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Merry Christmas 2017

December 21, 2017

Merry Christmas 2017


2017 was good for us. Lois continues doing business development at the city of Alameda, Alicia does medical scheduling at John Muir Hospital. Her stellar performance earned her a promotion in less that a year. Bob still reports for KCBS Radio, conducts training for young journalists and sits on the SAG-AFTRA national board.


Relaxing in Willemstad, Curacao

We went on a cruise to the Caribbean in April and visited several islands for the first time, including Curacao (left) and Aruba. We are making plans for a 25th anniversary cruise in May starting in Barcelona, visiting France, Italy, Sicily and ending in Venice. Royal Caribbean is great. Maybe you’ll join us!


As is our tradition, the first Saturday in


Time to eat

June we held our annual Cherry Picking BBQ, sharing lots of good food with great friends and family. Rob even had some of his high school friends drop by.


Rob, Robin, Deante and Vince

Next year we’ll be combining the BBQ with a special celebration for Bob’s 65th birthday.


In September Bob traveled to Windhoek, Namibia to conduct a training project for IMG_7867journalism students. ( This is the third year in a row for the project and was, by far, the most comprehensive.




He returned just in time to attend the SAG-AFTRA national convention where he was able to mingle with some prominent stars. These actors acted and sounded just like Lucy Ricardo and Marilyn Monroe.


We are all trying to stay in shape, spending as much time as possible in the gym. Bob completed his first-ever Spartan race in November and has signed for another in March.IMG_2770

We hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We’ll see you in 2018.


Tips for Young Journalists/Students at the NABJ Convention

May 29, 2017

Each year, hundreds of young people attend their first National Association of Black Journalists Convention and Career Fair.

Many are looking for jobs or internships and this is, by far, the best place to find both. But, in my twenty+ years as a mentor for young people, I’ve seen them make mistakes that can cost them opportunities. This has prompted me to share some things that others (Louise Ritchie) have shared before. Tips 1-9 apply to all students and young journalists. #10 is specific to those interested in working in print or online media. Because the industry has changed, you should be comfortable working in all platforms. You may find yourself writing for the newspaper, taking photos and video and posting to the web. There are tips for aspiring broadcasters but they, too, should be able to work in digital media.

Bob Butler
President, NABJ

RESUMES should be one-page. They should include relevant journalism or communications experience and links to your social media pages or resume reel (you’ll see why in a few). Make sure your name and contact information is in bold at the top of the page.

Cover Letters should also be one page and should quickly tell the reader who you are, what you have accomplished and what you want to do. Since this is a career fair, your cover letter can be general. But, if you are applying for a specific job, your cover letter should explain why you are uniquely qualified for that position.

RESEARCH You can find the list of companies that are recruiting here. Take a few minutes and check these companies’ corporate “career” pages. It helps to know what jobs these companies are trying to fill.


1. Have a positive attitude. You never know if the person to whom you’re complaining about the lousy food is not only the NABJ member who spent hours of free time helping to plan the convention, but also is a recruiter on the lookout for an entry-level hire or intern.

2. Be gregarious. Some good conversation openers include saying things such as, “Have you been to other NABJ conventions?” (A good follow-up to a “yes” could be to ask the person’s advice about how you can get the most out of this one.)

3. APPEARANCE/BEHAVIOR: The type of attention you attract is based on your professional look. Remember that even parties at conventions are professional situations. Have fun, but have fun without telling the intimate secrets of your life or without becoming an intimate secret in someone else’s life! Especially on Saturday night!
MEN: NO SAGGING. T-shirts celebrating booze, sex or drugs, the “n” word, etc., definitely will attract attention but not the kind that will lead to a job or internship. Leave that attire at home. Don’t even wear it to convention parties.
WOMEN: Deep cleavage, mini and micro skirts, T-shirts celebrating booze, sex or drugs etc., definitely will attract attention, but not the kind that will lead to a job or internship. Leave that attire at home. Don’t even wear it to convention parties.

4. Talk to everyone. This includes talking to attendees who may be several decades older than you. Instead of clustering with your classmates at meals, make a point of sitting with people whom you don’t know. Your schoolmates can’t hire you or give you an internship. When you select a seat, walk around the table, shake everyone’s hand and introduce yourself to them.

