Wednesday, June 24, 2009

NABJ Wins Grant for Multimedia Training

I was heartened to see an email in my box yesterday from NABJ announcing a $150,000 grant from the Ford Foundation "to increase educational and training opportunities for journalists of color." You can see the full press release here.

Back in March 2006, my employer held a weekend editorial retreat where it was announced that we were moving -- quickly -- into new/digital media. There was a big talk about the future of print journalism and how we all had to get on board in order for our publications to survive.

I enjoy my job, but more importantly, I have a family to provide for, so I began then and there my quest to transform into a multimedia journalist. We have had some training in this, but I have taken a lot of initiative to get those skills, and I've been rewarded nicely for my efforts.

I have NABJ workshops I've attended in the past three years to thank for major parts of my training. I've also taken advantage of of some great free social/new media conferences on the East Coast to beef up my skills in things including blogging and podcasting.

NABJ will use the Ford grant in three areas: increase multimedia workshops and educational programs in 2009 and 2010; create a professional scholarship program for recently laid-off members desiring professional training and networking opportunities at the NABJ Annual Convention & Career Fair; and help facilitate NABJ’s move to a new state-of-the-art facility at the Philip Merrill School of Journalism on the campus of the University of Maryland.

This will help some NABJ members in the next few years, but $150,000 is not enough to help all those who need it. I have always been a big fan of the "teaching a man to fish" mode of operation. And this post in PBS's Mediashift blog is about how students can teach themselves social media skills when journalism schools fail. But the tips in this post will work for anyone looking to beef up their skills in a hurry.

Writer Roland Legrand offered two models for those looking to gain these skills: informal networked learning, which asks participants to use social media "to acquire skills, knowledge and connections on an ad hoc basis;" and communities of practice, where professionals invite apprentices to learn new skills.

I have used both methods and have been blessed to gain knowledge from social media superstars including Josh Hallett of Voce Communications (and founder of BlogOrlando); Chris Heuer, a social media consultant and founder of the Social Media Club (with chapters across the country); David Parmet, a PR and social media guru and owner of Marketing Begins at Home; Leah Jones, owner of Natiiv Arts & Media, which advises musicians and artists on using social media to promote themselves; and last, but certainly not least, NABJ member Lisa Campbell, owner of Lisa Campbell Media (see my interview with her here).

NABJ has shown its commitment to offering its members social/new media training with workshops at the annual convention, the Media Institute and informative webinars. And the Ford Foundation grant will help. But with record numbers of journalists of color losing their jobs, the next NABJ board will have to step up and redouble their efforts to help members get training in their local areas. I stand committed to do that if I am elected as Region II director.

And don't forget -- today is the NABJ Candidates Webinar for Region II. Click here to register. The webinar is from 1:00-2:00 p.m. Hope you can make it!!

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