BlueCrest Recovery’s mission is to provide every client with individualized treatment while reinforcing the importance of 12-step recovery and educating them on its principles. Through genuine clinical relationships using the best treatment practices available, BlueCrest’s goal is for clients to leave with the foundation needed for long-term, meaningful recovery.
Open Letter from MVJ Executive Director Zack Baddorf
First of all, thank you.
Military Veterans in Journalism would be nothing without you — our members, our supporters, our teammates. We were honored that about 350 people showed up to attend our first annual convention. We’ve heard from many of you that you enjoyed hearing directly from Jake Tapper and Brianna Keilar at CNN, Jeff Jarvis at CUNY, Sara Shahiri at INN, and many others in the media world who shared their insight and knowledge with us. The DAV Career Fair and Knight Foundation Happy Hour were also big hits.
This convention was the culmination of about two years of work serving the veteran community. A range of news outlets, non-profit organizations, educational institutions and philanthropic organizations came together in a show of support (and sponsorship!) for our organization and our mission to get more vets in news. It was truly humbling to see the manifestation of our work on the virtual stage throughout our two-day convention.
My co-founder Russell Midori and I founded MVJ in 2019 thinking we’d basically meet up with some fellow vets in a bar and swap business cards. But the need is so much more than that. It’s been truly awe inspiring to see a range of partners step up to help support our community.
While the convention was going on, I was in Dallas taking part in the fifth and final session of the non-partisan George W. Bush Presidential Center’s Veteran Leadership Program. I was honored to have been selected for this program to hear from a variety of high-level professionals, educators, and experts in veteran and military family transition issues.
Throughout the program, I and the other veteran leaders met with President Bush and Mrs. Bush as well as retired U.S. Marine Corps general Jim Mattis and Deborah Birx. Hearing from a range of speakers and from my fellow vets left me inspired to do more for the MVJ community.
We’ve accomplished a lot in these past few years and we have much more on the horizon. I am truly grateful for the Bush Center’s belief in me — which, more than anything, is about their belief in Military Veterans in Journalism.
My biggest takeaway from the leadership program was realizing just how much we can accomplish together. Our convention — the first of many to come — demonstrated that to me in action. Seeing all of our amazing partners share their knowledge and unite behind our cause made me immensely proud to be part of this organization.
Again, thank you. Together, we are growing our community and creating opportunities for our members. Our shared energy and focus will help us accomplish our mission of getting more vets in news.
Executive Director, Military Veterans in Journalism
Think “investigative” was the mission that award-winning reporter Chris Halsne gave to veterans and troops working or interested in journalism.
Halsne, a professor at American University, provided the advice in a webinar in the final hour of the Military Veterans in Journalism’s inaugural convention on Oct. 21.
The investigative journalist spoke to attendees about how to acquire government-held public records, the kind of evidence that is the bread and butter of investigative journalism.
“In 30-plus years running broadcast investigative news,” Halsne said, “I can’t think of many blockbuster, award-winning stories that changed laws and how the community saw certain things that didn’t start with a good public records request.”
Conducting investigations is different from reporting breaking news, said Halsne, who managed special-projects units in Seattle, Denver, and Oklahoma City and has won three National Press Club awards.
If there were to be a disaster, a breaking news reporter would report on the events of the day, but investigative reports get to take a step back and take a look at the larger picture and take accountability for who was at fault. “Were there any warning signs to prevent what happened?” Halsne said.
Halsne shared the results of his investigation on how bullet-proof vests worn by police failed to protect their wearers. During three decades in television, he also completed investigations across different subjects such as the collateral damage of a government program to poison booby traps to kill coyotes, and the dark side of sports.
“Investigative reporters are vacuum cleaners,” Halsne said. “You gather what’s there; nine times out of ten, it’s nothing. The one time it is, you dig your teeth into it.”
Attendees of the online webinar included veterans and servicemembers at various levels of experience in journalism. Allison Erickson, a writer and a former Army officer, said she joined the webinar for industry insight on how investigative reporters are used in the newsroom.
“When do you run or request reports? Is it clockwork?” were questions she said she was interested in.
Halsne said he regularly requests information from the various levels of government and has probably filed about 10,000 queries. He also shared his tips about the correct time to speak to an organization about an investigation that’s being done on them, how to handle hostile public information officers, and how to structure Freedom of Information Act requests.
“It’s super helpful to better understand the processes for records requests,” said Dan Lyons, a photo editor at Chalkbeat, a nonprofit newsroom that focuses on education. He said he also thought it was helpful to learn tips like using official letterheads for FOIA requests to give them more legitimacy.
The webinar capped off the inaugural MVJ convention. The two-day event included videos and panels by Jake Tapper and Brianna Marie Keilar from CNN, Kelly Kennedy from the War Horse, Xanthe Scharff from the Fuller Project, and Paul Szoldra from Task and Purpose.
Journalists learned to use the latest digital resources from the Google News Initiative during the MVJ 2021 Convention. Mary Nahorniak, teaching fellow with the Google News Lab program, highlighted search modification, viewing, and support tools.
Google News Lab, with its mission to “to collaborate with journalists and entrepreneurs to drive innovation in news,” uses the Alphabet Inc. subsidary’s behemoth search, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning technologies to power a resource platform packed with relevant news industry research tools. “All the tools are free, all the trainings are free. This is Google’s effort to support and connect with journalists,” Nahorniak said.
Nahorniak covered five specialized search engines: Google Scholar, Dataset Search, Public Data, The Common Knowledge Project, and Fact Check Explore. For each tool, Nahnorniak framed the tool’s specific usefulness in the process of story development or refinement.
For example, she described Google Scholar as a great place to begin background research, as the tool essentially searches through two sets of material. The results usually return a starting point to find experts with nuanced perspectives on topics.
With Public Data, researchers can search for existing datasets from other organizations and begin to grasp the larger picture of a story.
““Every data point is a story. These are all people behind this,” Nahorniak said, referencing a graphic comparing two data sets. “[When you are] starting to wrap your arms around a concept, this a great place to do it from a data perspective…I love that site for a little bit of backgrounding.”
She demonstrated advanced search tools like searching a specific file type intended to help save researchers time and effort. Stars and Stripes Middle East Reporter J.P. Lawrence said, “I’m most interested in using Google to find military powerpoints used in training. I know a lot of data is conveyed via powerpoints.”
Nahorniak taught attendees to use Fact Check Explore to get a sense for information being shared in an area. In the cases of misinformation, journalists may feel compelled to write a clarification for the record, and Fact Check Explore helps winnow the wheat from the chaff.
Nahorniak also trained the group on Pinpoint, a tool for identifying information buried in a document or set of documents. The tool includes an audio transcription service reporters can use to convert audio from interviews into searchable text.
““Let the tool do the heavy lifting so that you can spend your time and energy on the things that only you can do, writing, creating, interviewing, searching for stories, searching for angles,” Nahorniak said.
After a hands-on demonstration with the Google Earth Timelapse feature, which Nahorniak described as adding the fourth dimension of time to data, participants came away with ideas to grab military-adjacent visual shapers. One participant suggested using the tool to view growth around military bases over time.
The tools are free and accessible both through the Google News Initiative Training Center and through other resources shared by Nahorniak. Reporters will need to request access to Pinpoint.
NEW YORK – Two military veterans will be awarded nine-month fellowships in nonprofit newsrooms after graduating with master’s degrees in journalism from the City University of New York (CUNY), thanks to a grant awarded by Craig Newmark Philanthropies.
The Newmark Veterans in Journalism Fellowship Program is a partnership between Military Veterans in Journalism (MVJ), the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.
“Veterans are vastly under-represented in journalism despite our nation being at war for more than 20 years,” said Zack Baddorf, a Navy veteran turned journalist who is now MVJ’s executive director. “This partnership creates a unique opportunity for two military vets to get a jump start into the news world where their lived experience and expertise are desperately needed.”
MVJ and Newmark J-School will recruit veterans to attend the school’s 16-month M.A. in Journalism, M.A. in Engagement Journalism or M.A. in Journalism with a bilingual concentration.
“We’re proud to ensure that our school represents the diversity of our nation,” said Jeff Jarvis, director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism and the J-School’s Leonard Tow Professor of Journalism Innovation.. “Once they graduate, we know they will bring their perspective to diversify the outlook of newsrooms, letting veterans’ voices be heard.”
The veterans will be hired by newsrooms that are members of INN — a national network of nonprofit, nonpartisan news organizations. The fellowships will allow these individuals tol build portfolios of journalistic work and form a network of peers.
“Nonprofit news is a growing and mission-oriented field,” said Sara Shahriari, director of leadership and talent development at INN. “This fellowships program strengthens our member newsrooms’ ability to provide nuanced coverage of military and veterans affairs while also launching veterans into a new phase of their careers: public service journalism.”
Craig Newmark Philanthropies has previously provided support to MVJ in partnership with the Poynter Institute with a fellowship program and online educational training.
“Veterans working in the media have unique life experiences and skills that strengthen our media,” said Craig Newmark, founder and customer service representative of Craig Newmark Philanthropies and craigslist. “Our democracy will ultimately be strengthened by having more vets in our nation’s newsrooms.”
MVJ will also hold a five-day workshop as part of this partnership.
Applications for the program open in the Fall of 2021, and those veterans selected will start attending the program starting in the Fall of 2022.
About Military Veterans in Journalism
Military Veterans in Journalism is a professional association that builds community for vets, supports their career growth, and advocates for diversifying newsrooms through hiring and promoting more vets. Learn more at www.mvj.network
About the Institute for Nonprofit News
The Institute for Nonprofit News strengthens and supports 300 independent news organizations in a new kind of media network: nonprofit, nonpartisan and dedicated to public service. From local news to in-depth reporting on pressing global issues, INN’s members tell stories that otherwise would go untold – connecting communities, holding the powerful accountable and strengthening democracy. Learn more at inn.org.
About the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY
The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, founded in 2006, has become nationally recognized for its innovative programs. The only public graduate journalism school in the northeastern U.S., it prepares students from diverse economic, racial, and cultural backgrounds to produce high-quality journalism. As the profession rapidly reinvents itself for the digital age, the Newmark J-School is at the forefront of equipping the next generation of journalists with the tools to find stories and tell them effectively – using print, broadcast, visual, interactive, and social media. The school offers two master’s degree programs: a Master of Arts in Journalism and the nation’s first M.A. in Engagement Journalism. We also feature an M.A. in Journalism with a unique bilingual (Spanish and English) component. All of our master’s degree programs include a paid summer internship.
The Nonprofit News Panel on Day 2 of the Military Veterans in Journalism convention presented a discussion on why nonprofit news matters for communities and the nation as a whole.
Sarah Shahriari, the Director of Leadership and Talent Development at Institute for Nonprofit News, opened the discussion by describing innovation and community engagement tools employed by the 350 non-profit and non-partisan news organizations INN supports.
“INN members are really working to convey the truth, to build community ties, and to inform people in their communities so they can make decisions about their own lives and about their civic life,” Shahriari said.
