Posted in Education, journalism, multimedia journalist


I’m one of those people who love to see cool maps that help tell a story. But since I have zero graphic design talent, I’ve been sitting on the sidelines — until now. MapBox is a fremium product that allows journalists an easy way to create gorgeous and informative maps.  Check out how USA Today used MapBox during the 2012 election or how the Washington Post illustrated gun seizures in Washington, D.C., and nearby Prince George’s County, Md.

Posted in Education, multimedia journalist

The New Stone and Weeks Fellowship: Apply Now!

By Brandon L. Gates, MS in Broadcast Journalism ’12 Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

In a world in which newsrooms’ staff numbers are withering, the time to embrace the idea of convergence journalism is now.  Some of the more seasoned journalists may remember the days of there being a definite line between reporting for print publications and broadcast news; with the introduction of new technology, the Internet and varied social media platforms, however, the lines are now overlapping and blurry – and while less conventional, it is an exciting time to be a journalist, despite vicious rumors that suggest there is no future in our field.

We all have heard how important being a multiplatform journalist is; yet a number of journalism programs, due to limitations in size, faculty and resources, may be unable to provide the experience. Fortunately, the folks at The Washington Post and NPR see a need for prospective journalists to be trained and well versed in both print and broadcast and they are offering such opportunity through The Stone & Holt Weeks Fellowship.

This fellowship is a unique meeting of the mediums and gives one fellow the opportunity to hone their reporting skills, while producing content for two of the nation’s most reputable news organizations.

The fellowship will consist of two sessions: 12 weeks at The Washington Post, followed by 12 weeks at NPR, in which fellows will learn how to report for print, web and radio. The fellow will produce original content that will be featured in print, on air and online and will be compensated $800 each week, before taxes. The fellowship does not cover housing or living expenses but the round-trip cost to travel to D.C. will be covered.

To apply for the fellowship you must have completed a bachelor degree by July 15, 2012. To be considered you must download and complete an application form, attach a cover letter explaining why you should be selected for the fellowship and what you have done to make this world a better place – a value shared by Stone & Holt, who the fellowship is named for. Applicants must also include a resume, an academic transcript and two letters of recommendation – one from a supervisor and one from a teacher or mentor.

Applications must be received with a postmark on or before April 30, 2012. Finalists will be notified in early June and invited for an interview with the fellowship committee. A selection will be made by the end of June and the fellowship begins after Labor Day.

All materials should be sent to:
The Stone & Holt Weeks Fellowship
635 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001

The fellowship was established by The Washington Post and NPR following the death of Stone Weeks, 24, and Holt Weeks, 20, who both died in a tragic car accident in the summer of 2009. Their father, Linton Weeks, is a reporter at NPR and a former reporter of The Washington Post.

Experience, published works and weekly compensation – do I need to convince you any further to apply? Completion of the fellowship may not land a job at either organization, right away, but “All Things Considered,” (just a bit of NPR humor) this is a great opportunity to begin a promising career in journalism.

Posted in Awards, journalism, News

Washington Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth at the 2011 Knight-Batten Awards

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

Katharine Weymouth gives the keynote address at the 2011 Knight-Batten Awards.

Our publisher @weymouthk is speaking now at #KB11 awards for journalism innovation. Watch video via @AUSOCMedia:
September 7, 2011
Weymouth: We need to make Journalism an essential, not an option. /via @AUSOCMedia (Broadcasting live at #kb11
September 7, 2011
Interesting: @weymouthk of Washington Post: imagine how horrifying if Twitter, Youtube had been around for 9-11 #km11
September 7, 2011
@MatthewWells @weymouthk The opposite. The world would have known a different 9/11 from the participants, not gatekeepers.
September 7, 2011
.@weymouthk quotes Bob Woodward: “hope is not a strategy” #KB11. live broadcast:
September 7, 2011
.@washingtonpost was one of the 1st newspapers to invest heavily in digital media, says Weymouth. #kb11
September 7, 2011
“Everyone’s at the table – how are we going to tell this story in video, in photos, in print” -@weymouthk
September 7, 2011
#Innovations that have impact came about not as revolution but evolution. It’s about iteration.” ~ @weymouthk #creativity #journalism #kb11
September 7, 2011
Q. @WashingtonPost closing local bureaus? A. Only losing actual offices, says Weymouth. We can do better having people on the street. #kb11
September 7, 2011
@washingtonpost’s @weymouthk: “I love print and I can’t imagine living without it, but it’s up to our consumers.”
September 7, 2011

