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Russell Midori

Top journalists, leaders, slated to attend MVJ2022 Convention

By Resources

Ben Kesling, a reporter at the Wall Street Journal, will be the keynote speaker for the second annual Military Veterans in Journalism convention to be held in Washington D.C. this week.

Kesling’s reporting on national security and veterans issues has been prolific over the last decade, and is well informed by the six years he spent as a Marine infantry officer, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. He will talk about the value veterans bring with them into journalism careers, and has agreed to read an excerpt from his forthcoming book, “Bravo Company,” and provide insights on publishing long-form reporting.

Kesling will stick around after his address to interview Courtney Kube for a fireside chat. Kube, a longtime Pentagon producer-turned correspondent, has extensively covered wars in the Middle East and broadcasted stories about the veterans who have served there.

Other journalists and industry leaders will appear throughout the convention, speaking on topics critical to the community of veterans in journalism. 

Lucy Bustamante, Philadelphia’s NBC10 morning news anchor, will moderate a panel on combating disinformation that targets veterans and military personnel. 

Sewell Chan, Texas Tribune’s editor in chief, will moderate a discussion on diversifying local newsrooms through veteran hiring. 

Paul Szoldra, founder and editor of “The Ruck” will participate in a panel on national security reporting with Lamar Johnson of Politico and E&E News.

Caron LeNoir and Donna Cole, both members of the MVJ Speakers’ Bureau who travel to newsrooms to provide training on the disability journalism, will lead a panel on best practices for reporting on disabled veterans.

The event, which begins Thursday night and goes through Saturday night, will include a career fair with recruiters from top news outlets throughout the country, an award ceremony honoring veterans doing outstanding work in journalism, and informal gatherings for networking with industry leaders. 

Ticket sales are nearly at capacity with fewer than 20 tickets remaining for attendees. Those interested in attending can purchase tickets at https://2022.mvj.network/

MVJ Honors Post-9/11 Veterans

By Resources

The World Trade Center tribute lights, photographed on 9/11/2015. Photo by Vincent Nadal.

It has been 21 years since al-Qaeda suicide bombers carried out the deadliest terror attack ever on U.S. soil, yet any American who lived through that sorrowful day still remembers the horrific sight of the mighty Twin Towers collapsing to the earth. 

Reading the articles and social media posts about 9/11 today brought me back to the moment when my heart collapsed along with those buildings. The memory, as clear as that September sky, still tightens my chest after all this time. There is, too, some sweet nostalgia for the rare unity Americans felt in the year that followed. More than 250,000 brave men and women enlisted in the Armed Forces that year, and many more would continue to sign up to fight in the longest wars our nation has ever known. After 9/11, we proved ourselves to be one nation under God; indivisible. That is why about seven percent of the adult population in the U.S. today has served in the military. 

I believe that spirit of unity still lives within us, even if it feels buried under the scars of conflict and politics, division and bitter loss. We must continue to find ways to honor the heroes who stood up to fight in a time of unfathomable danger and uncertainty. Many organizations in corporate and public sectors have honored the post-9/11 generation by implementing hiring preferences for veterans. This empowers veterans to experience the dignity of labor, to contribute to American productivity, and to build wealth and resilience that strengthens their families. 

But the institution of journalism has been woefully slow in welcoming veterans to contribute to the crucial work of the Fourth Estate, and today fewer than two percent of journalists have served in the military. It doesn’t just hurt veterans to be so excluded from this industry – it hurts us all, and it hurts democracy itself, by contributing to the growing distrust of news. Audiences don’t see themselves fairly represented, and they have reacted by dismissing news reports as inaccurate. 

The team at Military Veterans in Journalism works every day to counter this distressing trend by fighting for veterans to have a voice in the public discourse. That means training them in new and classic journalism techniques, helping them get into great schools, and creating a pipeline into newsrooms where the special trust they have earned can strengthen public faith in news reporting. But on this solemn day, we will recommit ourselves especially to the Post-9/11 generation. 

It is wonderful that so many post-9/11 veterans get jobs in public service and corporate America, but for them to truly experience the freedom of speech they fought for they must have a stronger presence in the news industry. We will honor the post-9/11 generation the only way we know how to – by helping them gain access to journalism careers. This week, we are waiving any membership fees for post-9/11 veterans and spouses who join our ranks at MVJ

We want to bring in more members from this new great generation so we can provide them with mentors, fellowships, networking opportunities and all the benefits that come with MVJ membership. If you know any post-9/11 veterans or spouses, please help us honor them by sharing this opportunity, and if you agreed to serve any time after 9/11, we will prove to you that you can have a voice in the news Americans consume. 

Russell Midori, the author of this piece, is the president and founder of MVJ. He is an investigative documentary producer, photojournalist, and post-9/11 Marine Corps veteran. His work has been published by the New York Times, VICE, CBS News, Men’s Health, Task & Purpose, and Pix 11 News in NYC.