Xanthe Scharff, the CEO and Cofounder of The Fuller Project – a global newsroom centered on women, said the mission-focused nature of nonprofit news sets it apart in the types of journalists it attracts and the way outcomes are measured.
“When I got into non-profit space I already had a bias for this sort of work…this mission work,” said Sherman Gillums, who sits on the board of the veteran-focused non-profit newsroom, “The War Horse.” Gillums said he was driven by the work of “Speaking truth to power…and making the public a part of it.”
The panel unanimously echoed the importance of truth and accountability, and the need to give a voice to those who typically are overlooked. Nonprofit news is especially valuable for its ability to impact issues through telling the story and capturing the moment.
The War Horse Managing Editor Kelly Kennedy said her reporting and leadership has been intended to bring light to the needs and perspectives of soldiers on the ground. “When things were going down in Kabul we thought about how it felt for the veterans to be processing it right now, and we ran a series of reflections every day that week from people just talking about how it felt. And it was a way to process the story and to deal with the trauma of it.”
Sherman said, “We are going to keep doing this. We are going to keep pressing truth as a friend to the public.”
Kelly offered insights for attendees about building their portfolio of clips, taking initiative, and suggested veterans can use the Warhorse reflections series as a starting point. She said, “You can’t wait for someone to make you an investigative reporter. You can’t do that. You have to become the investigative reporter.”
One audience member asked “would you say it is easier to enter nonprofit journalism as opposed to traditional journalism?”
Regardless of a journalist’s military experience, whether reporting in combat or down the street, the nonprofit sector of journalism has its unique qualities. But ultimately the passion for telling the story truthfully and accurately is essential, and the work gives reporters the power to influence positive change and give voice to groups without wide representation.
The highest value of nonprofit news seems to be it’s power to tell the stories of those that might otherwise be forgotten.
Military Veterans in Journalism continued its virtual convention Friday with a second day of panelists. Sharing insights into the new models of journalism was Jeff Jarvis, a CUNY Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism professor.
“Journalism is not a product, it’s a service,” he said. “We don’t just create a product called content to sell in a thing we call a publication. We have so many more tools at hand to listen to communities that have too long not been listened to, like veterans.”
Jarvis explained how communities became overlooked in journalism through the invention of high-speed printing presses during the era of Johanne Gutenburg, which created the idea of “mass media, mass marketing and mass culture.”
“The mass as an idea is fundamentally an insult to the public, because it says that everybody is all the same,” he said.
According to Jarvis, reporters have a unique opportunity to reinvent the field of journalism by understanding the needs of these underserved communities.
“Who are you serving? Who is it that needs your service of journalism? What do they need? Show the evidence of their definition of community. Show the evidence of their need as a community,” he said.
Reporters can help to foster the needs of these communities by introducing new perspectives in the newsroom, educating the community or facilitating informed public conversations. All of which promote what Jarvis called “a large canvas” for the future of journalism.
The session itself became a public conversation, with audience members offering ideas about models of journalism, and questioning Jeff directly.
Dan Lyons, a photo editor at Chalkbeat asked Jarvis about how local news models should engage with communities who are underserved or unserved by any news outlet
Jarvis pointed to the Institute for Nonprofit News and Chalkbeat as examples of where innovation can occur for legacy media organizations to follow. One example of such innovation, he noted, is Chalkbeat’s development of tools that compel reporters to decide beforehand why a story should be done, and afterward to measure the impact.
Jarvis elaborated on the future of journalism in revenue opportunities saying, “We have to reinvent the fundamental metrics of success in journalism and in media around quality and value.”
He described the use of membership models as a valuable way to fund reporting. Membership recognizes the reader as a community member while sharing their needs, interests and circumstances, furthering the affinity between communities and journalism, he said. But it was clear from the exchanges he sees many more viable models for funding strong reporting.
He spoke, for instance, about the work of organizations like Buzzfeed and Vice to sell skills rather than eyeballs on a story – as in, the skill of creating advertising their audiences actually care about. Those publishers take creative control over their advertising to do so, using the profits to fund their reporting.
Whether such skills can be applied in a revenue model by local news publishers, he’s still working on. “It could be that we establish a reputation for knowing how to serve people and listen to them well,” he said. “We’ve got to figure out how to do it or else, there’s not enough money in philanthropy…subscriptions…or the government to fund all the journalism we need.”
Several attendees wanted to know whether he was hopeful about the future of the industry.
“Yeah,” Jarvis said, matter-of-factly. “If I weren’t I’d be a fraud teaching journalism school…and the reason I’m hopeful is my students.” Jarvis teaches engagement at the CUNY J-School and says graduates of the program are in high demand because of the skills they bring to the newsroom. They understand “how to listen to the public and create a feedback loop that is more than data and clicks, but that is substantive and valuable.”
Seasoned journalists provided career advice for the next generation of military storytellers during the first night of Military Veterans in Journalism’s inaugural convention on Oct. 21.
The Veteran Showcase panel was led by Justine Davie, a Marine veteran who produces the Ten Percent Happier podcast focusing on people becoming more fulfilled with their life.
The panel featured a diverse group of veterans with a wide range of skills in journalism. One of the mentors on the panel was J.P. Lawrence, a U.S. Army National Guard veteran who served from 2008 until 2017. Lawrence works for Stars and Stripes as a Middle East Reporter.
An important piece of advice Lawrence gave to other journalists: “Try to use networks that can get you around the networks.”
Clara Navarro also served on this panel of advisors. She served for two years in the Navy as a public affairs officer. During the panel she talked about her upcoming transition out of the military in January 2022. She will be starting an internship with National Public Radio.
“It’s not just your resume but it’s your clips, and there is nothing holding you back from writing to just write,” Navarro shared with the veterans in attendance who are seeking advice for how to break into the industry
Another journalism guru who helped round out this cast of storytellers was Davis Winkie, a North Carolina Army National Guard Veteran who works as reporter for the Army Times. He said his mission is to keep the military accountable.
During the panel, Winkie talked about how the Military Veterans in Journalism played a pivotal role in him landing his first job. He also shared how, at the beginning of his career, he was shocked to be getting some of the interviews he received. Winkie shared with the group that at times he would canvass people on LinkedIn for advice.
“My advice is to lean into as many groups as you can. Leaning into those groups really helped me learn the ropes,” Winkie said.
The two-day virtual event advocates for hiring and promoting more veterans in the newsroom
by Allie Delury
Military Veterans in Journalism kicked off its first annual convention in virtual style Thursday with a keynote speech from CNN’s Jake Tapper – a notable advocate for military troops – to discuss the diversity of experience veterans bring with them into newsrooms.
“Veterans deserve to have their stories heard, especially as America’s longest war in Afghanistan came to its unceremonious end,” said Tapper, before speaking about his own personal experience with war correspondence.
Currently serving on the advisory board for MVJ, Tapper introduced the inaugural conference by highlighting CNN’s involvement in veteran newsroom placement, proudly announcing that a former Army officer will be working on his daily show “The Lead.”
“Deadlines in uniform are a lot tougher than the deadline for my show at 4 o’clock,” he said.
Tapper outlined various attractive traits that veterans bring to newsroom, to include their deep-rooted government and military sources, the ability to work in austere environments, a knack for timeliness and strong work ethic, and a desire to bring objectivity to the newsroom “having been part of an apolitical arm of foreign and domestic defense.”
“You know war better than any TV anchor, no matter how many times he’s been embedded, ever will,” he added.
Following his remarks, the conversation continued with input from Brianna Keilar, anchor of CNN’s morning show “New Day,” who spent a large part of her career shedding light on military families in hopes of bridging the military-civilian divide.
“Our civilian audience is so incredibly curious about the military, but there is a difference between having empathy and feeling sorry for them. And that’s something that I think is an important needle to thread when you’re telling these stories,” she said.
Other notable speakers included Duffel Blog founder Paul Szoldra, whose work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, MSNBC, CBS News, USA Today, and ABC News. During the panel discussion, he spoke about cracking the code of getting into a newsroom and battling the many misconceptions about veterans and the military.
“Don’t go in with a chip on your shoulder – no one owes you anything just because you served in the military,” said Szoldra. “You have to come in and prove yourself just like anybody else.”
In the virtual audience was a mix of current and aspiring journalists, photographers, podcasters and freelancers who were tuning in from around the U.S. Of those was Dan Gorman, a licensed master social worker who previously interned and worked at Last Week Tonight, Al Jazeera, Hearst Digital Media, and Morgan Spurlock’s Warrior Poets.
“It was very, very difficult to break into a full-time position. Hopefully events like tonight help change that,” he said.
Reacting to Jake Tapper’s keynote speech, Gorman said he “hit the nail on the head” when speaking about the role of veterans in news.
“Veterans can and should tell our story journalistically. It’s not enough to say thank you for our service — give us the tools and platforms to tell what that service looked like,” said Gorman.
The two-day event will consist of a career fair, breakout sessions focusing on investigative and niche reporting, followed by a virtual happy hour to connect with other veterans in news.
The inaugural Military Veterans in Journalism convention is scheduled for Oct. 21 and 22, and tickets are free thanks to a generous sponsorship donation.
The convention will feature emerging voices in news media and world-class journalists presenting live information you can’t get anywhere else.
Jake Tapper will give the keynote address, discussing the value of putting veterans to work in America’s newsrooms. New and legacy media organizations will interview veterans at the career fair, trailblazing reporters will showcase their work, and news media visionaries like LaShara Bunting and Jeff Jarvis will participate in panels and present live webinars.
Conventions like this usually cost quite a lot of money to attend, and MVJ initially sold tickets for $40. But last week, JMA Solutions donated enough money so that everyone can come together to celebrate newsroom diversity completely free of charge. The convention is built for networking with professionals, and anyone with an interest in newsroom diversity is welcome to attend.
Military Veterans in Journalism recently turned two years old, and it has been an honor to advocate for you in our industry all this time. I’m writing today to personally thank you for being a member in our community and encourage you to go forth and do great journalism.
We founded this organization because we believe journalism is a service to the nation and we want to empower worthy citizens to carry it out. You have proved your commitment to the American people, and you deserve to follow your dreams to great achievement in news reporting.
The news needs us right now. Journalists are struggling in today’s combative public space to reach ever-growing communities who don’t trust “the media,” and your reputation for service and hard work makes you uniquely qualified to restore trust in this necessary institution. Democracy cannot survive without good reporters who have the skill and will to inform the people.
MVJ is in a strong position to advocate for veterans’ voices contributing to the local and national dialogue. I urge you to take full advantage of the career opportunities we have fought to bring you. Apply for our fellowships before the applications expire, join our private Facebook group, check out the skill-building videos and podcasts on our YouTube Page, and participate in our Mentorship Program. Keep reading our newsletters to sign up for great future opportunities, like our upcoming workshops and journeys through America’s newsrooms.
Now, I’d like to hear from you, if you don’t mind. Please reply to this email by telling me where you get your news. What is your favorite publication, digital outlet, or broadcast program? Also, in a few sentences, tell me if you have any ideas for what we can do to help you in your journalism journey.
