Last weekend I had the privilege of attending the 2011 National Association of Black Journalists Convention in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. The theme for this year’s convention was The Power of Now: Claiming Your Destiny.
The convention was energy filled from the beginning. At the opening ceremonies author, columnist, and media mogul Arianna Huffington addressed the ever-changing media landscape, while Attorney General, Eric H. Holder, Jr. encouraged journalists to spotlight racial disparities and thus give voices to the underrepresented.
Paula Madison, who recently retired in May as executive vice president and chief diversity officer for NBCUniversal, went on to set the tone for the convention by urging all those in attendance to come together as one by not only mentoring the new generation of NABJ, but also honoring them. Leading up to a standing ovation she said, “These are the people who energize you, these are the people who keep you going, these are the people whom you feed off of.”
By focusing on “The Power of Now,” multimedia was a focal point of the weekend. As we all know digital media is rapidly transforming the journalism world, as we all are becoming accustomed to instantaneous news. Just take a second to think of how fortunate many of us are to be able to pick up a cellular device to learn breaking news.
Throughout my weekend in Philadelphia there were several career-building workshops and activities such as the career fair to partake in. I was only able to attend a handful, but through Twitter, I remained afloat. By following many of the media experts who were participating in the conference, I was able to engage in Q & A discussions about the sessions from my smartphone.
Though I did not attend, “Black Out or Black In?” featuring philosopher, author, and civil rights activist Dr. Cornel West, I know that a lively exchange of ideas arose regarding our posture towards President Barack Obama. It’s simply amazing that even in my physical absence; I still had a voice about an emerging dialogue while it was taking place.
From media moguls to media students, NABJ was filled with a prominent ambiance of respect, motivation, and inspiration. Everyone was beyond encouraging and open to mentorship. There was an evident sense of service which was extended to individuals at all levels of their career.
It’s somewhat unspeakable to know that one has immense support on what can be a rigorous journey. When one is passionate about something their positive energy is undeniable. It was an honor to converse with Carol Simpson, the first black woman hired by NBC’s D.C. bureau who later became an ABC reporter. She was very open and excited to see so many young black women pursuing media careers. I was later greeted by a pioneer, Belva Davis, the first female TV journalist in the West, and she quickly exchanged business cards with me, even without a request.
I will forever take with me the tremendous enthusiasm from media moguls to young professionals, as there was a genuine sense of pride to be a part of NABJ. Pride that evidently steamed not only from great accomplishments, but also from what the future holds for the NABJ community. NABJ 2011 more than reached my expectations, and I look forward to next year’s convention in New Orleans.
Just as NABJ President, Kathy Y. Times hoped, I left this year’s convention ” – fulfilled and energized, with new friends and contacts and a clearer vision” for my career. Reflecting back on this year’s convention, I without a doubt claim my destiny, and look forward to working with my community to do so. Beyond being buoyant about what’s to come in my career, I look forward to staying connected and participating in more of what NABJ has to offer.