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MVJ offers free training sessions on disability reporting across the nation’s newsrooms

By Resources

Military Veterans in Journalism is offering free training sessions on disability reporting, including on veterans, for newsrooms across the nation. 

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that about a quarter of all military veterans — an estimated 4.7 million people — have a service-connected disability.

Thanks to support from the Ford Foundation, over the past year, military veterans in the MVJ Speakers Bureau have been training with top disability beat journalists and experts at organizations like Disabled American Veterans with the goal of improving coverage on disabled veterans and the broader disailed community. Now, the participants are taking that training into newsrooms across the nation to increase awareness and understanding when journalists cover these issues.

The training sessions take roughly 60 minutes, and it’s preferred that the training be in-person, but can also be conducted via Zoom.

What will reporters learn?

  • Relevant data points on disabled veterans 
  • Challenges and common tropes related to disabled veterans
  • Intersectionality in the disabled veterans and broader disability communities – how does improving coverage of disabled veterans affect the issues in disability reporting?
  • Crafting respectful narratives around disabilities – language and storytelling tips and advice

“Vets need to be a part of the national conversation,” Baddorf added. “We know what it’s like to live with post-traumatic stress, to have tinnitus, to work despite hearing loss. Our experiences can help inform a deeper understanding within the media world of what it’s really like for people with disabilities.” 

MVJ will engage the reporters in a powerful conversation that helps them think critically about their own reporting on disability and provide them with best practices. 


Email MVJ Operations Manager Sara Feges at [email protected] to schedule a free training session for your newsroom.

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.

Disabled Journalists Association director educates MVJ on systemic disability struggles

By Resources

Earlier this year, Military Veterans in Journalism and the Ford Foundation launched its Disability Inclusion Program to advocate for better, more nuanced reporting around disabled military veterans. Eleven veterans were chosen to serve as speakers. MVJ organized a training series with top journalists and experts in the disabled veterans and broader disability spaces to discuss these critical issues and teach best practices. 

Cara Reedy is the Media Narrative Director at Disabled Journalists Association. She is a journalist and producer who spent ten years at CNN producing documentaries as well as writing for various verticals. In 2019, she produced her most recent short doc for The Guardian entitled Dwarfism and Me.

In June, Cara Reedy, the director of the Disabled Journalists Association, held three training sessions with the Speakers Bureau veterans. Reedy focused on the broader, systemic struggles disabled people face daily and what reporters should do to help disabled people be empowered by their stories.

Reedy began by taking a hard look at the role of disability in economic and societal well-being. According to the National Council on Disability, people with disabilities live in poverty at more than twice the rate of those without, and of the 17.9 million working-age adults with disabilities, more than 65% participate in income support or safety net programs. Only 29 percent of disabled working-age people have employment, and education doesn’t help much – just 25 percent of disabled people with at least a bachelor’s degree are employed, whereas 70 percent of people without disabilities with the same education level have jobs, per an early 2022 Bureau of Labor Statistics news release.

Disabled people – especially disabled people of color – are also more likely to face harsher outcomes early on in life, as shown in a 2018 study from the Government Accountability Office. Disabled students, for instance, make up 25 percent of all out-of-school suspensions despite only representing 12 percent of public school students. Those numbers increase when looking at black disabled students – while only 19 percent of public school students are black and disabled, they make up 36 percent of school punishments. This overrepresentation of disabled minorities among public school punishments is a large, although often overlooked, part of the school-to-prison pipeline.

It’s an early example of the harshness of the justice system on disabilities. In a Bureau of Justice Statistics survey published last year, as many as 29 percent of federal inmates and 40 percent of state inmates reported having disabilities. When the Supreme Court passes down rulings on issues important to people without disabilities, the decisions often don’t affect the treatment of disabled people. 

Recently, we’ve seen examples of police officers not following Miranda Rights rules when handling the cognitively disabled, leading to unjust imprisonment – or even death, in the case of people like Kokou Christopher Fiafonou from Austin, Minnesota. And with the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade comes concerns from disability rights organizations like the Disability Justice Initiative that many disabled women won’t be able to get equitable medical care if they can’t carry their children to term.

There is only one way into the system, Reedy said, and when disability gets added in, people face a lack of options to navigate it. But studying the parts of society that are failing disabled people provides opportunities for reporters to use their skills to advocate for solutions.

U.S. Navy veteran Kimberly Kennedy speaks about challenges to disabled Michigan residents at the North American International Auto Show on January 15. Returning the power in narratives to people with disabilities is an important part of improving disability coverage. (U.S. Army National Guard/Spc. Samantha Hall)

Often, stories on disability issues remove power from those directly affected, Reedy said, because reporters go the “easier route,” speaking to non-disabled people instead of the disabled people themselves. As a result, non-disabled people feel they can speak for the disability community because they’ve held power in disability stories for so long. 

Reedy further explained that reporters often don’t cover the divide between abled and disabled individuals working in the disability space, making it harder for disabled people to speak up for themselves. As a result, the stories produced by the media at large tend to lean toward eugenic language and patronizing tones, she said.

Reedy suggests journalists must not pretend that disability does not exist. “Everyone will be disabled at some point,” she says, as it is a natural part of aging. “Once you’re in the disability system, no one will come to help you if you don’t use your power to change things now.”

Using that power is easier said than done for many reporters. In giving agency back to individuals with disabilities, reporters may have to question their own biases and beliefs. 

The questioning process is hard to start, though, when many reporters and newsrooms are afraid to publish mistakes. Reedy says journalists must get comfortable with making mistakes, by acknowledging their mistake, apologizing, and moving forward. It is better to make a mistake and still cover the story than to let the story pass and bring harm to more people, she said. Reedy advises journalists to ask sources as many questions as possible, including the language they think is best.

Reedy also recommends researching every source. Untrustworthy non-disabled sources are not the only problem – some disabled people will give inaccurate information for monetary gain. When reporters ask others in the community about their potential sources, community members gain a chance to tell reporters more about the source. 