MVJ is excited to announce that we will be hosting seven paid fellowships lasting about six months each at the news room of your choice!
Four of the fellowships are funded thanks to generous support from the Knight Foundation, two of the fellowships are possible thanks to the generous support of Craig Newmark Philanthropies and the one fellowship is thanks to the generous support of the Wyncote Foundation.
Step 1: You must have a Google account to submit this fellowship application. If you don’t have one, create a free account at www.gmail.com . (If you are having technical issues, email us: [email protected] )
Since our founding in 2019, MVJ has done some awesome things for veterans in journalism. From a virtual career fair with the biggest names in media, to landing fellowship spots at NPR for our members, we are committed to delivering tangible results for our membership.
Our latest accomplishment: MVJ has secured more than $20,000 in Poynter Institute online courses for our members to take for free.
Made possible thanks to the generous support of the Craig Newmark Philanthropies, these courses will directly help our membership gain actionable skills that they can put to work immediately.
Poynter Institute has a treasure trove of training opportunities for journalists of every type. From courses focusing on how to become a better writer to courses on film and broadcast television, Poynter has it all
What this means for you:
You’ll have free access to some of Poynter’s popular courses. If you find these courses useful, we’ll find other ways to work with Poynter for even more training.
Here is the list: Newsroom Readiness Certificate: Get ready for your first newsroom job by covering the basics of newsgathering, interviewing, media law, ethics and diversity
Poynter ACES Advanced Editing Certificate: Two intensive training opportunities for experienced editors: a four-week online course that includes live online sessions, coaching, homework and discussion forums; and self-directed components include videos, readings, activities and assessments (normally $600)
Write Your Heart Out 2022: Uncover the powerful stories from your life and learn how to share them in ways that resonate with audiences during this four-week online course (normally $349)
Producer Project 2022: An eight-session, four-week online seminar that helps TV producers tell stronger stories and make tough calls on deadline (normally $499)
Apply for a scholarship to one of the above premium courses HERE
As part of our partnership with Poynter, Al Tompkins has agreed to host two courses valued at over $2,500 each. Al is a legend in broadcast journalism and has taught all over the world.
The MVJ staff hustles hard to create these opportunities for our members, so we really hope that you’ll take full advantage of what we have to offer. And we’re not stopping here. In the coming weeks, we’ll have even bigger news to share with y’all (paid fellowships!). Keep checking in to make sure you don’t miss it!
A lot of people become jaded with LinkedIn when they first get started. They think because they opened a profile job offers will just start rolling in. But when has anything been that easy in life? With a little bit of effort and consistency LinkedIn can help you get a job, get freelance work, or put you in contact with an expert for your next article. Here is how to set yourself up for success on LinkedIn.
1.) Profile: You want people to get a sense of who you are when they look at your profile. You are allowed 120-characters to accomplish that. Do not use seeking opportunities in your headline. Recruiters are searching by job titles. If you are looking for writer jobs, use writer. Or be more specific and use, Adventure Writer or Travel Writer; use whatever is in your writing niche.
Have a picture. You know how alarm bells go off when people try to connect with you on social media and they don’t have a photo? The same alarm bells go off for recruiters when you don’t have a photo on your profile. The photo should be a straight on shot of your face, sans sunglasses and without your cat. Unless you’re writing about cats.
2.) Summary Section: Time to sell yourself. The Summary section is where you can define yourself in the first person, in 2000 characters. Opportunity is knocking here. Make the most out of this section.
Example: My dream has always been to chase adventure and write engaging articles about my experiences. It seems like an appropriate dream given my experience serving in the military and my BA in Journalism… You get my point. Tell them what you are passionate about and what you do, or want to do.
Most important on this list is to have a completed profile. LinkedIn will let you know when you are 100% complete. LinkedIn members are 40 times more likely to be contacted by a recruiter when their profile is complete. Only 50% of the 760 million members on LinkedIn have a completed profile.
3.) Display your work: Not long ago, a recruiter contacted me via LinkedIn and we set up a phone call to discuss an opportunity. The job wasn’t a good fit due to location, but it gave me an opportunity to find the holes in my LinkedIn game. I asked the recruiter if there is anything that I should be doing differently with my profile. She was hesitant at first, but then told me.
She said, your profile says ‘Writer’, but I had to search through your posts to find any of your writing; there was nothing in your ‘Featured’ section. She sounded almost frustrated. You have to understand, they are scanning a lot of profiles and if you don’t give it to them up front they will move on to a profile that does. I immediately moved my posted articles to the Featured Section and now my published work comes up as soon as someone opens my profile.
4.) Listen to podcasts and then connect: Whatever your niche is listen to podcasts to find experts in this area. I like to write about terrorism. I often listen to podcasts on my commute into work. When people go on podcasts they are often coming off the heels of something timely, like writing a book about a current situation. I listen to the podcast and then send a connection request to that person. I also send along a note saying, I heard your podcast today and found this point interesting, and then I thank them for connecting. This has been a good formula that has led to work. Sometimes later I’ll interview them or have them give me an expert quote for an article I am reading. What I don’t do is cold pitch them in an introductory message; no one likes that. I don’t sell myself to them or ask for anything. That happens somewhere else, typically their email inbox, after some time.
5.) Join LinkedIn Groups: LinkedIn has a group for whatever it is that you like to write about. People exchange ideas there and they also ask questions that you might be able to answer. Many times, in these groups people will reach out to you for internships and freelance opportunities. Don’t overlook the opportunities that these groups can provide you.
6.) Stay Active: LinkedIn is an interactive platform. You should post your original content, which is simple because they have a template for you to write articles in. You can also repost other articles with your own commentary. My recommendation is to stay away from political, or divisive posts. When people look at your profile they see what your comments and posts are, remember this is a career platform, not Facebook. We want to avoid anything that comes off as negative and could potentially turn off a recruiter or someone looking to do business with you.
I hear a lot of people that are critical of LinkedIn, particularly when it comes to getting employment on the platform. In reality, it’s like anything else, with a little bit of effort, strategy and consistency it is a great tool that can bring opportunities into your life.
Anonymous source – Anonymous sources are only unknown to the public. Usually the writer and editor know who the source is and is able to check their identification and expertise or qualifications. In rare cases I have heard of sources only being known to the writer for security purposes. Regardless, this just means the publication doesn’t print their name.
Asset – This usually refers to a piece of graphic element for a story or post, like a logo, photo, illustration, etc. You will hear this in both marketing and in newsrooms.
Byline – This just means a story you’ve written and published. “I have bylines in….” This is because your name is printed alongside the story, sort of like a dateline. Sometimes your legal name and byline will be different, i.e. my name is Abigail Lee Hood but my byline is Abby Lee Hood because that’s what I go by. Make sure you communicate this to editors.
Beat – A beat is your niche or expertise. Maybe you work the police beat, or the environmental beat. This is your speciality. But it’s also okay not to have one!
Breaking news story – This is a class, hard news story with no opinion or editorializing. Usually published very quickly after an event to get the news out.
Copy – The most vague term; this is literally just words. Could be words in a blog post, for a Facebook ad, or for a story. “Turn that copy in by Friday,” is a good example. They want the assignment, whatever it is, before the weekend.
Content – Another vague term; content is usually a marketing or social media term. Content is anything you post online, whether it’s video, email, blog post, etc. Usually you will create content for a client or company. It’s not as common in the journo industry.
Cold email – A cold email is usually written to ask for business or try to get work. It’s different from a story pitch, which is usually only for the news industry. Cold emails are usually sent to try and get social media work or copywriting work and should introduce yourself and your qualifications to the potential client.
Cutline – The caption to a photograph or other illustration. Used interchangeably with “photo credit.”
Content creator – Someone who makes content online! This could be an Instagram influencer, YouTuber, etc.
Creative – This is usually a marketing or copywriting term and can be used interchangeably with “asset.” This is simply an illustration or piece of graphic design to accompany your copy. You might hear, “What creative are we getting with this?” or “When can we talk about creative for that post?”
Dateline – The bit of text at the beginning of a story that gives you the location, and sometimes the date, of where and when a story was written or reported.
Dek – This is a marketing term and usually refers to a dek of slides, aka a fancy name for a Powerpoint. Usually a dek pitches an idea, product, timeline, etc.
Edits – Edits are changes and requested improvements, or feedback, on your piece. Your editor may say, “I’ll have those edits to you tomorrow.” You need to make the edits yourself; your editor will not do them for you.
Editorializing – This is inserting your opinion, voice or ideas into a story instead of doing straight, hard news. This is acceptable in some features and opinion pieces; make sure you know the publication you’re writing for so you understand what’s allowed and what’s not.
Feature story – A feature story is usually in the ballpark of 1,500 words and has an angle and a takeaway. It’s a deeper look at a trend, problem, new idea or sometimes, a person or company. This is usually not breaking news and will be published days or weeks after an event. It doesn’t always have to be connected to breaking news, though, and can be original reporting on something you’ve discovered to be newsworthy on your own.
Freelancer – A general term for someone who does any kind of work without a company or boss. Social media managers, journalists, copywriters, designers and other creatives can all fall under this category.
Graf – Short for paragraph.
Intro – There are many kinds of intros but I’m talking specifically here about a kind of email, one that usually introduces two people to each other. “Can I get an intro to Beth?” is a way to request a digital introduction to the person.
Lede – Journalist lingo for the opening graf of your story. Not spelled “lead” although you may see that from time.
Nut graf – The takeaway or thesis of your story. Usually comes one or two grafs after the lede. Tells the reader what you’ll be talking about for the rest of the story.
News peg – Used interchangeably with “news hook.” This is a news item or story the rest of your article hooks on to make it timely and relevant. You must have a news hook in most feature stories, although not always.
News hook – See above.
Newsworthiness – This is the qualification for being reported, best answered by asking, “Why is this worth writing and publishing?” This is the justification for telling readers a story. Something has newsworthiness if it’s important or timely.
Opinion story – An article that expresses opinion. These will often feature data, sources and interviews just like a news story—at least, the good ones do.
Op-ed – Used interchangeably with “opinion story.” See above. Short for “opinion editorial.”
Portfolio – A collection of your published work, normally used to show employers or editors you pitch. These can be digital or physical, and are important for designers, writers, marketers, etc.
Pitch – A news term. Send pitches to editors to get stories, usually via email.
Photo credit – Used interchangeably with “cutline.” See above.
Peg – Used interchangeably with “news hook.” You may hear an editor ask, “what’s the news peg?” Aka, what makes this timely and newsworthy?
Section – A part of the paper or publication, like the business section or the lifestyle section.
Source – Someone you interview for a story, or sometimes, a paper or other document you’re using to support your article.
Timeliness – The quality of a news story depends on timeliness; if you publish a story long after an event happens it’s no longer timely.
Vertical – Used interchangeably with “section.” Editors will be in charge of certain verticals, like the science or politics vertical.
As you start your journey into media and journalism, internships give you valuable insight and experience that you’ll unlikely find elsewhere.
