am – 11:00am Story Pitches Every Editor Wants To See

11:15am-12:15pm Creating the Perfect Pitch –

12:30pm to 1:30pm Freelance 101 –

1:45 to 2:45 How to Get Started As a Freelancer –

Posted in Uncategorized

Why Journalists Should Care About Today’s Net Neutrality Ruling


Photo by Steve Rhode, via Flickr.

Internet service providers, like Verizon and Comcast, can give preference to some content owners over others or block them, a federal appeals court ruled this morning.

Quite simply, this means Internet service providers can pick and choose the content consumers see and how they see it. The ruling, Verizon v. Federal Communications Commission, is a setback to what is more commonly called, “net neutrality,” the principal that Internet service providers should enable equal access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.

The court states that the Federal Communications Act does not allow the FCC to force internet service providers to make their networks open to all.

Why should journalists and journalism organizations care?  For independent or small-scale content owners, this ruling means it will be that much harder to reach the consumers they’re targeting. For news organizations, already strapped for cash, this means either now having to pay to play on the information super highway in order to reach consumers, or worse,  having your content blocked because the Internet service provider favors another company over yours.

“This ruling means there is no one who can protect us from ISPs that block or discriminate against websites, applications or services,” according to media advocacy organization Free Press in an email blast about the ruling. Free Press has been warning of the threat for more than a year.

The court did allow that Internet service providers will have to disclose their practices to users. During the holidays, Republican members of Congress announced plans to update the federal communications law by offering a more modern one that takes into account the changing media landscape, they said.

Congress first passed the Communications Act of 1934, which created the FCC to encourage and regulate electronic communication in the United States; the law was revised in 1996. Signed by then-President Bill Clinton, the initial purpose of the current law was to deregulate the converging broadcast and telecommunications industries.

Under a more modern communications law, Congress could give the FCC power to make and enforce rules that would require telecom companies to keep their networks open. Or Congress can bend to the will of the telecom lobby and allow the court’s ruling to usher in a new era of unequal access to the internet. Public hearings on this matter promise to be top news in months to come.

UPDATE: This afternoon Comcast released a statement that the cable provider would continue to play by open internet rules, at least through 2018, per an agreement it made with the government when it merged with NBCUniversal.

Note: This story is developing; it will update once I read the ruling further. 

Tracie Powell is co-chair of the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force. She writes about the media and media policy issues. 

Posted in journalism, Social Media, Uncategorized

Best of NABJDigital Blog: What Journalists Can Learn From the Yahoo-Tumblr Alliance: Build It or Buy It

Editor’s note: We are taking this week off to enjoy the holidays with our families.  So this week, we’ll be re-running past posts.  Today’s post is from DJTF co-chair Tracie Powell, who gives her take on Yahoo!’s acquisition of tumblr. and  how this relates toother news organizations.  It originally ran on May 21.  Enjoy!

yahoo tumblrYahoo’s $1 billion purchase of the blogging site, Tumblr, is being heralded as a cool move by media watchers everywhere. It’s cool because the alliance brings in younger users to an aging Internet giant, a demographic advertisers crave, which translates into growing revenue—something legacy news media companies need.

Angel Investor and entrepreneur Jason Calacanis wrote for LinkedIn over the weekend that the then-pending deal had journalists livid. “Journalists are one of the first groups to lash out. Why? Because they have no chance of making big money in their jobs, and they have to fight for $5,000 raises while their pensions are replaced with 401ks. Also, they tend to have covered startups like Tumblr from year one and they can’t reconcile how something that didn’t exists five years ago is now worth $1 billion — and that they don’t have to balls to create something.”

I agree with Calacanis that the big-media purchase has many journalists more than a little bit jealous. But not because of our dwindling paychecks, which (for most of us) have always been rather paltry. But because journalists know – but aren’t saying out loud – that this purchase is just the latest right-left hook to our dying business model. We, along with everyone else, are waiting for the dreaded knockout punch while marveling ringside at such a gargantuan media buy.

We also know that our parent companies — be they newspaper giants, cable or broadcast stations – don’t exactly have a billion dollars laying around that executives or stockholders are willing to risk on a blogging site filled with porn, copyright infringing material and racist bullcrap—content advertisers don’t typically like.

