Melissa Noel is an award winning journalist.
She uses her multimedia skils to produce television news as well as print and digital stories for several notable media outlets including NBC News, Voices of NY, HuffPost.com and Caribbean Beat Magazine.
Recognizing the absence of regular Caribbean coverage in mainstream U.S.news media, Melissa regularly travels to the region as well as to cities with large Caribbean populations throughout the U.S.,to report stories.
Both domestically and internationally, she is dedicated to researching, writing and producing news stories that center on the experiences and critical issues impacting communities of color.
When she is not busy chasing a story, you can find Melissa belting out lyrics in Karaoke competitions, attempting to play the steel pan and trying to break the Guiness World Record for most Caribbean carnivals attended by a sinlge person.
Mikhael Simmonds is the Northeast Manager of Newsrooms Practice Change and Multimedia Lead at Solutions Journalism Network and a freelance multimedia journalist who specializes in international reporting.
He is also the co-founder of Harlem Focus, a multimedia blog/media lab used as a learning tool at the City College of New York, where he taught reporting classes. Over the years, Simmonds has worked with a number of news and non-for-profit organizations including Democracy Now!, GritTV, Seeds of Africa, the YMCA International, and the UN Department of Public Information and NGO Relations. He has also worked closely with the New York Amsterdam News, a 106-year-old Harlem-based African American Newspaper.
In general, you can email Simmonds about solutions journalism, newsroom collaboratives, project engagement and multimedia storytelling.
Wednesday May 4th
1.Intro Video Clip (Pigeon Island Background or Jazz on the Square Background)
We’re here on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia for the annual Jazz and Arts Festival. This year the festival celebrates 25 years. And, we’ll be bringing you the best of the celebration from musical performances to St. Lucian arts and cuisine. So stay tuned to NBC BLK!
Caption Under Video:
NBC BLK contributor Melissa Noel will have highlights from the 25th anniversary of the @SaintLuciaJazzFestival throughout the week. If you are on the island for jazz fest let us know! #SLJAF #SLJAF2016 #StLucia
Use: @Saintlucia_jazz for Twitter
2. Jazz on the Square (30 second Video clip or photo)
Lunch with a side of jazz! We are enjoying Jazz on the Square performances in the heart of Castries, St. Lucia’s capital city. The square is named the island’s Nobel prize winning poet and playwright, Derek Walcott. #SLJAF #SLJAF2016 #StLucia
3. Hot Couture Fashion Show Posts
(two or three general posts during the show.) Two posts featuring top designers from the Caribbean region and one featuring the local Soca music and African drumming performances during the show.
Thursday May 5th
1. Arts Village Exhibits
Two general posts on the exhibits, which will feature modern and contemporary art from local, regional and international artists
One short clip with internationally acclaimed Saint Lucian sculptor, Jallim Eudovic.
Eudovic’s work has been exhibited in France, the United States, China, and Canada and in countries across Africa. He has created sculpture gardens and even monuments in China and St. Lucia and was even commissioned to create a gift for the royal wedding in 2011.
The sculpted gift he made for Prince William and Princess Kate will be a featured design in a new jewelry line that will feature his work.
He will be on tour in the U.S. this summer.( I am thinking Eudovic would be a good story.) I will also be able to go and see his studio while here.
3. Salsa Saint Lucia Performance (short clip or photo)
General post to highlight the growing Afro Latino culture on the island with this organization as an example.
The organization seeks to promote fitness, health, social development and cultural diversity on the island of Saint Lucia through Latin dance and music.
4. Rodney Bay Village
This is known as the island’s entertainment capital. Will see what will be the main events here on this evening and if there is anything worth posting about.
Friday May 6th
1. Main stage performances
A highlight photo from Pigeon Island where the main stage musical performances will take place.
Caption: We look forward to seeing headliners @Shaggy, @Omi and Soca artist @Teddyson John hit the stage tonight!
1a. Short Clips of two performances with captions about the song sets performed.
2. Scenes from the ‘Jump Up’ Street Party, the island’s largest street festival. This event features Caribbean food music and dance nto the early morning.