That’s why Military Veterans in Journalism highly recommends applying for these exciting opportunities (listed below) from NBCUniversal. Sophomores with a 3.0 or higher pursuing an associate, bachelor or graduate degree in an accredited program for the duration of the internship are qualified to apply.
NBCUniversal’s Summer 2021 Virtual Internship Program offers positions (application links below) for a variety of interests and career goals, and prepares you for work at a top-tier media outlet.
Submit your application as quickly as possible for top consideration, and no later than Jan. 29. We will flag your application with NBCU because they want to ensure they have a diverse group of participants.
If working at NBCU sounds appealing, or you just want to learn more about the work environment and corporate culture, you can also sign up for their upcoming virtual information session Tuesday January 19 – Here You can Be Authentic – where you will hear firsthand accounts of employees of varying levels and backgrounds providing insight into their own experience with the intersection of career and identity. Sign up at the link and be there Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT.
Thanks and good luck! As always, reach out if you have questions.
The Bitchin’ Writers Course is an informal online class that teaches you how to pitch stories and sustain a career as a freelance journalist. The course normally costs $900 per person. However, Military Veterans in Journalism is offering a $700 scholarship to cover the cost down to $200 for two veterans.
According to Abby Lee Hood, the course designer and instructor:
“You’ll be delivered video content via my website and Facebook, get 1-on-1 calls, and participate in group calls. You can watch the content at your convenience, in a timeframe that works for you. Work through quickly or take your time. You’ll also be given action steps and homework to help you absorb the content and take steps to get results quickly. The FB group is a great place to network and ask questions, too. You’ll get continued support throughout.
We’ll meet once week on a small group call. You can ask questions to workshop problems you’re having, and we’ll look at pitches, ideas, stories, social media promotion—anything you need. I’ll also be available for one-on-one calls if you need them.
We’ll break our work down into into month-long focus areas:
The pandemic barely slowed Military Veterans in Journalism (MVJ) down, ending 2020 with sizable grants from generous foundations that allow MVJ to continue serving the needs of the veteran community with one simple goal in mind: to get more vets to work in journalism. MVJ’s video journalism workshop that is scheduled to launch in the spring of 2021 found a place in The Walton Family Foundation’s long-term vision for quality education in America, which will spearhead the sponsor of the workshop that will be attended by 10 military veterans. The University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism and New Media with support from FUJIFILM are also sponsoring the event.
Originally intended as an all-expense paid, 10-day workshop before COVID-19 that would have covered flights, lodging, food, and rental cars (to cover stories in and around Oxford, Mississippi), the workshop will now be conducted entirely online over the course of eight weeks, culminating in a film fest where a winning video will be selected for a prize—one of the judges will include Michael McCoy whose work was included in Time Magazine’s Top 100 Photos of 2020. FUJIFILM will provide and award an X-T4 camera kit valued at $2,199.95 to the winning video.
More than the high-profile entities and personalities coming together to make this workshop a reality, quality learning experience is the primary intention of the workshop that will equip the participants with this valuable skill in order to make them competitive in terms of what they actually bring to the table as they seek employment.
Setting them up for success is Duy Linh Tu of Columbia University, one of the most renowned professors in the field and author of Feature and Narrative Storytelling for Multimedia Journalists, the first text that truly focuses on the multimedia and documentary production techniques required by professional journalists. Alongside him teaching is Julian Lim, also a faculty member of Columbia University’s Journalism School. Julian is an Emmy-nominated documentary producer and co-founder and creative director of 511C Productions whose works have appeared on Bloomberg, Axios, Newsweek, and New York Magazine.
As the workshop’s Jan. 4 kickoff date draws near, MVJ is keen on posting updates across social media with a particular focus on promoting the veteran participants. One good starting point is on Facebook and LinkedIn. There are also other ways to support MVJ and the veteran community and it’s all about getting involved by becoming a member, mentoring a veteran, or volunteering. But if, say, you want to see meaningful impact for any potential dollar that you might want to put in, anyone can consider donating here and see MVJ in action bring in veteran energy, talent, grit, and dedication to work in America’s newsrooms.
Building a career at Hearst Television isn’t only about successfully transferring from military to civilian life. It’s much bigger than that – it’s an opportunity to build on your military experience, learn new skills, and succeed in a supportive environment where you’ll feel valued. Hearst has an average of 10 open positions at any given time that are geographically dispersed. The real kicker is, Hearst is prioritizing hiring US veterans!
If you decide to pursue one of these gigs, please email Zack at [email protected]with this information: a) link to the job post; b) title of the job & location & c) your resume. We ask that you do this so we can reach out to our partners like Hearst to let them know one of our members has applied.
Welcome! Thanks for your interest in nominating someone for MVJ’s Top Veterans in Journalism.
Military Veterans in Journalism wants to recognize the amazing veterans doing great work in media. This is just one opportunity for us to do that. We want to highlight the achievements and work that veterans in our field are doing every day, and support them in recognizing their expertise and contribution to the community.
Submissions can be made on behalf of someone that you directly work. Self-nominations are also acceptable.
The submissions will be scored on originality, production value, newsworthiness, and journalistic quality. Our panel of judges will apply their experience, editing standards, and personal background to understand how well a piece does in each category. Judges will be looking for accurate and insightful storytelling that engage them as the audience.
Submissions will be in the form of finished and published work. All submissions should include the original publishing or release date, all contributors, and the organization under which it was published.
Only work conducted by an veteran of the armed forces is eligible. While pieces developed by a team are acceptable, journalists involved will only be considered eligible if they are a veteran.
Please only submit one piece per nominee. Only stand-alone works are eligible. Please do not include multi-part series, segments, or alternate versions. If there is a composite work of a series, that is acceptable, but will be considered as a single finished piece.
All submissions should be work completed and made publicly available within the past eighteen months.
All forms of media are acceptable. Alternate or emerging forms of journalism such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Interactive Data Visualization and others will be considered. However all works, regardless of media type, will be seen by the same panel of judges and scored in the same manner.
While every submission will be scored, and selections for the list made, scores will not be released publicly. Outside of scoring, judges will be able to supply commentary if they wish, but not every piece will receive comments.
Please also give a brief description of why the nominee should be recognized in this forum. We’d like to know about the person themselves, along with seeing their amazing work!
Nominations will be closed on December 20, 2020 at 2359 Eastern.
Finally, you DO NOT have to be a member of MVJ to submit a piece of work, nor does the nominee, however we encourage you to join.
Nominations have closed. Thanks for applying. Be sure to come back next time!
A new, $250,000 Knight Foundation investment to Military Veterans in Journalism will support the military veteran community through journalism fellowships, virtual workshops and resource sharing.
On Veterans Day, we honor the service of our nation’s military veterans. About 7% of Americans — roughly 18 million people — have served in the U.S. armed forces. Yet veterans are shockingly underrepresented in America’s newsrooms. Only 2% of journalists are veterans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Veterans represent a cross-section of the country, bringing unique experiences, perspectives and technical expertise that are valuable for our nation’s newsrooms and ultimately media consumers. Their voices are critical for our democracy.
Today, Military Veterans in Journalism (MVJ) is announcing $250,000 in new support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to advance our work to place more vets in newsrooms. MVJ is a professional association that builds community for vets, supports their career growth, and advocates for diversifying newsrooms through hiring and promoting more vets.
We’ll use Knight’s investment to hire two new staff members and offer four paid, six-month fellowships for military veterans in local or national newsrooms. In addition, Knight support will allow us to hold a series of career guidance webinars for those who served, connect veterans directly with newsrooms, and create a program focused on developing veterans’ radio production skills.
As I transitioned out of the military in 2006, I struggled to find a job in journalism, despite working in the U.S. Navy as a photojournalist, building a portfolio and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism in my off-duty hours. I applied for dozens and dozens of media jobs across the country, but I got no response. I was deeply discouraged by this and still today feel like I failed.
Could I have done a better job on my resume? Could my portfolio have been stronger? Surely. At the same time, the media industry itself doesn’t place enough value on how diverse candidates can contribute to their newsrooms.
But this isn’t a sob story — ultimately, I worked as foreign correspondent as a freelancer in places like Syria, Afghanistan and Crimea. And most recently, I reported for The New York Times, the Associated Press and other outlets throughout sub-Saharan Africa while based in Bangui in the Central African Republic. I’m incredibly proud of my work.
What I didn’t have during my transition was a professional network or a mentor to guide me. I also didn’t find any newsrooms seeking to diversify their newsrooms by creating opportunities for veteran voices and perspectives.
That’s why I founded MVJ — to help connect vets with important opportunities. Since launching the organization, I’ve spoken to many newsrooms about potential partnerships. During one conversation, a senior leader at a large national newsroom struggled to name more than two veterans on staff. But this same person said they’ve long wanted more vets in the media.
The support for veterans must be translated into action.
Media leaders must actively hire more veterans and create opportunities for early-career hires, as part of a broader effort to diversify their newsrooms. Philanthropic organizations must work with organizations like MVJ to enable such opportunities as well.
Knight Foundation’s investment will help MVJ provide a range of opportunities for the veteran community. We owe it to those who put on the uniform of America to provide them with opportunities to strengthen democracy at home after they fought for it abroad. This investment is a great start, but we know we have much work ahead of us — and we are eager to find additional partners to ensure veterans’ voices are heard.
Zack Baddorf is the executive director of Military Veterans in Journalism.
About Military Veterans in Journalism
Military Veterans in Journalism is a professional association that builds community for vets, supports their career growth, and advocates for diversifying newsrooms through hiring and promoting more vets. For more, visit www.mvj.network
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit KF.org.
Earlier this year, Military Veterans in Journalism partnered with National Public Radio (NPR) to offer a paid, remote Fall internship to one military veteran. NPR chose Dustin Jones, who served in the United States Marine Corps.
Dustin provided an update on what he has been working on since September.
“I have focused on the wildfires in California, tracking down and interviewing sources for the Weekend edition All Things Considered,” Dustin writes. “One story was about former incarcerated persons who hope to become fire fighters after serving their sentences. Another story was about the wildfires near Santa Rosa, CA and how the increasing intensity of wildfire season is making residents reconsider their choice to live in California.”
“NPR has long been a beacon in broadcast journalism, and their work to expand the diversity of their staff shows they will lead and innovate within our beloved field for generations to come,” MVJ President Russell Midori said. “Dustin’s work will inform you, inspire you, and break your heart. People trust him with their stories – stories they might never tell anyone else.”
Dustin spent four years in the Marine Corps from 2007-2011. He served on two combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan in the First Battalion Third Marine Regiment. Within that time, he exemplified strong leadership while selecting and training new platoon members. He also has won multiple awards, including two meritorious promotions and was selected as Marine of the Quarter.
While deployed to Afghanistan in 2009-2010, journalists from The New York Times were at his small patrol base. Marine Corps veteran turned journalist CJ Chivers and Photographer Tyler Hicks wrote several stories about Dustin’s unit and his friends. His passion and purpose for journalism flourished from the stories they covered.