Speaking with disabled people as sources can also produce insight into incidents within the disabled community. “The disability community in particular will have proof,” Reedy explained. “If you ask [disabled people] for screenshots, they’re holding them, waiting for someone to come and report the story.”.

Maryland School for the Blind students Andrea Washington, left, and Derontay Taylor, right, along with teacher Colleen Shovestull, center, use their sense of touch on topographical maps. This is a good example of “disability tax”, or the extra time and effort people with disabilities have to put in to do everyday things. (NASA/Paul E. Alers)

Even with journalists taking these approaches, many in the non-disabled community may not understand why disability stories matter. Reedy’s solution is to introduce a “disability tax” – the extra time and energy disabled people have to expend to live, as a way for people to understand the importance of these issues. 

For instance, how much extra energy did a disabled person have to exert compared to an abled person? People understand the value of time better than most other metaphors, Reedy said.

Reedy finished her sessions with advice on tackling these issues in newsrooms. “Turn everything on its head,” she offered, explaining that journalists need to consider the disability side of stories. Reedy also advised encouraging newsrooms to show and normalize disabilities instead of avoiding them. Reporters need to think about why things are how they are and what they can do to give agency back to disabled communities.

Follow the money: Why business journalism is needed

By Features, Resources

“Just follow the money.”

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, portrayed here by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, were the two journalists who reported on the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post.

That’s what Deep Throat (Hal Holbrook) told Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) to look at in their investigation of the Watergate scandal in the film “All the President’s Men.” (By the way, the real Deep Throat, Mark Felt, never said it, according to NPR in 2012.)

Woodward and Bernstein did just that, which led them to find that President Richard Nixon took part in the Watergate Scandal. The duo’s discovery launched a two-year investigation that eventually forced Nixon to resign.

Business concepts like the ones Woodward and Bernstein investigated affect everyone daily. They are in industries like technology and government. They are there when we purchase a home or attend school. They are in our bills, the gas pump, the restaurant we dine at, and the local grocery store. They are everywhere all at once.

That’s why business journalism is an essential beat in the news industry. From economics to even our health care at the Department of Veterans Affairs, money is what keeps things going – or stops them in their tracks.

When I started working as a general assignment reporter at the Houston Business Journal, I did not know much about the local industries in Houston other than the energy industry. However – and unfortunately – I started working there at the end of February 2020. Three weeks later, we had to shift to work-from-home due to the coronavirus pandemic. We assumed we’d be back in two weeks, but that turned into two years.

My first year at HBJ taught me how the various business industries were affected by the pandemic. Companies had to pivot their plans and models to stay in business. Sometimes, that pivot meant laying off or furloughing employees to save money and survive. These changes affected nonprofits as well. Suddenly, the largest and most significant annual fundraising events had to be canceled and moved to virtual platforms because of the virus.

Then came the murder of George Floyd, which made almost every company from entertainment to Fortune 500 post a black square on their social media and call out the racial injustice. However, it also forced Corporate America to take a look in the mirror, which made them realize they don’t have enough diversity in their board rooms or in their media. This reckoning made companies take a look at their business practices and rebrand mascots with racist origins, like Uncle Ben’s, now called Ben’s Original, according to The Grocer.

The way a business runs affects the bottom line: money. But where do you start as a business journalist? Do you have to work for the Wall Street Journal or the local news outlet’s business section? No, you don’t. Business is all around you, from the school board to the city council. It takes money to make money and, if you follow it, you’ll see where that money gets used.

Break It Down, Barney-Style

Since I couldn’t get hands-on training because of the pandemic, I had to ask “silly” questions when interviewing executives and business owners. 

What do I mean by “silly”? Don’t be afraid to ask them how something works or what it all means. Yes, you can research and read Securities Exchange Commission filings and new products, but do you comprehend what you’re reading? Do you understand how it’s going to increase revenue? 

Don’t be afraid to ask your sources to explain what concepts mean. You need to understand to get it correct in your story.

Keep in mind that your sources and readings will use industry words, like compound annual growth rate (or CAGR). While sites like Investopedia will define those terms for you, don’t be afraid to tell your sources to “break it down, Barney-style” – as in Barney, the lovable purple dinosaur from the children’s program “Barney and Friends.” Tell your sources to explain it to you so your readers can understand and so that you can understand. Otherwise, they will be emailing or calling you and your editor about it being incorrect.

I sometimes joke to sources that I’m a Marine, so we need things broken down Barney-style to understand. (You know that joke about Marines eating crayons for breakfast, and those crayons are pretty delicious, too.)

If you don’t ask sources to simplify things, then you won’t learn. If you come up with more questions after the interview, don’t hesitate to call or email them. It will drive them crazy, but you can remind them that you need to understand to get it correct in your story. They will appreciate it.

Resources

I mentioned Investopedia as one site to turn to when looking up definitions. It’s an amazing resource that simplifies various financial terms, but it isn’t the only one.

Another resource I like to visit is the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Business Journalism, housed at The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. This is one of the most extensive professional business journalism training programs in the U.S., and its website gives tips on reporting subjects such as the economy and labor. For example, you can type in terms such as “labor unions,” and you’ll find articles on sources, which labor reporters to follow on Twitter, and story ideas for Labor Day. Whether you’re covering the stock market, real estate, or school districts, this website is one of the first places I recommend visiting for guidance.

SEC Filings and Other Documents

If you search, you’ll find a lot of public documents and reports, including Securities Exchange Commission filings, which I love reading. There is a lot to get through, but it’s where you’ll find how much the C-suite executives make yearly. It’s where you’ll discover why someone stepped down from their role and how much their replacement will make. It’s also where you find how much money public companies make or lose quarterly or yearly and the source of that growth or decrease. 

