NABJ at 35: The Power of Change

by Nikelle Feimster, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/New York

I recently attended the 35th annual National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Convention and Career Fair held July 28 to August 1 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, CA. The sold out event was a huge success, drawing more than 1,600 media professionals from across the country. The convention was packed with a plethora of workshop and training sessions, forums, plenary ceremonies, and networking opportunities.

Dr. Mehmet Oz at the opening ceremony of the NABJ Convention

In keeping with this year’s theme, “The Power of Change,” a new initiative was introduced: Healthy NABJ. The opening ceremony featured television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz and veteran broadcaster Rene Syler. According to Dr. Oz, in order for journalists to do their jobs effectively they have to take care of their health. In addition, journalists can spark change in the black community by spreading awareness of health issues that affect African-Americans including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

The most talked about panel discussion was “Context and Consequences: Conversation with Shirley Sherrod.” Sherrod was animated as she talked about how she was forced to resign from the U.S. Department of Agriculture because a conservative blogger posted video excerpts from a speech she gave at an NAACP meeting. Sherrod claimed her words were taken out of context and she was accused of being a racist.

During the conference, workshop and training sessions were held to provide journalists with the skills they need to stay current in the industry. Some of the sessions were:

  • Advanced Multimedia Training
  • Power Writing for the Web
  • Google for Journalists
  • Internet Etiquette: Being “Socially” Responsible

Benèt Wilson and Nikelle Feimster

I really enjoyed the workshop called “Public Relations and Journalism – The Intersecting Highway.” The room was filled with reporters and PR professionals who were eager to know how they can build better relationships with each other. During this lively discussion, one of the attendees asked if the reporters thought press releases distributed through wire services were useful.  Not only did the reporters find them useful, but one of the panelists, Benét Wilson, Online Managing Editor of Business Aviation, said that “Business Wire is great.” She praised Raschanda Hall, Global Media Relations Manager at Business Wire Chicago. Raschanda helped Benét  create a custom newsfeed with Business Wire’s PressPass tool. With PressPass, Benét receives only the news she needs at her convenience. This free media service is a valuable resource to journalists’ news gathering and it makes their jobs a lot easier.

Swayne Hall, AP photo editor, and Nikelle Feimster

Other heavy hitters in journalism who attended the convention were CNN contributor Roland Martin, Soledad O’Brien, and JET senior staff writer Clarence Waldron. Soledad was named Journalist of the Year, and Clarence received the NABJ Legacy Award.

Next year’s convention will take place in Philadelphia. To learn more about NABJ, visit www.nabj.com.

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