By Lawrence Price III
For some, the summertime is viewed as an opportunity to see close friends and family members that they normally do not interact with the majority of the year. This is true for even journalists — and aspiring journalists like myself.
There was no better way then for me to spend a week of my summer at the cherished National Association of Black Journalists’ 47th annual convention and career fair held on Aug. 18 through the 21.
Accounting for the coronavirus pandemic and like last year’s gathering, the convention was held virtually. Although not in person, the multi-day conference brought out leaders and prominent figures in journalism, business, politics, entertainment and more. In addition to journalism professionals, the annual event presented over 140 workshops and training sessions focused on topics including networking, career development and industry innovation.
Most convention days started out mid-morning and ended as late as midnight as information-hungry attendees created their own schedules during and before the convention, selecting activities they wanted to participate in. While the convention packed itself with events ranging from Q&A discussions to nighttime jam sessions.
Entering the four-day affair, I was unsure of what expectations to gather before jumping into my first ever NABJ convention. My peers and previous mentors who have attended in the years’ past expressed to me their positive experiences, and after going through it myself, I agree with their positive comments.
Given the plethora of activities and events to take part in, I was able to learn and gain knowledge from some of the top journalists, expand my perspective on the journalism world, and network with media personnel and individuals it would have been impossible to reach without the conference.
Outside of the diverse sessions, the convention and career fair provided me an opportunity to connect with and hear from not only people originally from or working in the same area of metro-Detroit and with background as myself, but also see various areas of journalism Black people have been successful in.
As an aspiring Black male journalist, previously I have seen a small number of people that looked like myself working on beats outside of sports at many media outlets. Even though my long-term desire is to join the sports journalism field as well, the convention expanded my outlook on this, as I found many Black males working successfully in all branches of journalism. This exposure helped me recognize the endless possibilities in front me and support system from journalists already in the profession.
Taking notes and gaining knowledge throughout the event, the highly-anticipated Sports Task Force luncheon featured ESPN’s First Take commentator Stephen A. Smith and Pardon the Interruption co-host Michael Wilbon, which became a highlight of my experience through their collective comments. A message the group drove home was to pay everything forward so that more people that look like you will be in this profession than ever before.
Although a small note and one piece of the puzzle, I appreciated and recognized that this convention is deeper than a group of journalists conversing about their job, it is a family that I joined.
After partaking in such a great opportunity, only excitement and joy can describe my feelings for what’s to come.