Archive for the ‘Entrepreneurialism’ Category

Women Who Lead: Newsroom and Beyond

As a young girl, I didn’t idolize Princess Diana; I didn’t know who Audrey Hepburn was until my freshman year of high school; Barbie was just a logo on a box in my basement, not my inspiration.

Crazy as it sounds, I wanted to be Jesse Owens: the fastest man in the world.

Growing up with one younger brother, I spent most of my childhood playing catch in the backyard, ranking and rooting for football teams, and–of course–competing in neighborhood, Olympic-esque sprint races.

It didn’t really occur to me that I should want to be like a traditional lady–calm, composed, reserved–until much later in my adolescence. From a very early age, I was encouraged to fight for my place in the starting lineup, to prove that I could be just as agile and able as my male counterparts, both on the field and in the classroom. My parents encouraged me to stand up for myself, and I sure didn’t back down just because I was a girl.

Much of that same assertiveness (some may call it bossyness) has carried over into my adult life. There’s nothing in this world that seems impossible or unattainable purely because I am woman. With practice, preparation, and devotion, I truly believe there’s nothing I cannot achieve.

I bring this up because I want to encourage women of all ages to assert themselves in their careers, whether it be in the newsroom or in their careers beyond.

Last week, I attended a panel of journalism professionals to celebrate media entrepreneurship in this ever-evolving field. And only one of those panelists was a female.

But she didn’t shy away from her fellow panelists. In fact, she herself–dressed in a crisp white blazer and killer stilettos–encouraged all of the young women in the audience to fight for gender diversity in their own newsrooms.

Echoing Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” message, Bo Hee Kim challenged us to speak up for our own accomplishments and ideas, to demand equal opportunities in the newsroom, in order to provide more complete news coverage for an audience that’s both male and female.

And I admired this about Bo. For her to come into a college setting and express that she still faces gender bias in the 21st century was kind of alarming to me. She admitted that the bias appears on a much smaller scale than in the early 1900s, but the subtleness is still there.

Perhaps that’s the most important message I took away from #CommWeek15 at Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication. Women have received more respect and attention in the workforce since the dawn of the women’s movement, but we’re still years away from being equal contributors in the workforce–especially in the newsroom.

When will it not be excited gossip for a woman to earn a top-tier position as an editor or business executive? When will gender bias not be a revolutionary court case, but merely an action we as a society cease to participate in?

I hope to live in a world where a woman can be commended on her accomplishments, regardless of if she wears a necklace and shiny pears. A woman’s ideas should be celebrated because she is a forward-thinker, a visionary, and someone who is insanely intelligent–not just because she is a woman.

Bethany N. Bella is studying at Strategic Communications and Environmental Political Science at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Connect with her on Twitter @bethanynbella or browse her work at

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.


Survivalist starts issuing his own press passes

Self-described survivalist James Wesley Rawles is certain that America’s comfortable, orderly, shrink-wrapped-for-our-protection existence borders on failure, and that we are one freedom-squelching disaster away from doom.

CFAPAlogoThat doom could arise from nature but more probably will result from governmental overreach, he says.

However, Rawles, who includes “former U.S. Army intelligence officer” on his resume, suggests perhaps the best defense against this overreach isn’t a gun or a bomb shelter, but a press pass.

And Rawles is happy to issue them himself — to everyone. Free.

To do this, he has launched the Constitution First Amendment Press Association, or CFAPA, a website advocating media freedom for anyone who wants it.

“I have a degree in journalism. Got it in 1984 from San Jose State University. At that time, our professors stressed that journalism was a profession,” Rawles said in a phone interview with Net Worked. “For many years, I took that at face value. But given the changing nature of technology, advances are putting the traditional tools of the press in the hands of citizens.”

Rawles spoke from his ranch somewhere inside the vast expanse he has designated the American Redoubt — the lightly populated, mostly mountainous region consisting of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and the western portions of Oregon and Washington — the best place he says to hide from doom. His phone number instead has a California area code, but “that’s on purpose. I don’t want to wake up one morning and find hundreds of people camping on my property thinking that’s the safest place to be.”

