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.
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.
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
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
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.!