“I realized that was what I wanted to do when I left the military, share people’s stories,” Dustin said. “So after leaving the Marines in 2011, I attended the University of Colorado, where I studied journalism and photography. I worked as a reporter and news manager for a small Montana paper for a year and a half before attending Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where I received my masters in journalism with a focus in documentary production.
Despite his accomplishments and familiarity with weapon systems, land navigation survival tactics, and training, the military did not fully prepare him for a career in journalism. Dustin spoke candidly about obstacles in getting his big break.
“I didn’t have much help after leaving the military, which definitely made the transition harder than expected. Classes were not particularly hard because of the work ethic I developed in the Marines, but I didn’t have many networking opportunities. When I graduated in 2015, it took me over a year to find a journalism job, which brought me to Montana in January of 2017,” Dustin said.
Dustin is now a well-rounded storyteller with skills in photography, writing, editing, and video production. He is currently producing a film about a Marine struggling with PTSD and suicidal tendencies in a VA inpatient program.
He is grateful that Military Veterans in Journalism secured an opportunity like this to help shape his professional growth further in journalism.
“My chances for landing the internship went up drastically because of the efforts of MVJ. I am also working with mentors to try and map out a career path and finding a home for some of my other work,” Dustin said.
Kristin Van Meerbeke has worked as the Talent Operations and Intern Program Manager at NPR for over two years. She assists with on-boarding new employees, works with our temporary employee population, and manages the intern program at NPR.
“We canceled our summer 2020 program because of COVID as we weren’t ready to pivot to a remote program so quickly and we wanted to make sure we were not only providing a rich experience for our interns; but also supporting our staff,” Kristin said. “We didn’t think we could do that so soon; but we brought our program back this fall in a fully remote capacity. We limited the number of positions from our typical 60+ to about 34 interns anticipating there would be some new and unique challenges offering our program remotely for the first time.”
An internship is a great way to get started in journalism. It allows for networking and getting hands-on experience, positioning one for a full time role. With NPR, interns will gain exposure to training, its daily operations, and work alongside world-class journalism professionals.
Calling all MVJ members in photojournalism and video journalism: Do you want to feature some of your best work for Veterans Day?
MVJ is proud to be teaming up with Video Consortium, a global nonprofit creative community committed to supporting and uniting today’s top emerging voices in documentary film and video journalism.
This is a chance to screen your nonfiction films and photography next month, and we’re asking for submissions. We would love to showcase your hard work and skills. From covering disaster relief efforts, to Black Lives Matter protests, to what is happening within our current news climate, this is an event you certainly don’t want to miss. This is an opportunity for you to connect with other veterans in the business while promoting your strongest work.
When deciding which films, videos or photos to submit, please keep in mind that it must be nonfiction and relevant. So if your film or video is a year old, ask why it must be shown today. Moreover, look at the visual and technical precision.
Here’s how it will work:
1) If your film or video is a long piece, then an excerpt will be shown.
2) Space is limited, so you have until Friday, October 30th at 4pm ET to submit. *Please note that in order to successfully submit your work, you must become a member of MVJ first. If you haven’t purchased a membership yet, click here.
3) If your film or video is chosen, you will also get the chance to do a virtual Q&A with Video Consortium and the audience later in November.
4) Submit your films to Video Consortium at [email protected] with “MVJ VC Submission” in the subject line.
5) We plan to publish a short teaser video that features all submissions on our social media channels before the Veterans Day screening. More details TBD.
6) Once we provide updates about our screening, feel free to post your work with our hashtags “#MVJVCEvent, #MVJVCFilms, or #VetsinPhotoJournalism.”
Over a year ago, MVJ formally launched as just an idea and a little website. We’ve grown a lot since then and in order to maximize our full potential to support our community, we are implementing some new changes in membership here:
Let me explain.
MVJ started small — without a full realization of just how much we as a community can do to support our fellow vets in journalism. We are now more than 300 members. We have an all-volunteer team of about 10. We have created multiple ongoing (paid) internship programs and have several more in the pipeline. We have more than 20 active mentorships pairing members like you with seasoned journalism pros. We have held a range of events (mostly digital, thanks COVID), including an amazing career fair.
And so, Military Veterans in Journalism needs to grow as an organization. Aside from many internal efforts that I won’t bore you with, we need to diversify our revenue streams (in non-profit / business speak). We’ve been speaking with leaders of other organizations like the National Association of Hispanic Journalists to learn how they sustain and grow. (Our new membership structure shares some similarities with theirs. Interesting how that happened. Nowhere near as pricey as others.)
So the big question: what are we going to do with your money? It’s an important one and we will always be transparent about that. We have some minor backend costs like website fees, but the bulk of our budget is dedicated to real programmatic costs like paying for Adobe Premiere subscriptions for our upcoming workshop on video journalism, held in partnership with the University of Mississippi and FUJIFILM.
MVJ is never going to be a massive veterans organization bringing in millions of dollars every year. We have programmatic needs within our community but they are finite. We have big dreams (and if you know someone who can give us millions of dollars, hit me up). Point is: we are nimble and budget conscious. Every dollar we spend is carefully spent.
Next question: What do I get out of this? First of all, you’ll have bragging rights about being a member of MVJ. That’s pretty cool. But more importantly, we are offering you a range of unique programs and opportunities tailored specifically to vets in journalism. For example, our mentorship program pairs you with seasoned professionals. We offer (paid) internships through our media partners. (NPR received 20,520 applications for 27 internship spots this fall. One MVJ member was guaranteed a spot in the program.) We are developing year-long (paid) fellowships and we have some really exciting opportunities in the works that I can’t wait to share with you, once the details are hammered out.
As you’ll see, we have multiple membership levels with varying levels of annual fees:
The vast majority of you will be Professional members with $30 due each year.
Some of you will be Student members at $25 annually.
Active duty service members dues are $20 per year.
Important: We want everyone to remain a member of MVJ. We are issuing no-questions-asked financial waivers each year. (Details on membership are included within the hyperlink of the first sentence.)
I know this is a lot but we want to be open with you about where we’re coming from and why these changes are necessary. You are always welcome to email me with ideas, thoughts, criticisms, whatever you want.
We’re proud to announce that Military Veterans in Journalism has partnered with the Washington Post to help get more vets into America’s newsrooms.
As part of its 2021 Summer Internship program, the Washington Post will select one military veteran through MVJ to participate in its paid internship program.
The Post selects interns to fill various roles for reporters, visual journalists, multiplatform editors, multiplatform producers, news and digital designers, graphics reporters and developers, audience producers, and audio producers. (For summer 2020, the salary was $750 per week.)
This will be an important early career step for veterans working to advance within the media field. Each applicant must have had at least one professional news media job or internship.
Washington Post interns have become Pulitzer award winners and executive producers and editors. Working alongside top professionals in the field, interns do meaningful work across a variety of departments at Washington Post.
Applications for internships may apply online with Military Veterans in Journalism. The deadline to apply is September 30, 2020 at 6pm Eastern.
Pictured are Army National Guard Officer Davis Winkie, a mentee in the MVJ mentorship program and his mentor, an award-winning journalist named Erin Siegal McIntyre.
NEW JERSEY- Military Veterans in Journalism highlights the benefits from its mentorship program with a recent testimonial from Award-Winning Journalist Erin Siegal McIntyre and Army National Guard Officer Davis Winkie.
Mentorship plays a key role in shaping professional and personal development in both the military and civilian sector. One of the main resources offered by Military Veterans in Journalism is its mentorship program, where a newly-transitioned veteran is paired up with an experienced media professional. Mentors and mentees have the opportunity to learn from one another within the program.
Director of Digital Strategy and Content Babee Garcia understands the value and importance of having a mentor in journalism.
“Networking is crucial in journalism,” said Babee Garcia. “This mentorship program helps build confidence and credibility for our mentees. Few of them earn success on their own, and need someone with insight to advance them in their careers. From personal experience, I am lucky to have great mentors, to include college professors and MVJ President Russell Midori.”
Davis Winkie, a Human Resources Officer (42B) in the Army National Guard, has many accomplishments under his belt, including a tour as an Administrative Officer for an engineering task force that planned field hospitals in North Carolina during COVID-19. Prior to his military service, he was a historian with a desire to research and write. He noticed the similarities between historians and journalists as both work to find the truth within storytelling. Determined to combine his skills and experiences, Winkie found his purpose —reporting with immediacy and a sense of urgency.
Since being a part of Military Veterans in Journalism’s mentorship program, Winkie has had a byline in The New Republic, Task & Purpose, VICE, and other national news publications. Winkie encourages veterans, who are pursuing a career in journalism, to take advantage of the tools and opportunities offered at MVJ.
“Programs like MVJ’s mentorship are extremely important to folks like me without traditional journalism backgrounds who have potential, but just need a little guidance,” said Davis Winkie.
He is currently still training in the U.S. Army National Guard while working as a freelancer and a contract job with the Digital Library of Georgia. He is building a digital exhibit about the history of racial violence in his hometown of Forsyth County, GA.
Erin Siegal McIntyre is an accomplished investigative journalist and author. In 2012, Beacon Press published her award-winning book “Finding Fernanda”- the basis for an hour-long CBS special investigation that was awarded a 2015 News Emmy. Throughout most of her career, she has been a freelancer, who published stories in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Latino USA, and various other media outlets.
For McIntyre, this has been her first time providing guidance for her mentee. She speaks highly about Winkie’s work ethic and how the experience has been both instructive and inspiring.
“I’ve been impressed with his high level of organization, his excellent and prompt communication, his wit and humor, and his ability to consider immediate and long-term career options simultaneously—not to mention drafting and publishing pieces while on duty,” said Erin Siegal McIntyre. “Who wouldn’t be impressed? Vets have a skillset that lends itself well to both collecting and organizing information, which is basically the core of what journalists do. He’s also ambitious, which is a quality any journalist needs in today’s market. When I was starting out, many of my opportunities arose from the kindness of others. It’s really satisfying for me now to be able to open doors and help the next generation.”
McIntyre recalls a long phone conversation with Winkie, where they shared insight on professional networking, strategic planning, resumes, cover letters, planning a career trajectory, and other important building blocks to sustain a successful journey into journalism. They spoke about one of Winkie’s stories, brainstorming how to approach certain sources, and how to acquire certain kinds of information.
“I was so surprised to hear how fluent he is in public records requests; that’s a quality of utmost importance and he’s already very experienced,” said Erin Siegal McIntyre.
In some instances, McIntyre became the student, as Winkie taught her about his area of expertise.
“Davis was recently a PhD student in history at UNC-Chapel Hill, immersed in academic writing, research, and classroom instruction, and so our conversation ended with the tables being flipped: he gave me some advice on university culture and provided an insider’s on-the-ground perspective on the institution’s more recent history related to Confederate monuments on campus,” said Erin Siegal McIntyre.