If you watched AppleTV+’s series, “We Crashed,” about WeWork’s founder Adam Neumann’s rise and fall, you’ll find (spoiler alert) it fell through because he and Rebekah took over the S-1 (initial registration with the SEC) and listed how much the company lost ($1.6 billion). This loss led to Neumann’s resignation from his CEO role, but he left with a $1.7 billion exit package, according to Business Insider.

Another website to check out is PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). You’ll find bankruptcy filings and where companies filed them.

For nonprofits, check out their 990 forms and yearly reports on their websites. If you can’t find these forms on their site, check out Charity Navigator. You’ll see how the nonprofit is rated, which issues it focuses on (e.g., Roe reversal or veterans), and its IRS Form 990.

“A Better Kind of Business Journalism” is a series of webinars created by Quartz and geared towards early-career reporters and editors.

As for city councils and school boards, check their websites for agendas. What’s going to be voted on and discussed? How much taxpayer money will go to an item on the agenda? How will it impact the community? 

I also recommend reading or watching business news, like the Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, Business Insider, or your local news outlet. Search for small businesses on Instagram or other social media. LinkedIn is great for finding company leaders, company information, or journalists who report on business.

Lastly, keep an eye out for business journalism panels hosted by journalism organizations. For example, last year, Quartz had webinars on being a better business reporter. This is a very informative series from some of the best business reporters, but there are others out there.

Investigating and reporting on business will make you a better reporter. Don’t be intimidated by trying to follow the money.

Sara Samora, the author of this article, is a Marine Corps veteran and the veterans reporter for Stars and Stripes. A native Texan, she previously worked at the Houston Business Journal and the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung.

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/

Senior DAV leader educates MVJ on veteran disability issues

By Resources

Earlier this year, Military Veterans in Journalism and the Ford Foundation launched its Disability Inclusion Program to advocate for better, more nuanced reporting around disabled military veterans. Eleven veterans were chosen to serve as speakers. MVJ organized a training series with top journalists and experts in the disabled veterans and broader disability spaces to discuss these critical issues and teach best practices.

Dan Clare is a Marine Corps and Air Force veteran, a former military journalist, and the chief communications and outreach officer for Disabled American Veterans (DAV).

In May, Dan Clare, the chief communications and outreach officer for DAV (Disabled American Veterans), held two training sessions with the Speakers Bureau veterans. Clare focused on the issues disabled veterans face today and how journalists should approach these concerns.

Clare began with a question: what is a disabled veteran? To him and to DAV, a disabled veteran is “an individual who, while serving in the armed forces, experiences a lasting change in their physical or mental health that impedes their ability to work or function in society.”

Disabled veterans are part of the broader world of disabilities and should be treated as such. One thing that makes service-connected disabled veterans unique, however, is that their disabilities were incurred while they were serving to defend the nation. They are not the only disabled people who have advocated for change, but the improvements in VA medical care and research disabled veterans have advocated for  help the movement to make America more inclusive and accessible to all disabled people.

While the military is rigorous in its physical health standards for enlistment, many veterans leave the service forever changed in some way, Clare said. The disability expert states it’s the public’s obligation to ensure veterans receive the care they need to function in society.

According to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau, 43% of post-9/11 veterans have a chance of having a service-related disability, with 39% of those having a disability rating of 70% or higher. The VA’s budget has risen accordingly over the years. In 2001, the VA received $45 billion in funding, which will increase to $300 billion by 2023. Overall, Clare said there’s an increased awareness of the benefits available to veterans and less reluctance to ask for help.

Yet even with that increased awareness, disabled veterans still struggle to receive the care they’re entitled to, and certain groups face more difficulty than others.

Disabled women veterans from across the country pictured together at the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Women Veterans Empowerment Retreat.

Women veterans comprise the fastest-growing segment of the population but some don’t identify themselves as veterans to others. Of the two million women veterans in the VA system, only 500,000 are currently in treatment, even though 60% of those in the system have a disability rating of 50% or higher. According to Clare, several factors cause this disparity — the accessibility of childcare and housing, harassment at VA care facilities, and disproportionate denial of claims related to military sexual trauma all serve as barriers to care for women veterans.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and racial minority veterans haven’t fared much better over the years. LGBT+ veterans are far more likely to experience depression, and their suicide rates are higher than other veteran groups, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. This group of people often don’t disclose their gender or sexual identity due to a history of mistreatment, bias, and outright denial of care, according to Clare.

Among veterans in racial and ethnic minority groups, service disabled Black vets use the VA care system at the highest rate, with only Hispanic vets coming close behind. Per the VA’s Office of Health Equity, the percentage of minority veterans in the VA system will continue to increase in the future. “The VA needs to diversify its staff,” Clare stated. “It needs to better represent the community it serves.”

Among the more widely-known issues facing veterans today is exposure to environmental toxins in service. Around 3.5 million veterans were exposed to burn pits in the Middle East, and more have been exposed to contaminated water on installations stateside. Yet it takes the VA a very long time to recognize toxin cases related to combat and begin treating them, and it’s often a fight to get there, Clare said. The result is healthy veterans getting sick and dying without access to the care they’ve earned. Clare noted that these veterans die prematurely and without access to benefits, and their families are brushed aside after their deaths. Justice, both for veterans exposed to these toxins and their spouses and families, he said, must be sped up.

The main image for the “Returning War Vet” TV Tropes page, which defines the trope as, “A stock character of many action movies. A character returns home from the military [and] will inevitably be called upon to put his skills to good use.”

While reporting on disabled veterans’ issues has evolved, and solid coverage is often a service to the community, Clare believes there are some areas in which it hasn’t necessarily improved. Tropes and “inspiration porn” often seen in coverage of disabled veterans causes direct harm – irresponsible representation of suicide, for instance, has been proven to directly impact the decisions of veterans with suicidal thoughts or tendencies. The consequences can be disastrous on the community, as they influence shifts in public perception.

“These stories need to be told, and they need to be told in a productive and effective manner,” Clare said. “We need reporters to ask, ‘What is the promise that [the public has] made veterans, and how [is the public] going to make them whole?’”

