Posted in Conferences & Conventions, journalism

NOW Is the Time to Get Ready for #NABJ19 in Miami

Sarah

Do you see this? If you think Detroit was great — and it was a great as it looked in photos and on social media — you know Miami is going to be even better. So if you had FOMO about Detroit, the good news is that you have plenty of time to start saving your pennies now for Miami.

The Turnberry Isle Miami is a top Marriott property. People, it’s stunning. The basic room has two Queen beds AND a sofa bed. And students, I don’t know if you heard, but there’s going to be a special room rate just for you! Nearby is Sunny Isles Beach.

So let’s get to the point of this post — the money it will cost you to get to Miami.  I started saving for Detroit last June, and did the same for Miami this year. There’s a core group of us who help students and young journalists get to convention every year. I can’t speak for everyone, but do NOT contact me for help if you don’t have at least two of these three things — airfare, registration or hotel. And if you come at me last minute for help, it’s going to be a no — and a link to this post.

I don’t know what the room rate is, but I’m guessing it will be in the $200-$230 range, so let’s use that as the number. The rest of these numbers are on the high end, because I like to plan for every contingency.

Registration – $325. This is for Early Bird. If you belong to a chapter, that drops to $275.

Hotel – $1150 for Wednesday through Sunday. Divide this by four if you have roommates.

Airfare – $500. This depends on where you’re flying from. I did a quick check of Southwest Airlines fares from Baltimore to Fort Lauderdale in late February-early March, since that’s how long their schedule goes right now. it came to $499.28. But I expect that fare to drop, since August is not the high season for Miami.

Transportation – I always budget about $100 for this, including a ride to and from the airport and downtown visits. A Super Shuttle from Miami International to the host hotel will be around $24 each way; the same ride from Fort Lauderdale is about $30 one way.

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

Meals/Bar – You can’t expect to get free meals every day. And you know you’re going to be socializing at the bar, so budget about $75 a day for this.

Ways to Pay

This all adds up to about $1700. There are ways to get this number down with creative budgeting, but let’s be real. This convention is not going to be cheap, but it can be done — if you start now.

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. The last time I had a room to myself was in 2006 in Indianapolis, my firs NABJ Convention.

When it comes to airfares, consider flights to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, which tends to have cheaper fares than Miami International Airport.

With transportation, you can share costs with others coming to Miami. You can also decide what you need — and what you don’t — for convention prep. I cut hair (I’m #TeamNatural), nails (again, #TeamNatural), business cards (if you want to find me, it’s pretty easy) and resumes (I haven’t applied for a job since 1992, plus anyone can go to my website), from my convention budget.

Meals/bar are always a big expense for me, because I don’t allow my mentees to pay when they’re with me. I know this and budget accordingly.

Show Me the Money

So how are you going to get the money for Miami? 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 incidentals. 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 vacation.
  5. Buy your airfare 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 eBlasts for announcements on scholarships and fellowships that help cover convention costs. This year there were grants from Columbia University.
  7. Local organizations. See if your NABJ chapter offers scholarships to help students/young journalists.
  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 Journalists; NABJ Students; Marlon A. Walker, Your NABJ Vice President/Print 2015-2018; Benet J. Wilson, Immediate Past VP-Digital, NABJ; @NABJ; @NABJDigital; @NABJSTUDENTS; and @Marlon4NABJ.
  9. #SideHustle or part-time job. I have a day job, but I also have two writing-related side hustles. I always put a percentage of what I earn with those into my Smarty Pig account to help pay for convention.
  10. Carpool. If you are in driving distance of Miami (my limit is 8 hours in a car), get a group together and ride to convention.

So there you have it — your blueprint to get to #NABJ19 in Miami. If you start now, you’ll be ready to go Aug. 7-11. Only 345 more days to go!

Advertisements
Posted in Conferences & Conventions, journalism

Top 10 Things I Learned at #NABJ18

#NABJ18 logo

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.

  1. 38068024_10157657831414606_4681514679057514496_n
    Students in a pep talk on the first day of newsroom operations.

    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.

  2. IMG_4047Volunteers 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.
  3. Benet ToolsEach 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).
  4. 38470895_10156819064857018_1196883406869233664_nTeach 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. S38422335_10157669978394606_1590279231244337152_nupport 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.
  8. I overpacked for Detroit. Damn it! I overpacked for New Orleans and swore I’d do better. I will do it for Miami!
  9. IMG_6378
    Justin Hinton and Kirstin Garriss

    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!

  10. 38660549_10157673184909606_6027202983152844800_nFind 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.

 

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 Conferences & Conventions, Education, journalism

Start Preparing for #NABJ18 in Detroit – NOW!

Saving for #NABJ18.pngOK. I know we’re still recovering from the very successful #NABJ17 in New Orleans. For those of you who didn’t make it this year, yes — it was just as great as it appeared on your friends’ myriad social media posts. You can click here for my summary on just what you missed.

If you’re already preparing for next year’s convention in Detroit, I applaud you, but this post isn’t for you. This one is for the following people:

  • Those with hard-core FOMO, who always vacillate whether to come or not then get mad when they don’t;
  • Those who want to attend the convention but have no idea how to pay for it;
  • Those — PLEASE pay attention — who think throwing up a GoFundMe account a month or less away from convention is a good idea; and
  • Those who email me, NABJ VP-Print Marlon A. Walker and other NABJ members sob stories about how they want to go but have no money (and asking me for “an airline hook up”) one to two weeks before the convention.

There are two journalism conferences I attend every year — NABJ and the Online News Association. I, like you, know that these events happen every year. Back in 2012, DJTF did a TweetChat with Natalie “The Frugalista” McNeal on ways to save. I encourage you to read it because the tips are still pretty good.

I began saving for both in June of the year before the conventions; that means I started saving for #NABJ18 and #ONA18 in June. I use the Smarty Pig website, which automatically takes out a designated amount twice a month (you can choose your own deposit schedule). I never see the money, so there’s no temptation. There are also apps like Digit and Qapital that are designed to help you save.

You need to break down your expenses: airfare, hotel, transportation to/from the airport, city transportation, food/drink, tips and gifts/souvenirs. You also need to save for things like clothing, hair, nails/grooming, business cards and a resume/portfolio website.  Once you get that number, divide it by 10 and start saving — today.

Other ways to raise funds for Detroit include a part-time job or side hustle and using birthdays, Christmas and Kwanzaa (specifically Kujichagulia, Self-Determination) to ask for things like registration, airfare and hotel costs.  And save on costs by sharing a room (I’ve had roommates every year since 2008), attending the free professional breakfasts and lunches (bonus-you’ll learn something) and sharing transportation. Most mentors will also help with a meal or drinks, especially if you are a student.

Don’t get me wrong — I have and will continue to help those who are also working to help themselves. This year I paid to register a professional and a student. I also gave $25 grants to help folks with expenses in New Orleans and did several free resume reviews. And I fully expect to help folks get to Detroit.

You now know what you have to do nearly a year in advance. But be warned — if you email me asking for help, or I see you posting one of those last-minute GoFundMe, my reply to you will be this column. So come correct and start saving now. Only 345 more days until NABJ hits the Motor City!!

 

 

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!!