Posted in Inspirational, Journalism Conferences, Journalist

15 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Next Journalism Conference

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EIJ 2017

I’ve been to dozens of journalism conferences. I have lost count. But throughout the years, I have been able to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

I have made many professional connections and developed great friendships from my visits to NAHJ, IRE, RTDNA, EIJ and AEJMC conferences. I have also found 90 percent of my jobs from my networking at those conferences.

Here are my 15 tips to help you get the most out of any journalism conference you plan to attend this summer.

1. Comfy shoes are a must. For you ladies, sure heels make your legs look great, but after a few hours walking the conference floor you’ll beg for comfort. Pack a pair of flats in your bag for later. Men, comfort matters for you too.

2. Get out of the “pack” mentality. We often get into the habit of hanging out in groups.  It’s our comfort zone. Be adventurous and roam on your own. It forces you to meet people. This also includes when you go to the after conference parties and hang-outs. I know a lot of people, because I love to walk around alone and just talk to everyone and anyone.

3. Start a conversation with anyone you see hanging out by themselves. He could be your next boss, or she could have that next opportunity of a lifetime. I say hello to everyone whether I meet people when they get in an elevator with me or walk by me. “Hi! How’s it going?” Is a great way to start a conversation.

NAHJ_Sid_crowd
EIJ 2017

4. GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR PHONE. Sorry, I had to say that very loud. When you have your head buried in your phone, you miss opportunities to meet people. Also people, including news managers won’t approach you, because you look busy and preoccupied with your phone. Your text and Facebook can wait. Put your phone away, look up and enjoy the view. And please DO NOT take your phone out and start gazing at your Instagram, especially when you’re in conversation with new people and in a group. It’s rude.

5. Look happy and smile. Those two things make people want to get to know you. Sometimes you see people at conferences and they already look tired and miserable. Don’t be that person.

Rebecca_NAHJ2
EIJ 2017

6. Business cards matter. Yes, it may sound old school, but it’s easier to hand someone a business card than a resume. It’s even better if it has a photo of you. There is no way they can forget your face. Also when you collect a card, write a few notes on it to remind you of that person.

7. Invite people to join you. If you see someone alone, who looks like they need someone to hang out with, don’t hesitate to invite them to join you and/or your group. Another great way to get to know people. I do it all the time. Many of those people have become good friends.

8. Find a mentee. I usually leave a conference with more than half a dozen mentees. Remember it’s about paying it forward. There are people who need your expertise and guidance. Be giving with your time.

9. Find a mentor. Some of you may feel that you need someone to guide you in your career. The conferences are a great place to find that person who you feel can help you on your journey. There are many people waiting for the chance to be a mentor. Don’t be afraid to ask. And if they don’t seem interested, move on…there are plenty of others.

10. Plan your conference, and even schedule in your networking time. There will be dozens of panels and workshops. Sit down and write out your day and schedule in your networking time during conference hours. It will help you not miss a beat.

NAHJ_JobFair
EIJ 2017

11. The best time to meet news managers is when they are taking a break from the recruiting booth, walking around the conference hall or getting a cup of coffee. I learned that tip a long time ago. When you get to the job fair, check out who is recruiting at your target company. Make a mental note. If you see them later taking a break, don’t hesitate to approach them.  “Hi there! Aren’t you with ABC News?  I saw you at the booth. I’m Rebecca Aguilar. How’s everything going so far?” Start the conversation. Get to know them. Sometimes they are more relaxed and may invite you back to their booth to continue the conversation. Once again, be the person outside “the pack” standing in line.

12. Make time to put on your sneakers and walk outside and enjoy the fresh air. Sometimes we’re in such conference mode that we forget just to relax and breathe. Yes, conferences can take a toll on you, because networking takes effort and being out late sucks up time to sleep. Get out and relax and get some sunshine. It makes a difference.

13. Act like a professional even at the after-parties.  Do not forget that recruiters and managers go to the after parties and hang out at the hotel bar too.  What I’m saying is don’t do something that can end up “going viral” for the wrong reasons and hurt your reputation.

