Category Archives: journalism

Why Conferences Like NABJ Are Vital to Media Diversity

Guest Post by Polly Irungu

My first National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) conference was three years ago, at the 38th annual convention in Orlando. NABJ is a four-day conference and career fair attended by thousands of journalists, media professionals, executives and recruiters. Being surrounded by thousands of people who look like me — and who aspire to learn more about their craft and are actively pursuing their dreams, as I am — is a surreal feeling. NABJ is a life-changing event for many, many students and professionals. I know I wouldn’t be nearly as confident in my abilities if it were for not the support system and network that NABJ has given me. It is hard to sum up the impact and experience NABJ gives to thousands each year, but I will do my best to break it down.

Why do I keep going back?

As an African woman in America — especially one who lives in Oregon, where the black population is less than 5 percent — I have often been disappointed with the way the media portrays people of color. Not only do we not see enough diversity in media, but when we do, the media portrays only one story, one experience that it suggests is shared by all.

Part of the reason I keep going back to NABJ is my desire to change that narrative. NABJ uses its platform to inspire others to take real action to address the lack of diversity in media. People who care about media diversity go to the conference each year actively seeking new ways to tell those underrepresented stories and tips to bring back to their newsrooms. They are often also there to recruit talented, qualified people of color.

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Being a part of the student newsroom

You always grow more when you are a producer instead of a consumer. It’s one thing to attend a conference, but it’s quite another to help create. For me, being a part of the student newsroom was an opportunity to be more than a participant. When you are in the fold and a part of making something happen, you learn and grow more. Being there alone is great, but it has been more fulfilling to be a part of the team of diverse talent.

I’ve applied the skills that I’ve learned inside and outside the SOJC’s classrooms when I worked in the NABJ student newsroom, in both 2015 and 2016. In 2015, I was selected to be a part of the photo team. We were the fantastic four, responsible for providing photo coverage of the 40th annual convention for the NABJ Monitor. Leading up to the conference, students are paired with a mentor to help them bring the stories they have pitched to life. The mentors pushed us to step out of our comfort zone and take our photo skills to new heights. My responsibilities included pitching stories to cover in Minneapolis (where the conference was held), photographing daily assignments, providing captions for all images captured and taking headshots of each student in the newsroom as well as candidates for the 2016 NABJ elections. In a one-week span, I learned how to use tools like Photoshop and Photo Mechanic in my sleep. Everything I thought I knew about taking pictures was challenged.

My favorite story that I produced was about the rising Somali community in Minnesota. I was able to overcome cultural and language barriers to take intimate photos of residents in the community. This is the moment that I truly felt like a multimedia journalist.

The 2016 student newsroom was a little bit different. This year, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists(NAHJ) joined forces with NABJ to host the largest minority journalism convention (NABJNAHJ16) ever. The newsroom was a collaborative environment where peers and mentors worked together to provide some of the best coverage at the historic conference.

I wrote articles for the website, including “The Ferguson Effect: Social media and its impact from Ferguson to now.” But one of the things that I am most proud of is co-producing a podcast, Reportedly Black, with two other students in the newsroom. Leading up to NABJNAHJ16, we tirelessly worked on scheduling interviews, script writing and editing. In the first episode of Reportedly Black, we asked numerous journalists from across the country: “How do you separate your race from being a journalist?” In our second episode, we had journalists weigh in about the importance of media diversity and the media’s coverage of the 2016 presidential elections. Our podcast featured some prominent names in the industry, such as Wesley Lowery, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Tanzina Vega, Victoria Massie, Gustavo Arellano, Stephen A. Nuño and more.

NABJ and NAHJ gave us a platform to discuss real issues with journalists who are leaders in their respective fields. In the midst of the Democratic and Republican national conventions, these journalists took time out of their hectic schedules to speak with us. Some of these journalists got their start through NABJ and NAHJ, which shows you the influence and impact these organizations can have.

The importance of attending conferences 

One of the best things you can do for personal and career development is attend a conference. These organizations want you to succeed and will give you the tools to do so — all you have to do is get there. It is a chance to pick your favorite person’s brain, network with people who share common interests, gain a mentor and meet future employers. The free swag doesn’t hurt either. I know that each year I will leave with renewed inspiration, priceless mentorship and insight that I can take back and share with others. I am already counting down the days until the 2017 NABJ convention in New Orleans!

 

Polly Irungu is a multimedia journalist and social media strategist who plans to graduate from the SOJC with a degree in journalism this fall. She is currently working as a digital content creator for the SOJC’s Communications team, a campus editor-at-large at The Huffington Post and a freelance production assistant for the PAC-12 Networks, and she’s also been published on CNNKVAL and YesJulz. A National Association of Black Journalists fellow in 2015 and 2016, she participated in the NABJ and National Association of Hispanic Journalists student newsroom to provide coverage of their historic joint convention for NABJ Monitor and Latino Reporter. She also worked in the Online News Association’s student newsroom Sept. 15-17, 2016. Previously, she has worked for TrackTown USA, Def Jam Records, Dell and Adobe. She made the 2013 and 2014 Daily Emerald Ducks Who Will Change the World list, and in May 2015, she was named the Women4Africa International Young Achiever of the Year. You can view her work at www.pollyirungu.com and follow her on TwitterInstagram and Snapchat @pollyirungu.

