Category Archives: About Me

"Enlighten us, But Make it Quick!" All About Ignite DC

A lot of my friends have been asking me to describe the work I’m doing with Ignite DC. I’ve been asked to co-host along with Jared Goralnick, who is a successful technology entreprenuer and all around go getter. I figured if I was lucky enough to be considered – and would be in the company of people like him, I’d go for it.

As some background, Ignite is an O’Reilly Media event that takes place in over 50 cities across the globe. The event draws hundreds of people, happens a few times a year, and the next D.C. one is coming up on June 16th from 6-10PM. I’m tasked with helping to organize it and bring in compelling, thought-provoking speakers. Like many of you, the readers of my blog.

O’Reilly describe the event as “a high-energy evening of 5-minute talks by people who have an idea—and the guts to get onstage and share it with their hometown crowd. Run by local volunteers who are connected through the global Ignite network, Ignite is a force for raising the collective IQ and building connections in each city.  And, via streaming and archived videos of local talks, local Ignites share all that knowledge and passion with the world.”

Below, I’ve embedded a few of my favorite past Ignite presentations. If you have an idea you’d like to submit – please do. We’re accepting applications (which are super easy to do) through May 17th. You can also pick up a ticket here.


Alex Lundry, Conservative Political Pollster
Presentation: Chart Wars: The Political Power of Data Visualization

“A funny thing happened during this summer’s health care debate: a chart that purported to show the organizational structure of the Democratic health care reform proposal took over the media cycle and triggered a partisan visualization volley. Since then, the original chart has frequently been used as a provocative protest sign and is now the subject of a congressional investigation. What was it that made this data visualization so powerful and politically potent?”

Peter Corbett, CEO, iStrategy Labs
Presentation: The Future of Social Capital

“Do stuff that maters. Where do you find the time? Sleep less, talk less. Help more. Do more. Do it now. Really, now. Literally when you leave tonight…write that blog post, reach out to that person. If you do that, we’re going to be the social capital that inspires the world. We’ll take (D.C.) from a social entrepreneurship perspective, a social technology…and a social change perspective, and we’ll inspire the world.”


Washington Life Power Issue: Media You May Not Have Met (yet…)

A few weeks ago I got a note from an editor at Washington Life. (For those of you outside of D.C., Washington Life is a glossy magazine, a kind of “Insider’s Guide” to the city. It’s been around since 1991.)

The Editor was writing to ask how I felt about being featured in the magazine’s May Power Issue. He had heard about the work I did producing web videos for About Our Children (a Michelle Bernard/MSNBC program) and my success uploading and airing my first amendement news reports on CNN.

So I told him I was game…and here we are. Be sure to check out the magazine when it hits the stands this Monday, May 10th. In the meantime, enjoy the sneak peak of the other talented people in the “Media You May Not Have Met (yet…)” section. I’m being featured with – Huffington Post’s Dan Froomkin, Washington Post’s Katharine Zaleski, Facebook’s Tim Sparapani, TBD’s Erik Wemple and Bloomberg’s Manuela Hoelterhoff.

National Press Club: How to "Pitch" Journalists in the Digital Age

This Friday, I will join a group of journalists on a panel about how to “pitch journalists in the digital age” at the National Press Club.

Hosted by the Adfero Group, the delightful Cindy Boren (Washington Post), myself, and others, will talk about how we interact with folks who have story ideas. From my perspective, it isn’t so much how people “pitch us,” but rather, how we can better listen and crowd source ideas and issues that matter to our key audiences. That is, if you follow the maxims of new media.

I’m definitely the most hybrid of the group, having worked in both digital strategy PR and placed my own content through CNN and MTV. I hope I’ll be able to make some insightful contributions as to what’s worked and what hasn’t for the group that attends!

Goodbye, K Street. Hello, Journalism.

This is my second to last day at Spectrum. I am leaving with a six-month nest egg, two job leads and one burning desire to stitch journalism up – from the inside.

A few of my trusted confidants, including my Dad and Helen Thomas, advised me throughout 2009 to stick with my day job and ride the recession out. Well, I took that advice, and as a result spent twelve months packing away knowledge and pennies, creating digital case studies for my portfolio and simultaneously starting the process of graduating my brand from “EricaAmerica Citizen Journalist” to “Erica Anderson, Network Producer/Reporter.

I have a driving instinct that now it’s time to put 100 percent into this ambition to help rebuild what I believe to be the most important industries to the health of our imperfect nation – journalism.

So stay tuned for what’s next; who I target and who I meet with, how I used social media to land opportunities and what the outcome will be.

One thing is for sure, now, more than ever, it is time to step into the fray and make the future happen.

never before published: mtv application, journalism manifesto

So why publish my never-before-seen essays that landed me a job with MTV News? Paired with these essays and an intensive interview process, I somehow stood out in a pool of hundreds of applicants and was made their Washington, DC election correspondent. I guess that’s cool, but here is the part I like: I got to spend 12 months as a social media, digital news incubator, I had an interpretative job description yet straightforward guidelines: Tell untold stories. Pick up MSM’s slack. And apply all of Journalism’s Code of Ethics, without excuse.

As I look forward to 2010, I can’t help but revisit where my head was when this all began. True to MTV’s judgement (thank you Liz, Kristin, Ian), I provided in no uncertain terms why I have the potential, and now experience, to help guide journalism towards an inevitable reconstruction. Without further delay, here are my never-before-published essays. 24 months later, I still agree with them…so much in fact, consider it my manifesto.

1. What are the top three issues you care about?

I care about our foreign policy in the Middle East, affordable healthcare, and an open and honest dialogue between our President and the press.

