A message from AABJ VP of Print Amir Vera
With the National Association of Black Journalist Convention just weeks away, we at the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists (AABJ) decided to do something different this month.
Instead of the usual newsletter, we asked a student journalist, an early-career journalist and a veteran journalist to write about their experiences at the national convention. Each writer brings a different perspective that we hope not only AABJ members, but all NABJ members can gain guidance from as we all head to Miami in August.
Almiya White heads to NABJ for the first time
I remember walking to class in April when I received an email alerting me that one of my dreams was becoming reality.
I received an invitation to be a part of the 2019 NABJ Student Multimedia Project at the 44th Annual NABJ Convention and Career Fair in Miami.
A rush of excitement came over me as I viewed the email. I worked and prayed for this. “Thankful for this blessing,” were the only words that came out of my mouth. It’s safe to say the pressure is now on.
I must be honest, I am a little nervous and anxious to work in a full operating news setting. I’ve heard pros and cons about being a part of the Student Multimedia Project – the intensity, hardship and reassurance you receive are like no other. We’ve all been told nothing in life comes easy, so I want all the pressure.
This year’s convention will also be the first one I’ve ever attended. Sadly, I was unable to attend last year’s convention in Detroit – poor planning on my part.
I remember getting text messages and phone calls from friends and classmates sharing the information, skills and exposure they gained within roughly five days. I also remember stalking NABJ’s social media accounts amazed at the endless opportunities they put together for students and professionals. I might not have been present at the convention, but I like to say I was living vicariously through my friends.
This time around, not only did I want to attend the convention, but I wanted to be a voice for the convention, so I applied to be a part of the Student Multimedia Project.
Pursuing a career in broadcast journalism has always been my No. 1 goal because it allows me to advocate on behalf of underserved communities and amply unheard voices. I have a duty not only to inform the public, but to allow audiences to discuss issues that directly affect them.
What I’m looking forward to with the Student Multimedia Project is allowing myself to be vulnerable in a new and uncomfortable setting. As a young journalist, it’s my mission to have the mind and mentality to absorb things freely, whether I’m knowledgeable or not in that area. It’s important that I surround myself with people who can play a pivotal role in my career, go above and beyond and stand out among my counterparts.
Almiya White is a rising senior at Clark Atlanta University.
Cierra Johnson provides tips on navigating the national convention
The NABJ convention is considered to be a family reunion for many journalists. It’s the one time of year where hundreds of students and professionals travel across the world to come together to learn how they can be successful in the media and journalism industry.
During my second NABJ convention last year in Detroit, I participated in a NABJ fellowship called the Student Multimedia Projects. A group of students, including myself, were selected to broadcast daily newscasts for three days. The experience was exciting, intense and fun! I finished the fellowship feeling more knowledgeable of the journalism industry (applications are normally available on the NABJ website in January of each year). It was super inspiring to be surrounded by students who share common passions and mentors who are eager to help you.
Major highlights of the convention included career advice from professionals, a variety of workshops, social events, networking opportunities and the biggest attraction, the career fair. Recruiters offer on-the-spot interviews, internships and jobs. The conventions are super eye-opening and fun!
A memorable tip a panelist said during one of the professional 101 workshops was “it’s not all about the resume, but also about the relationship.”
Take a look at a few tips I learned from previous conventions:
- Be prepared: Be sure to have professional business cards, printed resumes (at least 50), a LinkedIn profile, samples of your work and a 30-second pitch.
- Dress appropriately: Wear business attire for the career fair and workshops. Neutral colors are safe. Recruiters are everywhere, and you want your attire to be appropriate at all times.
- Clean your social media: Be sure your social media handles and posts are appropriate. Recruiters are looking! If you are not certain your account is appropriate, do not be afraid to reach out to a NABJ member or mentor to ask their opinion.
- Network: You will meet a ton of students, professionals and recruiters. Take the initiative to start a conversation and exchange contact information. Remember, building relationships is key.