3. Jazz on the Beach photo and caption.
Saturday/Sunday May 7th/8th
1.Highlight photos of Kool and the Gang and Kassav’s main stage performances.
2. A morning at Castries food market, which is rated the third best food market in the world.
ICFJ International Reporting Fellowship- Jamaica
Topic: The complexities of parental migration from the Caribbean and the affect this separation can have on the psychological and emotional well-being of children throughout their lives.
What went into this: four months of training, travel prep and source building in NYC, Jamiaca and Trinidad.
What happened: Hurricanes Irma and Maria slammed many of the northern Leeward islands of the Caribbean. Although Jamaica’s location in the region meant it was not impacted, my role as a Caribbean correspondent required a pivot toward hurricane coverage first. Travel to Jamaica had to be pushed backin order to focus the aftermath of these natural disasters.Even after arriving in Jamaica,working on hurricane related coverage continued.
-Protecting the identity of the children in my story for several months before publication.
-Creating social media posts around my coverage that didnt give away too much, so another reporter could steal it, work on the same thing and publish before me.
-Creating a roll out of media elements and publish dates with NBC News.
Full story series here: https://nbcnews.to/2pYDRZ1
Covering The New Presidential Administration
- Last-minute schedule changes
- Less press access
- Sudden, unexpected shifts in policy
- Overall contradictions
What can you do as a reporter? This means more that you must gather information carefully as ever, double-dotting double-crossing the I’s T’s as if there will be no chance for do-overs. There likely won’t be.
For instance, if you are covering immigration and the administration is saying that the ‘restrictions on travel from certain countries’ is not a ‘travel ban’, but then turns around and calls it a travel ban, you need to be able to pull the tweet or quote from a previous which confirms that was indeed said. There is no magic bullet. Your overall flexibility and ability to shift quickly to deal with the unprecedented is key.
St. Vincent Airport Opening Argyle International Airport (AIA) on the island of St. Vincent received its first-ever flights on February 14th after an eight-year construction process.
The building of Argyle International Airport is largest capital project in the island’s history.
The $240 million development was financed by St. Vincent’s government with loans, donations and grants from several countries including Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela and Taiwan.
Now that Argyle International Airport is operational, the expectation is that not only will the tourism industry be boosted, but agriculture and other trade industries as well.
Full Huff Post story here: http://bit.ly/2mbCDDl
- Researched the country’s history and infrastructure before arriving.
- We obtained the group’s trip schedules and event descriptions. This information helped up plan for our stories and photo-captions long before getting on the ground.
- Described the internet connectivity situation in Cuba to editor. (In Cuba, only hotels, medical centers and specific streets have wifi.)
- Gave editors as much information as possible about local conditions (eg internet, electricity.)
- Planned for six posts a day with one or two videos, (including group participants).
- Planned types of posts, (food, dance, music, cars etc)
- Gathered even more information while reporting to improve editorial accuracy.
- We thought about the role of cover images and establishing shots.
- There was a day delay due to Cuban connectivity or lack thereof.
- We prepared to begin posting on the night of Sunday June 12, Orlando shooting. Melissa purposefully checked the day’s news cycle.
We had it All planned out and then BREAKING NEWS in Orlando!!!
- We wanted to know what the new plan would be so we got in contact with our editor.
- In response to the breaking news we were forced to pivot our angle to make content still relevant. This meant re-captioning photos, changing tenses and reviewing content in the context of breaking news.
- We considered how we would use the photos and videos. Instead of daily posts we decided to use the images as highlights of the trip to tease our two-part story series that will published at the end of the month.
- The stories were actually shelved for several months as breaking news continued to happen weekly. We didn’t know exactly when the two feature pieces would be published and then Fidel Castro died. There was non-stop Cuba coverage and our stories became priority again. We had to turn the stories around as breaking news essentially.
FINAL STORY AND IMAGES IF YOU’RE INTERESTED
In case you’re wondering how the final piece came out, check out the links to the stories and images below.
Africa in the Americas: Tour Group Explores Cuba’s African Roots (Part 1) - See full video on NBC.