She also spoke positively about giving back through mentorship and how it helps other journalists, saying “It’s nearly impossible to get anywhere in journalism without a robust network and a few people guiding you, at least a little. Even informal mentorship can be of outsize value; my fellow journalists are almost entirely accessible, generous, and kind…Those of us already working in the field consider it a privilege to help and pass along what we’ve learned.”
An internship is a great way to get your start in journalism. It allows for networking and getting hands-on experience, positioning you for a full time role. NPR Interns will gain exposure to training, NPR’s daily operations, and work alongside world-class journalism professionals. Thank you NPR for your role in supporting military veterans seeking to get started in the journalism world!
The program runs from September 8, 2020 to December 11, 2020. We’re really excited to offer this opportunity to MVJ members and hope that it will be the first of many internship/fellowship partnerships to come! Once again, the link to apply is here.
Since starting in 2019 MVJ has built a vibrant organization of current, former, and aspiring veteran-journalists with an immense variety of backgrounds and skill sets. As of May 20, 2020 MVJ has over 267 members across the world, from all kinds of military backgrounds, and in a variety of stages in their journalism careers.
5/23/20 WASHINGTON DC: Riders with Flags of Honor arrived in Washington, D.C., to pay their respects to those who have give the ultimate sacrifice this year on Memorial Day weekend. Photo Credit: Andrew M. Byers
By Guest Contributor Jeff Walsh
Edited by MVJ Blog Editor Erich Reimer and Director of Digital Strategy and Content Babee Garcia
In October 1990, I took the oath of enlistment and honorably served in the military for 15 years. It has been another 15 years since my transition into the civilian sector again, but my pride as a veteran remains strong. Each Memorial Day, I reflect on my brothers and sisters in arms, who have inspired so many and paved the way for so many soldiers like myself. However, this year’s Memorial Day brings many obstacles in how to properly honor those who died and grieve.
COVID-19 has impacted us all, and made us adapt during these unprecedented times. On this Memorial Day weekend, we are not all enjoying a large backyard BBQ. There are no restaurants to sit in and social distancing is encouraged in every direction. Many parades and ceremonies are cancelled or moved virtually this year. Although we cannot celebrate this occasion under normal circumstances, we must pause to honor the brave men and women soldiers, sailors, Coast Guard, Airmen, Marines and National Guardsmen who lost their lives in service to the red, white and blue. We must reflect about the servicemen and servicewomen lost during World War II, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, during and post 9/11, conflicts from Panama to Grenada, and other deployments.
At the same token, we should also pause for a moment of silence to honor those Americans, our fallen band of brothers and sisters, who left us much too soon due the silent and deadly coronavirus. Many of the newly departed will not have a proper burial or funeral for many months to come. We should also take a moment to thank the new modern-day heroes of this new global war that is being fought day and night in hospital wards and emergency rooms.
Some veterans continue serving others in different careers fields during COVID-19, including the medical profession. I was grateful enough to have worked within a medical-related MOS in the U.S. Army. From personal experience, some of my fondest memories were from the Medical Corps with two different MOS’ and two distinct medical jobs. First, I served as a 91B Army medic with the 2nd I.D.“Second to None” at Camp Casey, South Korea and then with 1st Armored Division “Old Iron sides” at Fort Riley, Kansas including a deployment to Kuwait. I also served as a 91Q Pharmacy Technician at Reynolds Army Community Hospital at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
This photo was taken in 1999 at Camp Casey in South Korea just 10 miles from the DMZ. Pictured are Jeffrey Walsh and his Army medical platoon of 1/503 Infantry Battalion.
As someone with a medical and military background, I empathize with the hardships that our frontline workers may be experiencing. Some of them will contract COVID-19 and risk the possibility of bringing it into their homes. Others will develop symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and/or depression. Some of them go above and beyond to communicate with loved ones via Skype or Facetime when in-person visits are restricted. These courageous men and women are going through similar challenges that military service members experienced. I admire their bravery and acknowledge them as well not only on occasion, but each and every day.
According to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University and U.S. National Archives, there are over 5 million confirmed cases and there are at least 100,000 lives lost in the United States— more lives than the Korean War and more lives than the Vietnam War. As we have discovered on our mighty fleet of aircraft carriers and at our nation’s VA centers and veteran’s homes, the virus does not discriminate between military personnel, veterans or civilians. Let us also pause for a moment on this Memorial Day to also reflect on the veterans, who have lost their lives. Twenty years from now, some will tell their grandchildren that they were “Veterans of the COVID-19 Worldwide Pandemic.”
Let’s acknowledge the frontline workers, who are substituting kevlars, fatigues and combat boots with PPE. This new war is being fought day and night by a vast army in scrubs, masks and surgical gowns.
5/23/20 WASHINGTON DC: Riders with Flags of Honor arrived in Washington, D.C., to pay their respects to those who have give the ultimate sacrifice this year on Memorial Day weekend. Photo credit: Andrew M. Byers
EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece reflects the opinion of one of our newest Jeff Walsh, who served in the U.S. Army and Army National Guard from 1990-2005. He was on guard duty at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and was stationed in South Korea near the DMZ.
We are very excited to announce that Military Veterans in Journalism will host eight (8) online sessions for a video journalism workshop for 10 military veterans in the early stages of their journalism careers in spring of 2021. The Walton Family Foundation sponsored this workshop.
Applications for this event are closed. However, we encourage you to check out our website for upcoming events and resources. COVID-19’s future impact on bringing people together in the coming months (and years) is still unknown. For now, we are moving forward with planning for these dates, but the timing may have to shift.
✏ In partnership with the University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism and New Media and with the support from FUJIFILM, this is a unique opportunity to learn from one of the most renowned professors in the field. Duy Linh Tu, Associate Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia University, will be the lead instructor. He’s a journalist and a documentary filmmaker, focusing on education, science, and social justice.
This course will teach you how to tell stories through video, focusing on the essentials:
• conceiving and structuring a story
• how to handle a camera
• using post-production software
• combining audio and visual components to deliver a story
Prior experience working in video and journalism, defined broadly, is preferable but not necessary. In addition to the video training, we will have several guest speakers throughout the week. As you know, video is a valuable skill for new journalists to bring to the table as they seek employment. This workshop will set you up for success and give you an edge up on the competition.
Update: This internship opportunity is on hold as a result of COVID-19. We will provide updates as soon as we have more details on rescheduling this chance to work for NPR.
Military Veterans in Journalism (MVJ) is excited to announce that we’ve partnered with National Public Radio (NPR) to offer a paid internship in Summer 2020 specifically for military veterans! It’s paid, will be in either Washington DC, Los Angeles, or New York City, and the deadline to apply is March 6 at 6 pm EST through MVJ at this link.
An internship is a great way to get your start in journalism. It allows for networking and getting hands-on experience, positioning you for a full time role. NPR Interns will gain exposure to training, NPR’s daily operations, and work alongside world-class journalism professionals. Thank you NPR for your role in supporting military veterans seeking to get started in the journalism world!
The program runs from June 1, 2020 to August 21, 2020. We are really excited to offer this opportunity to MVJ members and hope that it will be the first of many internship/fellowship partnerships to come! Once again, the link to apply is here.
Student Press Freedom Day is a reminder of the importance of free speech and thought for all, including students continuing their studies at a time when their minds are encouraged to learn, ponder, and create.
At first, it may seem there are few greater professional jumps than hanging up the body armor and rifle with picking up pen and paper (or in the digital age – a laptop and recorder). However, your military background has given you a lot of skills journalism and media employers greatly value – including many you may not initially expect to be translatable – and can help you succeed in making your mark on the journalism world.
By Bob Young
I was going through some photos the other day and found one from fifty years ago. A young Airman was seated behind a desk on a television studio set in the Republic of Vietnam announcing that two Americans were walking on the moon. We didn’t have live pictures available at the time, so some creative visuals were used to cover the live radio network broadcast. Our ingenuity made it work!
My twenty-six months with the American Forces Vietnam Network was my early education in television broadcasting. I started at the bottom, where the real learning begins, especially that lesson in understanding the human dynamics – the culture – of an organization. My introduction to military broadcasting had begun as a junior Airman working for a hard-core Marine Non-Commissioned Officer who reported to an Army Colonel; lots of cultural dynamics at work there!
It was at AFVN that I picked up the skills that enabled me to enjoy a civilian broadcast career that spanned twenty-six years. The detachment where I was first assigned was a small collection of men of varying backgrounds, who operated a television station out of a trailer – a TV station in a box! The beauty was that we all learned how to do each other’s jobs, both behind and in front of the camera.
The time you spend as a military journalist is an investment that easily translates into the civilian world. The knowledge you acquire, the practical skills you hone, the leadership you demonstrate are collectively invaluable assets in an industry crying out for talented and disciplined people who are personally and professionally prepared and eager to get to work.
No employer would pass on someone like a military journalist who has demonstrated time and again the initiative to creatively meet any challenge. I’m reminded of that spirit by a business friend of mine who would tell his customers: “The answer is ‘yes.’ Now, what is the question?”
There came a time in my civilian career when I actually was tasked with hiring people. From my own experience, I knew that veterans were my best recruits. They came prepared in attitude, desire, dependability and experience.
Even this late in my life I fondly recall my time as a military broadcaster, and for those years I remain grateful to the American taxpayer.
I already know you have an amazing idea for a story, this post will help you get into the publications you have been dreaming of writing for. When pitching, brevity and accuracy are key.
Crafting an effective pitch is relatively easy. Even if the editor is not interested in your idea, with a good pitch, they may reply with, “No thanks, but what else do you have?” That happens.
After a bit of trial and error, below are a list of the ten best practices that helped me go from lost in an inbox to getting responses from editors and getting published in my favorite magazines.
1. Find the right outlet for your niche. Make sure the magazine or blog is a good fit. Check out past issues and make sure the magazine hasn’t published anything too similar to what you are proposing. Try to approach them with something that’s in their wheelhouse, but come from a different angle so your piece is different.
2. Find the right person. Find the editor that works in the section of the magazine that you are pitching. Many times, magazines break down their sections and have an editor that covers that specific section.
3. Send your pitch by email. People do not want to be pitched via social media, so using the editors working email inbox rather than LinkedIn just makes sense.
4. Hook em high. As in high up in the subject line. Grab their attention with a subject line like, “Query | Lines at the registry are longer than they have ever been. Here’s how to avoid the lines.”A recent survey found that 47% of email recipients open emails based on subject lines. Now, this was a random sampling – picture an editor receiving random email pitches all day. You have to come at them with something that makes them want to read the next sentence, then the next sentence.
5. Address the pitch to the editor by name. Start with “Dear (Name)” or “Hi (Name)”. Refrain from using “Dear Sir or Ma’am.” It reeks of a generic pitch that has been shot-gunned out to several sites, and that’s not the look we’re going for.
6. The shameless art of name-dropping. While name-dropping for some type of social credibility is shameful, in pitching it is somehow… well, less cringe-worthy, and sometimes necessary. If you have a mutual acquaintance and they know the editor to pitch it to, by all means, use the name.