Since 2005, Rawles has published SurvivalBlog, a portal he created to share survivalist tips and advice, and occasionally rail against law enforcement obstructing or harassing the media. SurvivalBlog claims more than 300,000 unique visits monthly.

“I’ve had my blog nearly 10 years now, and off and on I’ve mentioned numerous incidents and made comments that someone ought to issue press credentials to anyone who wants them” to prevent other incidents from occurring, he said. “Well, finally it reached the point where I said, ‘If I wait for someone else to do it, it’s never going to happen.’”

America’s first line of civil defense is access to information, Rawles believes, and the rise of citizen journalism has broadened the public’s awareness and appreciation for that defense.

He understands that press passes and media credentials guarantee limited special rights or privileges, depending on who issues them. Some governmental agencies also issue their own press credentials.

Rawles realizes he has competition. But he insists that his own blanket issuance of press credentials, coupled with his wide online audience, has more potential to “put the citizenry on equal footing with those traditionally recognized as professional journalists.”

Or so he hopes.

“Now, I recognize that even professional journalists have gotten themselves, arrested, detained, had their cameras blocked or taken away from them — yes, that does take place, but a lot less often than to the average citizen who just whips out his cell phone and starts filming an arrest,” Rawles said.

He believes the sight of several CFAPA press credentials at a news event may temper police behavior.

“I think that a lot of modern American law enforcement officers have developed a bit of an ego, maybe even a complex, where they like to be in control of a situation and have forgotten the fact that they’re public servants, and they try to lord over everyone,” Rawles said. “Here we are in the early days of the 21st century where we have police officers who need to be educated as to their responsibilities under the First Amendment to protect people’s right to record public events.”

Whether tossing around press credentials like confetti also mitigates arrogance is debatable, and Rawles’ approach may only fuel that debate. The CFAPA’s official stance, ironically, is to disavow responsibility for its own credentials so as to maintain a safe distance from anyone who misuses them — say, to gain free access to a concert or special event, or interfere with police doing their job.

James Wesley, Rawles

Rawles, from an undated promotional image

“That’s for my protection. I don’t want to be sued for libel or anything like that,” he said. “I do not have deep pockets; I’m not the (Associated Press).”

Rawles refuses to say how many credentials have been issued, citing privacy concerns, but claims the number is “in the hundreds.”

Another thing: Rawles insists the CFAPA keeps no records on who gets these credentials, the better to ensure the privacy of the press pass holders. And yet, if he hears of misuse, he will endeavor to have the credentials withdrawn.

Rawles does not explain how, without comprehensive distribution records, the association would go about doing that.

“I make it very clear that everyone who is credentialed by the organization is still an independent journalist and responsible for their own actions,” he said.

Printing out a set of plain, black-and-white CFAPA credentials at home is easy. Applicants first need only agree to a 20-point code of ethics, or “Constitutional Journalist’s Pledge,” and sign off on a list of usage restrictions that, among other things, prohibit pass holders to be under 18, to be “insane,” or to be “mentally incompetent,” though Rawles acknowledges he has no way to measure or guard against these things.

“I don’t think it’s realistic for me to say that I’m going to have everyone pass some examination or that I’m going to have them meet some peculiar standard for renewal of their press pass,” he said.

So, in the end, what good are press credentials that are easier to obtain than YouTube clips of Solange Knowles’ latest smackdown, yet may be only moderately more effective than not having them at all?

“This is more of a societal movement than it is a guild,” Rawles explained. “I don’t want to intrude upon the traditional press associations like the AP. … My intention is to set up something in parallel for the average man on the street, to afford them some of the same privileges that have been afforded in the past to credentialed reporters from the big organizations.”


David Sheets is a freelance writer and editor, Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

GlowTrend joins growing list of social networking sites

If you’ve noticed some nudging and elbowing lately in cyberspace, it may be due to the crowded social networking field making room for yet another potential player.

That player is called GlowTrend, and though it looks and feels like Facebook, founder Michael Wellman Jr. promises much more.

