Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Uncategorized

What to Expect When Volunteering at a NABJ Convention

IMG_2842By Alexis Grace, Junior, Clark Atlanta University

As we recover from a phenomenal time at #NABJ18 in Detroit, let us take a minute to thank those who put everything together. From President Sarah Glover, Volunteer Coordinator and former NABJ President Will Sutton and the staff ,all the way down to the volunteers.

Volunteers are everyday people who may or may not have any involvement with NABJ. Some volunteers may be college students looking to network, a parent who wanted to learn more about what their child was involved in, or maybe even a resident wanting to represent for their community.

Either way, an NABJ convention can be quite pricey. Many expenses must be taken into consideration. You have transportation, housing (if you aren’t a resident of the convention city), food, and free time (spending time with friends or going out to the parties). Being a volunteer during a convention allows you to make connections, receive volunteer hours and gain access to the convention — for free.

If you are thinking about being a volunteer for #NABJ19, luckily, you have some time to consider your options. What you receive after being a volunteer for NABJ conventions is all about what you make of it.  Here are eight things to consider before committing to serve as a volunteer for next year’s convention in Miami.

  1.    Completing the Hours

To receive convention access, you must complete your required hours. That means if the required number of hours is eight, then you will have to complete them in to gain access. There is always help needed during the convention, so these hours should be easy to obtain.

  1.    Expenses

Even though registration is covered, there are still other expenses that need to be accounted for. These expenses include transportation, housing, food and free time.  Most volunteers are residents of the area where the convention is held. If you are not a resident, it is best to make sure you have everything else in order before signing up to volunteer.

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  1.    Connections

It was surprisingly an easy way to network. Being a volunteer, you could network with everyone before events, during events, and after the event is over.

  1.    Late Night, Early Mornings

There may be some early mornings and late nights, but thats’s what makes volunteering fun. Expect to create your own schedule, but you will always be asked to work a little bit more than expected, because extra hands are always needed.

  1.    Behind the Scenes

Working behind the scenes may be the coolest part of being a volunteer. You can see what goes on during the award shows, the workshops and the receptions that everyone loves so much.

  1.    Celebrities

One thing that seems to be every volunteer’s favorite moment is meeting all the fun celebrities who pop up at an NABJ convention. From Chance the Rapper to Bobby Brown, meeting all your favorite media personalities that you grew up watching can be a pretty big deal.

  1.    Being Social

One thing I find to be the most important is being social. As a volunteer at a convention filled with bright personalities and excitement, you do not want to be quiet all the time. You never know whom you can encounter just by speaking or complimenting someone.

  1.    Missing Events

It is best that you plan your schedule according to how you would like to attend the convention. For example, If you want to participate in multiple workshops on Tuesday, it is best to know that you have completed all of your hours by Monday so you’ll have convention access for that day. The worst thing that could happen is missing an event that you think could be beneficial. You also should remember the reason why you are at the convention —  to provide service. So remember to work first and learn later.

This being my first national NABJ convention as a volunteer, I wanted to make sure that everyone knows the importance of service and how far it can take you. If you love service and journalism, then this is the job for you. Be on the lookout for the opportunity to volunteer at #NABJ19! Hope to see you there!

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Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Uncategorized

NABJ Detroit 2018: A Recap

By Tyrik Reed, Freelance Journalist

IMG_2144Last week, I attended the NABJ Conference in Detroit. I wasn’t there for the entire conference, but I can honestly say that I received so much from the few days I was able to attend. From attending workshops, to networking with hundreds of Black journalists, it was my mission to make the most of this experience.

While I’m grateful that I was given this opportunity, it was a tough road getting to this point. After attending the NABJ Region III Conference in Atlanta this past April, I found myself broke and with little resources to put towards going to Detroit. I assumed that the national conference would basically be the same so it should be fine if I didn’t attend this year. But after talking to my cousin, current WWAY-TV anchor Amanda Fitzpatrick, I realized how wrong I was. She told me that unlike Atlanta, there would be a huge career fair that I needed to attend if I was serious about finding work as a producer.

But even after that conversation, I continued to dismiss the idea of going because of my financial situation. It took a few more conversations with multiple people for me to realize that I needed to be in Detroit.

I contacted a producer that I met in Atlanta, and after telling him about my situation,  he gave me the email address for one of his contacts, Benét Wilson, president of the Baltimore Association of Black Journalists. I reached out to her expressing my interest in attending the conference, and after an honest conversation about waiting until the last minute to prepare (which was well deserved), she agreed that she would help me in whatever way she could.

