Benét J. Wilson is the associate editor for travel + rewards for MagnifyMoney.com and CompareCards.com. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Aviation Queen LLC, a freelance aviation/travel writing business. She serves on the boards of the Online News Association and Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism. She is also the immediate past VP-Digital of the National Association of Black Journalists.
Wilson chairs ONA’s Membership-Audience Committee, and serves on the Governance Committee, along with the Students and Diversity advisory groups. She has served as a judge and organizer of the CNN Diversity and HBCU Digital fellowships, and moderates the MJ Bear fellowship panel at the yearly conference.
Wilson is a strong advocate for media diversity, mentoring and career navigation. She has moderated workshops and webinars on topics including digital journalism, branding and social media for ONA and other journalism organizations. She’s also a Google News Initiative tools trainer.
Wilson graduated from American University in Washington, D.C., with a B.A. in broadcast journalism. She is an Air Force brat, a student pilot and resides in Baltimore, Md.
I’m proud to have served on the board since 2013. During my time on the board I have worked to boost the diversity of the organization, mentored students and participated in workshops and programming. I chair the Membership-Audience Committee, and serve on the Governance Committee, along with the Students and Diversity advisory groups. I’ve judged the CNN Diversity and HBCU Digital fellowships, and moderate the MJ Bear fellowship panel at ONA’s annual conference. Overall, I’ve been an active champion of diversity in digital newsrooms and storytelling organizations.
Vision for ONA
I attended my first ONA convention, Boston, in 2011. I was intrigued when ONA put out the call that year asking members to submit ideas on digital journalism, specifically on how to better serve communities and create a sustainable future for journalism. I’m proud to be part of a board and a membership that has continued that work.
The key to ONA’s continued growth as of 2018 has been bringing in a more diverse membership — in the largest sense of the word. You only need to look at the current board of directors, along with those who currently participate in ONA events and attend the annual conference, to see what has changed since 2011.
I currently chair ONA’s Membership-Audience Committee, and serve on the Governance Committee, along with the Students and Diversity advisory groups. I’ve served as a judge and organizer of the CNN Diversity and HBCU Digital fellowships, and I moderate the MJ Bear fellowship panel at ONA’s yearly conference. I’m also part of the group that is working to implement ONA’s Strategic Plan that will set the course for the association’s future.
During my time as chair of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Digital Journalism Task Force, I created a network with other journalism organizations of color, along with associations including NLGJA, ONA, SPJ, RTDNA, the Ida B. Wells Society and SABEW, to share resources, attend conventions, offer webinars and other programming. These partnerships have and continue to serve me well as an ONA board member.
I believe strongly that we need to better nurture our membership among two key groups: students and international members. Young people are the future of our industry, so ONA needs to work with its members and other journalism organizations to create more student ONA Locals. Innovative schools like UC-Berkeley, USC, Syracuse, Howard University, City University of New York, University of Maryland-College Park, Arizona State University, UT-Austin, Columbia University and my alma mater, American University, to name a few, should have ONA Locals on campus. We also need to have programming and social events at the conference that specifically target students so they can network and also get the training they need.
ONA has made good inroads in broadening its reach internationally, but we need to do more. Inactive ONA Locals need to be restarted. We need to target key cities with strong media representation for new ONA Locals and offer more programming and events around the world.
In the U.S., partnering on events with other journalism organizations on the national and local levels is another way to fly the ONA flag and attract new members.
My ability to network across different spaces, my 30+ year dedication to the craft of journalism and my willingness and enthusiasm to learn and teach new ideas in the digital space make me an ideal candidate for the ONA board. I appreciate your consideration.