Posted in journalism, multimedia journalist, Social Media

NABJDigital Profiles Markette Smith, Co-founder, DC on Heels Blog

By Jeannine Hunter, News Producer, Washington Post

Markette Smith is co-founder and half of a dynamic duo exploring the nation’s capital with enthusiasm and style – in stilettos, no less. Combining a background in interactive journalism and interest in lifestyle and entertainment, she helped develop television segments then a blog, which has been featured in the local television market, one of the nation’s most competitive. But remaining inside the Beltway isn’t the only place she and her colleague want to reach.  Smith discussed the vision behind DC on Heels and the challenges of maintaining and promoting it with NABJDigital. She will moderate a panel at next month’s NABJ convention, Blogging And Beyond, on Friday, Aug. 5, from 2:15 to 3:45 in Room 115A.

NABJDigital: Are you a Washingtonian or someone who relocated to this area and fell in love with it?

Markette Smith: I am originally from Los Angeles, Calif., and I moved to Washington after finishing undergrad. I really like the diversity of the city, so I decided to stay for grad school and I’ve been here ever since. I do miss my hometown and Southern California, and I hope to return one day.

ND: How old is the blog? Gauging from your entertainment program’s Web site it appears that the blog started after you began providing segments on DCTV.

MS: We started the blog in July of 2009 – almost two years ago! It started as just video because the co-founder, Vanessa Camozzi and I both really wanted to do entertainment news, but we were stuck in Washington — the epicenter of politics. We were both pursuing TV careers, but with the economy and tight job market, there were no viable job offers coming in from L.A. or New York, so we decided to collaborate and produce a show for cable access and stay in DC.

The first few shows were only 10 minutes in length and were well received by our audience. We won the 2010 Viewer’s Choice Award for Short Form programming, voted on by more than 14,000 members and viewers of DCTV. I was ecstatic. WAMU-FM’s Kojo Nnamdi presented us with the award. That was when I felt like we were onto something good.

ND: What inspired it?

MS: The blog came about out of us wanting to partner with a local TV station to distribute our show. We had a meeting with the executives at The CW (DC 50) in Washington and they said they would only put us on air if we blogged. So we started blogging. The blog was an instant hit. We would cover local music and entertainment events and acted as entertainment correspondents for The CW and they would air promos on the station promoting online videos to viewers.

About a year into our partnership with The CW, we went out on our own — we started designing our own blog Web site (which is the one that exists now) and we started going after sponsorship. As fate would have it, less than two weeks after our split from The CW, we were invited to be weekly guests on the feature news program “TBD News: Trends” with Morris Jones [until the show’s cancellation this past winter]. Around this time we also secured a partnership deal with the Los Angeles-based accessory and footwear company, for which Kim Kardashian is a spokesperson [information posted on its Web site indicates Kardashian established the company and is its chief fashion stylist]. This proved to me that we could make it on our own and get compensated for what we were doing — I felt validated and motivated to keep working harder.  We had built up quite a following. We had paying sponsors and several partnerships with business who agreed to donate their services or goods in exchange for us placing their logo on our site.

ND: What are goals or future projects for the blog?

MS: We are hoping to expand our blog into a multimedia TV program that will be like no other in terms of the seamless convergence of television and Web content – a lofty goal I know.

ND: Tell us more about its name and the significance.

MS: The name “DC on Heels” represents our experience of covering entertainment and lifestyle events in Washington. We are almost always in stilettos or some sort of wedge heels when covering events, so the name just seemed like a natural fit.  We also feel like the name is very representative of who were are — two girls on the loose in Washington, D.C. — who are looking for fun things to do and interesting people to talk to, in one of the most diverse cities in the country — our nation’s capital.

