SPJ Net Worked: Who we are and what this blog is about

We interrupt this blog to talk a little bit about who we are and what we do.

First of all, welcome to the Net Worked blog. This is the blog maintained by the members of the Society of Professional Journalists’ national committee on digital media.

Generally speaking, our committee exists to advise and help SPJ, the board, the top officers and the HQ staff in any way they need us regarding digital media.

I’m your chairman. I’m Jennifer Peebles, and I’m an editor at a small nonprofit online-only news site in Houston called Texas Watchdog. Before moving to Texas, I worked for 14 years at The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville as a reporter and line editor. Our vice chairman is Rebecca Aguilar, a former television reporter turn multimedia freelancer based in Dallas. Rebecca is also a national board member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. (No, there is no Texas conspiracy here. I promise.)

Our committee is 10 SPJ members from all around the country — from New England to California — with expertise and interest in digital media. We have broadcasters, we have multimedia people, we have newspaper people, we have data people, we have people in the academic world. We’ve got a pretty diverse set of skills. Our newest edition to the committee is Mike Reilley of DePaul University, who is heading up SPJ’s new live weekly #SPJchat on Twitter. (Tune in Thursday night!)

Our focus for this blog is largely how-to material — such as how to edit video, or how to take part in a live Twitter chat, or how to annotate a YouTube video, or how to know if your story would make a good video story.

We could take the blog in many different directions, and every now and then, you’ll see something here that doesn’t fit the how-to mold (after all, variety is the spice of life).  But by and large, the thing we hear over and over again from journalists is that they need training, training, training in the skills they need to tell stories and do their jobs digitally. So, we largely focus on showing people how to do things we’ve learned how to do.

Now, keep in mind, this blog is far from the only training that SPJ offers. In addition to real, live training through the national journalism conference (this year’s is in New Orleans in September, so get ready!) and regional conference, there’s also SPJ’s new e-Campus online training modules, available through SPJ.org. Get over there and check those out if you haven’t already. (And SPJ also has a committee solely focused on professional development — they’re fine folks, and their chairman is Deb Wenger from Ole Miss, who is a great teacher. I took a class from her in how to shoot Web video with a FlipCam a couple of years ago.)

So, that’s who we are and what this blog is all about. If you have thoughts, comments, criticism, ideas for blog posts or something you wish we would blog on, send those on. Leave us a note in the comments, or you can e-mail me directly at jennifer@texaswatchdog.org.

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