10 Things to Do NOW to Prepare for #NABJNAHJ16

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The 2016 NABJ/NAHJ Annual Convention and Career Fair is happening in only 37 more days.  In order to have a successful convention, you need to be prepared. Below are 10 things you need to do now to be on your game in Washington, D.C.

  1. Buy your plane ticket. The closer you get to the convention date, the more expensive that airfare will be. I’ll be driving to D.C. from Baltimore, but I bought my ticket for #NABJ15 in Minneapolis in February. The closer it gets to the convention the more your ticket will cost. I tweet airline fare sales regularly at  @NABJDigital or @AvQueenBenet. Also, set a fare alert on Airfarewatchdog.com to be informed about the lowest fares.
  2. ClznqjvXEAA5k2FBusiness cards. Get them now. Vistaprint has a great selection of templates so you can have cards that stand out. Click here for two specials that expire on June 30: $1.99 for 100 no-frills cards or $9.99 for standard business cards (minus shipping). I’m also a big fan of Moo cards, which come in different shapes and sizes, and allows you to highlight photos or copy on the back. Mine shows off my aviation pictures from around the world. They cost more than Vistaprint (starting at $19.99 for 50 cards), but I feel it’s worth the investment.
  3. Resume/online portfolio. Now is the time to make sure your  resume and online portfolio are completed so you can impress recruiters at the convention. Need help? Check out the DJTF webinars covering online portfolios and resumes. They’re free to watch, but you must register. And in a shameless plug for my new Resumes By Benét business, I can help you get ready for the convention or your next career move at very reasonable rates.
  4. Check your social media profile. Google yourself and see what comes up. Check your Facebook profile and Twitter timeline and make sure there are no embarrassing photos or posts because potential employers will be checking.
  5. Look at the convention schedule and list of exhibitors. Work out a plan on what workshops you want to attend and create a schedule on your smartphone. Prioritize who are the must-see employers on your list, start making appointments and get a jump start on the crowds.
  6. Start making a list of all the people you want to see in D.C. The schedules of those attending the conference are very tight. Start now to create that list of must-see people and map out appointments, interviews and chat times. And consider breakfast meetings, since schedules tend to slip as the day goes by.
  7. Find ways to save money. Going to the convention is not cheap, but you can do it and not break the bank. Find folks to share a hotel room at the NABJ Convention Roommate Bureau. If you’re checking a bag, tuck in some non-perishable snacks and water. Reach out on NABJ’s listserves and social media channels for ride shares to and from the airport or take the Metro subway, which stops right in front of the Marriott Wardman Park at the Woodley Park station on the Red Line.  Check out sites like Yelp and Zomato to find places in the hotel’s Woodley Park neighborhood and around the city to eat that are less expensive than the hotel’s offerings. Search Hotwire and Priceline for nearby hotel deals.
  8. 17225139376_19b2842b5f_qCheck your wardrobe. See what clothes fit and what don’t. See what needs to be cleaned or altered. And if you need to buy things, do it  now. Consider thrift shops like Savers.com or Goodwill, where you can find real bargains, especially on designer labels. See this suit I wore in Minneapolis last year? It’s a designer Elie Tahari suit I bought at Savers for $10.99. My dress for Salute to Excellence? $12.00.
  9. Check yourself. Our convention is all about fun and family, but it’s also a professional event. You never know who will be watching. So enjoy yourself, but don’t overdo it.
  10. Hang out with your friends now. The convention is the time to meet new people and grow your network. It is not the time to hang with the same group of people that you do at home. As much as you love them, they are not going to get you a job, so break away and expand your horizons.

The Digital Journalism Task Force is doing its annual convention preparation TweetChat on Tuesday, June 28 at 8:30 p.m. ET. NABJ convention veterans will offer great tips and advice to get ready for D.C., and they’ll also answer your questions and share stories. Follow along using the #NABJNAHJ16 hashtag.

Benét J. Wilson is the vice president-digital on the NABJ board. She is a long-time member of the Digital Journalism Task Force and is secretary of the Online News Association board. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Aviation Queen LLC, a freelance writing company.

Getting Ready for #NABJ40: The Convention TweetChat

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With the 40th Annual NABJ Convention and Career Fair only 42 days away, the Digital Journalism Task Force, in partnership with AllDigitocracy.org, held its annual TweetChat to get folks ready for the event.

