I’m going to say what many members of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) were thinking about this year’s conference in San Diego – it wouldn’t be a success. They’ll never make that room block. The hotel was too expensive. Our mostly East Coast membership would not spend the money to come to the West Coast. We all heard this, and admit it – you agreed with some or all of the statements.
I made the commitment to attend this year’s conference early on. And considering the wealth of information that was available to attendees, it was well worth it to attend. Now, I do admit that it’s easier for me, since my employer pays for me to go. But I would have attended regardless. Why? I need the knowledge passed along by our members and experts in the field to keep current. But I also need the fellowship, the family and the love I get at the annual conference.
I write about an industry – aviation/aerospace – where there aren’t a whole lot of people who look like me. It applies to the players in the industry and it applies to the journalists that cover it. As a Rubenesque Black woman with braids, glasses to match every outfit and a propensity to wear clothing that stands out in a sea of black, blue and grey suits, going to NABJ allows me to see others who look like me doing the important business of journalism.
I got to pass along my skills, via participating on panels, to members who are in transition, who are looking for new ways to do their jobs and who are trying to become the next big thing in journalism. I got to meet with students and young people and talk with them about their careers and what they want to do. I got to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.
And most importantly, I had the chance to sit in on the NABJ Board Meeting to check on the status of our organization and what the board is doing to ensure our survival during these trying times. Using social media tools including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr, I was able to keep members who weren’t able to attend informed about all the activities in my own way.
And even though my party days are long over, I had a fantastic time at the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists’ kick-off party. It was the perfect mix of old school and nu skool music that kept the dance floor crowded from beginning to end. And as I prepared to go home, I already have ideas on what I want to do to make the Philly conference the best it can be.
The Digital Journalism Task Force will play a much bigger role in the lives of NABJ members leading up to the conference. We will be holding monthly webinars that will showcase the latest in tools, tricks and technology so we can all stay in the game. We’ll be working much more closely with the Visual Task Force and the NABJ Media Institute for relevant training. And we will be partnering with more organizations and universities to ensure a steady pipeline of information that our members want.