5. Know that many people — including veteran journalists — are shy (It’s amazing how many journalists are tigers when they’re pursuing stories, but in their personal lives they are quiet and shy!) so are very happy when you take time to reach out to them. Some people who especially may be appreciative are families of attendees and recruiters who are not black and who may not have had previous experience attending a gathering in which they are the racial minority. You also can get some valuable tips and information from such people, including members’ families, who often have lots of inside knowledge about the field and may even have journalism experience, too.

6. Attend the workshops and, when you go, sit up front and be prepared to ask questions. When you ask questions, stand up and say your name and your school or affiliation. Students have been known to get job offers and internship offers by asking thoughtful questions at workshops.

7. Seek out opportunities to get feedback. Ask recruiters and veterans to critique your work. When they do so, don’t argue with them. If you don’t agree with their assessment, then you don’t have to follow their advice. But if you start arguing with them, you will get a reputation as a person who is not interested in learning and that can prevent your obtaining a job or internship. People who are hired as entry-level employees and interns are expected to grow and learn as part of the job. For that reason, many employers will choose a student who is eager to learn over a more experienced student who is a know-it-all.

8. In interviews, make sure that you highlight the excellent things you’ve done in journalism. Explain how you got the reluctant source to talk. Describe how you did a tough story on a tight deadline while you were also editing copy. Don’t wait for the interviewer to directly ask you about these things. The recruiter cannot read your mind. In addition, an interview is not a modesty test. You easily can highlight your strengths by, when you are showing your clips, also telling the story behind your clips. “When my editor assigned me this story, he said that he chose me because I handled deadlines better than the other interns. I got the story at 7 and by 9, my editor had it on his/her desk.”

9. Be prepared for a current events quiz. With news available on your cell phone there is no excuse for not knowing the news of the day.

10. Prepare packets of your resume, cover letter and clips. Put them in separate envelopes to give to recruiters. That way, when the recruiter packs the stacks of resumes and clips s/he has received and piles them into a suitcase, yours won’t become wrinkled. Never give away your last package. Create a file that includes your resume, cover letter and clips and email it to yourself each morning. You can show the recruiter your clips, then email them the file at the end of the interview. (This is a great way to get contact information for potential mentors and hiring managers.)


1. DON’T huddle with your classmates like a sheep. Among the no-nos are sitting only with other students or your friends from school or waiting for your roommate to get up in the morning so that you can go to the convention together. Don’t let them make you late. Your classmates may be your BFF’s but they can’t hire you or give you an internship.

2. DON’T get up and leave if you realize that you’ve sat at a table with veterans or recruiters. Often such people are very happy to meet aspiring young journalists and are really insulted if you jump up and abandon them. This particularly may be true with recruiters who literally are there to connect with potential hires such as you. You’ll be embarrassed if that same person you didn’t want to sit with is the one at the career fair interviewing for the job you want.

3. DON’T be on the prowl for a date.

4. DON’T sit in the back of the room at workshops. The days of back of the bus are long over.

5. DON’T go on the prowl for free drinks and free meals. Well… I’ll amend this to say don’t go on the prowl by yourself. I have not met a journalist yet who will turn down a free drink or food when not working. 🙂

6. DON’T spend your time telling recruiters what you DON’T want to do. The phrase “I don’t want to…” will turn recruiters off. Spend your time telling and showing recruiters what you can do for them.

7. DON’T tell a recruiter that you have no clips/reel because the people in your student media were mean or cliquish. Recruiters know that if you couldn’t make it at your campus media, you definitely aren’t ready for the outside world. While the recruiter may nod his or her head sympathetically, that person is mentally crossing you off their list of good candidates.

8. DON’T decide that the job fair is a waste of time because recruiters say they have no open jobs now or they have no internships available for this summer. Typically, summers are when there is turnover on jobs, so recruiters are now taking applications for openings that are expected later. If you blow off the interview or stop interviewing, what can happen is that when the jobs open up, your name isn’t in the pool. Even if you’re looking for an internship this fall, it can be important to interview because most internships may already be filled, but often there are last-minute openings, and the students whom the recruiters know are available are the ones contacted.

