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.
Thursday was an eventful day at the convention. It featured perhaps the most notable sessions and events on the schedule, including a Zumba Fitness Workout; NABJ Sports Task Force Mentor Breakfast sponsored by ESPN; a forum on what the death of Michael Jackson tells us about media competition; a photography and design competition; Lebron James was on hand to discuss his new documentary (More Than a Game); and numerous sessions on how journalists can strengthen their brand, transition into new careers, get multimedia training, use social networking, ethical decision making, and more.
Another very important feature of the day was the Career Fair and Exhibit Hall, where dozens of media companies had booths set up. I visited the ESPN booth, which was one of the most popular, and I was able to speak with an executive with ESPN The Magazine. She gave me her card and I feel like I made a great contact, which is important for me as a freelance writer.
Throughout the day as I came in and out of a couple of sessions, I helped fellow CAABJ member Dedrick Russell with his campaigning for NABJ vice president of broadcast. Dedrick has a booth set up in the lobby outside of the exhibit hall along with the other candidates vying for national office. We passed out "Vote Russell" buttons and campaign fliers. At 4:30, Dedrick and the candidates participated in a forum (it was in a large room and they were on a big stage) in which they answered questions to explain why they would be best for the office they're seeking.
The evening wrapped up with a Media Reception sponsored by Target. Lounging at this point was much needed after a long day. Plus, Target provided free drinks (including the Targetini) and hors d'oeuvres. I was able to mingle and exchange business cards with several professionals who it seem like it would be beneficial to keep in touch with (having a career in media means that you'll often cross paths with people you've met before or who have mutual friends and colleagues).
From talking to different people, it seems like there are several journalists here who are either a year or two removed from college and looking for their first or next job, or they're experienced journalists who've recently been laid off. I hope that many people leave this convention with the contacts and tools needed to help them make that next step.