Summary: “There’s so many situations where I had people come to me and be like you’re my brother, you’re my long lost brother,” Taylor explained. He described how hearing that from Cuban men of African descent really affected him. And, how seeing things like a group of Rastafarians gathering near an outdoor market on Obispo Street in Havana as well as women singing in the Yoruba language he grew up hearing in his native Nigeria were unforgettable. — WWritten by Melissa Noel
‘Step-by-Step’: Cuban Dance Company Develops International Following (Part 2) - See full video on NBC.
Summary: HAVANA, CUBA- Callejón de Hamel (Hamel Alley) — a vibrant street in the Cayo Hueso neighborhood of Central Havana devoted to Afro-Cuban culture — is where Elier Lima first fell in love with dance.
“When I went to Callejón de Hamel I saw Afro-Cuban dance and it was so amazing. There were amazing dancers and an amazing show. And for me that was like the step, the important step for getting into the dance world, “ Lima said. — Written by Melissa Noel
- Pre-plan when you can.
- Think about your audience(s). Who are your various audiences? Where do they get their news? How can you reach them and be part of their discussion.
- Decide beforehand what kind of content you want to post. Let your story and audience dictate this decision.
- Remember that the workflow and publishing styles differ for every outlet. You should research the writing style, tone and shooting styles before creating a plan.
- Give editors as much information as possible about local conditions (eg internet, electricity.)
- Remember that you’re representing a brand at the end of a day, post according.
- Avoiding the pitfalls and avoid the cliches such as “The starving African” and “The Cuban in line for food.” Mind your own bias. Check your own privilege. Exam your own language.
- Be Flexible
- Know your story (Remember, this is still reporting whether you pre-plan or not.)
- How to present social media for different platforms Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat etc.
- Take as many photos and videos as possible but remember, you don’t need to use them all.
- Your approach to different stories vary.
- In social media, one size does not fit all. Remember, the newest shiniest platform/technology may not be the best.
BUT WAIT... THERE’S MORE!
- Don’t be afraid to promote your trip on your personal account.
- Don’t forget to tag your outlet when necessary.
- Don’t post videos and photos meant for you outlet on your personal account before they’re officially published.
- Don’t be afraid to repost the outlet’s posts.
BUT THERE’S EVEN MORE!!!!!
- Audience: Who is your audience? Who are the stakeholders in this story? Who cares about this topic. Answering these questions helps you to know and understand the potential reach of your story and your engagement.
- Community: Audience view your content and leave, but communities stay and engage. Communities can follow you or the story long after you leave.
- Questions: Ask your potential audience(s) or communities questions. Get them involved. They may know more than you, especially on the ground. They can add context as well. They are also the ones you can me most affected by your reporting.
- Metrics: There are various ways to look at metrics. General and specific metrics are angles to address this. General metrics are concerned about the overall viewership/readership like the total number of views, clicks, follows time on page etc. Specific metrics are concerned with measurements related to a specific audience (mothers, immigrants, teachers etc.) Figure our what metrics are important to you, you publication and your audience. (ProPublica - Firestone and the Warlord - http://bit.ly/1xTDeuS)
- Goals: What are you goals if there are any?
- Engagement 1: Can you engage with your audience in different languages? (Star Tribune - Marka Deenmaark la joogo, tabobaridda iyo gaadhista bulshada si loo joojiyo u socdaalista goobaha deegaalka ee Bariga Dhexe - http://strib.mn/2aqXNIc)
- Cultural awareness: When you walk into a space, you walk in with your history and other people’s perception of your history whether you like it or not. Aldo be aware about what is offensive and/or not.
- Engagement 2.0: Think beyond social media and posting. What events of activities can you create around our reporting? What value added can you bring to a local community? What conersations can you facilitate beyond simply reporting what you see.
- Victims vs Agency: The language you use defines your subject for the rest of the world. Are subjects merely victims or do they also have agency. Are you only defining people by their negative qualities? Are you only adding context to a situation.
- Solutions: Don’t just tell us the problems. Let us know if there are solutions, what are they and how is it being implemented.
- Streaming is a double edged sword. Plan when you can. Be aware of your surroundings for 1) safety concerns and 2) framing of your shot.
- The same goes for stories applications.
- Twitter is a beast!!!