7. Keep your pitch short and sweet. Editors are busy people. They just want to know if the story will work for them and they want to know that you can pull it off. The pitch style that I have had the most success with is actually only one half-page long.
8. Embed links to your work in the email. Do not put attachments in the email. If you’re just starting out, a WordPress blog is a great place to post and share your work.
9. Timeliness. Knowing that your pitch may land in a proverbial black-hole, never to be heard from again, it’s okay to put an expiration on your pitch. Many stories are time sensitive and lose relevancy as time goes on. For this reason, I typically, kindly inform editors, that, I will continue pitching this story after a week or so.
10. Photos. A picture speaks a thousand words, so why not take advantage? If you have a good one that applies to the story your writing, include it. Also let the editor know if you will be supplying pictures with your story.
Now, having a well written pitch is necessary and very helpful for a writer, but it can’t compensate for a mediocre story idea. Run your ideas by trusted friends, and see what type of twists and turns your story takes. Use those twists and turns in your story because that’s the natural progression of the conversation and it will contain questions that your audience will likely have and make for a great piece.
P.S. Here is a basic pitch template that I like to use:
Hello [Editor’s Name],
My name is XXX, and I am a Boston-based freelance writer specializing in [Niche].
My work has been published by [links to relevant outlet], and [link to relevant outlet].
I am passionate about [subject], I would love to use my expertise and insights to write a piece for [this brand or publication]. I have included a story idea below that I think will really resonate with your readers:
[One or two sentences outlining the piece]
I’d love to get your thoughts–is this something you’d be interested in having me write for [brand or publication]?
Thank you so much for your consideration, [Editor Name]. I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon!
David is a freelance writer from the North Shore of Massachusetts and a former 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper/medic. David recently graduated from UMass Amherst with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and is currently in a mentorship program with the Military Veterans in Journalism Program.
For the past 48 years, the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) has recognized important contributions in broadcast and digital journalism. Amongst this year’s student Edward R. Murrow award recipients were my team and I for “Montclair News Lab: Hurricane Recovery In Puerto Rico” in the Excellence in Video Reporting category.
In March 2018, I joined a team of student and faculty journalists to document aid and recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria struck the island. Within a week’s time, our team explored areas that were impacted including education, tourism, businesses, destruction of homes, food distribution, and agriculture. We also formed friendships, overcame challenges, and created memories that will last a lifetime along the way- all while understanding the purpose and power behind journalism.
To have earned a Murrow award in the same room full of talented journalists, who have worked in the industry for years from various news organizations, was truly an honor. As I reunited with peers and faculty from my alma matter, I embraced this moment of recognition. I reflected on how valuable this trip was for our professional growth and development as the next generation of storytellers.
10/14/2019 NEW YORK, NY: The team from Montclair News Lab: Hurricane Recovery in Puerto Rico spoke to CBS National Lead Correspondent David Begnaud at the 2019 Edward R. Murrow Awards Gala. Photo Credit: Laura Galarza
MVJ Social Media Coordinator and Marine Corps veteran Babee Garcia poses with her team’s Edward R. Murrow award at Gotham Hall for their team project “Montclair News Lab: Hurricane Recovery in Puerto Rico.” Photo credit: Alfredo Garcia Rodriguez
It was a great opportunity to not only celebrate our achievements, but to network amongst other media professionals. CBS National Lead Correspondent David Begnaud took some time to congratulate my team. He also gave us great advice on continuing to spread awareness with our storytelling efforts, “Make sure you are promoting it [your work] as much as you can cause that’s how we serve a purpose.”
As a fan of David’s reporting in Puerto Rico, it was personally one of the best highlights of the night. It seemed as if our encounter had come full-circle since we had all told important stories from the island. As we walked on to accept our award, I acknowledged David was clapping and cheering for us backstage. Later that evening, we had also met Senator Bill Bradley, CBS News President Susan Zirinsky, and many others.
I felt proud that our work has been highly recognized by the Television Academy Foundation in California and RTDNA this year. However, our greatest reward throughout our journey had been having our stories being visible, shared and heard.
Our expectations in Puerto Rico were simple- to share stories with the intent to understand and capture the destruction of Hurricane Maria. It took a village, including the extraordinary leadership of our professors, to shape us into the skilled journalists we are today.
This entire experience has made me appreciate the value of journalism across all levels. Whether it is contributing to college journalism or a news organization with a large market, our voices matter. We, as journalists, work hard to highlight injustice and people serving their communities in hopes of getting others to listen.
If we are exercising the ethics, putting in the time, and sharing content, then we are all winners. With and without the awards, we continue to make a difference in bringing local and national attention on stories that need an active voice.
I am humbled by all of the amazing people I met and who have encouraged me thus far. After transitioning from the Marine Corps in 2016, I received the best college education from Montclair State University. Working with the students and faculty convinced me to seize every opportunity I could to be a versatile journalist, including traveling to Puerto Rico. I would like to thank everyone there, who helped foster my creativity and fuel my passion in journalism.
I would also like to thank Military Veterans in Journalism, a non-profit organization that serves others through impactful storytelling, for their continuous support. I am grateful to be a part of their team as Social Media Coordinator.
10/14/2019 NEW YORK, NY: From left to Right: Mariano Arocho, Krystal Acosta, Genesis Obando, Madj Traore, Laura Galarza, Babee Garcia, David Sanders, Kathleen Reddington, and Steve McCarthy at the 2019 Edward R. Murrow Awards Gala in Gotham Hall. (Not pictured: Thomas E. Franklin, Natalie De La Rosa, and Madison Glassman) Photo credit: Alfredo Garcia Rodriguez
Every journalist needs a portfolio website. The news business is fickle, and it’s normal for reporters to shift from one outlet to the other over the years.
Another outlet might poach you. You might be laid off due to budget cuts. The bosses might decide that video production is the future and then change their minds. Your outlet might just be totally shuttered. Or you just might have had enough of a terrible boss.
Unless you happen to be independently wealthy, you need to be prepared for the eventuality that you’ll be on the job market a few times during your career.
One vital asset you’ll need is a journalism portfolio website, especially if you’re just getting your start in journalism.
You may not be a coder or good at graphic design but there are plenty of options for low cost or free ways that are not super complicated.
A website domain, like mywebsite.com, is where your portfolio website lives. Think of it like a street address. Usually, for your portfolio site, you just want to buy a website domain that is your name. If you have a common name, you may need to buy something like John-Doe.com or JohnDoeJournalist.com . These cost about $10 per year.
I recommend buying your domain at Namesilo which has two factor authentication to make sure you aren’t (easily) hacked.
A website host has a server out there in computer land where your website content actually lives. It’s like the house being built up on the street address.
Now, some hosts are more complicated than others and some are more simple. Prices also vary.
If you are not tech savvy at all, consider using a site like Squarespace that charges $12 per month for a nicely designed site that is easy to build. Wix is great too and more affordable, but it isn’t as fancy.
If you have more tech skills and more time on your hands, you can design your own website using a content management system like WordPress. I always go to ThemeForest and search for WordPress themes that I then customize. Themes are frameworks that you can use for your site. There are lots of options there that are affordable and beautiful. You’ll also find many themes specifically intended to be portfolios.
If you go the WordPress route, you’ll need to pay a web hosting service to put the WordPress files on your domain. I recommend DreamHost which is reliable, secure and affordable (for as low as $2.59/per month, as of June 2019).
I prefer building my own site on WordPress because:
you get to customize everything exactly as you want it
you can choose from a much wider variety of themes
and there are a lot more things you can do technically.
If you pay for Adobe Creative Cloud programs, then consider using Adobe Portfolio to create your site. This program allows you to select a theme, customize photo galleries that you can upload/edit from Adobe Lightroom, and personalize your URL. If you use all the Adobe Creative apps like Photoshop, Portfolio and Premiere, it’s $52.99/ month. However, if you want to only invest in Portfolio, it is $9.99/month.
Step 3: Building your portfolio website
With the tech stuff out of the way, you actually need to put good and useful content on your portfolio website. At the minimum, you should include:
A full (downloadable) résumé in PDF format
A selection of your best clips
Your reel (if you do video work)
Your contact info (including PGP key if you’re into that sort of thing)
Links to your social media pages (not profiles)
For those of you who do journalism work in a range of mediums, you may need to separate out video, radio, photo and print stories into different sections. I suggest a maximum of 10 stories for each medium.
Ultimately, this website should be how you want to present yourself to the world. Carefully craft the wording and make sure it captures where you are now as a journalist while also being forward-thinking about how you want to position yourself in your career.
A few tips before you go live
Get other people to check out your website before you go live. You may be a strong editor but it’s always good to get a second or third look. If you’re an MVJ member, your mentor can go through your website with you. (If you’re not yet a member, apply now.)
Your website should be a constant work in progress. Add in your latest and greatest clips, especially if you’re proud of them. Update your bio and resume whenever you’ve achieved something new, like winning an award or publishing at a new outlet.
Some folks like to have a blog on their website. I’ve done that in the past and ultimately deleted mine. Unless you’re posting regularly, say once every week or so, it’s going to look dated. Typically, when you have real stories that pay the bills with real deadlines, a blog on your portfolio website is going to end up on the bottom of your to-do list.
Whether you like it or not, as a journalist, you have to market yourself. You are a brand. Spend the time to do your website right. Your career thanks you.
Zack Baddorf is the executive director of Military Veterans in Journalism. He’s an award-winning journalist and filmmaker with reporting experience in more than 40 countries. His work has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, AP and elsewhere.
Babee Garcia contributed to this post. She is currently the Social Media Coordinator for Military Veterans in Journalism and is an award-winning multimedia journalist from New Jersey.
By Alex Quade, Reporter / Military Veterans in Journalism Board Member
As young journalists bootstrapping our way up the news ranks, our mentors are usually editors or executive producers. If you’re a journalist, what you’re about to read may come as a bit of a shock. My mentor was not in the news business. Far from it, though he made some news in his day. I’ve come to learn, it’s a good thing in our profession, to try to understand people — or groups of people — who despise you.And on the flip side, this may come as a shock to anyone reading this who happens to serve in the secretive world of Special Operations; a community with no great love for reporters, especially after the “Tailwind” story on CNN in the 1990s which eventually was rescinded. But I hope they will read the following; even though it’s from a purported “tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, liberal-media-puke.”
As a lone, woman war reporter covering U.S. Special Operations forces on combat missions downrange, an unexpected mentor came into my life. This unlikeliest of sources hated reporters. Despite that, he “chose” me, treated me as an adopted SON, and taught me everything I need to know that matters.
Love him or hate him, everyone respected Medal of Honor recipient Col. Robert L. Howard (or “Mean ol’ Ranger Bob” as I liked to call him) for his bravery during five tours in Vietnam, mainly with the Studies and Observations Group. He was one of the most decorated soldiers in U.S. history; nominated for the Medal of Honor three times.
Bob said many people in that community deserve medals for all the unheralded things they’ve done, which, due to their classified nature, lack of witnesses, nor write-ups, few Americans will ever know about. He said he wore his Medal of Honor for each of them.