“I wanted a social site that would bring everything that’s good in other social media sites into one place and still be able to work with the other places,” Wellman said in a news release Tuesday. “That’s why we let you connect to GlowTrend through the other major social media sites.”

Yes, GlowTrend intends to be all things to all comers, Besides incorporating thumbs-up “likes,” friend suggestions, an instant messenger, company pages, and an interactive event calendar, a la Facebook, GlowTrend also intends to serve as an iTunes-type music storefront, where musicians can upload and sell their own works, a Google Plus-inspired video chat interface, and a Craigslist-kind-of classifieds section that ostensibly would help the site generate income, among other features.

Meanwhile, a mobile app is in development, Wellman says.

The site used to be called “MyFaceZone” until Wellman decided to put more distance between his site’s identity and that of his chief rival. Though the official launch came Tuesday, GlowTrend has been gaining fans since the domain name went live in June.

And despite the official launch, a few kinks remain. Wellman’s own GlowTrend page contained more troubleshooting announcements than social interactions. (The site’s servers nestle near Wichita, Kan.)

“Sorry for the delay everyone for the photo issue,” the Wasilla, Alaska, native wrote regarding a days-long glitch in uploading profile photos. “We are trying to get resolved. You can still import (other) photos.”

GlowTrend’s privacy policy promises little better than other social sites, saying no personal information will be sold, though allowing that member content will be seen as “aggregated demographic information” worth sharing with “business partners, trusted affiliates and advertisers.”

But this is Wellman’s third try at launching a social network, he says. Maybe now he has it all figured out.

David Sheets is a former content editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a candidate for Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.



The promise and problem with Pinterest

Lately, social media mavens have pinned their hopes on Pinterest as the next big thing in remote engagement because of the site’s stated goal to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.”

Pinterest, its name an amalgamation of the words “pin” and “interest,” which you probably could have guessed, launched in 2009 and gained traction after its invitation-only wall came down in 2010 and prospective members were allowed to ask the site to join. Since then, Pinterest has garnered Facebook-level traffic, approaching 12 million new visitors a month.

The attraction: Pinterest is a picture-driven, digital cork board, a place for visual expression with themed “pin-up” boards where users can put up just about any digitized image or video they like. Member “followers” can also re-pin images and videos posted by others, thus trumpeting and spreading their interests and vision.

Certainly, Pinterest’s key attraction is its eye-candy appeal, but the site sports some versatility of a kind journalists may find useful. Among the ideas possible through Pinterest:

Breaking news and advancing stories — Journalists can pin on-scene images and video clips via iPhone to themed news boards, which can be linked to websites and other social media. Pinterest also works well as a place to post advances for upcoming news coverage.

Trend stories — Users have created themed boards on subjects ranging from fashion to pets to favorite jokes. The general topics are broad but Pinterest permits creation of narrowly focused boards. Even Pinterest’s traffic portends to trends — its chief demographic groups to date appear to be women, who make up about 58 percent of users, and people ages 25 to 44, who make up about 59 percent.

Storyboards — Pinterest’s boards can be rearranged, besides being customizable, so photographers, film editors and spot-news editors can organize their content into sequences that tell stories or send messages.

Portfolios and showcases — Pinterest can serve as a place to store, organize and display images for job applications, or as a storefront for selling those images. It’s also a good place to spotlight a publication’s best recent work.

Of course, everything that shows up online could show up on Pinterest regardless of whether anyone wants it pinned there, and this has stirred criticism that the site violates copyright law despite a “safe harbor” opening in that law. In the safe harbor, legal liability is limited or waived if a site either performs in “good faith” or adheres to agreed-upon standards.

Pinterest allegedly has received copyright challenges, but so far no one has pulled the pin in part because the site hasn’t taken egregious liberties with contributor content, like reselling it behind contributors’ backs. However, Pinterest seems to have found a way to turn re-pins into profit by modifying links to pins for commercial content, so that the pins link back to the image source. If the site has an affiliate-marketing program and Pinterest is part of it, then Pinterest profits from relinking to the affiliate, and the affiliate in turn gains a broader audience.