ND: Sites dedicated to entertainment, restaurants, etc. abound. What do you think sets DC on Heels apart from the rest?

MS: There are thousands of entertainment and foodie blogs out there, but what I think what sets us apart is that we are multicultural and truly multimedia — not only do I write articles, but many times I am the one who is taking photos at events, shooting the video, Tweeting, Facebooking and blogging live for “DC on Heels” from venues.

Vanessa does this as well so I guess you can say we really put the “multi” in multimedia blogs. Vanessa and I are multicultural not only in our ethnic backgrounds, but also in the events we cover. This past year, I covered Shamrock Fest, but I also covered NABJ’s Hall of Fame awardshosted by NBC’s Tamron Hall  and the National Italian American Foundation’s annual gala hosted by Giuliana Rancic of E! News.

I know that my audience can appreciate diversity and that I don’t have to segment my coverage of events. I also think that our video interviews allow our personalities to shine through to our audience. When people think of “DC on Heels,” they can’t help but think of “Markette and Vanessa” as a result. So I think our blog also stands out because it is attached to real people and real personalities.

ND: How long have you and Vanessa Camozzi worked together? Who does what in terms of coming up with ideas, shooting video, uploading content to the blog and producing video segments, etc.

MS: We met in 2007 in grad school at American University while we were both pursuing master’s degrees in Interactive Journalism. But we didn’t actually start working together until the summer of 2009 when we both answered Craigslist ads to co-host a talk show in Reston, Va. The show was short-lived, but we liked the idea of working together, so that’s when we decided to approach DCTV. I started out doing most of the shooting and video editing because I had the equipment and Vanessa didn’t know how to edit.

However, Vanessa is very good at spotting potential opportunities and she was the one who suggested we partner with The CW. When we partnered with the station, they were able to take a lot of the pressure off because they provided camera people and the editing services. As far as the blog, we each upload our own articles, photos and related content. Both of us also contribute to our social media efforts by posting to Facebook, tweeting and going after potential social media and business partnerships.

ND: What are some challenges you face in gathering information and producing segments for television and on the Web?

MS: Professionally, I’m a multimedia journalist, so the blogging and Web stuff came easy for me. I have worked as Web producer, editor and broadcaster before “DC on Heels,” so covering people and events, and producing the Web site and social media campaigns was not new. The hardest part has always been finding financing to fuel this project. When I am looking for a photographer, Web developer, graphic designer, intern, etc., it always comes down to who and what can I afford. It’s hard to find good people who are willing to work for little to nothing.

That’s why this year, Vanessa and I started to aggressively pursue sponsors and business partnerships. I want to be able to afford to work with the best in the business, and I know that means putting in the time and concentrating on the business model a bit more, while also trying to maintain a content-rich Web site. For TV, the hardest part is getting your foot in the door. … Sooner or later I hope to find the right TV executive who believes in our multimedia dream as much as Vanessa and I do, and I know that he or she is out there.

ND: How does maintaining this project differ from your other experience(s) in journalism?

MS: Maintaining this project has been an excellent exercise in management and entrepreneurship. In previous journalism positions I have held, I was always a part of a Web initiative led by someone at the company who either didn’t really get the Web or were threatened by young, talented journalists with big ideas so a lot of my job entailed just managing up. I was managing personalities and trying to build trust just as much as I was producing content. With “DC on Heels,” Vanessa and I are in charge, and we “get it.” I believe that we really get how to talk to audiences online in an entertaining, engaging and informative way. I also understand that things have to move quickly — content from events has to be posted online fast, if not immediately. I also know that change is necessary to evolve and as a team we are also very quick to adapt whereas in some large media companies (not all) it can take years to absorb something new and then act in order to take a course of action.

If something doesn’t work, we throw it out. If something does work, we do more of it. We do make mistakes, but we just try to learn from them and keep going. I understand that the Web is the “Wild Wild West” of journalism and in this entrepreneurial venture, unlike a corporate gig, I am allowed to be an explorer and take risks without the fear of losing my job. It’s a nice feeling and I hope that it continues.