When I was with him, and his family, during his last weeks in hospital in Texas in 2009, he asked me to share a last “tasker” for each man or woman serving in Special Operations: “Continue the Mission.”
And he tasked me, too: “You must be tough as woodpecker lips,” Bob told me. “You must do the thing you cannot do. Whatever your fate may be… you make it happen along the way.”
He emailed advice almost every day, especially when I was downrange, as an embedded war reporter, covering “his” Green Berets on combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was excited I was to spend time with “his” Rangers, too. He encouraged me to make a difference through the war stories I do and said he admired my perseverance.
“Bob, I’m not a cheerleader for the military,” I said.
“Alex, truth in reporting is a virtue; without unnecessary exploitation of facts. It’s about trust and honest sincerity. Military dependents resent the absence of their loved one and will turn to you for the rest of the story,” Bob replied. Which is why he hassled me every day I was back stateside.
“Lady, are you up exercising your talents?” He’d email early in the morning. If I didn’t hit “send” to reply quick enough, it was, “Get your butt out and ruck-march!” You see, Bob expected me to follow his strict regimen: Adding weight in a rucksack while picking up speed and increasing distance. As a septuagenarian, he still got up at 4:30 every morning to do physical training. He could still walk 25 miles and carry a ruck, and he was not shy about saying, he had “No patience for fat people, women, or hurt feelings.”
“You must carry your own load at squad or fire team level,” he said. “But I’m scaring the socialites and their little dogs in Central Park,” I countered. Bob didn’t care. His orders were clear: “Don’t hold back the men downrange!”
He said he felt like he was “sending me off to face evil” every time I deployed. He told me to carry a copy of the Koran, adding, “Learn some basic Farsi and practice it on the locals.” And, since I have no patience, he admonished: “Never be quick to take the next step without knowing where it leads you.”
“Seek out the good sergeants; you’ll know who they are. They’ll set you straight,” Bob advised. “Keep your eyes up and your butt down,” he said. “Stay in the shadows. Blonde hair makes a good target. If I can see you, I can kill you!”
He reiterated that fact one night in Landstuhl, Germany, before I headed back to Iraq and Afghanistan. One moment he was casually smoking a cigar, the next, he literally had my life in his hands. I’ll call it the “two-fingered, Vulcan death-grip” on the back of my neck, which brought me to my knees in an instant and made Medal of Honor recipients Staff Sergeant Drew Dix (5th Special Forces Group) and Command Sergeant Major Gary Littrell (Ranger Battalion) smile.
“That’s what you need to know how to do,” he said, during his impromptu combative lesson. But what I got out of that lesson was: Damn! He may look old, but never underestimate Bob Howard!
Bob must have known for a long time that he was fighting his last battle with the Grim Reaper. And like all soldiers, did not want to die alone. “This’ll keep ya motivated!” He said, shoving a Ziploc baggie at my chest. Inside was a bloody, nasty-looking piece of shrapnel freshly removed from near his frontal lobe just two weeks before. Just what every girl wants, right?
“It’s a real piece of North Vietnamese Army shrapnel fired from a 75-mm recoil-less rifle, that hit to the left front of me while I was firing at the enemy position, from a prone position, about 300 meters away,” Bob explained. “They rushed to clamp the arteries and veins to keep me from bleeding to death and left the shrapnel in. Had a headache for 42 years. First few days after removal recently, messed up my equilibrium.”
But the former member of Delta, the Green Berets and Ranger Battalion, who’d braved all the world’s hostile environments, was starting to feel the cold. So I gave him my “Woobie,” the blanket I’d carried in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sitting in his hospital room, in the wee hours, he told me, I was the one who looked cold; so he made me wear his beanie, that old, black, Ranger patrol-cap had never been washed in 25 years. He said, just looking at it on my head, made him feel warm.
Looking for things to appreciate in tough situations is what helped Bob through. “Look for Orion’s Belt. It is one of the most beautiful sights. I’ve lain in place, concealed, looking up at it many times while in Vietnam through sporadic jungle canopy,” he quietly mused.
“This is no bullshit!” Bob turned serious. “I challenge you to stay alert, stay safe, watch your back, and return home to share your stories and experiences with the public that need to be reminded,” he pointed his finger at me.
He asked me to tell all “his men”: Always “Lead from the front,” because that’s what he did. And: “Charlie Mike,” or, “Continue the Mission”. The last thing Bob said to me was, I “can kiss him in his coffin.”
Despite my belief that Mean ol’ Ranger Bob would take out the Grim Reaper with the pistol strapped to his calf, cancer took what the enemy never could. Col. Robert L. Howard passed away the day before Christmas Eve, 2009. Every morning since then, I look at my email… half expecting a butt-kicking message from him from the grave. His lessons still sound off like a cadence to my footfalls when I go running: “Charlie Mike… Continue the Mission… Charlie Mike…”
No, my fellow journalists… I did not drink the Kool-Aid.
Ranger Bob’s intestinal fortitude, which he was intent on passing along to me, before he passed away… his lessons have kept me alive in tough locations. The lesson I’d like to pass along to YOU is: Be open to learning from people you’d never expect, especially people who “hate reporters.”
Now, whenever meetings bring me to the “five-sided wind tunnel” on the Potomac (the Pentagon) I go visit Bob. The birds at Arlington National Cemetery seem to target his headstone. Bet that pisses him off, I think, touching his shrapnel hanging on a chain around my neck. But then I know, just like Clint Eastwood, he would have squinted-up his eyes, like he always did, laughed and grinned widely.
ALEX QUADE is a war reporter and documentary filmmaker, who’s covered U.S. Special Operations Forces on combat missions since 2007. She’s the only reporter, male or female, ever embedded long-term with these elite, secretive units downrange on her own, with no crew or support. The recipient of two national Edward R. Murrow Awards, Quade has produced videos and online reports for The New York Times, a front page story for The Washington Times, and has two documentaries in film festivals: Horse Soldiers of 9/11, narrated by actor Gary Sinise, and Chinook Down, an investigation into the surface-to-air missile shoot-down of a U.S. helicopter in Afghanistan killing all on board. Quade was supposed to be on that helicopter. She survived to report firsthand on the fierce firefight and recovery efforts. Quade started her career as a White House intern during the Persian Gulf War. She’s worked in television covering global conflicts and hostile environments for CNN, Fox News, HLN, and CNN International out of Frankfurt, Germany and New York. Quade’s reporting from the Asian Tsunami was individually cited in CNN’s Columbia du-Pont Award and her war reports were part of group Peabody and Emmy awards. She attended Georgetown University’s Institute for Political & Ethical Journalism, and holds three degrees from the University of Washington. Quade serves on the Board of Military Reporters and Editors.
Want to start on the ground level and work with an organization that is growing fast? Become an intern with Military Veterans in Journalism.
Military Veterans in Journalism is a professional association that builds community for vets, supports their career growth, and advocates for diversifying newsrooms through hiring and promoting more vets.
We launched on May 2 this year, and we are looking for an intern to support our membership and outreach efforts. Depending on how that goes, we’ll ask for you support in creating partnerships with journalism universities and veteran student groups.
We are looking for people with creativity who have ideas of how to improve the organization. Since we’re new, you’ll have the chance to make a big impact in our community.
We will train you on membership outreach and partnership creation.
We’d like someone to volunteer 10 hours per week but more time would be great, too.
Join our team and work with us as we move forward in our mission. Email us your résumé with a quick note about why you are interested. Let us know if you have any questions.
It can be overwhelming starting in the journalism field. There are countless news outlets (leaning left, right and everywhere in between) filled with an array of positions (editor, assistant producer, videographer, print reporter, etc) reporting on a whole range of subjects (from science to interior design).
Specializing, or building an expertise in a singular coverage subject or technical skill, can help you find direction in your career.
One way to find your specialization is to follow your passion. Like some other military veterans who work in journalism, I’m naturally drawn to stories related to conflict and post-conflict. After finishing my military service, I freelanced around the world for a few years, reporting mostly on stories of humanitarian crisis, development, and conflict from places like Syria, Cambodia and Venezuela. Even that level of specialty is really too broad. The smarter career move for me would have been to settle down in one of these places for a year or two and really dig in. Only later in my career did I live and work in places like South Sudan, Afghanistan and Central African Republic for about a year each. I became known to editors around the world and it was normal for the BBC to call me up for analysis.
That’s the key: Become an expert. Become someone whose reporting is valued and recognized as trustworthy.
You don’t have to fly off to a war zone to find your speciality. Perhaps you’re really into emerging technology: Go to Silicon Valley and start filing stories about tech startups. . Work on building two types of contacts – insiders who do work in the specialized beat you’re covering, and editors who can publish your stories or hire you to their staffs. With time, dedication, and solid reporting, you’ll eventually find your place in the industry. You will become known and people will come to you with stories and leads.
Importantly, you should be reading. A lot. Find articles and outlets where you’d want to be published. If you find yourself reading a story and wish you had been the one to write it, find out how that reporter got to their current gig. Knowing their path makes it easier to find your own. It’s critical, especially as a freelancer, to visualize where you want your work to end up and then doggedly pursue the gatekeepers to get your best work published.
That’s not to say you can’t shift your focus later in your career. It happens all the time. In the beginning, at a local outlet, you might be a generalist covering everything from political dog and pony shows to literal pony shows. Consider applying for fellowships after you’ve established a track record and have a solid portfolio showing you can hammer out strong reporting.
Ultimately, to find your specialty, you need to follow what interests you and dive deep.
— Zack Baddorf is the executive director of Military Veterans in Journalism. He’s an award-winning journalist and filmmaker with reporting experience in more than 40 countries. His work has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, AP and elsewhere.
We’re proud to announce the official launch of Military Veterans in Journalism!
Military Veterans in Journalism is a professional association that creates community for vets, supports their career growth, and advocates for increasing newsroom diversity through hiring more vets.
While there is limited data available on how many military veterans now work as journalists, it’s clear they are underrepresented. Whether they worked as a culinary specialist, an EOD tech, or a public affairs officer, we believe veterans bring a diversity of thought and experience that should be more significantly leveraged by media outlets.
We will address this by talking to leaders in newsrooms and their human resources departments about the value that vets bring to the news industry as a result of their military service.
Further, we know veterans have a tough time breaking into journalism as a career. To address this, our all-volunteer staff will run a mentorship program to support veterans as they progress professionally in the media industry. We will also create community (mostly online but also through in person events) that will give vets a chance to network and support each other.
We invite you to browse around our website to learn more about our programming.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED:
If you’re a veteran working in journalism or aspiring to work in journalism, we invite you to become a member.
If you’re a journalist (veteran or not) interested in mentoring veterans, we invite you to become a mentor.
If you have any ideas, thoughts or want to get involved, feel free to get in touch: [email protected] . We’d love to hear from you.
While we are just getting started, we look forward to supporting our fellow veterans in media.
We will be holding an informally launch celebration with supporters at Alligator Lounge in Brooklyn, New York, at 6:30 p.m. The event is open to the public.