Embrace multitasking, journalist tells students

Sabrina Barekzai

Capital News Service

It would make perfect sense for multimedia journalist Charles F. Robinson III to be an avid Twitter user. With a strong blogging history and Facebook presence, he appears to be the quintessential social media maestro. But Robinson can’t seem to wrap his mind around the popular microblogging service, Twitter.
“I have a really weird reason for not using Twitter – I just can’t write only 140 characters,” Robinson told VCU journalism students during a recent return to his alma mater.
Robinson discussed his 30-plus years as a journalist at an event organized by the Association of Black Communicators and the School of Mass Communications. He also offered advice on what students must do to succeed in today’s media world.
Robinson, who was born in Richmond and grew up in Baltimore, graduated from VCU in 1980. As a student, he worked at the campus radio station.
He went on to have careers in radio, print journalism and television, including Black Entertainment Television, NBC and Maryland Public Television.
Robinson still keeps his plate full. He blogs on BlogSpot, BlogSpot Radio and Facebook. He also hosts webinars and is an enthusiastic user of Skype. (He has used Skype for bicoastal conferences, including recently for the National Association of Black Journalists. Robinson is the NABJ director for Region II, covering the mid-Atlantic states.)
Robinson recently was named an honoree in the inaugural edition of “Who’s Who in Black Baltimore.” He spoke at VCU on Feb. 25 as part of Black History Month.
Junior print journalism student Jenobia Sanders attended the event because she felt she could relate to Robinson and his insights.
“As a journalism student, I tend to gravitate toward speakers who have similar backgrounds. Since I want to be a working journalist after graduation, I wanted to hear the trials and tribulations of someone who had to navigate the ranks to achieve success in the field,” Sanders said. “We wanted our peers to feel inspiration, as well as determination, after hearing Mr. Robinson’s unique story of perseverance.”
Known as an expert on the African-American political scene, Robinson interviewed Barack Obama, then a U.S. senator and now president, in 2006. That was the inspiration for his first blog, Charles’s Black Politics Blog.
“It came out of an e-mail I sent out to all of my friends. It was a blog about, ‘Charles, what are you seeing at these national conventions that nobody else is seeing?’” Robinson said.
At VCU, he discussed the absence of African-American politicians from national political conventions and how that shaped his perspective and blogging.
He said today’s journalists must be multitaskers and jacks of all trades. Robinson himself succeeded in the communications field through multitasking and hard work.
“I never ever do one thing,” he said. “If you can do a lot of different kinds of things, what you do is you make yourself invaluable to people.”

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