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America’s newsrooms must hire more veterans

By News

By Zack Baddorf

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.

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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.

Marine Corps Veteran Dustin Jones Selected For MVJ/NPR’s First Internship

By News

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.

internship

MVJ-NBC Partnership: Internship Program

By Resources

We’re proud to announce that Military Veterans in Journalism has partnered with NBC Universal to help get more vets into America’s newsrooms.

We will flag the applications of MVJ members to NBC directly for consideration in their highly competitive (PAID!) internship program for Spring 2021.

Step 1: Apply here: https://www.nbcunicareers.com/internships

Step 2: Fill out this form so we can flag your application to NBCUniversal. https://forms.gle/pt2NnycE6WLX7M4K9

Deadline: Thursday Oct. 1 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern

Note: you must be a current member of Military Veterans in Journalism. More info: www.mvj.network/membership

Email us with any questions: [email protected] 

MVJ and Video Consortium Collaboration

By News

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.”

To learn more about Video Consortium, visit here.

Activate Your Membership In Our New System

By News

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.

Here’s a breakdown of what we did in the first year.

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.

Sincerely,

Zack Baddorf
Executive Director, MVJ

MVJ-Washington Post Internship

By Resources

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.

APPLY NOW and then email the required supplementary documents to [email protected] .

 

Army National Guard Officer and Freelancer Gets Published Thanks to MVJ Mentorship Program

By News

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.”

Potential volunteers can sign-up on MVJ’s website to participate in the mentorship program.

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2020 NPR Internship is On Again, and fully remote!

By Resources

Military Veterans in Journalism (MVJ) is excited to announce that the internship program with National Public Radio (NPR) is on again! It’s specifically for military veterans, and it’s paid.

The best part? It’s completely remote.

The deadline to apply is Friday July 10 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 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.

Who Are MVJ Members? Here Are The Numbers!

By Resources

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.

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A Memorial Day Reflection During COVID-19

By News

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.