Clare advised the Speakers Bureau veterans against making broad, sweeping statements or assumptions about veterans in news reporting. Stories containing these statements are often publicity stunts or partisan in nature and don’t reflect the whole disabled veteran community, he explained. Broad assumptions about disabled veterans harm those looking for work, as the misperceptions created cause employers to balk at veterans with disabilities.

Instead, reporters should focus on straightforward, factual portrayals of veterans and provide readers with resources to maximize positive impact. Reminding reporters that they’re not alone, Clare said, is important. There are plenty of organizations like DAV available to reach out to for resources and fact-checking, and they can connect reporters with disabled veteran sources.

An airman tosses unserviceable uniform items into the Joint Base Balad, Iraq, burn pit in this March 2008 file photo. “Military uniform items turned in must be burned to ensure they cannot be used by opposing forces,” the Air Force said in a statement accompanying the photo. (Senior Airman Julianne Showalter/Air Force)

He also shared some tips for the Speakers Bureau members to take to newsrooms: 

  • When journalists write headlines, they should avoid exaggerating.
  • Journalists need to look at the issue, find the most credible source, and take the time to build a good story.
  • Journalists should be objective in their analysis of VA. The department should remain accountable to the veterans and families it serves and the taxpayers who fund it. However, subjective or out-of-context reporting that erodes public faith in the VA could harm its ability to support those who served.
  • Reporters should understand that veterans are never required to disclose their disability. If they choose to, the reporter has a duty to report accurately, and does not need to include that information if it’s irrelevant to the story.

Maintaining truth and clarity in reporting on disabled veterans’ issues is what Dan Clare believes should be central in future coverage. “In order for us to have the freedom of the press, citizens have to be willing to make sacrifices for the nation,” he said, “and it’s important to understand the public’s obligation to veterans beyond patriotism.”

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.

The MVJ-Washington Post Internship is Back!

By Career Opportunities, News

Military Veterans in Journalism is pleased to announce the return of the MVJ-Washington Post internship collaboration. As part of the Washington Post’s 2023 Summer Internship program, MVJ and The Post will select one military veteran to participate as an intern.

Washington Post interns have gone on to win Pulitzer Prizes and become top leaders in the newsroom. Working alongside top professionals in the field, interns do meaningful work across a variety of departments at The Washington Post. The Washington 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. This will be an important early career step for veterans working to advance within the media field.

While participating in this program, interns will work 37.5 hours per week for 10 weeks, starting June 5, 2023, and ending August 11, 2023. The Washington Post is committed to a safe work environment and currently maintains a mask-friendly environment and requires proof of vaccination (booster included) and weekly COVID-19 testing.

As with the last round of this program in 2020/2021, it is preferred that applicants have had at least one professional news media job or internship. Applicants will also be asked to submit three samples of their work and a personal essay with their supplemental materials.

Applicants for this program may apply online with Military Veterans in Journalism. The deadline to apply is September 1, 2022 at 11:59 PM Eastern.

MVJ To Send Six Military Veteran Journalists to New York for the NAB Show 2022

By Career Opportunities, News, Resources

Thanks to a new partnership with fellow non-profit organization, the National Association of Broadcasters, Military Veterans in Journalism will enable six veterans to attend NAB Show NY 2022 in New York, New York. Attendance costs, airfare, and hotel expenses for the selected veterans will be fully covered.

“We believe that supporting military veterans in their journalistic careers is important to creating a better media, entertainment and technology ecosystem,” said Sylvester Smith, Senior Manager of Member and Partner Revenue Development at the National Association of Broadcasters. “We look forward to giving veterans in broadcasting the tools to demonstrate the value they bring as storytellers, and we are proud to partner with MVJ in this effort.”

Veterans selected to attend NAB Show NY 2022 as part of this program will learn about the business of being hands-on and connect with the right people, knowledge, skills and technology that’s propelled broadcast, media and entertainment to a whole new level. Attendees will:

● Lean into efficiency and learn more about finding solutions. Discover alternate workflows and learn how to use what they’ve got.
● Gain fresh perspective. From training to case study presentations with industry pros, find the tips, tricks and inspiration to stay ahead of the curve.
● Unlock creativity. Feel empowered to try new things with some connection and collaboration. This is when that big picture idea becomes a thing.

“Attending NAB Show NY is a great opportunity for veterans,’’ said Zack Baddorf, Executive Director of MVJ. “We are pleased to partner with NAB to support the career growth of veterans in journalism and provide them with the means to improve their skills.”

NAB Show NY will take place on October 19 – 20 at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York and is offered for free to those MVJ members selected. Applicants must be based in the United States and cover their own expenses like ground transportation, baggage fees and meals. While MVJ staff will make hotel arrangements, attendees will be responsible for booking flights with prior MVJ approval. All flight costs will be reimbursed. The deadline for applications is July 27, 2022.

Apply today and secure a spot to attend NAB Show NY 2022!

About the National Association of Broadcasters:
The National Association of Broadcasters is the voice for the nation’s radio and television broadcasters. NAB advances interests in federal government, industry and public affairs; improves the quality and profitability of broadcasting; encourages content and technology innovation; and spotlights the important and unique ways stations serve their communities.

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.

MVJ Teams Up With NPR for 2022 Internship Program

By Resources

Military Veterans in Journalism is pleased to announce the third year of the MVJ-NPR internship collaboration. As part of the 2022 Fall/Winter Internship program, MVJ and NPR will select one military veteran to serve as NPR’s Politics and Here & Now Intern.

The selected veteran will spend three months working on the Washington Desk, where they’ll learn the ins and outs of political reporting. The other three months will be with the Here & Now team, where they’ll learn what it means to work on a daily news operation.

Interns at NPR are given real-world, hands-on responsibilities from their first day and work alongside top professionals. NPR’s internship program is normally highly competitive, with over 20,000 applicants in 2020. This program will be a great early career step for veterans working to advance within the news media – you’ll get valuable experience providing coverage across platforms and learn from established journalists.