We had a stellar panel of NABJ convention veterans — Kelley Carter, Kirstin Garriss, Marissa Evans, Merdie Nzanga, Sarah Glover, Cindy George, Kathy Chaney, Marcus Vanderberg, Michael Feeney,  Marshall Latimore, Marlon Walker, Marc Willis Marissa Evans and Ashleigh Atwell — who shared their best tips and tricks for navigating the convention. I also want to thank all the #NABJ family members who chimed in with their own convention experiences.

Click here to see the Storify of the event.  And don’t forget to register for the convention, Aug. 5-9, 2015, in Minneapolis. See you there!

Do the Hustle Twitter Chat

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Dr. Sybril Bennett is chairing this workshop at this year’s NABJ convention in Minneapolis. She held a TweetChat with her panelists to get the conversation started. Click here to see our Storify of the discussion. And join us in Minneapolis for the workshop!

10 Things to Do NOW to Prepare for #NABJ15

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The 2015 NABJ Annual Convention and Career Fair is coming up fast. In order to have a successful convention, you need to be prepared. Below are 10 things you need to do now to be on your game in Minneapolis.

  1. Buy your plane ticket. The closer you get to the convention date, the more expensive that air fare will be. I bought my Baltimore-Minneapolis ticket in February on Southwest Airlines, and it still cost me $324 roundtrip. NABJ members get a discount at United Airlines. I tweet fare sales regularly at  @NABJDigital or @AvQueenBenet. Also set a fare alert on Airfarewatchdog.com to  be informed about the lowest fares.
  2. Business cards. Get them now. Vistaprint has a great selection and you can get 500 for as little as $10. You can even get free cards (minus shipping costs) that sport an ad on the back.
  3. Resume/online portfolio. Now is the time to tighten up that resume and freshen up or create an online portfolio to impress recruiters at the convention. Need help? Check out the DJTF webinars covering online portfolios and resumes. They’re free to watch, but you must register.
  4. Find ways to save money. Going to the convention is not cheap, but you can do it and not break the bank. Find folks to share a hotel room at the NABJ Convention Roommate Bureau. If you’re checking a bag, tuck some non-perishable snacks and water. Reach out on NABJ’s listserves and social media channels for ride shares to and from the airport.  Check out sites like Yelp and Urban Spoon to find nearby places to eat that are less expensive than the hotel. And search Hotwire and Priceline for nearby hotel deals.
  5. Look at the convention schedule. Work out a plan on what workshops you want to attend and create a schedule.
  6. Check out the exhibitors and recruiters (not posted yet, but here’s who attended in 2014). See who will be in Minneapolis and start prioritizing who are the must-see employers on your list.
  7. Start making a list of people you want to see in Minneapolis. The schedules of those attending the conference are very tight. Start now to create that list of must-see people and map out appointments, interviews and chat times. And consider breakfast meetings, since schedules tend to slip as the day goes by.
  8. Check your wardrobe. See what clothes fit and what don’t. See what needs to be cleaned or altered. And if you need to buy things, do it  now.
  9. Check your social media profile. Google yourself and see what comes up. Check your Facebook profile and make sure there are no embarrassing photos or posts because potential employers will be checking.
  10. Hang out with your friends now. The convention is the time to meet new people and grow your network. It is not the time to hang with the same group of people you do at home. As much as you love them, they are not going to get you a job.

The Digital Journalism Task Force will do its annual convention preparation TweetChat in May, which will offer great tips and advice from NABJ veterans. Hope to “see” you there!

Benét J. Wilson is the vice president of education for the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force. She also serves on the board of the Online News Association and is the owner/founder of Aviation Queen LLC, a freelance writing and social media consulting company.

AllDigitocracy Looks at the Numbers Behind the NABJ Board’s Travel Expenses

The NABJ Board of Directors

The NABJ Board of Directors

Denise Clay has an awesome story about NABJ and its out-of-control travel expenses on AllDigitocracy.org. If you care about the association and have ever wondered about its internal workings, you’ll want to read this piece. Here’s an excerpt:

Right now, journalists hoping to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) at its annual convention in Minnesota this summer are shopping for low airfare — and in some cases hotel accommodations — to Minneapolis on discount travel websites.

But it might be a good idea for NABJ executives to start surfing those websites as well, especially if they plan on continuing to rack up skyrocketing travel expenses. At a time when journalism diversity is stagnant at best, a set of expense reports released to NABJ’s membership last month shows that its executive board spent more than $190,000 solely on travel in just two years.

According to the reports, the largest expenditures ($13,116.60 in 2013 and $28,391.24) can be attributed to NABJ President Bob Butler alone.

Read more: What does ‪#‎NABJ‬ have to show for the nearly $200,000 it’s spent on travel?

#wjchat: All About Media Diversity

Last night’s #wjchat TweetChat was all about media diversity, in honor of the late Dori Maynard of the Maynard Institute. Chatters discussed everything from continuing Dori’s legacy to what diversity in a newsroom looks like. Click here to read a fascinating discussion all about the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to media diversity.