Supporting Black Journalists
The first thing that always jumps out at me is that this group collectively looks much sharper than most of the journalists I remember from my years in the newsroom. Sharp, professional and young…No, make that very, very young.
For the third consecutive year, I had the honor of representing FedEx at the National Association of Black Journalists’ (NABJ) Annual Convention and Career Fair, which was held this year in Philadelphia. FedEx co-sponsored the event, and received a “Corporate Star Award” for supporting the NABJ since 2004.
The NABJ is the largest organization of minority journalists in the U.S., and provides educational, career development and support to black journalists worldwide. Approximately 2,500 NABJ members and supporters attended this year’s convention.
For the most part, the tone at NABJ conventions is serious. Attendees are serious about honing their skills. Serious about taking advantage of seminars and panel discussions that might yield story ideas to take home. And serious about networking for job opportunities.
I sampled many sessions during the convention, starting with the opening ceremony featuring remarks from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Other highlights for me included two riveting panel discussions, one about reconnecting with Africa and the other about whether President Barack Obama has done enough to help African-Americans. (With former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele as well as Dr. Cornel West on the second panel, how could it have been anything but riveting?)
Wisely, the NABJ mixes in a little fun with the seriousness because even journalists like to party. Some more than others. (Let’s just say that some convention-goers are probably glad the parties were off the record.)
Battered by both the Great Recession and the news industry’s continuing struggles in the digital age, the past half-decade or so has not been easy for the NABJ. But NABJ leaders are cautiously optimistic that things are looking up in the face of a job market that remains challenging for journalists.
Although I hung up my reporter’s cap nearly 14 years ago, once a journalist always a journalist. So I’m grateful for the opportunity to rub shoulders with newshounds who remain my colleagues in spirit. And I’m proud to now work for FedEx, a company that appreciates and supports the NABJ.