Application deadline: July 10, 2022, at 11:59 PM Eastern.

The veteran intern will join the NPR Politics team covering the House, Senate and Biden administration across platforms – broadcast, digital and in the podcast space. At Here & Now, the intern will report to NPR’s deputy managing editors in Washington, who shepherd the network’s daily news gathering operation.

During the six-month program, interns will:

  • Maintain the Washington desk calendar
  • Conduct research for editors and reporters
  • Fact-check the NPR Politics Podcast
  • Build clipboards, log tape and write digital posts
  • Research a wide variety of topics for Here and Now
  • Assist in studio recording
  • Book on-air guests for the show
  • Produce content for radio and digital platforms

Interested candidates should note what NPR is looking for:

  • Must be a current student in an accredited degree program or a recent graduate of no more than 12 months from the month of the start of the internship.
  • Strong research skills
  • Demonstrated interest in journalism, and in government and politics
  • Computer literacy
  • Good communication and organizational skills
  • Ability to learn quickly
  • Informational accuracy
  • A keen intellectual curiosity and creative stripe are highly desired.
  • Experience in a newsroom or in audio production (or both)
  • Knowledge of NPR programming and platforms is preferred.

Interns are expected to work 40 hours per week for 6 months and will be paid throughout the internship. The program will be in-person in Washington, D.C. NPR mandates that employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment, subject to reasonable accommodation as required by law.

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

Paid MVJ-CNN Fellowships: Apply Today!

By Career Opportunities, Features

Military Veterans in Journalism is pleased to announce the continuation of our partnership with CNN to get more veterans into their newsrooms. As part of this effort, MVJ and CNN will select two MVJ members to participate in CNN’s 15-month News Associates program.

CNN’s News Associates program will give these aspiring military veteran journalists skills needed for the next level in their careers and help them build a network of experienced, world-class journalists. News Associates are paid and receive benefits for the duration of their program.

MVJ is currently seeking applicants for one of the two openings to tentatively start in late August at CNN’s Washington, D.C. newsroom. The second fellow will start several months later.  

Application deadline: July 14, 2022, at 6 PM Eastern.

During the fellowship’s 15 months, News Associates will:

  • Work with newsroom management to support news coverage and show production.
  • Print scripts for anchors, operate the teleprompter and greet guests.
  • Work with live producers, show staff and reporters on live shots, show production, and coverage of live events.
  • Work with digital teams on researching and writing stories for CNN.com.
  • Monitor a variety of sources, including social media, wires and local news to assist in news gathering efforts.
  • Conduct research at the direction of producers and desk management, which may include identifying video or digital stories.
  • Pitch stories for various CNN networks and platforms.

Interested candidates should note what CNN is looking for:

  • Bachelor’s Degree required
  • At least one internship in a news environment and previous newsroom experience is preferred.
  • Strong general news judgment and editorial skills.
  • Strong writing skills.
  • Ability to multitask and make fast decisions.
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills; strong interpersonal and organizational skills.
  • Computer literacy with a working knowledge of social media.
  • Schedule flexibility – be prepared to work various shifts including overnights and weekends, as CNN’s newsroom is staffed 24 hours a day.

“We at Military Veterans in Journalism are proud to work with CNN in our shared goal of diversifying America’s newsrooms through the hiring of more military veterans,” said Zack Baddorf, MVJ’s Executive Director. “This collaboration with CNN’s News Associates program has proven to be a great opportunity for military veteran journalists to develop skills essential to success in this industry. We’re pleased to provide this chance again this year to support the career growth of veterans in journalism.”

“I have always valued the experiences and culture of veterans and what they bring to the workplace,”said CNN Chairman and CEO, Chris Licht. “I look forward to continuing to champion their voices and stories in our newsrooms through CNN’s News Associates program.”

In 2021, CNN hosted two military veteran journalists as part of Military Veterans in Journalism’s Fellowship program. Both of the fellows, Drew Lawrence and Alonzo Clark, have cited the value their experience as News Associates brought to their ongoing success as journalists. Read more of what they had to say on our Impact page.

MVJ’s launch of the new Reporting Grants program for up to $50,000 over the next two years

By Resources

Thanks to generous support from the Ford Foundation, Military Veterans in Journalism has launched a disability inclusion initiative to create conversations and reporting within American newsrooms about military veteran issues, with a focus on disabled veterans. 

As part of this effort, MVJ is launching our MVJ Reporting Grants program to fund reporting by military veterans in journalism. This program will help aspiring journalists grow professionally in their reporting careers and publish quality stories about issues related to disabilities in the military veteran community.

Grant amounts will vary depending on the story, and will start at $500. Over the next two years MVJ plans to fund up to $50,000 for reporting grants.

MVJ is not a publishing organization – nor do we plan to be. But we care about developing the careers of military vets in journalism. So, if you are selected, we can help you shape your story and assist in getting the story placed. We’d like you to have an idea of where you want to publish your story.

A few notes on what our grant selection committee is looking for:

  • Disability focused. We are seeking pitches for stories related to disability in the military veteran community. Maybe it’s a story about a new healthcare issue, or a personal narrative about a visit to a crummy VA facility, or an investigative piece on an emerging medical issue that affects vets.
  • Be ambitious. We are looking to support deeply reported stories that will make a splash and potentially be impactful.
  • Small (shorter) stories are OK too. For serious investigative reporting, we’ll be looking for proof that you know what you’re doing. If you’re new to journalism, a shorter feature might be more realistic. 
  • Be original. We aren’t interested in the same stories that we’ve all read a million times before. As veterans, we can provide depth and nuance on these stories. Use that experience to come up with unique angles.
  • No PR. Non-profits do great work and they might be part of the story. But we want to see pitches that are more than a happy story about a non-profit providing a house to a homeless vet.  
  • Look for trends. We’re keen to fund stories that only veterans can tell. As vets, you are seeing what’s affecting vets, especially when it comes to healthcare and the VA. Use your networks to find a good story. 