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Smile and look happy!

14. What not to wear. A journalism conference is still a professional setting. What you wear says a lot about you. Don’t kid yourself, it does. Before you leave that hotel room, look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are dressed to meet the Pope, the President and would your parents approve. Give your outfit my “3 P’s” test. Believe me it works.  What I’m saying is leave the mini skirts and muscle shirts in your suitcase.

15. As soon as you return home, don’t forget to send out a few thank you cards. Yes, old school again. Send them to people who made your conference experience very special and who took the time to give you advice.

Most of all enjoy the ride!

Bonus Tip: Start saving for next year’s conference when you get home. It helps to plan ahead. Whether you’re a professional or a student, it’s okay to start saving right away. Put $10 cash in a jar every week. It will add up by the time the next conference rolls around. No need to start a GoFundMe or beg people for a donation. Do it on your own.

Bonus Video. You can pack everything for the conference in a carry-on bag. 

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Posted in Human Interest, Inspirational, Journalism Education, Journalist

Speak from the heart and you’ll get your message heard

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Photo Courtesy: Alberto Mendoza

I have something to share. How I turned something unexpected into a fantastic experience. I was invited to speak at the Latino Media Summit in New York City over the weekend. One of the best conferences I have been to in my career. More on that in a future blog.

I thought I was going to be on a panel with others, but Friday morning, an hour before the panel, I learned I would have to speak for 10 minutes alone. Say what? Yes they had told us weeks in advance, but I messed up. All the other speakers had fantastic, informative slide shows.

When I hit the stage, I said, “God give me the words, in Spanish too.” I had written down a few notes, but honestly I spoke from the heart. Not to brag, but it was one of the best presentations I have ever done in my life. I laughed, I teared up, and I shared. I talked about creating change as individuals, making a difference, and not being selfish with your time and knowledge. To be authentic.

 

So remember, speak from the heart when you have to, and it will be ok. Again thank you to Graciela Mochkofsky and her team for inviting me to the summit at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. A blog is coming soon on the Summit. Go out and inspire!

Posted in Inspirational, Journalist, profile, Women in Journalism

Miami TV co-host decides to remove breast implants, “Back to a B Cup”

JenHerrera_photo
Screenshot: 6 in the Mix

 

Jen Herrera says “I feel amazing you guys” as she fights back tears.  She posted a video on YouTube letting the public know how she is doing since removing her breast implants in November.

Herrera is the co-host of “6 in the Mix,” a daily lifestyle show in Miami.

Five years ago, Herrera was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease. She underwent treatment and decided to go the holistic route. She even left her television career for a while.

She says she was never diagnosed with a breast implant illness, but she had similar symptoms related to that illness.  Her research on breast implants lead her to the decision to remove them. Herrera calls this journey “Back to a B Cup.”

Follow Herrera’s journey. She starts from the beginning when she decided at 18-years-old to get her implants. More on her website>>  Back to a B Cup

Kudos to Herrera for sharing her story and I’m glad she’s feeling healthy again.

Posted in Human Interest, Inspirational, Journalist

The Greatest of Us: A local TV reporter quits his job to travel the country in search of words of wisdom from total strangers

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Screenshot: YouTube

How many times have you thought of getting in your car and just driving? How many times have you thought of leaving your job and grabbing life by the you-know-what?

Well Caleb Himes is not one to just think it. He is doing it.

He recently quit his job as a reporter at KOB-TV in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He plans to travel across the country. Caleb admits he’s a bit nervous and scared, but nothing is stopping him now.

Caleb_Himes
Screenshot: The Greatest of Us

 

He’s on the road with his two dogs and towing along an Airstream travel trailer. After ten years of reporting stories about a lot of bad people, Caleb is now determined to find the good people in this world. He is out to get words of wisdom from strangers, advice he hopes will help other people.