9. DON’T run around loudly telling your friends and associates how “mean” certain recruiters were. This is a small business. The new friend whom you’re sharing this information with may end up being the recruiter’s spouse or best friend.

10. Don’t use an email address that is inappropriate. or bigboy24@yahoo may have been cute in high school but they are not professional.

11. Clean up your social media pages. Potential employers check those… closely. When someone asks me to mentor them, the first thing I do is Google them and see what’s on their FB page. If your page is dedicated to partying or getting blasted, I won’t be calling.

–Louise Ritchie/Bob Butler


— Bring PLENTY of resumes and business cards. Make sure your resume is ONE PAGE and includes links to your social media pages and your resume reel. The employer doesn’t need to know all the details of every job you’ve had. If it’s not related to journalism just put down what it was. Example: Taco Bell, June 2002 to September 2003. Oh, and make sure your name is in LARGE TYPE AND BOLD FACE. When I’m trying to find your resume, I may not look too hard. So make it easy for me to find you.

— Reporter Resume Reel: Your first job will 95% be as a “one man band” reporter. You will be shooting and editing your own packages. Start your resume reel with two stand-ups and two walk-and-talks then go directly to your first package, preferably from something on your montage. Shoot your stand-ups yourself, if at all possible. When I see a standup where the camera is zooming and/or panning, it tells me you did not shoot that yourself. I want to see what I can expect if I send you out to do a story. Also, put your slate at the end and drop the bells and whistles. If I’m interested in you, I don’t want to wait through a heavily produced slate to see or hear you.

PRODUCERS: Your reel should be the first three blocks of your show, including the open, teases and transitions. Telescope the spot breaks (if you have them) or live shots.

REPORTERS/PRODUCERS: Load your reel on Youtube’s “unlisted” channel. Type the url on your resume and bring 50 copies to the convention. Email that document to yourself each morning so it stays near the top of the email on your phone.

REPORTERS/PRODUCERS: I have often told people to make DVD’s of your reel to hand out to hiring managers. But most managers I know would rather view your reel online. So I now encourage you to bring a couple of dvd’s or put your reel on a flash drive for viewing. You can also show the recruiter your reel from your laptop. Read on for a much better option.

SMART PHONES: Before you head out to the career fair, email your resume and link to yourself. Save the document on your phone if you can. Ask for the recruiter’s email address and forward it to them on the spot. This is a good way to get contact information for potential mentors and/or hiring managers.

REPORTERS: Be realistic when lining up at the network (ABC, CBS, ESPN, etc) booths. Their recruiters can offer great advice but their stations are generally located in top 50 markets where they won’t consider hiring you until you have at least 5 years paid experience. Consider companies that have stations located in DMA 100-210. For example Lin Media has 50 stations, 7 of them are located in markets 109 – 189, where you can be hired right out of college. Also Raycom Media operates 53 television stations in 36 markets and 18 states. More than a dozen are located in DMA 100+. Both companies, as well as Time Warner Cable will be recruiting in the career fair.

Collect business cards. After each encounter take minute and write some notes on the back of the card. Example: “Tall brother with a blue suit, and red tie” or “lady with really pretty earrings. She said they had an opening in Fort Wayne” or “He liked my tape but said I need to slow my delivery.” When you get home (or see ‘Smart Phone’) send an email thanking them for talking to you, maybe comment on the tie or the earrings. And attach your resume. They’ll probably see a hundred people. It’s not uncommon for resumes to be misplaced. You’re ahead of the game because the link to your work is already there.

Don’t rule out working as a producer. One news director told me, “I can shake a tree and 12 reporters and anchors will fall out. But a good producer is hard to find.” These jobs lead you into newsroom management, where the real power and control lie. And don’t be surprised if, while you’re waiting in line at the network booth, producer candidates go to the front. There is a critical shortage of people of color who want to be producers.

Happy Holidays

December 22, 2015

Happy Holidays from Bob and Lois Butler!