PUBLISH quality stories about disability issues in the military veteran community and get paid for it! 

Note: Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and will be reviewed every two weeks. Applicant has to be an MVJ member in order to be eligible to receive the grant.

MVJ’s Mentorship Program Supports Veteran Journalists’ Success

By Resources

Before there was the Military Veterans in Journalism nonprofit organization, there was a small group of journalists who provided informal mentorship to transitioning veterans. All the work we do now, from our fellowships and job postings to our advocacy and media partnerships, was built off this simple idea that mentorship was useful for veterans.

Justin Meacock, pictured above, is an MVJ protégé who was recently accepted to CUNY’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.

But this cornerstone of the MVJ culture – the softening of the divide between civilian newsrooms and veterans in journalism – was quite an amateur operation until MVJ received a $50,000 grant from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to be disbursed over five years. With the $10,000 we received about one year ago, MVJ has improved the process of pairing military veterans with seasoned journalists, supporting the career growth of veterans who work in news media while directly and indirectly improving newsroom diversity. We have also formalized, professionalized, and automated our mentorship program to ensure its consistency and reliability for mentors and protégés alike.

The first step in the improvement process was to develop a prototype for mentorship software. Our goal was to create a program that would automate connections between MVJ’s mentors and mentees while helping our team better track mentorship experiences. This initial prototype was the first version of MyMVJ, built on a CRM platform called Salesforce. MyMVJ has since developed into the member connection app and site we have today.

Roughly 26% of the protégés in MVJ’s mentorship program identify as female, which is an excellent rate of gender equity compared to the veteran community at large.

Since MVJ is a young nonprofit, our team prototypes processes immediately, then collects feedback from users to test and improve. During the test period from July to October 2021, we saw mentorship requests decline, with only eight mentorship connections occurring. Our team studied the drop-off and found users struggled to connect with mentors. The prototype process was too automated, as user feedback indicated professional journalists do not respond well to automated emails.

In September 2021, we identified a list of problems arising from MyMVJ and used it to overhaul the process. We designed standard operating procedures that were more automated than our original program but offered journalists who volunteered for the mentorship program more personalized communication approaches.

In October 2021, MVJ created our second prototype of the mentorship program using third-party software called Mentornity. This new software allowed the program administrator greater control over mentorship interactions. We introduced the new process on Oct. 21, collected users (both mentors and protégés), and tested the program for the remainder of the last quarter of the year. The new system was fully implemented by January 2022. In addition to Mentornity, we built a manually controlled backend of the mentorship software, which has allowed us to keep excellent track of mentorships with fewer working hours for our team.

MVJ’s mentorship program displays more than double the amount of diversity that’s industry standard for newsroom staff.

The program’s popularity and success skyrocketed from there. Since the beginning of the first quarter of 2022, we have established 25 mentorship connections – the most our program has ever facilitated at once. Of these connections, 41 percent have been persons of color, which is more than double the industry standard for persons of color on newsroom staff. More than 25 percent of our protégés have been women, which is an excellent rate of gender equity among the veteran community, where only 10 percent of veterans are women.

MVJ’s new process also allows us to track the goals of our protégés to determine how well the mentorships have satisfied their objectives from the beginning of their time in the program. This has added great value to MVJ’s mentorship program. Protégés are now asked to take a post-mentorship survey, which our team analyzes to prioritize new mentor assignments based on the goals they have left to achieve. On average, MVJ’s protégés meet more than 70 percent of their goals from their first mentorship session, and 2 out of the 25 mentorships assigned in the first quarter have resulted in MVJ members getting hired thanks to their new connection.

We hope to see the mentorship program continue this expansion in the future, and we believe it has proven its worth for veterans in need of a mentor. If you are seeking to mentor a military veteran journalist or are a veteran journalist looking for guidance, sign up for MVJ’s mentorship program today via the link below.

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.

MVJ-Harrisonburg Citizen Internship

By Career Opportunities, News

We’re proud to announce that Military Veterans in Journalism has partnered with The Harrisonburg Citizen and the Scripps Howard Foundation to help get more vets into America’s newsrooms.

As part of the 2022 Scripps Howard Summer Internship Program, The Harrisonburg Citizen will select one MVJ member to participate in a 10-week paid internship.

The chosen intern will be expected to work at least 35 hours per week and will receive a $3,000 stipend from the Scripps Howard Foundation in addition to $75-100 per piece contributed to The Citizen. Interns will be working in a journalism role at The Citizen and will receive advice, guidance, and editorial support from The Citizen’s publishers and editors. Upon successful completion of the internship, interns will be eligible for a follow-up grant or scholarship of $500 from the Foundation.

Applicants who are willing to relocate or travel to the Harrisonburg area are preferred, and housing help is available from the publisher if needed. Remote work is possible if necessary.

Applicants for this internship may apply online with Military Veterans in Journalism. The deadline to apply is April 20, 2022 at 6PM Eastern.

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

Vets: Apply to MVJ’s 2022 Speakers Bureau 

By Career Opportunities, News

Thanks to generous support from the Ford Foundation, Military Veterans in Journalism has launched a disability inclusion initiative to create conversations and reporting within American newsrooms about military veteran issues, with a focus on disabled veterans. 

As part of this effort, MVJ is launching a speakers bureau of military veterans in journalism to advocate for better, more nuanced reporting on disabled military veterans and to share best practices with newsrooms across the nation. 

MVJ is seeking applicants for its 2022 Speakers Bureau. MVJ will provide training to eight military veterans on best practices in disability reporting. Afterwards, the veterans will lead their own training and presentations at local newsrooms in the veterans’ communities.

