Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, Entrepreneur, journalism

Deadline To Apply For NewU Entrepreneurship Grant: Friday, July 5

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

One of the things I’m most excited about for this year’s convention (and there’s a LOT to be excited about) is UNITY Journalists for Diversity bringing the NewU Entrepreneurship Start-Up Loft program to Orlando.  Thanks to the generosity of the Ford Foundation, NewU helps journalists realize their entrepreneurial dreams.

I had the pleasure of working with co-founders Doug Mitchell (who also heads NABJ’s Media Institute) and Alli Joseph at the first Start-Up Loft at last year’s UNITY convention in Las Vegas. You can see my Storination of the event here.

The NewU Entrepreneurship program, now in its fourth year,  is coming to this year’s NABJ annual convention on July 31 and Aug 1. Since 2010, NewU has seeded 10 companies with grants ranging from $3,300 to $10,000. This year and next, NewU will be awarding grants of $20,000 to a total of four companies that both impress a panel of judges and are able to generate online votes through an open competition.

The purpose of this program is to find employers, not employees. That
is those who are eager to address diversity through ownership, job
creation, leadership, team building, business development/entrepreneurship.
If you think journalistic enterprises are sparse with people of color think
about Board rooms. Think about where investment capital is going. You see
where it’s going by simply consuming any form of media. So, we’re working
to do something about that.

Were working across media enterprises and associations to find the next
CEO/Founder of color, seed their ideas and get them into a supportive
ecosystem where they rise and then bring others with them.  At the NABJ conference, we’ll have morning programming for anyone who
wants to be there The sessions are designed help you decided IF this is
something for you.

At noon, the programming with become *exclusive *to companies that
applied to compete for seed grants and were selected by our panel of
judges.  Our judges and speakers represent women and men of color who are
giving up their time to help us find entrepreneurs of color to support.
If you are interested, apply here .  Also reach out to past grant winners Kelly Virella and Jay Frazier.

The application is fairly rigorous and that’s highly intentional.
If you are going to award $40,000, you want to make sure the contestants
are deeply serious and doing the work, right now. For questions, please contact co-founder Doug Mitchell at **.  Remember — the deadline is midnight PDT Friday July 5th. We’ll be choosing companies no later than July 9.

Let’s get in the game!


Posted in Conferences & Conventions

Five Media Conventions You Should Consider Attending In 2012

By Markeya Thomas, Student/Multimedia Journalist, Georgia State University

As the year begins, the conventions start rolling. Finding a convention that best suits your needs may be difficult, but you have it made. Here are my picks for journalism and media conventions to visit this year.

1.  Media Learning Seminar

  • Dates: February 20-21
  • Location: Miami, FL
  • An Initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation – Without technology, there would be no media. The Media Learning Seminar combines the best of journalism and technology. They will be discussing the movement and progression of technology and the ever-changing industry of media.  The intention of this convention is to enlighten professionals on the different methods that can be used to reach a broader audience.

2.  NABJ Convention and Career Fair

  • Dates: June 20-24
  • Location: New Orleans, LA
  • A must-attend for those who are strong advocates of diversity in the newsroom. The annual NABJ Convention and Career Fair attracts professional journalists, students and those affiliated with media. They provide many workshops to further develop skills in the areas of  journalism, screen writing, social networking, technology, book publishing and more. This convention also has an amazing career fair where many of the leading companies in media, business, technology, and entertainment are seeking to attract and hire those with a passion for media.


  • Dates: August 1-4
  • Location: Las Vegas, NV
  • Journalist of Color, Inc. 2012 Convention – A great way to network with those who are advocates of diversity in the newsroom. A classic convention that only occurs every 4 years, its ability to continue to attract people makes it a classic in itself.  In a field that is dominated by the majority, Unity is a coalition of four minority/LGBT organizations fighting to bring diversity within newsrooms. Unity will have a career fair, as well as, provide career coaching, education sessions, student projects and plenty more.