Pinterest has managed to avoid assessing fees, including sidebar ads, or allowing sponsored pins. But as Pinterest evolves, so too could its perception of fair use and right to reuse to pinned content unless members opt out, akin to Facebook. Prospective users should consider this before making Pinterest into a platform for their businesses.

Pinterest is a visual medium unlike any we’ve seen, but it’s still in a nascent state. Journalists should be careful: all the promise it holds has time yet to turn prickly.

David Sheets is a sports content editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and, and president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at, on Twitter at @DKSheets, or on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Digital Media Tools: One click away


As we near the SPJ convention in New Orleans; it’s a good time to remind you of all the digital media tools we have written about in the past year.   Just in case you’ve missed some of our past blogs, here is a list of topics we’ve covered.  

How to use Facebook in Journalism

Making Maps with UMappter 

Social media marketing tools for journalists

Getting started with quick, easy data visualization

Data Visualization and Infographic Sites to Bookmark

Build your website for free

Tablet or laptop? For some of us, the choice is obvious

Streamling your social media posting

Quora tries to answer all your questions

How to participate in a Twitter chat

Using Windows Movie Maker to edit audio clips

Google Charts Part 2 of 2: Motion charts

CuePrompter: No more memorizing scripts for your video blog

Digital media skills every young journalist needs 

Tools that help you get more from Twitter

Rebecca Aguilar is an Emmy award winning freelance reporter in Dallas, TX. She is the vice chairman of the SPJ Digital Media Committee, and a board member with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Fort Worth Chapter of SPJ.  She has 30 years of experience: television news, online news and video producing.  She can be contacted at

Build your own website for free

More journalists these days are setting up their own websites where they can profile their work. It’s one of the best ways to grow your brand and display your resume online.

I’ve taken web design classes for four years, and I must admit sometimes I get lost in all the language: CSS, HTML, PHP, HTML5, Flash and the list goes on.  I’m fortunate, because as a freelance reporter I’ve had time to take classes.

But if you don’t have time to learn how to build your own website from scratch or can’t afford  to get one designed; here are a three free website builders  Each of these companies will also host your website for free if you don’t mind the long url  (example: ). 

I set up sample websites at Wix, WebStarts and Moonfruit.    It was very easy and fast.  I think the end results look very professional at all three sites.  Check out my Wix sample website.   Each free website builder offers:

  • Templates designs for your website
  • Text editors
  • Variety of font choices
  • Drag and drop tools for images
  • Video embed tools
  • Video tutorials to help you use the site

Each company offers a “premium” package,  if you want to buy more tools to use on your website.  In my opinion, what they each have to offer for free is good enough if you need the basics.   You also have the option of paying to get it hosted by the hosting company of your choice.  Now go out there and get yourself a website!

Rebecca Aguilar is an Emmy award winning freelance reporter in Dallas, TX. She is the vice chairman of the SPJ Digital Media Committee, and a board member with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She has 30 years of experience: television news, online news and video producing.  She can be contacted at


CuePrompter: No more memorizing scripts for your video blog

Cue PrompterSometimes television reporters make it look so easy when they’re out in the field doing a “live shot.” I know after 27 years in television—it took practice, practice, practice to make a live shot flawless.

I was always concerned that I would say “um, um, and um” too many times, or maybe lose my train of thought. I always thought news anchors had it so easy, because they had a teleprompter for their scripts.

Some of you may be video blogging and are trying to figure out how to make it look natural when you’re on camera recording your report.

Well I found this piece of free webware called CuePrompter. It’s an online teleprompter. It’s amazing because once you get the hang of using it, you’re going look and sound like all those television anchors you see on the nightly news.

All you need is your script, copy and paste into your computer and CuePrompter does the rest for you.

CBT Café produced this excellent video on how to use CuePrompter.

It’s free and easy to use, and more than anything no more fumbling or stumbling or even memorizing your script. Now you’re going to look flawless on camera.

Watch out Katie Couric and Brian Williams—here we come!