Over the course of 12 months, each veteran will:

  • Attend about 8 hours of training (held virtually) by subject matter experts in Disabled American Veterans and the Disability Media Alliance Project as well as a reporter specializing in disability reporting.
  • Attend about 3 hours of group presentation preparation (held virtually) 
  • Attend about 3 hours of individual presentation mentorship (held virtually) 
  • Conduct about 90 minutes of presentation at 2 local news outlets

Each selected veteran will receive a $3,000 stipend to participate in the pilot program.

Ideally, the selected veterans will:

  • Be based in military or veteran-heavy areas, creating incentives for local news outlets to provide more nuanced reporting on this reporting issue
  • Have experience conducting news reporting on military / veteran affairs or issues in the disability community
  • Have at least 1 year of professional news reporting experience 
  • Have personal experience with their own disabilities, including receiving care at the VA

‘’This program is a great opportunity for military veterans in journalism to help shape better news reporting on disabilities within their community,” said Zack Baddorf, MVJ’s Executive Director. “We hope these conversations elevate this issue within newsrooms while also leading to more nuanced reporting.” 

Get your master’s – plus a nine-month paid journalism fellowship

By Career Opportunities, News

Military veterans interested in earning a master’s degree at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY may be eligible for a nine-month paid fellowship upon completion of the degree. The fellowship will provide two students with the opportunity to go into a reporting job immediately after graduation. Sign up here to speak with advisors from Newmark J-School and take the first step.

The selected candidates will work at a nine-month fellowship in one of these innovative non-profit newsrooms, receiving a monthly salary of $4,000 and healthcare benefits.

Students must meet the following eligibility criteria to qualify for the fellowship:

  • Apply, be admitted, and enroll in the Newmark J-School
  • Maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 during all three semesters

The fellowship participants will be selected during the third semester at the J-School. Veterans who complete their degree requirements but are not selected for the fellowship will still receive their master’s degree in journalism with the experience of reporting as a CUNY student in New York City, the largest media market in the country.

As CUNY is a state school, the Post-9/11 GI Bill may cover tuition and provide generous assistance for housing in New York City. Check your VA eligibility to ensure you have three semesters of coverage remaining. 

How to Apply to the Newmark J-School: Students must submit a complete application by March 1, 2022 for scholarship consideration. Applications completed after March 1, 2022 will be reviewed on a space-available, rolling basis. The application fee is waived for veterans. Refer to the How to Apply page to learn more about the application checklist. If you are interested in participating in this program, please fill out this form to schedule a one-on-one application session with advisors from Newmark J-School.

How to Help Veterans Overcome Addiction

By Resources

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.

Read More

The Newmark-Military Veterans in Journalism Fellowship Program

By Career Opportunities, News

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.

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.

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 to build portfolios of journalistic work and form a network of peers.

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.

 

Any veteran that wishes to apply for this Fellowship, please fill the form to send your inquiry. You can use the following link:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1zEhwMJ0xQ9Ue5HzZPv8tBtzZ6NbTdwWpHSpvxIcPyV4/edit?usp=sharing

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.

American University professor teaches investigative skills at #MVJ2021

By #MVJ2021, Resources

by J.P. Lawrence

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.

Google demos free new digital journalism resources at #MVJ2021

By #MVJ2021, Resources

by Allison P. Erickson

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.

Nonprofit newsrooms put focus on mission, impact

By #MVJ2021, Resources

by Genaro J. Prieto

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. 

CUNY’s Jeff Jarvis shares insights into the new models of journalism

By #MVJ2021, Resources

by Kayleigh Casto

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.”

#MVJ2021’s veteran showcase shares career-changing advice

By #MVJ2021, Resources

By Maximillian Boudreaux

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.

CNN sponsors Military Veterans in Journalism’s inaugural convention, brings on vets as fellows in newsroom

By #MVJ2021, Resources

Jake Tapper of CNN’s “The Lead” and “State of the Union” also joins MVJ Advisory Board

 

New York (July 21, 2021) — CNN will be the key sponsor for the inaugural Military Veterans in Journalism convention, slated for October 21 and 22. CNN will also host two veterans as fellows in their newsrooms this fall. 

“CNN has demonstrated time and again its commitment to diversifying America’s newsrooms,” said Zack Baddorf, a Navy vet turned journalist who is MVJ’s founder and executive director. “Military Veterans in Journalism believes America’s newsrooms should reflect the diversity of our nation — which includes military veterans. We are very proud to be working with CNN to further this cause.”

In addition to sponsoring the convention, CNN will be hosting two MVJ Fellows in its Washington, D.C. bureau this fall as part of its News Associates program. The CNN News Associates program is a year-long program which rotates aspiring CNN journalists throughout the CNN Washington newsroom and prepares participants with skill sets needed for the next level. During their rotations, one fellow will be assigned to “The Lead with Jake Tapper” and one fellow will be assigned to “New Day” where co-host Brianna Keilar, a military spouse, has been committed to covering stories about military families. 

“Representation matters at CNN,” said Jeff Zucker, President of CNN Worldwide and Chairman, WarnerMedia News & Sports. “Diverse voices throughout our global organization enable us to be authentic and richer storytellers. We are incredibly proud of our partnership with Military Veterans in Journalism, and I personally look forward to further heightening veteran voices across all of CNN’s platforms.”

Anchor Jake Tapper joined the MVJ Advisory Board this month.  

A long-time supporter of veterans, Tapper was awarded the “Tex” McCrary Award for Excellence in Journalism in 2014 for his book “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor.” The book recounted one of the most harrowing stories of heroism out of the war in Afghanistan. It is now a Netflix feature film.

“I am honored to support the mission of Military Veterans in Journalism,” Tapper said. “Our nation’s veterans bring unique skills and life experiences to newsrooms. It’s important that veteran voices continue to be a part of our national conversation on military and veteran affairs.”

Barbara Starr, CNN’s Pentagon correspondent, served as a founding Board member of MVJ. She now serves on the Advisory Board.