Smith noted that a few memorable occasions while maintaining the blog have included: Being contacted by producers of “Good Morning America” and HBO Sports who were looking to use our video footage of our past event coverage of the “Real Housewives of D.C.” and the Salahis [socialites accused of crashing a White House state dinner] in their broadcasts. This past April, several of our blog posts about the royal wedding received worldwide attention.  Since then, we have partnered with a few local experts who contribute to our site as guest bloggers, but it is still mainly Vanessa and I rolling up our sleeves and doing the bulk of the work. I blog Tuesdays and Fridays. Vanessa blogs Mondays and Wednesdays and sometimes we blog on weekends for special events. Most recently, we have been working on getting back to our roots and we are currently producing a TV pilot about food, fashion and fun for a national women’s audience.

Posted in journalism

Journalists and Branding: Good Idea Or Bad?

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

I found an interesting conversation on Facebook started by NABJ Student Rep candidate Marissa Evans on this interesting column from Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten on why he thinks journalists branding themselves is a bad idea.  I must respectfully disagree with Mr. Weingarten.  He seems to be living back in another time — and I say this as a journalist who began her career using a typewriter.

NABJ Presidential candidate Charles Robinson made an interesting point during a candidates’ forum sponsored by the Washington Association of Black Journalists and the NABJ Baltimore’s Association of Black Media Workers.  Robinson noted that while all the tools and technology is good, sometimes the “J” in journalism is missing in the discussion.

And I agree 100% with Robinson.  But in this day and age of terms including search engine optimization, content and eyeballs, to name a few, journalists now more than ever need to stand out.  We are competing with bloggers, citizen journalists, aggregators, curators and any other number of platforms that are battling for readers’ attention.

The fact is that along with strong journalism skills, you do need the brand to bring the eyeballs to the website that writes our checks. I am one of a half a handful of journalists covering the aviation industry.  My brand — Aviation Queen — was created for me by the industry I write about.  I stand out anyway, and this brand helps me stand out even more.  I love where I work and have no plans to leave.  But I know if something were to happen, I would be able to leverage my skills — and my brand — to get that next job.

At the beginning of my career, the focus was on the writing and reporting.  You chased that story, you wrote it, you got your byline and moved onto the next one.  Those days are gone.  Now writing and reporting is only part of the job.  You also have to do podcast, shoot photos and video, do social media, find creative ways to illustrate data, to name a few.  If you’re doing it the right way, your brand develops.

These days, Mr. Weingarten, your brand plays a big role in getting that next job or even starting your own thing, whether we like it or not.  Thanks to Mindy McAdams of Teaching Journalism Online for pointing me to how Steve Buttry of used Storify to show the reaction to Weingarten’s column.  And Buttry also links to Leslie Trew McGraw’s paper on journalists and branding.  She’s the Leslie identified in Weingarten’s column. I say don’t hate the player-hate the game!

Posted in Equipment, journalism, multimedia journalist, News, Social Media

NABJDigital Profiles The Washington Post’s Hamil Harris

By Jeannine Hunter, News Producer, Washington Post

Hamil Harris

Long before sunrise Easter morning, Washington Post reporter Hamil Harris was hard at work. His Twitter followers received updates about the atmosphere inside the historic Shiloh Baptist Church in D.C. where President Obama and his family worshipped. Harris tweeted and took pictures before and after the worship service the Obamas attended, filed an update for one of the newspaper’s blogs and contributed to the paper’s Easter coverage. Later, he created and uploaded a video clip.

These actions are steps many writers deploy nowadays as part of their newsgathering and storytelling, and the award-winning journalist took time to discuss incorporating them into his work. Harris, author of “Career Diary of a Newspaper Reporter: Gardner ‘s Guide Series,” covers individuals and issues in communities around the greater Washington , D.C. , area as well as religion and race relations.

NABJDigital: I attended a sunrise service so I was awake early Sunday morning and noticed your tweets before 6 a.m. Is this common for you on big news days?