Rebecca Aguilar is an Emmy award winning reporter with 29 years of experience. Most of her years have been in television news, but now she is a multimedia freelance reporter based in Dallas, Texas. She is currently a board member with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Writeboard: A free web tool that makes it easy to collaborate on a project

Working on a project with another reporter in another part of the country or maybe on the other side of your city?  No need to get together at the coffee shop or exchange long emails. Check out

The writeboards are web based text documents that you can use when you’re collaborating on a journalism project with other reporters.   If you have to add more information or edit what you have; it’s all done in one place. 

Here’s the bonus; it’s free


Rebecca Aguilar is an Emmy award winning reporter with 29 years of experience.  Most of her years have been in television news, but now she is a multimedia freelance reporter based in Dallas, Texas.   She is currently a board member with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Blogging Basics: How To Get Started

I was working at a Dallas television station a few years ago when a manager sent out a memo to reporters telling us we had to start blogging. I had no idea what I was supposed to do. We didn’t get a book of rules or a “how to” book. We were just told, “start blogging.”

Now, three years later, I have two blogs and ideas for three more blogs.  On my Wise Latinas Linked blog, I write about members of my social networking group on Facebook and LinkedIn. On my Latino Communicators blog, I write about Hispanic “movers and shakers” in journalism and mass communications.

Whether you’re blogging as a requirement of your job or planning to have your own blog, there are several reasons why you should consider doing it.

Blogging is easy. It’s a way to start your journey in digital media. I also think it’s a great way to build on your journalism resume. Blogging is online work.

How To Start Your Blog

First, you need to find blogging software that is easy to use. There are several available. I use both and They’re free and have step-by-step instructions on how to set up your blog. Both offer templates that are ready-made pages for your blog layout.

Who Are the Readers You Want To Attract?

You need to know which readers you want to reach with your blog. Once you know your target audience it will be much easier to come up with content. The blogs I have now are targeting women and/or Hispanics.

If you work for a media company, of course, your readers will be those devoted to your newspaper, television station or online site or — simply put — your fans.

Hundreds of journalists in the U.S. and around the world are blogging. Want to see if your blog will be unique? Just check out Blog Catalog’s list of journalist-bloggers. It’s a good site to surf for ideas.

Decide On Your Content

Some journalists write their own original content, but others find an interesting link, post it and add their two cents.  Linking to other sites is a good way to grow your readership.  I do both on my blogs.

If you’re one of those reporters required to blog for your company, your blog can just be an extension of your original story or the story of others who work with you.

Marian Wang is a reporter/blogger for She tends to expand on stories published by other reporters on their site.

A blog can also be an opinion piece.  Got an opinion on an issue? That makes for an interesting blog.

This will probably be a little easier for a freelancer to take on.  If you’re an employee of a media company, you may have to get your bosses’ permission to go down the avenue of opinion blogging.

Neil McCartney is a photojournalist in Johannesburg. He blogs about his daily experiences as a photojournalist and shares his photos.

You can also take a completely different direction and blog about something other than news stories and journalism. Do you enjoy golfing?  Why not blog about golf courses you’ve visited or, maybe, interesting golfers?

Do you like visiting different museums around the country? Why not blog about your experience and your take on different museums?

Look, we’re journalists and we love to write, and we all have different interests.  Blogging is an easy way to start building on your digital media experience.

Blogging should not feel like a job.  It should feel like another way to express yourself through your words.

Rebecca Aguilar is the vice chairman of the SPJ Digital Media Committee.  She is an Emmy Award-winning freelance reporter based in Dallas, TX. Rebecca also sits on the Board of Directors with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.  Contact her at

Hyperlocal Journalism: Inside the Patch (video)

Here is a highlights video of the Patch event held at the Illinois Technology Association building in Chicago on Friday, September 24.

Hilary Fosdal is the associate new media editor at the Law Bulletin Publishing Company located in Chicago, Illinois. You can visit her site and follow her on Twitter @hilaryfosdal.


Twitter Facebook Google Plus RSS Instagram Pinterest Pinterest LinkedIn

© Society of Professional Journalists. All rights reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789 | Contact SPJ Headquarters | Employment Opportunities | Advertise with SPJ