MVJ and The Texas Tribune offer paid six-month reporting fellowship on military beat

By Resources

Veterans and spouses who are members of Military Veterans in Journalism are eligible to apply for a paid, in-person, six-month reporting fellowship sponsored by MVJ at The Texas Tribune starting July 15. 

The chosen fellow will report to The Tribune’s managing editor and be responsible for covering military and veterans affairs beats for the state of Texas. The ideal fellow should be a recent college graduate, or transitioning veteran looking to build a career in journalism. Ideal fellowship candidates will have some experience reporting and writing on deadline for a general audience. The fellow will work 40 hours per week, earn $20 per hour, and receive ten paid vacation days during the six-month fellowship. 

Qualifications:

  • Fewer than three years of professional experience as a journalist
  • Professional attitude and approach to journalism
  • Must be well-read on and have a working knowledge of current affairs for these beats
  • The capacity to work well independently and take initiative, as well as to collaborate with colleagues and work as a team

For some examples of what coverage of this beat would like, see The Texas Tribune’s recent investigative series on Operation Lone Star.

Applicants for this internship may apply online with Military Veterans in Journalism. The deadline to apply is this Thursday, June 16 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

Eligible MVJ members can APPLY HERE.

A Customs and Border Protection agent collected biographical information from Venezuelan migrants last month before taking them into custody near Eagle Pass. Credit: REUTERS/Kaylee Greenlee Beal

MVJ to provide free membership for Military Appreciation Month

By News, Resources

A Military Veterans in Journalism hat is sometimes better for getting you access than an NYPD Press Pass, says MVJ President Russell Midori, who wears his hat at his job as an NYC photojournalist. Now you can get a hat like this, or any other free piece of swag, by signing up for MVJ during Military Appreciation Month. The gear and membership are both free this month.

Military Veterans in Journalism will provide a free year of membership to veterans and military spouses during May 2022 – Military Appreciation Month.

To get a free year through this promotion, go to the MVJ Membership Page and choose the “Free for 1 Year” option.

In addition to a free year, any member who joins in May is eligible for any single piece of branded swag from the organization’s online store.

“We see first-hand how our programs are changing our members’ lives and strengthening their careers,” said MVJ President Russell Midori. “But there are so many veterans and spouses trying to find their way in this very challenging career field with no support. We don’t want anything to stand in the way of their access to MVJ’s resources.”

It typically costs $30 for a professional journalist to join the organization. Once veterans or spouses become members, they receive access to a robust package of resources to support their career growth. These include exclusive opportunities for jobs and paid fellowships in successful newsrooms, career fairs and networking events, fully funded basic and advanced journalism training and certification programs, and a widely praised mentorship program that pairs world-class journalists with members.

To claim your free piece of gear, email Russell Midori at [email protected] with a receipt for your membership and tell him what you want from the store. He might even let you get two pieces of branded gear to show off your distinguished place in the MVJ community.

A LESSON IN HUMILITY: GOING FROM SERGEANT TO INTERN

By Features

My first civilian job was an internship with a New York production company where I had hoped to become a professional videographer. My first assignment: sweeping up cigarette butts in front of the building. Sure, I was an old pro at field day duties, but hadn’t I paid my dues already? Hadn’t I been a sergeant of Marines just two months prior?

While 22-year-old workers in corporate America are scarcely trusted to work a copy machine, military service members of that age may make decisions that carry the weight of life and death. It can be quite a shock to start working for an organization that doesn’t seem to place any special trust and confidence in your abilities.

The values required for military service, like integrity and accountability, easily translate to journalism. Experience operating in a hierarchy and just plain getting things done can help you quickly ascend to a position with greater influence. But, in journalism, none of that will likely help you start anywhere but at the bottom. I had to learn to suck it up and pay my dues.

But then I ran into a financial problem. I hadn’t considered the numbers very thoughtfully, and I soon realized I simply couldn’t pay my New York rent with a $7 per hour internship. I had to quit that job and lose that opportunity to grow.

If you’re committed to working in journalism despite knowing you may need to take a low-wage, low-influence position, you should spend some time figuring out the finances. This may mean taking advantage of your Post-9/11 GI Bill. The housing allowance that accompanies the Post-9/11 GI Bill is a fantastic way to keep you on your feet while you make your mark in an entry-level job.

If you can only find an unpaid internship, you can also get six months of unemployment benefits when you first get out (which some states extend to a year). This may give you the time to build your credibility at an organization and in the industry so you can move up to a position more suited to your abilities.

None of this means you should stick with a company where you just plain won’t like working. Look around the room. Are there more senior people doing jobs you could see yourself enjoying? Do you have access to them to talk about how to carve your own path? Those questions should help you determine if an internship is right for you.

You might look at an entry-level job as a way to get a glimpse of the opportunities ahead of you. You’re evaluating the company and the industry as much as they are evaluating you. If you find journalism is for you and you land an internship at a place where you want to grow, then suck it up, pay your dues, find some mentors, and climb that ladder.