4. BlogHer 

  • Dates: August 3-4
  • Location: New York, NY
  • As print newspapers and magazines continue to transition to have an extensive online content, online media is bigger than ever.  It is vital for journalist to be able to keep up with the trends in media, making BlogHer a must-attend convention. BlogHer brings bloggers who cover different aspects of media together to connect, learn, and inspire.

5. Excellence in Journalism

  • Dates: September 20-22
  • Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • This annual convention targets radio, television and digital news journalists. It offers workshops from developing one’s social media strategy to creating multiplatform stories. Although this convention is relatively short, an attendee would leave this convention feeling acknowledged and able to apply new knowledge and techniques to their respective jobs.
Posted in Awards, Entrepreneur, Innovation, journalism, News

Unity 2011 Video Pitches

By Jamerika Haynes, Multimedia Journalist, follow me on Twitter @JamerikaHaynes

The Unity Journalists of Color are giving media entrepreneurs the chance to win big. The group is hosting the ‘New U’ News Entrepreneurs Working Through Unity Program. Fourteen selected fellows created video pitches for a chance to win one of three $10,000 Ford Foundation sponsored seed grants. Co-Project Director, Doug Mitchell says the contest gives entrepreneurs of color the opportunity to be discovered.

“We feel like people of color are being left out of start-up of media companies,” Mitchell said.  “This project is meant to give these fellows a community of support.”

This is the second year for the contest. Voting will remain open until January 3, 2012. Winners will be in announced February 2012.

NABJ members who are up for consideration are:

  • An educator, writer, and self-proclaimed “internationalista,” Roxanne L. Scott has lived in the U.S., Latin America, and Asia. She currently lives in Beijing, China and will take her first trip to Africa in January 2012.
  • Jason Frazer is currently a TV Reporter for the CBS affiliate in Columbus. Prior to TV, Jason was a banking manager for four years.
  • Kathryn Buford is a journalist and PhD student in sociology whose research focuses on social entrepreneurship, art and the women and history of the African Diaspora. She is co-founder of Live Unchained ( which, she is developing with a team of women artists, entrepreneurs and tech experts from around the world.
  • Sherbeam Wright is a blogger and communications, brand and social media consultant. She has extensive experience working with journalists, authors and writers in using social media, PR and online marketing to develop and grow their brands. Sherbeam has a history of developing and driving strategic initiatives supporting the sales efforts of public enterprises and private tech organizations.
  • Kelly Virella is a web technologist, an experienced, award winning journalist and entrepreneur with a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and a master’s from the University of California at Berkeley. In July, she founded and began working full time-time on Dominion of New York, the online magazine for black people who love interesting ideas.

Vote for NABJ members here.

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, Entrepreneur, journalism

Part 2 – 5 Concrete Steps To Moving The Needle On Media Entrepreneurship

By Michelle Ferrier, Ph.D.

After my East Coast Listening Tour (see my post from yesterday) where I connected with those in the media entrepreneurship ecosystem, I’ve gathered a few potential steps to move the needle on media entrepreneurship by or for people of color.

1. It took someone else’s perspective for me to see the value of the work of the Journalism That Matters Create or Die series of design | build | pitch events that were held in 2010 in Detroit and 2011 in Greensboro, NC. These events serve as a firestarter…an opportunity for passionate people to meet talented technicians and ignite innovation in the journalism space.  The passion of the Greensboro 52 or G52 has continued to live on our Facebook Create or Die group, where members share their projects, needs and support. We need to move more of these projects up the pipeline to funding and raise awareness for our successes. And it looks like Create or Die 3 will have an important place in this media entrepreneurship ecosystem.

2. The second step is to create more venues like Comcast’s DreamIt Ventures and UNITY’s NewU that increase the odds that diverse people and projects can pitch and be heard. As part of this mix, we need incubators that don’t require relocation to Silicon Valley or Boulder, Colorado. A “Bloom where you’re planted” model would bring together training and talent in a geographic space. Journalism That Matters piloted such an idea in Seattle in 2010. The Pacific Northwest Collaboratory was born as a support system for the new news ecology there. That successful experiment should be replicated in other regions.

