I joined the National Association of Black Journalists’ Program Committee in 2009, for the Tampa convention. I remained on the committee for the San Diego conference in 2010. I was deputy program chair for Philly in 2011, and served as chair for New Orleans in 2012 and Orlando in 2013. Suffice it to say, after all that time, I have some knowledge I can share as planning for the 2014 convention in Boston begins.
Every year after the convention programming has been revealed, people say the same things: “there’s no programming on INSERT TOPIC HERE;” “where is the INSERT TOPIC HERE workshop?” “I’m so sick of seeing INSERT WORKSHOP TOPIC every year;” “Why did they choose INSERT NAME” to do INSERT TITLE workshop?” “That INSERT TASK FORCE NAME HERE always has more than one workshop;” “There are too many INSERT TYPE of workshops'” and “These workshops don’t offer anything to me, an INSERT TYPE of journalist.” I could go on, but you get my point.
My answer to these folks was always the same: what workshop proposals did YOU submit? Nine times out of 10, the answer was the same — they didn’t submit one at all. Understand that the Program Committee looks to you, the membership, to propose the vast majority of workshops. They need you and your fellow panel members to offer your expertise with other members. So if you haven’t seen your programming in the past, then consider submitting a workshop proposal for 2014.
And it’s not enough just to throw something together. Think about what you want to see and what your fellow NABJ members want and/or need. Consider workshops that stress mastery of reporting, writing, editing and other journalism cornerstones. Maybe you want to show off new and emerging technology. Or take a look at panels that emphasize innovation and entrepreneurship in the dissemination of news and information.
The categories for 2014 are: Engage – Young Journalists and New Professionals; Immerse – Mid-career Movement and Culture Immersion; Specialize – Learning the Beat; Inform – Communications and Media Professionals; Learn – Technical and Fundamental Skills; and Know – Hot Topics.
Come up with an informative and snappy headline, along with up to 250 words of compelling copy that will convince the committee to choose your workshop and members to attend it. If you don’t feel up to the commitment of putting together a workshop, but have expertise to share, sign up to be a speaker.
The 2014 NABJ Program Committee is hosting a “Workshop Proposals 101” webinar on Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 8:00 p.m. ET. In this hour-long webinar, Convention Chair Charles Robinson and Program Chair Deirdre Childress Hopkins, along with their team members, will answer your questions on what goes into creating a successful workshop proposal and what types of workshops they are looking for. Editor’s note: a link to that webinar is here.
If you’ve never submitted one before, this is your chance to engage and learn how it’s done. The deadline to submit is Dec. 1. As journalists, we face deadlines every day, so please respect the process and get yours in by the deadline. And remember — you can’t complain about the workshops if you don’t submit a proposal!
Below are 10 broad workshop ideas to get you started. Good luck!
- Job search/career transition
- How to start doing data journalism
- Copyediting tips and tricks
- Effective ways to crowdsource your stories
- Demonstrate tools and technology for journalists
- How to break into INSERT BEAT HERE
- How to develop and produce multiplatform stories
- Plan and write long-form stories
- Creating a freelance journalist business
- Legal implications in a new media world
Benét J. Wilson serves on the board of the Online News Association. She is the immediate past chair of the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force and was the 2013 NABJ Program Chair. She is currently the social media/eNewsletters editor for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and a freelance aviation journalist and blogger.