2015 was a year of transition for the Butler family. Lois enjoyed some well-deserved time off to spend time with family and friends. She starts work with the City of Alameda in January. Bob completed 8 years of non-profit volunteer service. Alicia continues to work at Pottery Barn, volunteers at her church several times a week and spends a lot of time with her grandkids.


In May the three of us travelled to Brooklyn to attend Alicia’s daughter (my first and favorite niece!), Marcherie’s, wedding to Kim. We came back just time for the annual Cherry Picking BBQ.

Bob finished 8 years of service on the board of the National Association of Black Journalists. His term as President ended August 9th at NABJ’s 40th anniversary convention in Minneapolis.


In September we all went to Reno to help Dad celebrate his 85th birthday.


Bob travelled to Rwanda in October to lead a training program for University Rwanda journalism students at the Southern African Broadcasting Association conference. The students mostly learn theory in the classroom and many got their first opportunity to write, report and produce news stories. Bob continues to freelance at KCBS Radio and plans to spend more time helping train the next generation of journalists in Africa.


In early December Wendell, Debra (Lois’ brother-in-law and sister), Bob and Lois visited Alan and Daphne Rhoades in Honolulu. We hiked up to the Makapu’u Point lighthouse, relaxed at Kualoa Ranch (where Jurassic Park was filmed), attended a luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center and spent a day at Pearl Harbor, where Wendell and I toured the USS Missouri.



We are refreshed, we are recharged and looking forward to an exciting 2016.

Bob, Lois and Alicia!



Training Young Journalists in Rwanda

October 4, 2015

Bob Butler
Kigali, Rwanda

(Adding link to student’s work at the end)

Shortly after leaving office as the 20th President of the National Association of Black Journalists, I agreed to conduct a training project for young journalists in Rwanda.

Many of you know that I am committed to helping the next generation of journalists. It’s why I became a mentor with my good friend Doug Mitchell on the NABJ Radio Project and why I focused much of my efforts during my board service to making sure our students had the tools they need to be successful.

As President I launched the Young African Journalists Fellowship that brought six young African journalists to Boston and Minneapolis to participate in student projects.

In February I was invited to represent NABJ and speak at a conference sponsored by the Southern African Broadcasting Association (SABA) in Windhoek, Namibia. I talked about whether social media and journalism ethics can co-exist.

Ellen Nanuses addressing the SABA general meeting in Kigali

Ellen Nanuses addressing the SABA general meeting in Kigali

During my discussions with SABA Secretary General Ellen Nanuses, it came out that African media organizations have challenges finding young journalists to fill openings when they exist. Most students learn the theory of journalism but don’t get the practical experience while in school. That is especially true with writing on deadline.
We decided to do a mini-project at the SABA annual general meeting in Kigali (#sabaagm2015) to begin to build the capacity of young journalists. The students all attend the University of Rwanda. They covered the opening keynote speech by Rwanda’s Prime Minister, Anastase Murekezi, who called on African media companies to refrain from following their international colleagues and only report negative stories about the continent.

Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi gives keynote address at SABA Annual General Meeting in Kigali.

Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi gives keynote address at SABA Annual General Meeting in Kigali.

“Today, I am asking you not to remain silent,” he said. “There are so many interesting stories on our continent that do not get the coverage they deserve. Africa is not only about diseases, despair and disasters.”

Many of the students had never produced a broadcast package or edited audio and video. They were able to cover his speech, get reaction and produce a television package, a radio package and a print story.


Students from the University of Rwanda with 2016 Olympic bicyclist Nathan Byukusenge (kneeling, 4th from left).

The next day they got a chance to do exactly what Mr. Murekezi asked: tell a good news story by interviewing Nathan Byukusenge, one of only two Rwandans invited to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. Byukusenge is a bicyclist. He says he rides to better his life and the life of his family and to improve the image of Rwanda which still suffers the scars of the 1994 genocide.

The lack of sufficient computers, software and equipment made for some rough moments but the students persevered and produced three television packages, three radio wraps and two print stories.

The quickly learned how to report a story and see it through all phases until it was finished. They worked with each other and collaborated on the research, writing and advocated for their stories during the editing process.

Many thanks to Dr. Margaret Jjuuko and Edward K. Mwesigye of the University of Rwanda who gave substantial time and knowledge to make sure this project was a success.