3. The third step is education and training for the hundreds of potential business that wither at the doorways to incubators and pitch sessions. These projects could be successful if provided with nurturing, talent, and access to funds. We need a distributed model, probably online and in physical space, that will help give entrepreneurs just-in-time access to the information and people that can help vet and nurture new ideas.

4. The fourth step is the creation of a talent network so that media entrepreneurs can find and build a talented team that has a higher likelihood of success. Content ideas rarely get funded unless they have a strong technology play. Many ideas flounder because of the lack of a tech team early on in the process of product development.

5. The fifth step is to create a microfund to support application fees and travel fees for potential entrepreneurs to attend and perhaps pitch at the other startup weekends and venues around the country. These small loans, probably of a couple of hundred dollars, will help in identifying media entrepreneurs in need of just the services a robust network can provide (see bullet three and four).

I’d love to hear what others think is needed to make the whole ecosystem a tight, resilient, effective network. I’m still listening.

Dr. Michelle Ferrier is founder and publisher of, a hyperlocal community news site now in its second year. She is also an associate professor in the School of Communications at Elon University.


Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, Entrepreneur, Innovation, journalism

Part 1 – Addressing The Blockage In The Media Entrepreneurship Deal Flow

By Michelle Ferrier, Ph.D.

In search of the larger picture of media entrepreneurship, I recently traveled from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., and environs to meet with incubator directors, serial entrepreneurs, and others in the digital intelligencia. My goal, I thought, was simple. Engage in conversations about the new media landscape and how to fund great ideas.

Admittedly, I went with my own preconceived notions on what I’ve dubbed the East Coast Listening Tour. I was thinking of creating an accelerator to help educate and fund journalism-based projects coming out of the Journalism That Matters Create or Die series of design | build | pitch events in Detroit and Greensboro.

But something shifted on that road trip. Perhaps, like in the movies, my character learns something about herself as she traveled down the highways. As I met with folks like Doug Mitchell, co-director of UNITY’s New U incubator and William Crowder, managing director of the Comcast DreamIt Ventures project and Dr. Chad Womack, cofounder of the Black Innovation and Competitiveness Initiative, I stopped thinking and talking. I put on my journalism hat. And I started asking questions and listening.

What is needed in the media entrepreneurship space for projects by and for people of color? What do project teams need in terms of education, training or funding? When do they need such interventions? Who is already servicing these people with the skills and knowledge to be successful? What is the audience that is not being served effectively?

Many on the National Association of Black Journalists’ Digital Journalism Task Force have talked about the lack of financing for journalism projects by or for people of color. New U was designed to help address that gap. DreamIt Ventures was designed to fill that need. But as I chatted with people just as passionate about media entrepreneurship, the larger media ecosystem became a bit clearer. And the gaping holes became increasingly apparent.

With more than 200 applicants for 16 slots in the 2010 class, New U has a very selective process for picking its final teams for mentoring. Four of the 16 go on to actual funding. Same scenario with DreamIt Ventures. Many more entrepreneurs are waiting for their shot than the number of slots available to accommodate them.

Venture capitalists talk about deal flow…the number of ideas it takes for the big one to be found. To me, it doesn’t seem as if we have any problem with deal flow with the hundreds of entrepreneurs of color waiting for a chance to be heard. What I see is a tremendous narrowing of the arteries leading to the heart of the matter – funding. And lots of ideas never see the light of day for lack of access to that flow.

Tomorrow, Part 2: 5 Concrete Steps to Moving the Needle on Media Entrepreneurship

Dr. Michelle Ferrier is founder and publisher of, a hyperlocal community news site now in its second year. She is also an associate professor in the School of Communications at Elon University.

Posted in Education, Entrepreneur, journalism

Apply For The 2011 UNITY New U Fellowship

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

Now that we’ve all recovered from this year’s National Association of Black Journalists convention, I thought now would be a great time to remind members with an entrepreneurial bent that the deadline to apply for this year’s UNITY New U Fellowship is Friday, Aug. 26.

