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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sidebar Conversation: Shrinking Your Carbon Footprint

Journalists share their views on environmental sustainability living

To kick off the second season of the podcast Better Said Than Written, episode one is an extension of the article Hyperlocal Newsroom Hype.  

So what are hyperlocal newsrooms?

Hyperlocal newsrooms provide informative news on a local level. Now, don't think about Eyewitness News at 5, 7 and 11pm. Think about news that big networks and major publications don’t have time to cover. For example, air and water quality reports, residential development that may affect property taxes, or stories about local residents making their homes environmentally friendly.

Turns out environmental sustainability is a topic more journalists want to learn about. Several journalists shared their views in the following podcast ...  Hit the play button to hear their insights.

Friday, October 21, 2016

#thisis2016: Friends & Racism

Whenever you hear or read stories about racism in America, the two ethnicities that first come to mind are Blacks and Latinos. But what about all the other ethnicities in America? 

The New York Times recently addressed racism toward Asian Americans in an open letter penned by deputy metro editor, Michael Luo. An Open Letter to the Woman Who Told My Family to Go Back to China sparked the social media campaign #thisis2016. The trending hashtag is filled with stories from Asian Americans who encountered racism from strangers on the streets, co-workers and even church members. 

In the following vlog, two friends reflect when the racists remark "Go back to China" put their friendship at stake. 

Do you have an Asian American friend that you offended? Please share the lesson you learned in the comment box below, or email your views to

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Hyperlocal Newsroom Hype

Hyperlocal media outlets like BrickCityLive, DNAinfo, NJSpotlight, Patch, and Wrexham have been popping up in communities all over the world for several years. And like most traditional newsrooms, hyperlocals have to figure out how to stay relevant in the competitive world of journalism and make a profit. 

Hyperlocal newsrooms provide informative news on a local level. Now, I’m not talking about Eyewitness News at 5, 7 and 11pm, I’m talking about news that big networks and major publications don’t have time to cover. For example, air/water quality reports, residential development that may affect property taxes, or stories about local residents making their homes environmentally friendly.

To get a sense of what's taking shape in the hyperlocal news community, media professionals were invited to attend Sustain Local 2016 - a national conference on journalism sustainability, which took place on Thursday, October 6 and Friday, October 7, 2016.

(Image by TC's Views: #SustainLocal2016)
The conference, now in its third year, was hosted by the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University, in Montclair, New Jersey.  

To fully understand what Sustain Local was trying to achieve, I spoke with several media professionals and asked them to share their main take-aways from the conference. 

“This conference was addressing the hyperlocals about monetizing and financing,” explained Jane Primerano, Region 1 Director of the Society of Professional Journalists. “I know many people who are struggling with hyperlocals.”

Search #SustainLocal on Twitter to see what topics moved attendees during the conference.

Hyperlocals are usually run by veteran journalists who were squeezed out of traditional newsrooms due to layoffs and community weeklies that went out of business. Many of these hyperlocal journalists have multiple roles within their organization, which may include finding innovative ways to generate revenue. “Your average reporter is a terrible sales person,” said Primerano. “Those skills do not overlap.” 

Hyperlocals have a reputation of being run by a sole individual. However, a 2015 survey conducted by Arizona State University assistant professor Monica Chadha, found that some hyperlocals have more than 20 employees. And some of those hyperlocal employers are strapped for cash. 

“Journalism needs cash,” said freelance journalist Noah Levinson. “You have to find somebody to support it one, way or another.” Levinson’s take-away from the Sustain Local Conference does have merit but no matter what the business model, newsrooms will always have this problem, especially hyperlocal outlets.

After surveying 210 participants from 144 hyperlocals, Chadha’s research found that 39 percent of their annual revenues came from banner ads. The next tier of revenues came from grants, private foundations and subscribers, which collectively made up nearly 16 percent.

Sustain Local had prominent industry movers and shakers participate on a number of panel discussions where attendees learned innovative ways to rake in additional revenue. 

(Image by TC's Views: John Mooney founder of NJ Spotlight)
Hosting tutorial webinars and events are just some of the ways hyperlocal news outlets can stream additional revenue. “A good third of our income came from events,” John Mooney, founding editor of NJ Spotlight, said during the panel - How 501(c)3 News Organizations are Finding Sustainability.

Nevertheless, holding on to extra income may become a problem for some hyperlocals, especially since advertising is shifting to the social media platform, Facebook, observed Miriam Ascarelli, who teaches journalism and composition at New Jersey Institute of Technology

“If I were a local publisher, that would be a huge red flag for me,” said Ascarelli. “ You have to have a strategy for keeping those advertising dollars in your news organization and not let somebody else take them.”