IMG_2245She connected me to former NABJ President Will Sutton, who was the Volunteer Coordinator for this year’s conference. He agreed to cover my registration fees if I would be willing to help volunteer during the conference. Wilson also reached out to Travel Service Provider John Dekker, who graciously covered my airfare to Detroit! I wouldn’t have been able to attend this conference if it weren’t for Benet and her desire to see my goal come to fruition.

My first couple of days in Detroit was specifically for volunteering before the conference. It was my job to greet fellow NABJ attendees as they arrived at the Detroit Metro Airport. We were there to answer any questions they had about transportation options to the hotel in addition to general questions they had about the conference.

It was through these conversations that I learned about the do’s and don’ts associated with being an “NABJ Baby.” Upon completion of my two volunteer shifts, I was given clearance for two days of the conference, including the career fair and any workshops and events I wanted to attend. On Tuesday night, I attended a town hall forum as well as the NABJ opening reception.

Wednesday was the official start of the convention. I attended two workshops geared toward preparing first-time convention goers for the career fair. Led by a group of talented professionals covering all aspects of media, these classes showed me how to establish connections with potential employers, what should be a part of my resume and demo reel and the importance of standing out and making a lasting impression.

It was then time for me to visit the career fair. I was extremely nervous walking into the exhibit hall.  It was overwhelming to say the least. But even though I was afraid, I reminded myself of why I was there and that this was my moment to prove to myself that I belonged here.

I visited a handful of companies that first day including Tegna, Cox Media Group, Hearst Television, Raycom, and Scripps. Everyone I talked to was down to earth and willing to have a thorough conversation with me, especially after I told them I was interested in becoming a producer. Even though I knew that I didn’t have the same amount of work experience as other potential candidates, I truly felt like I was being listened to.  Later that night I attended a welcome reception sponsored by Disney.

IMG_2252Thursday was the second day of the career fair and my final day in Detroit.  I entered the career fair as soon as it started. This time I visited the other companies on my list that I wasn’t able to go to the day prior. This included Graham Media Group, Gray Television, Sinclair Broadcasting Group, Heartland Media, and Fox Television Studios. I also visited ABC News, CNN, and NBC Universal.

Like Wednesday, I received great advice from veterans on what employers are looking for in a producer and what I need to do to continue improving my skills and making myself more marketable to employers after I leave Detroit. I also had the fortune of meeting an amazing individual, who like me, is trying to transition into a career in journalism after realizing that she wasn’t passionate about her current job.

Hearing her optimism about her experiences at the career fair reminded me that even if I don’t receive a job offer from the conference, my time here wasn’t wasted. There was a reason why I was given an opportunity to attend this conference. I may not see it immediately, but I know that this will be a pivotal moment in making a my goal a reality.

I am incredibly thankful to the people who gave their time and resources in order for me to be able to attend this conference. There is no way I would have been able to do this alone. Attending the NABJ conference has ignited a flame that I pray never burns out. I will become a producer, by any means necessary, and I hope that I’m able to help someone else realize their dreams in the future just like I was helped with mine.

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Uncategorized

My NABJ 2018 Experience – A Brief Summary

By Jonathan Franklin, Freelance Writer & Digital Content Producer

unnamedIf you had told me this time last year that I would be surrounded by hundreds of black, intelligent journalists at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) convention conversing and learning more about world issues that have and continue to impact journalists of color, I would have not believed you.

I would have simply stopped listening; becoming closed minded about how much of an impact this organization continues to have on strong, eager black journalists hungry for success in this industry. And after attending this year’s national convention, I am truly thankful for being able to experience first hand the black excellence that took place over the course of five days.

In the beginning, I was overwhelmed at the cost of attendance – airfare, lodging, and convention registration – and how much of a financial worry it would be for me; seeing as though the transition from graduate student to seeking employment is no joke. But, after speaking with my mentors and doing research/networking, I quickly learned that there is a way to attend the annual conference at little to no cost – knowing that you have to be at the right place at the right time.

I came across a tweet from a well-known, established journalist — Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley (who is now one of two of my adopted NABJ aunties) — advertising that she would sponsor two students to attend this year’s convention at no cost.

