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NABJ x NAHJ Convention Recap

Updated: Oct 29, 2022

This year was my first year going to the annual National Association for Black Journalists convention. This year, the convention took place in Las Vegas, needless to say I had a great time!
NABJ x NAHJ Convention and Career Fair

"Bucket List #4: Go to Las Vegas" - Julian Stainback III 06/20/2019

Going to Las Vegas has ALWAYS been a dream of mine since my first year of college. This year, that bucket list goal was crossed off my list.

For most of my college career, I have been part of Michigan State's chapter of the National Association for Black Journalists, or NABJ. This organization believes in the empowerment of diverse students pursuing careers in journalism. I was fortunate to join this organization when I changed my major to journalism. This organization helped turn me into the journalist I am today.

There was always talk about going to a national convention, but I never got the chance to go due to financial struggles and a lack of resources. This year, my chapter was able to raise funds to send eight of its members to the convention. The E-Board at the time consisted of myself, Janelle James, Brea Crawford, Lily Cross, Brandon Foster, Stephanie McCullum, and Demetria Bias. Together, we came together to create a plan to fundraise, and we executed it perfectly.

National Convention Background

NABJ puts on a national convention and career fair every year for its members across the country. It is an excellent opportunity to meet many journalists who have been in the industry and know the in-and-outs of journalism.

The convention draws recruiters from companies around the country and the world. It includes journalists, producers, reporters, and many more. It is an opportunity for members to connect and network with professionals and maybe land an internship, fellowship, or job.

The convention is divided into sessions, discussions, hands-on activities, luncheons, and lectures. Each activity comes with an opportunity to learn more about professionalism, broadcast skills, and building a portfolio.

This year, the convention was held in Las Vegas, Nevada at Caesars' Palace.

What I learned at the convention

This was my first time attending the convention! It was probably the best experience of my life. From August 3rd - 8th, I was exposed to much more in journalism.

I attended a lot of workshops throughout the week. Here are the workshops I attended:

Tips on Finding Sources and Exclusive Stories

Fun Fact: I am a news producer at WILX News 10, the NBC affiliate for Lansing.

Julian works as the weekday 6 p.m. news producer for WILX News 10 in Lansing.

Finding story ideas was a struggle for me when starting my job at WILX. I am the weekday 6 p.m. news producer, which screams ALL... LOCAL... NEWS! One time, I came into my editorial meeting without a story. It was like a blow because journalism strives on news.

This workshop taught me the best effective ways to find story ideas and vetted sources for them. During the session, I was able to learn more about sources and how they are important to a story. It taught me how to build a relationship with people to get story ideas. Without this workshop, I might still be struggling right now.

Power in Producing: The Importance of Being Behind the Scenes

News producers are the heroes of the newsroom. Without them, there is NO newscast.

Given that I am a producer, I am a hero for the newsroom. Without producers, there is no newscast... period. This session was like a masterclass just for producers in the field! I heard from senior and executive producers from different markets.

This session allowed me to get advice on how to be creative with my show. Some days it is a struggle to break the monotony of the same camera shots each show. This workshop taught me that my job is the most important both in-and-out of the newsroom.

Let's Talk about Improving Newsroom Culture

Let's be honest, landing my first news producer job was a culture shock. I noticed that there has been a lack of diversity, which has been one of the many deficits in the journalism field. On my first day, I felt a little out of place. I quickly adjusted but there is a lingering concern as far as diversity goes.

This discussion talked about the issue of diversity in newsrooms. I've heard from journalists and editors from a variety of media, each giving advice on how to improve the culture of the newsroom. It made me realize that I can make a difference in my newsroom, challenging myself along the way.

Breaking News Exercise: Under Pressure -- Digging Deeper on Deadline

Probably one of the best sessions that I attended. When breaking news hits, the pressure is on. Maybe two weeks into WILX, breaking news hit five minutes before my show was set to begin. It was a LOT of stress! But I was prepared for it. This session was taught by Stephen Stock who is an award-winning investigative journalist.

During the workshop, Stock taught the attendees how to write breaking news in under five minutes. This was NOT a joke, Stock gave us five minutes to write breaking news with little information. It really challenged me because you have to take your time to make sure it's fair and impartial.

I did have fun with this exercise, I love a good challenge. Stock even gave us some useful tools to use when breaking news hit.

The Sights and Lights of Las Vegas

Now, it's my first time in Vegas. Who says you can't have fun? The sights of Las Vegas are breath-taking, especially in the night time. Throughout my trip, I was able to take in the sights of The Strip, restaurants, you name it.

Thank you NABJ for allowing me to attend this convention. It has really helped me better prepared for my journey through the industry. See you next year.

Enjoy this montage of things I did while I was in Vegas.


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