(Image from Twitter: Michael Oreskes)
The chatter of advertising dollars and how to generate additional revenue at hyperlocal newsrooms finally subsided when Sustain Local’s keynote, Michael Oreskes, senior vice president of news at National Public Radio, took the stage. 

As an avid public radio listener, I gave a round of applause when Oreskes said, “People want to support local journalism because they depend on it.” And he’s absolutely right. 

Hyperlocal newsrooms are more connected to people in the communities they cover than traditional local news outlets. These days it seems like newsrooms only report about celebrity mishaps, crime and multiple alarm fires. As a results, some traditional newsrooms neglect to balance out their coverage with local community stories. 

It’s a good thing there’s a batch of community news organizations taking initiative to give the general public just a little bit more. Hopefully, traditional local newsrooms and hyperlocals will be able to bridge the gap and just focus solely on providing informative news we all can use.

Do you have a favorite hyperlocal? What's your view on the culture of local news? Leave your comments in the box below or email your views to

Podcast Alert! The conversation moved from Hyperlocal Newsrooms to sustainable environmental practices. You can hear the "sidebar conversation" on season two of Better Said Than Written - the podcast supplement to Artz of Culturez - via SoundClound and now on iTunes and Sticher.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Blogging Journalist

(Courtesy of: Scripting News)

Journalism has been a part of my resume since 2001. This is when I got accepted to the School of Journalism & Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina and where I was introduced to blogging. My copyedit professor warned me that media convergence was on the way and that I had to make sure I didn't pigeonhole myself as a "broadcast" journalist.

It was the best career advice I ever received and I started to blog before I graduated in 2004. My first blog post was about me turning down an on-air gig at a news station in Albany, Ga. I rejected the offer because I found out that I was being hired as the "token" Black reporter. My reason didn't go over well with critics and I wasn't ready for the instant feedback from people hiding behind fictitious usernames in the comment box. I ended up deleting my post and refused to blog ever again.

In 2007, I ventured into financial journalism and I cut my teeth at an online media outlet where I covered mergers and acquisitions. To breakaway from deals taking place in the capital markets, I thought it would be fun to start blogging again during my free time. 

The blogging life was cut short after I learned my M&A colleagues were poking fun at one of my blog post "Help Me Find My Umph" — a story about a breakup on New Years Eve Day. I terminated the blog the minute I heard them discussing the post during a social work gathering about how my boyfriend broke up with me and the reason he gave was that I didn't have enough umph. 

After that incident, I never thought I could be a blogger and a journalist at the same time. Then I remembered what my copyediting professor told me back in J-school, "You can't just be a broadcast journalist. You have to know how to write for the World Wide Web, print and broadcast platforms," he said.

So on Oct. 24, 2013, I decided to give blogging one more shot. I started to utilize my journalism skills and created the multimedia blog, As you can see, it's still up and running and every year it gets better. I upped my game by producing videos and a podcast supplement. And yes, I produce the videos and podcasts all by myself. Thanks to my days as a broadcast journalist, I know how to shoot and edit videos, write scripts for my voiceovers, and conduct interviews. As for the podcasting part, I researched, listened to other podcasts and I taught myself how to produce a show. 

The harsh critics no longer bother me. However, I introduce myself as "a journalist first and a blogger second" or "I'm a journalist who blogs." It's a way to let non-journalists bloggers know that:

  • I received proper training in J-school 
  • I've worked in several newsrooms, including broadcast, print and digital
  • I've acquired valuable reporting, editing, and writing skills
  • I follow the code of journalism ethics
  • I paid my dues
  • And, yes, there is a difference between bloggers and journalists

So what's the difference between a blogger and journalist? Haley Osborne, of, came up with the perfect infographic.

InfoGraphic courtesy of: 
Blogger vs Journalist Infographic

It's fair to say, that over the last three years I've figured out how to incorporate an equal balance of journalism, multimedia skills with blogging in my posts. Each post has a little dose of emotion and facts, when applicable. The only thing I haven't figured out is how to make a living off of being a blogging journalist. 

If you're a journalist who blogs, I'd love to get insight on how you balance the two roles. Send your views to or leave your comment in the box below.

Side note: Some bloggers make way more than what the infographic estimates. Don't believe me? Just a Girl and Her Blog tells you just how much she makes in her income report.

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