Posted in Uncategorized

Start Getting Ready For #NABJ20 in D.C. NOW!

We all know the routine — you try and decide whether you’re going to the NABJ convention or not. Then by the time you decide, pre-registration is over, the airfare is sky high and you don’t have enough to cover everything. So you’re at home with a huge case of FOMO, swearing you won’t miss it again.

And yes, despite some hiccups, you really did miss out by not being in Miami this year. Next year, we’re in Washington, D.C., holding a joint convention with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists on July 8-12, 2020 (note we’re a month early next year). D.C. is where NABJ was founded and we’ll be in the thick of electing our next president, so you know it will be epic.

I do this every year, but here we go again. NOW is the time to start saving to ensure that you’ll be in D.C. And like I do every year, I’m going to give you some great tips on how to have the money ready when it’s time to start paying.

Wardman Park

We’ll be staying at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park. Unlike the Turnberry Isle Miami, Wardman Park’s basic room has two double beds, which is much more attractive for those who need roommates to save costs.

The Cost

Registration – $325. This is for Early Bird. If you belong to a chapter, that drops to $275. Pre-registration is $380 and after that, it’s $550 (but you’re not going to wait that long, right?).

Hotel – NABJ is committed to keeping hotel room prices at under $200 a night, so if I were guessing, we’re looking at $179 a night before taxes. That adds up to $716 for Wednesday through Sunday. Divide this by four if you have roommates.

Airfare –  I checked Southwest Airlines fares from Chicago Midway to Baltimore/Washington in March 2020, since that’s how long their schedule goes right now. it came to $312 round-trip. But because of the location, I’m sure a lot of you can drive, or take the bus or a train. And there’s also carpooling.

Transportation – You need to get from the airport/train/bus station to the hotel, which is in upper Northwest D.C. There is a Metro subway station nearby too. I always budget about $100 for this, including a ride to and from the airport and rides to downtown D.C. A Super Shuttle from BWI Airport to the host hotel will be around $50 round-trip; that same shuttle costs $31 from Washington Dulles Airport.

Convention Prep –  $200. This is anything you need to do to get ready for the convention, such as clothes, business cards, resumes, hair, nails, clothing alterations, etc.

Meals/Bar – You can’t expect to get free meals every day, although I encourage you to take full advantage of breakfasts, lunches and receptions. Don’t forget that NABJ members network and socialize at the bar every day. Give yourself a food/drink budget of about $75 a day.

This all adds up to about $1,400, but your numbers may be different, depending on your travel and roommate costs. The simplest way would be to set up an account that you can’t access easily and put aside $140 a month.

Take advantage of the chapter discount for registration. Or consider volunteering to get a free one. That hotel cost will drop if you have roommates. When it comes to airfares, consider flights to BWI and Dulles airports, which tend to have cheaper fares than Washington National Airport.

Show Me the Money

So how are you going to get the money for D.C.? Start now! Below are 10 tips you can use to help.

  1. Start a savings account. Set one up on auto-pay and walk away. My personal favorite is Smarty Pig because it takes out the money automatically and it’s in an account you can’t see, so you avoid temptation. Others include Digital (but it does cost $2.99 a month) Qapital and Chime.
  2. Happy Birthday/Merry Christmas-Kwanzaa/Graduation. Look for these and other celebratory milestones. Ask friends and family for contributions toward convention costs rather than gifts that can’t offer a return on your career future. Grandma can pay for a hotel night or two. Mom and Dad can spring for airfare. Auntie can give you a gift card you can use for food and drinks. Your Uncle can take on registration.
  3. Early bird registration. As soon as NABJ announces this, register. Aside from the chapter affiliate discount, this is the lowest rate you’re going to get.
  4. Ask your employer. There are companies that have line items in their budgets for professional development. See if you can get some of that money to help pay for NABJ. Come correct; show them the convention schedule and show them the workshops you’re going to take that will help you do your job better. See if they’ll give you the time off without having to use your own PTO.
  5. Buy your flight early. The earlier you book your flight, the cheaper the fares will be. Sign up for either Hopper or Airfarewatchdog, which will tell you the best times to buy that ticket.
  6. NABJ. Check the website and association eBlasts for announcements on scholarships, fellowships and hardship grants that help cover convention costs.
  7. Local organizations. See if your NABJ chapter offers scholarships to help students/young journalists. Check for local businesses and nonprofits that offer grants.
  8. Facebook and Twitter. Follow accounts for convention information, including ways to fund your trip. They are: (NABJ) National Association of Black JournalistsNational Association of Black JournalistsNABJ StudentsMarlon A. Walker, Your NABJ Vice President/Print 2015-2020Benet J. Wilson, Immediate Past VP-Digital, NABJ; @NABJ@NABJDigital; @NABJSTUDENTS; and @Marlon4NABJ.
  9. #SideHustle or part-time job. Use the money you earn and put it into your convention bank account. And leave it alone until it’s time to pay for something.
  10. Carpool. If you are in driving distance of D.C., get a group together and ride together.

