The National Association of Black Journalists Annual Convention and Career Fair is underway in Tampa, Florida. Several Charlotte members are attending and CAABJ president Jarvis Holliday will be doing recaps of the days' events here online.
Day one of the NABJ Convention was surprisingly productive and informative. I say surprisingly because oftentimes the first day of a convention is slow and mostly serves the purpose of registrations and check-ins. The itinerary for Wednesday was certainly lighter than what is scheduled for the remainder of the week, but the programming was good.
I spent most of the day in the "Chapter Day" sessions, which included the executive leadership of NABJ chapters from around the country, a panel of leading journalists, and a few NABJ board members. We discussed many topics on how to survive as journalists during this recessed media climate and how to strengthen our local chapters, but the overwhelming consensus was that NABJ and the local chapters (such as CAABJ) need to develop stronger relationships. Several chapter presidents, including from Cincinnati and Los Angeles, talked about how there are too many cases of journalists living and working in our cities who are members of the national chapter but not of the local chapter. The local chapter, quite simply, is where the local work--workshops, community forums, after-work mixers, mentorships--is done.
Chapter Day concluded with an hour-long session that featured a Q&A with candidates who are seeking national office. CAABJ member Dedrick Russell is seeking the office of NABJ vice president of broadcast. He wasn't scheduled to arrive in town until later that night so I spoke on his behalf (he'll be participating in the formal Candidates Forum on Thursday). It was interesting to see Roland Martin at the session. Because he's an analyst for CNN and commentator for TV One, I'm so used to seeing him on TV and it's easy to forget that he's a journalist like the rest of us. He's running for NABJ secretary, which he surely will win, and he'll bring his great industry connections to the organization.
The highlight of the day (of course) were the receptions. There was a Welcome Reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in one of the ballrooms at the Tampa Marriott Waterside. And from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. there was a white party held poolside at the Marriott, with proceeds benefiting NABJ's Reinvention Committee and Media Institute. This party was great--featured a DJ, ice cream hors d'oeuvres by Häagen-Dazs, free gift bags, and a great view of the city and the water. I attended both events, had a great time, and did some great networking.