MVJ’s inaugural convention from October 21-22 will be a virtual gathering for journalists, non-profit professionals, newsroom leaders, and other supporters of newsroom diversity to share, learn and connect with each other while focusing on supporting the under-represented community 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. Learn more at www.mvj.network 

About CNN

CNN/U.S., the leading 24-hour news and information cable television network and the flagship of all CNN news brands, invented 24-hour television news. CNN/U.S. provides live coverage and analysis of breaking news, as well as a full range of international, political, business, entertainment, sports, health, science and weather coverage, and topical in-depth interviews.

Military Vets: Apply for Paid Journalism Fellowships!

By Career Opportunities, News

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.

Learn more and Apply

Deadline: June 11, 2021

 

Military Vets: Apply for Free Online Poynter Institute Journalism Classes

By News, Resources

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

A Reporters’ Guide to Getting it Right: Learn how to secure accuracy and fairness in your reporting, well-before your deadline

MediaWise Fact-checking 101: Learn from tools and techniques you can use to fact-check information online and sort fact from fiction across social media platforms

TV News Toolbox for Educators: Bring duPont, Peabody and national Emmy award-winners from local and network news into your classroom with this collection of 38 microlearning activities

The Art of the Interview: How to find and court your story’s characters

Survive and Thrive in Freelance and Remote Work: Improve your effectiveness in your freelance solo act, side hustle or remote work environment

So how to start? Go here to create a free user account if you don’t already have one, and add up to three of these courses to your shopping cart.

Go HERE for the coupon code to access courses. If you’re not a member yet, please sign up.

Members can also apply through MVJ for a scholarship to some of Poynter’s limited-enrollment courses in 2021.

Those course are:

Poynter Aces Certificate in Editing: Six courses with six assessments: ideal for journalists looking to strengthen their understanding of the standards, essential skills and best practices of editing (normally $150)

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

Lastly,

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 two courses he will teach are:

Producing for TV News

Writing/Storytelling for Video

Both courses are free for members, so sign up today!

If you have any questions, please contact:

Rich Dolan
[email protected]

For customer support if you need assistance with the Poynter website or after you are enrolled in one of these courses, please contact:

Maria Jaimes
Poynter Customer Experience Supervisor
[email protected]

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!

Six Ways to Succeed on LinkedIn

By Resources

By David Bruce

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.

A Freelancer’s Glossary

By Features, Resources

by Abby Hood, Guest Contributor

A

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.

B

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.

C

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?”

D

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.

E

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.

F

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.

G

Graf – Short for paragraph.

I

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.

L

Lede – Journalist lingo for the opening graf of your story. Not spelled “lead” although you may see that from time.

N

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.

O

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.”

P

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?

S

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.

T

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.

V

Vertical – Used interchangeably with “section.” Editors will be in charge of certain verticals, like the science or politics vertical.

Support Abby Hood’s “Bitchin’ Pitchin'” on Patreon

New opportunities for members! Check out NBCUniversal’s internships

By Career Opportunities, News

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.

“It’s crucial you fill out the Google Form here and apply quickly! Opportunities at top-tier organizations like NBCU can be difficult to come by, and I want to see our members succeed.” – Zack Baddorf, MVJ Executive Director

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.

Ad Sales Internships – Summer 2021, Remote
CNBC Internships – Summer 2021, Remote
Content Distribution Internships – Summer 2021, Remote
Corporate Functions Internships – Summer 2021, Remote
Corporate Legal Internship – Summer 2021, Remote
Data Engineering Internships – Summer 2021, Remote
Data Science Internships – Summer 2021, Remote
Filmed Entertainment Internships – Summer 2021, Remote
Late Night & The Tonight Show Internships – Summer 2021, Remote
Media Tech Internships – Summer 2021, Remote
NBC News & MSNBC Internships – Summer 2021, Remote
NBC News Digital Technology Internships – Summer 2021, Remote
NBC 5 Telemundo Chicago Internships – Summer 2021, Remote
Operations & Technology Internships – Summer 2021, Remote
Owned Stations & Internships – Summer 2021, Remote
Owned Stations Digital Design Internships – Summer 2021, Remote
Peacock Internships – Summer 2021, Remote
Stamford Media Center Digital Internships – Summer 2021, Remote
TV Ent. Digital / Graphic Design Internships – Summer 2021, Remote
TV Ent. Marketing / Communications Internships – Summer 2021, Remote
TV Entertainment Production / Dev Internships – Summer 2021, Remote
TV Ent. Research Internship – Summer 2021, Remote
Universal Studios Group Internships – Summer 2021, Remote

Military Veterans in Journalism MVJ logo transparent

MVJ Scholarship for Bitchin’ Writers Course

By Career Opportunities, News

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:

Month ONE- Establish & learn the basics
Month TWO- Scale & grow
Month THREE- Promote yourself & diversify income”

Learn more about the course on Abby’s site.

Fill out this form to apply:

Hearst Television Career Opportunities

By Career Opportunities, Resources

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.

MVJ’s Top Veterans in Journalism

By News, Resources

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!

internship

MVJ-NBC Partnership: Internship Program

By News, 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-Washington Post Internship

By News, 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] .

 

2020 NPR Internship is On Again, and fully remote!

By News, 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.

Read More

Apply Now For The (Paid!) 2020 NPR Internship for Military Veterans in Journalism!

By News, Resources

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.

5 Military Traits That Will Make You A Great Journalist

By Resources

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.

Read More

10 Killer Tips: How to Pitch a Magazine

By Resources

By David Bruce

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.

Good Luck!

P.S. Here is a basic pitch template that I like to use:

Pitch Template

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:

[Story Headline]

[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!

Best,

[Name]


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.

Journalism portfolio website

How to build a journalism portfolio website

By Resources

By Zack Baddorf, Executive Director/Founder

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.

Step 1: Buy a domain.

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.

Step 2: Choose a website host.

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:

  • Your bio
  • 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.

New journalists: find your specialty

By Resources

By Zack Baddorf

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.