Final Thoughts

I have a special message for those of you in college and want to bring your chapter to D.C. My grandmother says closed mouths don’t get fed. Talk to your chapter advisor now and create a plan to pay for your convention trip. Once that’s done, go to your school’s dean and ask for financial help. Host campus fundraisers. Ask for help from professional NABJ chapters and your local community. Please don’t post a GoFundMe in the spring and expect donations. Give yourself time.

I started saving for Miami last June and for D.C. in July.  I belong to a group who helps students and young journalists — who come correct — get to the NABJ convention each year. I can’t speak for my tribe, but be warned: Do NOT contact me for help if you don’t have at least two of these three things paid for — airfare, registration or hotel (I’ll need to see receipts). If you should happen to forget and come to me at the last minute for help, it’s going to be a no — and a link to this post.

So there you have it — a financial map that will help you pay for #NABJ20 in Washington, D.C. If you start now, you’ll be ready to go by July 8. Only 324 more days to go!

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, journalism, Uncategorized

Members Share Their #NABJ19 Experiences

I spend a lot of time encouraging NABJ members, especially our younger ones, to attend the association’s annual convention. I always want to hear back from them to see how their experience was. Some of our members were kind enough to share their experiences, below.

Elijah Baker

The 2019 National Association of Black Journalists in Miami was my best convention by far. I can’t explain it. I prayed that God would allow me to be intentional with my behavior and words. Leading to the conference, I did my best to prepare our students and younger journalists on expectations and budgeting via social media. They said, “Are you the guy who did that video on Twitter?” I said, “Yep!” I did it for us.
In return, the family looked after me. I’ve been struggling these past 20 months in my personal life, at church and at work. It got to the point where I felt like I was slipping away. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I felt paralyzed.
For the first time, I believe, NABJ had a managing your mental health while on the job. You have no idea how much I needed the support of my brothers and sisters in that workshop. I was able to release the pain I buried on the inside. Black men hugged me. Black women encouraged me. NABJ was the first time I asked for professional mental health advice.
I see clearly how NABJ changes lives. When we stop merely seeing our conventions as the come-up, we’ll start to see our gathering as a space to heal. We’re really good at hiding our pain until it overcomes us. I am refreshed now. New Orleans was my first NABJ experience. Detroit was my second. Miami was therapeutic.

Janay Reece

image2

This year, NABJ was different for me. It was my first convention as a working television
reporter/MMJ. I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to accomplish: Get a TON of feedback on my reel, meet new friends, and take the first steps toward becoming an investigative reporter. Little did I know, hardly any of that would happen.

Instead, I learned more about myself and connected with people in a different way. I went to a session about mental health and it made me realize that I need help. Our health as media professionals is beyond skin deep. Listening to the panelists made me realize the journey we take in the media industry can’t be done alone, and I was trying to do that. It was draining me and I didn’t even know.

Hearing my peers and other experienced journalists discuss what they have been through, made me see I am not alone and my support system is right in front of me. This year at NABJ —- yes —- I still got my reel critiques, gained new skills, and had a good time, but I saw the village of people here to support me. Before my first reporting job, I had no idea how draining things would get. Every single person I spoke to during the convention breathed life back into me and it was an experience I needed.

Nicholas Lawrence Vaughn

Lawrence
Vaughn is a rising senior at Morehouse College and an intern at the Atlanta Voice.
My experience at my first NABJ convention was magical. It was great being around so many people who want to go into the same profession. It was similar to being at Morehouse, where the competition makes you work that much harder to get what you want — but increased by 100 percent, with so many people there from all over the country.
The convention was inspirational and motivating. I not only saw local reporters and writers, but also the ones I see on TV every day. They were all nice and willing to help the next of us because at the end of the day, everyone wanted to help each other make it to the top and be the best that they can be.
Note: While attending the convention, Vaughn learned he had been selected as one of five Online News Association HBCU Digital Fellows. He will attend the ONA conference in New Orleans next month, where he will write for the Student Newsroom and receive digital skills training.

Royal Thomas II

nabj19
This year’s NABJ conference in Miami was honestly an eye-opener for me.  On several different fronts, I learned so much about the field and its inner workings. The most obvious takeaway is networking; meeting so many fresh, successful, BLACK faces is an experience unparalleled to anything I have come across. I also received great tips and guidance at the conference.  Seeing what others are working on and how they go about their craft was great food for thought. I have identified several areas to which I can make improvements in my own work.
I thank all the people who shared their NABJ Miami stories. It’s always good to have a reminder of the true power our organization has to change lives. Watch this space for tips to save money for Washington, D.C.!
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.

IMG_2875

  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!

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.

NABJ_pix2
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!!