As I looked at the time stamp of the tweet, I eagerly told my boss that I just had to use her computer to submit my resume to Riley to secure this sponsorship to attend this year’s convention. Fingers going at rapid speed, I was anxious that I wouldn’t be selected for this wonderful opportunity. An hour and a half later, I received the email that I was one of the two selected to have registration paid in full for this year’s convention.

And the same happened for getting my flight paid for, as well; being at the right place at the right time. I opened my laptop to submit a few emails for the evening but beforehand, I checked my Facebook to get rid of the dozens of notifications that were sitting.

Within the Facebook group ‘NABJ Students’, I noticed that another prominent journalist (Benét Wilson, now another one of my NABJ aunties) was sponsoring flights for students to go to Detroit. After quick deliberation and taking the leap of faith, I ‘shot my shot’ and submitted a politely, detailed email (aka, coming correctly in the words of Auntie) to Wilson with the necessary materials and eventually, was blessed to receive airfare paid for to attend the convention. Now, the real task at hand: going to Detroit.

I will admit, I was a little skeptical about attending this year’s convention – surely because I was worried about what was in store and how I should market myself at the career fair to land the perfect ‘entry-level job’. However, once I stepped foot in the convention for the first day, my anxiety and jitters went out of the window as I felt like I was at homecoming or a family reunion; feeling comfortable and secure knowing that this was indeed a good decision that I made.

unnamed-1Throughout the course of the week, it was non-stop networking, learning, and growing as a journalist. Between the career fair, networking mixers and receptions, and the sessions that took place, I learned a lot about not only myself as a journalist, but also about NABJ and why folks are continuously passionate about it.

Prior to the convention, I eagerly marked the workshops and sessions that I wanted to attend and while unfortunately I did not get a chance to attend some, the ones that I did sit in on I am truly glad that I not miss them, due to the depth of knowledge that was shared throughout the course of the session. One session that I found to be the most beneficial was the “You Know Those Millennials!’ session that took place on Friday afternoon of the convention.

Being a 24-year-old, millennial journalist, I found value within this session simply because majority of the topics that were discussed within this panel applied to me in some way shape or form. From discussion salary negotiations, to navigating the newsroom as a millennial, to using social media as a pivotal tool as a millennial journalist, the little nuggets that were constantly shared during the hour and twenty minutes made the whole room, including myself, go ‘Yasssss!’ – along with other forms of happy expression.

Knowing that other black-millennial journalists are constantly facing the same battles as myself in the newsroom makes me feel comfortable that the struggle is indeed too real in this sense and that there are others who can be used a resource or someone to vent or talk to makes the transition into the journalism industry much easier than what I initially expected.

It is safe to say that journalism is best at detecting changes that need to be made in humanity, which is what I am passionate about doing in every single story that I choose to take on to report. Within this industry, one must possess the qualities of thoroughness, quality, and criticism because journalism addresses issues of serious concern and draws attention to the economic, social, political, and the cultural trends happening in our society.

By attending this year’s national convention, I was able to learn from the best of the best in this industry while absorbing all of the knowledge, critiques, skills, and tricks on how to navigate this industry as a storyteller. To create change in the world, what better way to do so than to surround myself with those who are just as passionate about doing so and are already taking on this challenge as storytellers in this day and age; and for that, I am forever thankful for NABJ.

 

Posted in Education, journalism, News, Uncategorized, Webinar

New Year, New You: Manage Covering LGBTQ Communities (Better)

One of the goals of the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force’s New Year, New You webinar series is to help members do their jobs smarter and better in 2018. A big way of doing that is learning how to write respectfully and with knowledge about communities and groups that may not always be ones you cover.

So we were delighted when the co-chairs of the NABJ LGBTQ Task Force — Tre’Vell Anderson and Ernest Owens (who also is the current NABJ Emerging Journalist of the year) stepped up and created this webinar.

This webinar will discuss industry reporting standards, emerging trends and areas of improvement regarding coverage of the LGBTQ communities in print, broadcasting, and digital platforms. After this one-hour event, attendees will leave with ways to intersectionally improve their newsrooms’ coverage of LGBTQ people.
Join us on Monday, Jan. 15 at 7:00 p.m. ET for what we expect to be an interesting and informative conversation. Click here to register.

 

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, journalism, Uncategorized

10 Things I Learned at #NABJ17

NABJ17 Convention logo

So. The 42nd Annual NABJ Convention and Career Fair is in the books. After I got home on Sunday night, I shut down my computer, iPad and iPhone and spent the next day in bed sipping tea (the actual drink, people) and watching trashy movies. On Tuesday I caught up on all my email and finished some work projects.