You can see and here the broadcast pieces here.


October 4, 2015
IIMG_0993n 1994, I remember covering stories about the Rwanda genocide while reporting at KCBS Radio. Specifically, there was a company on the Peninsula headed by a man named Frank Blackburn that took miles of hoses to pump fresh water from a far away river to one of the many refugee camps.
After attending the Southern Arican Broadcast Association (SABA) Annual General Meeting, delegates were taken on a tour of the Genocide Memorial. A riveting history exhibit explains in great detail that when Europeans “colonized” Rwanda in the late 1800’s, they favored the minority Tutsi, leading to discontent among the more populace Hutu. The Europeans said they had scientific evidence that proved the Tutsi were more intelligent.IMG_0997
The Tutsi, Hutu and Twa had co-existed peacefully for centuries but this favoritism led the Hutu to resent the Tutsi. The Hutu revolted in 1959, just three years before country won its independence, forcing several hundred thousand Tutsi to leave for neighboring countries.
The Tutsi eventually returned – mostly as rebels fighting the Hutu government. The violence exploded in genocide in 1994 when Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana died when his plane was shot down over Kigali.
The Hutu — 85% of the population — began a brutal, 4-month campaign to kill every Tutsi and moderate Hutu. Government officials and radio stations exhorted Hutus to kill their Tutsi neighbors. A estimated 800,000 people were massacred. Another 2,000,000 fled to refugee camps like the one referenced above.
The exhibit includes photos, videos of actual murders, weapons used in the slaughter, cracked skulls, stacks of bones, jewelry, clothing worn by victims and baby shoes.
The museum’s second floor has exhibits of other 20th century genocides, including the 1904 massacre of the Herero and Nama tribes in Namibia, Armenia, the Holocaust, Cambodia and Serbia. The last exhibit is a 14-minute video of Rwanda genocide survivors telling their stores. It is heartbreaking and very emotional. I was glad to leave but do not regret the experience.
Rwanda approved a new constitution in 2003 eliminating all references to ethnicity. Now everyone is simply Rwandan. The country has come a long way. They are now in the midst of building capacity to improve the economy and move Rwanda forward.

Reflections on the “Ethics in Digital Broadcasting Conference: Do No Harm!”

February 23, 2015

Windhoek, Namibia

February 9-10, 2015

When I was invited to speak at the Ethics in Digital Broadcasting Conference in Windhoek, Namibia I gladly accepted.

The conference was co-sponsored by the Southern African Broadcasting Association (SABA) and the African Center of Excellence for Information Ethics (ACEIE).


Professor Fackson Banda, UNESCO

I have worked with the SABA member Namibian Broadcasting Association (NBC) in the past so I was excited to share knowledge with them and learn from them.

I was taking notes because all the points made by the speakers were excellent.

Professor Fackson Banda of UNESCO talked about the need for fair communications.

“Information plays a key role in us understanding each other,” he said. “It is important that our communications be ethical.”

Mr. Albertus Achoamab, the President of SABA and the Director General of NBC followed Professor Banda. He said we must all ask ourselves four questions before we write.


Albertus Achoamab, President, SABA; Director General, NBC

“First, is what I’m saying factually correct? Second, is it fair” to the person you are writing about? “Third, Will it build good will and better friendships? And, finally, will it be beneficial to all concerned.”

I find that a fascinating concept but I’m not sure it would be feasible in all cases. Especially when you are reporting on government officials, business leaders or those accused of criminal activity.

Even if those stories are factually correct, they may not think the reporting about their activity is fair.

Social Media and Journalism

That brings up a point that I was asked to address: how do you balance the needs of social media with the ethics of journalism?

There are rules regarding slander and libel that say you can’t knowingly publish information that you know to be false. If you do, the aggrieved party can take you to court.


NABJ President Bob Butler with Namibia Minister of Information Communication Joel Kaapanda

The Honorable Joel Kaapanda, Namibia’s Minister of Information and Communication, said the lack of social media policies in his country is a real problem.

“The misuse of social media is the result of no social media guidelines. I have people calling and coming to my office almost every day complaining that someone has published false information about them on social media,” he said.