That said, not all is bleak for journalists. The one thing we have going for ourselves is that Yahoo’s purchase shows, once again, that content is still king. We, content creators, just have a hard time  believing it. Both “Facebook and Google have demonstrated that a vast audience for free content can bring in significant advertising revenue,” reports The Wall Street Journal, a fact news executives surely take into consideration as they mount more pay walls. What the Yahoo-Tumblr purchase also represents is an opportunity for individual journalists (and some companies that can be cool enough for the younger crowd) to build their own brands while reaching a new, more coveted, audience.

For news organizations this purchase should not just be viewed as yet another opportunity to use somebody else’s platform to build a brand and distribute product. That’s alright for individual journalists, but for legacy media companies this purchase underscores the fact that they should be investing or creating their own innovative platforms that combine social networking with content to reach a critical mass of people. Sort of like The Atlantic Media Company did when it created Quartz, a mobile-first business news site, last September. Quartz exceeded its own expectations by receiving nearly a million unique visitors in its first month.

Not all of us can be like The Atlantic, which is navigating the digital age better than most of its contemporaries. But if we can’t build it, buy it. You know, like Yahoo just did.

Posted in Education, journalism

Carnival Of Journalism: Creating Student News Organizations

Regular readers of this blog know that once a month, I used to write a post for the Carnival of Journalism.  For the uninitiated, a group of us, journalism geek types, get together monthly and write about the same topic, directed by a different host each time.

However, life got in the way of Carnival creator David Cohn, the founder of Spot.Us, a nonprofit that helped pioneer community funded reporting and current director of news for Circa. That meant the Carnival went away.  But last month, a note went out on our Carnival listserve, and, long story short, it’s back.

This month, our host is Patrick Thornton, described by Cohn as the journalism iconoclast.  The question is this: Student news organizations have traditionally existed to give students experience before entering the workforce. The kinds of journalism jobs and journalism companies have changed considerably in the past 10 years, and most student news organizations are set up to mimic traditional print or broadcast news outlets. How would you set up a student news organization in 2013, or how could an existing college news organization modernize itself?

Grambling State University is a historically black college and university (HBCU) located in Grambling, La. The university recently made national news after firing Gramblinite online editor David Lankster Sr. and suspending opinions editor Kimberly Monroe. Both played key roles in stories about how the university’s football team forfeited a game over its deteriorating practice facility. Tracie Powell, co-chair of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Digital Journalism Task Force and owner of the  allDigitocracy blog had excellent coverage of the story here

So as the self-appointed Editrix and student advisor of the Gramblinite, I will use it as my guinea pig and answer the question of how an existing college news organization can modernize itself. I’m going to assume going in that I have all the money I need to make these changes.

The first thing I would do would be to make the student newspaper independent from the university, similar to what’s done at college newspapers including the University of Maryland-College Park’s Diamondback, Penn State’s The Daily Collegian and The Daily Californian at the University of California-Berkeley. School administrations have much less control and less of an ability to pressure students covering news as an independent publication.

Second, I’d shell out major bucks to buy new equipment, including computers, iPhones, iPads, video and still cameras, editing software and whatever else it takes and provide training to students that would allow them to deliver the news accurately.

Third, I would get rid of the Gramblinite’s print publication. Even at my advanced age, I don’t read print publications anymore. And schools, including Baltimore’s Morgan State University (another HBCU) and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee have done it. My reading is done on my iPad and iPhone. Students these days get almost all of their news online, so go where your customers are.  I’d build a dynamic website that is easily viewed across all digital platforms. I’d include video, audio, photos, graphics, comments and social media.

And speaking of platforms, the fourth thing I’d do is get rid of separate media. No more radio news, television news, print news and magazine news on campus. I would make one converged newsroom to allow students to gain skills across all platforms, and disperse the news accordingly, using rolling  deadlines.

Fifth, I’d require all students working in the converged newsroom to create their own portfolio websites where they could house all of their stories in one place. So by the time graduation comes, they won’t be scrambling at the last minute to put one together.

Sixth, I’d create an independent advisory board made up of students, a faculty member from the communications/journalism school and alumni who are working in the field to guide students. I would also pay stipends to the editor in chief, the managing editor and the webmaster for the newspaper, because this is hard work, and they deserve to get a check for it.

I’d  then offer training at the beginning of each semester to let new students know what’s expected and remind existing students what is still expected. Then I’d let them go and write the stories they want to write, knowing they are free from university pressure and have a strong group backing them.

You can check out my past NABJDigital Carnival posts here.  See what my other fellow Carnivalers have to say here. And if you’re interested in joining us, please let me know. We’d love to have you!