I usually write this post the week after the convention is over. But I’m not as young as I used to be and needed time to recover accordingly. Those of you who weren’t able to join us in Detroit, all I can say is that you missed a great one. Yes, there were some issues, but in the end, #NABJ18 is my second-favorite (#NABJ11 in Philly is still number one) annual convention. Read why, below.
The kids are all right. For the third year in a row, I had the honor of doing a Google News Lab tools training for this year’s student newsroom. The students came correct this year; I didn’t have to send anyone upstairs to change, nor did I have to lock anyone out because they were dressed and ready to go at exactly 7:30. Big shout out to NABJ Founder Allison Davis (and my personal Digital Journalism sensei) who reached into her bag of tools and came up with a projector for my presentation. Check out the work they did in the NABJ Monitor.
- Volunteers make the convention work. NABJ saves a fortune in labor expenses because our members step up and volunteer to make this convention work every year. Former NABJ President Will Sutton took over as Volunteer Coordinator at the 2017 convention and he was in full force in Detroit. He helped SO many young people who were struggling to get to Detroit, including three of my babies. Much love to everyone from the student newsroom mentors to the folks at the airport and in the hotel who greeted members and offered help with a smile. read about Alexis Grace’s volunteer experience here.
- Each one teach one. I was thrilled to be part of the team — shout out to former educator board rep Michelle Johnson and Google’s Sam Stewart — that did a day of Google News Lab Tools training. Want to bring this FREE training to your newsroom, NABJ chapter meeting, regional conference or other events? Click here to learn more about the program and request me (or others) to do your training. Did I mention it’s FREE to bring me or other trainers in? I also had BIG fun doing an interactive — and packed — presentation in the Innovation Bubble on my favorite tools, tricks and tech that help me do my job smarter and better (click HERE for a post where I share my presentation).
- Teach where you are. Teaching doesn’t just happen in workshops. When you bring young people along with you on events, they meet people who are always ready to pass on wisdom. The hotel lobby bar is a great way to do resume reviews (shout out to Kim Bardakian), or teach a master class on being the best television producer (shout out to Carol Ash). My mentee Shayla Simmons (one of two students I sponsored this year) also happens to be a student of Founder Sandra Long Weaver, so you can bet she had an amazing experience in Detroit!
- The future is digital. As a recovering print journalist who has transformed into a digital one, I really appreciated this year’s theme, “NABJ18: Driving Journalism, Technology & Trust.” We had some good digital programming in Detroit, both inside and out of the Innovation Bubble. It’s clear now that digital is the future of our industry and I hope we have even more workshops in Miami that will let our members stay relevant in their newsrooms.
- Step up and serve. The vast majority of us owe our jobs and careers to 44 Founders who risked theirs to start NABJ on Dec. 12, 1975. So it’s disappointing to see so many board seats either uncontested or open. Half the board — president, vice president-digital, vice president-broadcast, secretary, Region I, Region III and student representative — will be up for election or re-election, so please consider running. We all have seen first hand the importance of both voting and stepping up to serve. If board service isn’t your thing, then join a task force or committee, volunteer to help plan and execute next year’s convention or get involved with your local chapter. If you’re in Baltimore, I’m the Baltimore Association of Black Journalists chapter president and we’d be happy to have you join us.
- Support the millennials! This group now makes up the largest segment of NABJ members. They will be the ones who keep our organization growing in the future, so we must support them now. I made and donated this quilt as a fundraiser for the Young Black Journalists Task Force so they can do their important work. This is part of a larger discussion I hope NABJ will have about supporting — and funding — task forces because they are an important part of helping the association meet its mission. It’s also a great place to groom our next generation of leaders.
- I overpacked for Detroit. Damn it! I overpacked for New Orleans and swore I’d do better. I will do it for Miami!
Feeling the love. Most of us work in newsrooms where we are either the only or one of a few. Even though I now work for the most diverse newsroom of my 30+ year career (shout out to my boss Mandi Woodruff), it still brings me much joy to see so many people who look like me doing the work I do. But I have the most love for my babies, who are doing SO well in their careers. I’m so very proud of you. A few (but the list is SO long) of them include Kirstin Gariss, Marissa Evans, Justin Hinton, Stephon Dingle & Justin Madden (who both killed in the Student Newsroom), Ashley Jolicoeur, Sia Nyorkor and Tierra Carpenter. Please note — this is an incomplete list, so don’t be mad at Auntie!
- Find your tribe. You need friends to keep you sane at NABJ conventions. This group — special shout out to DR. Carol Ash — is the one. We talk in the time leading up to convention and we see each other at different events. But we ALWAYS end the convention with a lovely brunch outside the host hotel to catch up and bond. It’s a great tradition. I hope you’ll consider it with your tribe in Miami.