If we were more proactive in applying America’s intellect and imagination to find alternative energy solutions, the U.S. would not be in the current conflict in Iraq.  Not addressing alternative energies has created complex problems. I want to push the next President to address the misleading rhetoric of this Administration, and work to fix internal shortcomings before waging war.

In terms of healthcare, it is simply not affordable. Pharmaceutical companies, weighed down by the cost of R&D, charge so much for drugs citizens are forced to choose between groceries and antibiotics. Generic drugs should be readily available, regulations on consumer ads should be strengthened, and children’s health insurance should be mandatory.

I also care about the issue of ethics and honesty, particularly in the Administrations interaction with the press and public. I want the President and the appointed administration not to degrade the media’s questions, or imply they are “unpatriotic” for questioning a war that has killed thousands of people and tarnished our international reputation.

But most importantly, I care about being lead by a person of character, humility, and selflessness. We need a candidate who can admit when they are wrong and will always have the best interest of the American people at heart.

2. What makes you uniquely qualified to cover your state (or District)? Continue reading


I got a call on my way into work this morning from a producer at CNN who was reviewing my iReports that I submitted last night. We had a conversation about the amount of time I spent at the National Equality March and the range of people I interviewed – and then that was that. At about 3:00PM another producer then reached out to me and asked me if I was up for a live interview with CNN Reporter, Nicole Lapin. Can you guess what my answer was?

Here is a link to the official CNN video. The embed is below.

Citizen Journalism's Big Impact

Last week I spoke to a Georgetown University class on the use of social media, video and blogs in the election. Alan Rosenblatt of Center for American Progress, also the Professor, invited me. I opened up with some stories about my experience blogging and reporting for MTV, and then listened as Netroots Rising authors, Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox took it away. I love speaking at classes because I know I am bound to learn something. That night was no exception.

This morning I spoke for the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL). The organization works in tandem with the House Democracy Assistance Commission and is internationally recognized for introducing rising political and policy leaders to each other. I spoke alongside Arielle Fleisher of Campus Progress and Adrian Talbott of Generation Engage.

ACYPL had brought young political leaders from Jordan, Israel and Hungary for their Election Study Program. From the Hungarian Socialist Party to Israel’s Women’s Rights Movement, these intellectuals would be in the U.S. for a few weeks — starting in Washington and then moving to battleground states to observe U.S. democracy in action.

I wondered last week what I could discuss about the Youth Engagement in this election that would be original and of interest.  Then it dawned on me when I saw this video.

The impact of citizen journalism in this election.


I gave an overview of how user generated content on YouTube, THINK and Facebook have revolutionized the way my generation interacts socially and politically. But then I got a question.

“Will young people be to blame if Obama loses?”

The question was fair, and my answer simple.

Definitely not. With an age-old electoral college, state resources stretched to accomodate the record number of voters – we have bigger problems than pointing fingers at first-time voters. Yes? No?

My Talk at the Washington Center

My trip to the RNC was eventful from start to finish. Just when I thought it was over — another story began.

I boarded Delta 4071 to Atlanta, on my way back covering the Convention for MTV. Next to me was Julie Zimmerman, a Program Advisor, at The Washington Center. I began to tell her about my job as a Citizen Journalist for the Street Team. I was reeling from adrenaline after all the live reports I broadcasted the night before — which I’m sure was illustrated by a permanent grin. By the time we touched down, she asked if I would speak to the fall class of interns at The Center.

“How many are we talking?”
“Nothing big. Just 100 or 200.”

I smiled but cringed inside. “Sure, I’ll do it.”

The day came yesterday, and with a few nerves but no doubt, I showed up with some notes and a flash drive. Before I was set to speak, I was pulled aside by a few of the organizers who each gave me varied interpretations as to what I could or should discuss. It was like a rushed cram session in college with one too many cooks in the kitchen. I took in what everyone had to say, walked myself to a corner and organized my key points in my head.

And just like that I was up.

And I'm good to go. by you.


I introduced myself and started asking no-brainer, conversational questions just to get a rise. In my last minute prep, I decided to just go with my favorite subjects: the rise of mobile tech, our generation’s involvement in the election and the unprecedented amount of user-generated content forcing traditional media to address us as an audience.

“Alright, who here has a cell phone? Any journalism majors? Who here has volunteered in the last year in DC or on their respective campus?”

And with a few smiles in the front row, I was in. I talked to them about our millennial movement – and how we are influencing a serious political realignment for the first time in 40 years. But I also told them there are big challenges ahead — like the fact that 8 in 10 young primary voters went to college. Meaning there is a deep civic divide between them and their peers who are not in line for a college education.

Finally, I answered a few great questions and received a polite round of applause. I breathed a sigh of relief, packed my purse and then went outside to hail a cab. 

Like on the plane that morning,, I knew I had a similar grin and the same rush of adrenaline. I sat myself in the cab, looked out the window – and couldn’t help but wonder. Another test completed — and hopefully many more to go.

Bob Dole Interview | Republican National Convention 2008

It was September 2008 | Bob Dole was in the Excel Center, on his way to visit the North Carolina delegation on behalf of his wife, Senator Elizabeth Dole. I caught him right before he walked into the floor pit.  I was alone, a credentialed journalist, with three cameras, an ID, and a pen in my pocket. I was on a mission to find some kind of story, and when I bumped into the Kansas Senator and Presidential candidate, I did. | More after the jump

Here are the basic nuts and bolts of the Live Streaming video process: After I hit “Broadcast”, the clip live went auNokia N95 to Flixwagon, a video sharing network that made it instantly available to anyone.

Instant connectvity. 60 seconds after I ended the clip, my phone buzzed twice. First a huge congrats from my Executive Producer who had watched it live, and my Dad, who called and admitted to having tears in his eyes. “You just interviewed my hero,” he said.

More Videos from the Republican National Convention 2008.