He expressed the hope that SABA and the other stakeholders at this conference help develop those guidelines.

The African Center for Excellence for Information Ethics at the University of Pretoria made valuable contributions by discussing tools you can use to help you make ethical decisions.

Mrs. Erin Klazar showed participants how they teach their students about information ethics.

Mrs. Rachel Fisher and went to great lengths to explain how to consider your motivation, the opportunities versus the risks, the vortex and the effects (MOVE) before you make a decision.

They also explained the RISE principles you should follow to guide your actions while online.


Mr. Coetzee Bester, Director, African Center of Excellence for Information Ethics

Center Director Coetzee Bester says all these principles are necessary for citizens to be well-informed.

“It is important that we have safe access to information and access to safe information,” he said.

Following the panel discussions and presentations we broke into small groups for intimate discussions about how to make ethical decisions in news writing and photography and further delve into the MOVE and RISE principles.

There are many people who deserve thanks for this important conference.

But none of it would happened but the the leadership of SABA secretary-general Ellen Nanuses, ACEIE’s Rachel Fischer. They and all the speakers and participants made this a valuable educational experience.


November 11, 2014

NOTE: This post was written on September 29, 2014. However it was “lost” in WordPress.

The interim president of the Central African Republic attended her first General Assembly of the United Nations to ask the world community to help bring peace back to her war-torn country. Catherine Samba-Panza met with reporters on Sunday, September 21, the day before going to the UN.

From left: Bob Butler, President, NABJ; Catherine Samba-Panza, President, Central African  Republic; John Yearwood, World Editor, Miami Herald; Dr. Djibril Diallo, Senior adviser to the Executive Director of the UN AIDS Office and Chairman of African Renaissance and Diaspora Network

From left: Bob Butler, President, NABJ; Catherine Samba-Panza, President, Central African Republic; John Yearwood, World Editor, Miami Herald; Dr. Djibril Diallo, Senior adviser to the Executive Director of the UN AIDS Office and Chairman of African Renaissance and Diaspora Network

Samba-Panza is only the third woman to lead an African country, joining Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Malawi’s Joyce Banda.

She presides over a country in the midst of fighting between Muslim rebels and Christian militia troops. Each side has been accused of killing civilians. Nearly a million people –– about a quarter of the population — have been displaced or fled to refugee camps to avoid the violence.

Samba-Panza was elected in January 2014 after the previous president, Muslim rebel leader Michel Djotodia, resigned under pressure. He had taken office in March 2013 after a coup by his troops ousted former President Francois Bozize.

Samba-Panza has experience as a corporate lawyer, businesswoman and women’s rights activist. She was appointed mayor of the nation’s capitol Bangui upon Bozize’s ouster.

She has a clear agenda in her appearance before the general assembly.

“Our main message will be to ask the international community to support us and the help the country to recover,” she said.

Recovery, she believes, depends on several things. First she wants help in increasing security.

“The second one is to build the capacity of the security and defense services and to support justice and also to give support to the recovery program.”

In her acceptance speech in January she called on both factions to lay down their arms. Both sides appeared to listen.

Interim President of the Central African Republic Catherine Samba-Panza being interviewed by Bob Butler (l), President of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Interim President of the Central African Republic Catherine Samba-Panza being interviewed by Bob Butler (l), President of the National Association of Black Journalists.

“As mother and as a woman I talked to them and they heard what I asked them to do,” she said.

“I think things will become better because we are on the process of peace restoration.”

She believes security is already better after a United Nations peacekeeping force took over security in mid-September.

“Now the UN forces implemented in the country, they are twice more than the African troops so it will help to improve the situation in the country.”

However thousands of people are still displaced and violence remains a problem.

One thing that Samba-Panza has going for her is that the Central African Republic does not have an outbreak of Ebola.

“I thank God that my country is not affected by Ebola because we already have many problems,” said Samba-Panza.

“If we had Ebola, I don’t really know how the country would be.”

In order to take office she had to agree that she would not run for the job when elections are held next year. Given that so few women get to lead African countries, will she try and change that?

“Since I am the transitional president I understand that politics concerning women should be done by the women. So now I will encourage women to promote themselves in politics.”