 

 

Here’s another beautiful part about Caleb’s adventure, he’s doing all the work on his own videos. He is shooting, editing and writing the stories. He is a super one-man-band. There is no big production team, just Caleb, his computer, a few cameras and his creativity.

My hope is Netflix, CNN, Amazon or some other big media company buys Caleb’s show “The Greatest of Us” and shows it to the world.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Caleb’s YouTube channel. If you can’t travel the country, he can bring his journey to a computer, tablet or smart phone near you.

Enjoy the ride Caleb!

Posted in Breaking News, Journalist, News Now

Cox Media Group plans to shutdown Mundo Hispánico, several journalists face losing their jobs

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Update 4/27/2018
Cox Media Group posted a statement on the company website about plans to sell Mundo Hispanico. It was posted the day I posted this blog.

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Sources with Mundo Hispánico say they need to start looking for jobs, because the digital site faces a shutdown. They got the bad news in an email Monday morning from the President of the Cox Media Group (CMG) which owns Mundo Hispánico.

cmg

The announcement came from Kim Guthrie, President of Cox Media Group. Her email partly reads…

CMG is focused on overcoming the disruption in our industry and competing to win in the markets we serve. To achieve that, we are focusing our resources on businesses that have clear paths to profitability and long-term growth.

She goes on to say…

…After careful consideration, we’ve decided to sell or sunset both the Mundo Hispanico and Southern Kitchen businesses.

Her email mentioned CMG is looking for the right buyers.

…we will work to find the right owners for Mundo Hispanico and Southern Kitchen. If we are unable to find a buyer, we plan to close Southern Kitchen and the national Vertical portion of Mundo Hispanico by the end of the quarter.

You can read the rest of the email provided to me from a few sources.

MundoHispanico

Reporters in Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Orlando, and one in North Carolina are expected to lose their jobs. There are also other journalists at the headquarters in Atlanta who will also be shown the door.

According to a source, the national correspondents for the digital site could be out of work by the end of June and the ones in Atlanta may get a few more months on the job.

I hope a good media company buys Mundo Hispánico, because the digital site has a good following on social media. More than four million followers on Facebook. 

I have contacted CMG for a response. I’ll keep you posted.

If you have any job openings please send them my way.  Let’s help these people out before the possible shutdown.

Other sources:
Cox Media Group

Mundo Hispánico

Posted in Breaking News, Fellowships, Human Interest, Journalist, News Now

You’re fired! The two words that changed my life for the better

Ten years ago today I was fired.

After almost fourteen years at KDFW-TV in Dallas, I was let go.

But guess what? I wasn’t devastated, hurt, sad or even afraid about my future. I didn’t think the world had ended.

The Fox station took my job, but not my talent, years of experience, many awards and my circle of trusted friends.

I knew I was going to be OK.

THE ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES

If you ever get fired, remember you’ll be fine. Don’t blame yourself. I sure didn’t.

Don’t be embarrassed to tell people. It’s part of life.

Don’t be afraid to be judged. I never worried about what people thought of me losing my job.

Surround yourself with positive people you trust.

Stay positive and set goals.

Get out there and share your talent.

IT’S A NEW BEGINNING FOR SOMETHING BETTER

Getting fired was the best thing that ever happened to me. The opportunities I found and created have been endless.

I decided on four main goals: mentor, volunteer, consult and lead. Those goals have led me to jobs, opportunities and a paycheck. Here is some of what I have accomplished so far in ten years:

-I’m a successful freelance reporter/writer/producer. AARP was my first client.
-Served as Vice President of Online for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists better known as NAHJ. Volunteer position for four years. I sat on board for a total of six years.
-Currently serve as Vice President for the Society of Professional Journalists, Fort Worth Chapter
-Founder of Wise Latinas Linked, the largest Latina networking group on Facebook and LinkedIn with combined membership of 10,000 women.
-Founder of Latinas in Journalism, the largest Latina journalism group of 1,800 women on Facebook.
-Public speaker on Latina and journalism issues. My favorite is “Surviving the Unexpected.”
-I’m a media and diversity watchdog. I fight for the rights of all journalists and push for more diversity in newsrooms across the country.
-Learned how to build websites from scratch.
-Learned how to code. Yes I know CSS and HTML.
-Continue to mentor girls in high school.
-Continue to mentor dozens of journalists at different levels in their careers.
-Served as social media manager for three years for NAHJ while VP of Online.
-Social media columnist for Latina Style magazine, a national publication.
-Social media consultant for nonprofits.
-Video producer for nonprofits. Thanks Rafael McDonnell for my first job.
-Offered $10,000 scholarship to get my Masters in Journalism at the University of North Texas. I am in my first year.
-Traveled to Israel on a journalism fellowship with Fuente Latina, a nonprofit news site.
-Serve currently and in the past as moderator and panelist on numerous journalism and social media panels around the country.
-Nominated in 2015 for Lone Star Emmy for “Best TV Commentator.”
-News consultant. Thanks Charlie Haldeman for my first gig teaching reporters how to report.
-Awarded two national awards for “Social Networking Leader” in 2011 and 2013 by Latinos in Social Media also known as LATISM.

Gathering with Wise Latinas in Dallas

KEEP GOING

I keep thinking how much I would have missed in life, stuck in the same newsroom, covering another crime or telling viewers as I stood on the side of the road “It’s cold out here.”

Don’t get me wrong, TV news is important, but sometimes you need a shove out the door to find something better. Today I continue helping people and telling stories.

More importantly, I also got to see my son grow up and go to college. I don’t know how many journalists have missed seeing their kids grow up. I’m lucky my son and I have great memories of me picking him up from junior high and going to McDonalds to talk.

I may not make the six-figure salary I earned during my TV days in Dallas, but then I was never motivated by money. My experiences as a TV reporter and a fired reporter have been priceless.

Thank you to John Boos, the best husband in the world. Thank you to some of my former coworkers like Saul Garza, Todd Eastman, and many others who stood by my side. Thank you to Rafael Olmeda who was president of NAHJ at the time and defended me. Thanks to many NAHJ members and a gazillion friends and fans who have been my support system since my firing. You helped me survive. Gracias!

Freedom feels good! Happy Anniversary to me.

FYI if you want the back story on why I was fired, go to Unclebarky.com. It’s was unfair, but I’m still standing.

Posted in Journalist, Magazine, News Now, Women in Journalism

Forbes will pay all contributors, making changes to contributor network

forbes300Life is changing for contributors at Forbes Magazine. Randall Lane, the magazine’s new chief content officer says all contributors will now get paid.

Yes, they’ve had an army of unpaid contributors.

In a February story in Forbes, Lane explained how Forbes was doing well,

“60 million people visited Forbes.com in December, according to ComScore; 9.115 million people read the print edition of The Forbes 400 issue, according to GfK AdMeasure.”

Forbes is not only changing how its contributors are paid, but it’s also making changes to its contributor network. It launched the network seven years ago and has more than a thousand contributors. Here are more details:

  • Every contributor will be on a paid contract.
  • Standard pay rate will not change from current scale.
  • Larger, monthly $500 guarantee for those who post regularly.
  • $250 guarantee to those who post less regularly.
  • Top contributors will have access to top agent David Granger, who can help transform posts into book or movie deal.

Lane is hoping the contributors will have better success at Forbes.

“..we hope each contributor does far better. Many already do: In 2017, more than 100 earned well into five figures, including five that topped the $200,000 threshold.”

Expect to see more investigative stories in Forbes. Full-time reporters will get more time to do “deep-dive journalism.” Lane says they have had success breaking big investigative stories.

“Forbes journalists revealed how the president took money from a kids’ cancer charity and how the secretary of commerce was a serial fibber; we did in-depth profiles of every Trump foreign partner…”

Lane has big plans for Forbes.

It’s good to know that journalism is thriving and journalists are finding a place to do their finest work.

Resource: Forbes Why Forbes Is Investing Big Money In Its Contributor Network