Hamil Harris: I have never missed reporting and writing about President Obama going to church since he was elected. I guess it is like a self-appointed beat. It all started on the eve of the inauguration when the President attended 19th Baptist Church. I knew that the church would be packed, because our people just can’t keep secrets.

The key is getting there early because the fire marshal will stop people from going in at a certain point. Usually the President goes to church at least twice a year, the Sunday before MLK Day and Easter. In January, he worshipped at the Metropolitan AME Church and last Easter he worshipped at Allen AME in Southeast [both in Washington , D.C. ]. In both cases, I got to the church before 7 a.m. because some people arrive as early as 4 a.m.

ND: How long have you worked at the Post?

HH: I have been working for the Washington Post since January of 1992. My first big story was the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. I was part of a group of reporters who reported that day. My anecdote about a man in wheelchair who came to the inauguration, Marshall Hull, was the top of the story [that appeared on the front page].

ND: What devices do you regularly carry with you, i.e., a Flip Cam, a digital camera, BlackBerry, etc.?

HH: I normally travel with a Cannon G-12, a flip camera, an iPhone and a Blackberry. I also carry a digital tape recorder and in my car I have a larger camera and a laptop. I often feel like somebody in Special Forces. You have to be prepared for any scenario. On Easter Sunday, I had a G-12, a Flip [camera] and the two cells. The photo pool was not allowed in the church. In fact, only once has the White House allowed photographers to witness the President at church and that was at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church in January 2010.

ND: How has incorporating video into your newsgathering change how you interact with interviewees?

HH: It can be complicated. You have to have strong relations with people. God has blessed me to have good contacts. You have to prepare people for video. Sometimes people will talk but they don’t want to be on camera. I always try to use the camera as a tool but I don’t let the camera control me. I am still the storyteller. The camera is just the seasoning of the story.

ND: How have creating video clips, filing content for Washington Post’s blogs and using other social tools impacted you professionally? I’ve noticed that you use different techniques to cover a variety of stories such as fires that swept through the D.C. region earlier this year or your recent feature on female boxers.  Watch video of Ladies Night at Sugar Ray Leonard Boxing Center in Landover, Md.

HH: My cell phone camera has become my best tool. It can put me on the scene immediately. I love to tweet photographs and to place them on Facebook. This is helpful during a big story. But you still want to save the good stuff for the paper. So many times I am miles away from the newsroom or the bureau. But because of the smart phones I can roll.

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, journalism, multimedia journalist

Make That Investment In Yourself

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

Thanks to a scholarship from the National Association of Black Journalists and the generosity of my employers, I recently had the chance to take a course at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla.  My class was Storytelling With Multimedia Video.  I have embraced technology and tools enthusiastically, but video was the last missing piece.

So the week of Sept. 20, I joined a group of 15 journalists from around the world, along with our teachers — Al Tompkins, Regina McCombs and Alexandra Garcia, a multimedia journalists with the Washington Post — to learn how to shoot and edit video for news stories.  We had a nice mix of young and older, along with print and broadcast, and even a PR professional.  We were all there for the same reason — to learn a skill that would enhance our storytelling and keep us relevant in a rapidly changing newsroom.

By the end of the week, I had shot and edited a video to be proud of.  And the bonus? I was able to do my story about the St. Pete’s Flying Service, a flight school and fixed-base operator at the historic Albert Whitted Airport.  We were all blessed to have Al, Regina and Alex as instructors. It was especially great to see Alex Garcia’s work in the Post for inspiration, ranging from The Healing Fields to Joining The Dance.

I was pleased with the diversity of our group, and more importantly, that most of them had traveled from as far as Iceland — on their own dime — to make this investment in their career.  My grandmother Claressa always loved to say “you get what you pay for.” She was a master bargain hunter, but she also realized that you have to pay for value.

The training offered at Poynter is value.  It’s training that could be the difference between you keeping your job or being laid off.  I am already saving my pennies for my next training —  Essential Skills for the Digital Journalist, May 2-6.  I encourage you to take a look at the current course offerings and see what might be of interest.  And check with NABJ or other minority journalist associations for scholarships.