And now I’ve had time to think about the highlights and lowlights of this year’s convention. Overall, it was a great success. We had workshops that were on point, great news making plenaries (despite Omarosa’s best attempts to make them otherwise), wonderful evening events and plenty of time to visit with the NABJ family. Here’s my list of the top 10 things I learned in New Orleans.

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Photo courtesy of Ariel Worthy, Birmingham Times
  1. You missed a really good story at the W.E.B. Dubois plenary. I won’t go into the Omarosa debacle, but thank goodness Birmingham Times reporter Ariel Worthy was able to report the real story from that session. “Valerie Castile, mother of Philando Castile and Sandra Sterling, aunt of Alton Sterling – both black men who were killed by police officers on video and days apart in 2016– spoke on life after their son and nephew’s slayings.”
  2. board jpg.jpgI’m going to miss my NABJ board members. You all don’t know how hard and rewarding the work is behind the scenes. I’ve been a frequent critic of past boards and I personally apologized to all of them. We were handed a mess and got it cleaned up under the leadership of NABJ President Sarah Glover. My time has ended, but I hope that folks will step up and run for open offices in Detroit.
  3. StephonMy NABJ Babies really are the future. You can click here to learn who they are, but they are really going to rule the media world. I’m not going to name them all here because I would forget someone and feelings would be hurt. I am so proud of how they are negotiating their careers that are difficult in the best of circumstances. Above is my mentee Stephon Anthony with his mentees!
  4. Keith BriannaBlack journalists are doing excellent work. Don’t believe me? Check out our list of Salute to Excellence winners, here. Look at the work done by our student journalists in our official convention site, The Monitor. And I must shout out two of the winners. First is my mentee (and fellow American University alum) Brianna Moné Williams, who won an award for best collegiate newspaper feature reporting for her story “Passing.” The second is my dear friend, Pulitzer Prize winner Keith Alexander of the Washington Post for his story on reclusive black billionaire Robert Smith.
  5. The workshops were great — but it was hard to choose. You’d always rather have too much instead of not enough. But in this case, there were so many competing workshops, it made it hard to choose. For example, my workshop – Content Marketing: A New Career/Freelance Option for Journalists? – conflicted with many others, so I streamed it on Facebook Live. You can see the full video here. The Online News Association conference either livestreams or audio records all of its workshops and keynote speeches (here’s an audio recording and video summary of my workshop, Early-Career Tips From our MJ Bear Fellows, from ONA 16). I’ve been advocating NABJ to do the same since 2012. I hope this can happen in Detroit in 2018.
  6. table-setting-2395450_640.jpgThere is such thing as a free lunch — or breakfast. Admit it — you go to the professional breakfasts and lunches for the free food. But if you stay after eating, you can learn some really interesting things. So next year, go, eat and stay.
  7. There’s never enough time to see everyone you want to see. To folks like Tracie Powell, Sonya Ross, Jamerika Blue, Shauna Stuart, Melanie Eversley, LaSharah Bunting, Leah Uko and the many others I missed — I’m sorry. I was winding down my board duties and time just ran out. But I love you all!!
  8. bedside-table-2425973_640Water and sleep are vital for getting through the convention. Let’s be real. There’s a lot of drinking and partying at NABJ. The lobby bar was THE place to see and be seen (although I preferred the quieter Public Belt bar on the second floor). With all that, you need sleep and hydration. Unfortunately, it took me two days to figure that out. Lesson learned — and I will be fully prepared for Detroit in 2018.
  9. tumblr_m5l3jr9Axb1r43gkjo1_500.jpgI overpacked for New Orleans. Folks who know me know I travel the globe never checking a bag. NABJ is one of the few things that make me break that rule, and I actually checked two for this trip. It was too much. I will check a bag in 2018, but I will remember to use the packing tips that work so well for me when I’m on the job.
  10. Friends.jpgYou’ve gotta have friends. There are people you see at NABJ and then there are people you SEE at NABJ. These folks began embracing me way back at #NABJ09 in Tampa and I can’t imagine going to conferences without them. They are always there with laughs, drinks and those badly needed reality checks. And I must shout out my cousin, DeMornay Harper. It was her first NABJ convention and she took full advantage. She also kept me from going completely off the rails forcing me to drink water and take naps.