UNITY received a $100,000 grant from The Ford Foundation to implement New U: News Entrepreneurs Working through UNITY (New U), and they want YOU to apply for this program, in its second year. The New U project is intended to increase the number of innovative thinkers and product developers who are of color, providing them with a forum in which to develop and express innovative ideas.  Click here to see last year’s winners.

Despite NABJ no longer being a UNITY member, 5 of the program’s 15 slots have been reserved for those who are not members of the remaining UNITY partners — AAJA, NAHJ and NAJA.

The New U Fellowship national “startup camp” will be held Oct. 17-19, 2011 in Las Vegas. In addition to offering a unique formula based in training and one-on-one mentoring, the program includes a competition for four (4) fellows to win $10,000 each in start-up funding to help realize their entrepreneurial ideas.

Posted in Entrepreneur, Innovation, journalism

Finding Your Entrepreneurial Inspiration

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

I am a journalist who has never been interested in following the entrepreneur path.  I just don’t have the desire or the mindset to do it.  But I know plenty of journalists who are thinking of or actually following their entrepreneurial dreams as a way to stay in the game as newsrooms continue with job cuts.  And I feel the Digital Journalism Task Force has a responsibility to help those follow those dreams.

Last week’s layoffs by Gannett and Media General brought up the entrepreneurial discussion once again.  My good friend — and partner in crime — Doug Mitchell is about to start year two of the New U: News Entrepreneurs Working Through UNITY competitive program.  Thanks to a grant from the Ford Foundation, New U helps journalists of color who want to become entrepreneurs by having them    participate in a national “boot camp”.  It offers training and one-on-one mentoring and a competition for start-up funding to assist news entrepreneurs in realizing their ideas.

This year’s National Association of Black Journalists’ annual convention and career fair includes four workshops — including year two of Sheila Brooks’ day long “Creating Wealth in an Innovation Economy” session — on entrepreneurship at this year’s convention.  And NABJ has the first Ray Taliaferro NABJ Entrepreneurial Spirit Award winner.

But beyond the convention, what is our organization’s commitment to helping members fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams?  I’m inspired by the efforts of members including NABJ Secretary Roland Martin, Mike Green, co-founder of the Black Innovation and Competitiveness Initiative, Meta Mereday, Editor in Chief of Savoy Magazine, Retha Hill, Executive Director of the Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab at Arizona State University, Dr. Sybril Bennett, Associate Professor of the New Century Journalism Program at Belmont University, and Doug Mitchell, co-chair of NABJ’s Media Institute, co-director of the New U program and an adjunct professor instructor at the City College of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism. among others.

I thank Dr. Syb for sending me a great example of bible scripture Isaiah 11:6: The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.

NABJ historian Wayne Sutton writes at Black Web 2.0 about the entrepreneurial dreams of two 11-year-olds — Marci Lawson and Ben Brown — who pitched their ideas at the recent Triangle Startup Weekend in Durham, N.C.  Clips of their presentations are below.  They can be an inspiration to us all!

Posted in Awards, Education, Entrepreneur, journalism

Update On New U Voting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Conferences & Conventions

New U: News Entrepreneurs Working through UNITY

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

Have you wanted to take your entrepreneurial  journalism idea to the next level?  You now have the chance to get training from experts in the field at this year’s NABJ annual conference in San Diego, according to Doug Mitchell, head of the NABJ Media Institute and co-directors of The New U: News Entrepreneurs Working Through UNITY.

UNITY has received a $100,000 grant from The Ford Foundation to implement New U: News Entrepreneurs Working through UNITY (New U), and they want YOU to apply for this exciting new program. The New U project is intended to increase the number of innovative thinkers and product developers who are of color, providing them with a forum in which to develop and express innovative ideas.

NABJ is the second project in the series and will take place July 28 and 29 in San Diego. The four participants selected will have their travel and three nights’ accommodations covered by UNITY. Interested?  Click here to enroll.