- Be safe and smart: Have accountability partners during the convention. There will be plenty of social events in and outside of the host hotel. Do not travel to places outside of the host hotel without telling someone where you will be and for legal attendees, please be mindful of the amount of alcohol you choose to have.
- Follow-up email or thank you card: Follow-up emails or thank you cards are a memorable gesture to the people you meet at the convention. It is highly recommended!
Cierra Johnson is a programming assistant and producer at AIB-TV (Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters).
Craig Brown explains how to prep for interviews
The National Association of Black Journalists convention, from what I’ve seen and what I’ve experienced, can be either an extremely rewarding event, or a very disappointing (and costly) experience.
As I prepare for my third convention, I find myself reflecting on past experiences, and on ways that I could have made my time there more gratifying. I’ve realized that proper preparation is a very important component in making the NABJ convention as fulfilling as possible. I’d like to share some ideas that may prove helpful as you prepare for the convention.
Your reel is a reflection of you
Make your reel look and sound as professional as possible. The goal is to stand out from the many others who are trying to secure the same position. Your reel is a reflection of your abilities as a journalist. If a subject appears too dark, if the sound fluctuates or if your reel ends abruptly in the middle of a stand-up, this could affect your chances of being hired.
Be prepared for anything during an interview
Go beyond the obvious in preparing for interviews. During an interview I had with ESPN the Magazine last year, I was asked the following questions:
Who are your five favorite sports journalists, and why?
Who is your favorite author and/or poet?
What is the most compelling article you’ve read in the last six months?
Those questions were not what I expected, and more importantly they indicated that I needed to be doing more to stand out in an oversaturated journalism field. So, in order to separate yourself from the competition, work on your craft daily. Study your favorite journalists and determine what makes them so good. Look to add similar qualities to your own skill set.
Make sure you have all your materials for an interview
Have resumes, business cards and clips of your best work with you when you’re in front of an interviewer. Ensure that you take notes and ask questions. If you are able, take a tablet with you so interviewers can watch your reel immediately. Otherwise, ensure that all of these items are uploaded to your website.
Know who is doing the hiring
Connect with hiring managers. Build relationships with those who actually do the hiring. Contact them prior to the convention, send them a resume and let them know what you are capable of.
Remember there’s always someone watching
Be personable, approachable and professional at all times. At the parties, dance and have a good time, but I suggest you don’t start “twerking” or “backin’ that thing up.” You can never be sure of who you might encounter as your career progresses (or regresses).
Be able to take constructive criticism
Lastly, have thick skin. You are going to be told that you need more experience. Some journos will not have time to talk or take a selfie. Do not let that affect your confidence. Trust that while you may not be a good fit for one organization, you are exactly what another station is looking for.
Hopefully, these tips will aid you in having a fun and productive time in Miami. I look forward to seeing you there.
Craig Allen Brown is a freelance writer and teacher at Bear Creek Middle School.
AABJ documentary nominated for
NABJ’s 2019 Salute to Excellence Awards
The AABJ documentary “Black & Reporting: The Struggle Behind the Lens” has been nominated for an NABJ Salute to Excellence Award at this year’s convention.
NABJ’s Salute to Excellence Awards ceremony highlights the work of media organizations and individuals involved in print, broadcast and online journalism, marketing and communications. It is the only event in the U.S. that honors exemplary coverage of African/African-American people or issues exclusively, according to NABJ’s website.
Be sure to get your Emmy Award-Nominated copy of the AABJ.
Proceeds go to AABJ’s Xernona Clayton Scholarship Fund .
Anyone who wants to watch the entire documentary can buy it for $9.95 here.
AABJ Online Fundraiser: 43 Years Campaign
AABJ’s $43 for 43 fundraising campaign is still ongoing. In its 43rd year, we are asking members to donate $43 to go towards programming, scholarships, and events throughout the year. Be sure to invite your friends, coworkers and anyone you know that supports our members in print, communications, public relations, radio, broadcast, digital and the many trailblazers in the literary world. Be sure to share our campaign on your social media by using the hashtag #AABJ43.
You can donate here.
This edition of The Byline was edited by Amir Vera