The Detroit convention is 350 days away. NOW is the time to start saving your pennies and join us. Even as we were counting down to New Orleans, Detroit was already busy preparing for 2018. See you in the Motor City!!

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, journalism, Uncategorized

Aunt Benet’s Top 10 Student Etiquette Tips for #NABJ17

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As a certified (but young at heart) old fogey, I chat with my fellow fogeys (and some who are not quite fogeys) regularly about how the journalism industry has changed — for better or for worse.

But one thing that remains the same is the need for proper manners and etiquette when dealing with more experienced journalists, most of whom will be the people who will either hire you for your next job. And allow me to keep it real — some of you have major issues with interacting with people in real life because you spend too much time looking down and glued to your smartphone

So as the NABJ convention fast approaches next week, please indulge me and read my 10 tips — which I offer with love in my heart — on how to interact with your elders in New Orleans.

  1. Please address your elders properly. If you don’t personally know someone, it is not cool to informally email them or call them by their first name in person. Even at my advanced age, I do not refer to anyone I don’t know personally by their first name. Once they give permission, then have at it. Remember to start the email with hello or some other greeting and their name, and end it with regards/best/sincerely and your name. And you get bonus points if you have a signature line with all your contact information. Wise Stamp offers a free one here.
  2. Check out the NABJ exhibitors lists. Now is the time to download the convention’s Guidebook app, see who will be there and who’s on your must-see list. Once you’ve done that, start reaching out and asking – politely – for times to meet. And don’t rule out early breakfasts or late evening coffee or drinks (if you’re old enough).
  3. Ditch your friends.  You can see them anytime.  Did you spend all this money to get to New Orleans just to spend time with the same people you see every day? This is your golden opportunity to meet new people and build your networks, so take advantage of that and hang with your friends when you get home.
  4. Dress for the job you want. You will be attending a conference with nearly 3,000 professionals from across the country. Some may be dressed casually, but that does not apply to you. Think of this conference as one big job interview and networking opportunity, so dress accordingly. Skip the colored hair, concert/political t-shirts, ripped jeans, wrinkled clothes, those cool new kicks, crop tops and too-short skirts and shorts. Think tailored and professional, with stylish but appropriate suits and dresses and no tennis shoes or flip flops.
  5. Stop texting and start speaking to people, damn it! Conference attendees will be wearing name badges, so put down the smartphone and look up. You need to walk up to someone, introduce yourself and start a conversation. You never know where it might lead (click here to read where it led for Brionna Jimerson at #NABJ13).
  6. Make eye contact. While you’re doing the speaking thing, don’t be afraid to look people in the eye. It shows that you’re interested and engaged.
  7. Say thank you and offer a firm handshake after speaking with people. This is the best way to make that final good impression before you part ways with someone who could have a major effect on your career.
  8. Ask for a business card or contact information. It may be old-fashioned, but you are building your network. So you need to collect information from people who may be able to help you with things like scholarships, internships, references and even jobs. And have yours ready to hand over too.
  9. Write and snail mail a thank-you card to everyone you meet at #NABJ17. The art of writing is becoming a lost one. Stand out from the crowd by sending a handwritten thank-you card to people who made an impression. Trust me — this goes a long way. Bring pre-stamped cards and mail them on the day you leave New Orleans.
  10. Have fun — but not too much fun. There will be time built in for fun activities, but remember where you are. People will remember the one who got sloppy drunk in the hotel lobby bar. This is not the impression you want to leave in New Orleans.

The NABJ convention is a great opportunity to meet and interact with the people who will help you navigate your journalism/communications career. Come correct and take full advtange of it! Love, Aunt Benét

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, journalism, Uncategorized

3 DJTF Webinars To Prepare You For #NABJ17

NABJ17 Convention logo

It’s amazing, but the 42nd Annual NABJ Convention and Career Fair in New Orleans is now only 65 days away!  So while the clock is ticking, NOW is the time to get ready for our convention.

You need to have a resume that’s on point, and you need to have an online portfolio to point potential employers to.  It also doesn’t hurt to start either working on or sharpening up your personal journalism brand.

Lucky for you, the Digital Journalism Task Force did three great hour-long webinars on these very topics.  So now is the time to review these webinars so that you’re ready to shine in New Orleans.

You need to submit an email address, but the webinars are free to view. Register for the convention here.  I hope they help, and I look forward to seeing you in New Orleans!