High-Octane Lineup at NABJ Convention

Aug 1, 2005  •  Post A Comment

By Sheree R. Curry

Special to TelevisionWeek

When the 30th annual convention of the National Association of Black Journalists convenes Wednesday in Atlanta, broadcast journalists of color will have the chance to network, have their tapes critiqued and participate in workshops that run the gamut from makeup application to how to become a decision maker in sports broadcasting to conversations with CEOs about the state of the media industry. Former President Bill Clinton will deliver the keynote address, his third to the group.

Then-candidate Clinton spoke to the organization in 1992 in Detroit, the first major U.S. presidential candidate to do so. Five years later, in Chicago, he appeared before the group again, this time as the first sitting U.S. president to address the conference.

“We draw movers and shakers from the entire industry as well as people from politics,” said San Jose-based Bryan Monroe, NABJ’s VP for print and Knight Ridder assistant VP of news. “Al Sharpton will be there and Jesse Jackson always shows up.”

The celebration includes the induction of members into the Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees include Charlayne Hunter-Gault, CNN’s former Johannesburg, South Africa, bureau chief and correspondent; Carole Simpson, former longtime anchor of ABC’s “World News Tonight Sunday”; and Max Robinson, NABJ co-founder and the first black journalist to anchor a nightly network newscast, who will be inducted posthumously. Ed Bradley, CBS News correspondent and co-editor of “60 Minutes,” will receive the NABJ’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Given the caliber of journalists in attendance, “NABJ is excellent for networking, particularly for younger journalists because you meet such a large variety of people, including managers, veterans, mid-career, beginners and students,” said Carol Ash, the 5 a.m. producer for NBC-owned WMAQ-TV in Chicago.

“I try to help those journalists who are younger than I am, just like I have been helped,” said Ms. Ash, a board member of Unity: Journalists of Color, who added that she has obtained jobs because of her NABJ contacts. “Most people are willing to help steer you in the right direction careerwise.”

The NABJ conference, which is expected to draw more than 3,000 attendees to its annual gathering, claims the nation’s largest journalism career fair.

“You get so many people with jobs [available] who are looking to hire right now at the job fair,” Mr. Monroe said.

“NABJ should be on the speed-dial of every news director and general manager who is truly interested in achieving diversity in the newsroom,” said Barbara Ciara, NABJ VP for broadcast. “It’s 2005 and I still hear that stale expression, ‘We can’t seem to find qualified blacks to fill our positions.’ To those folks I say, ‘You’re not looking.'”

Of particular interest to broadcast journalists are several workshops. Broadcast news directors from across the country will share their most effective tips for short- and long-term success in “Ten Management Tools to Use Now,” scheduled to take place Thursday at 12:30 p.m. The session will focus on “news you can use” that journalists can take with them to their newsrooms. The moderator is Ava Greenwell, associate dean at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Panelists are Blaise Labbe, news director for KWTV in Oklahoma City; Eva Bowen, executive producer for KNXV-TV in Phoenix; and Denise Hendricks, associate producer for “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

“Television Faces,” also on Thursday, will show on-air personalities how to create a polished, clean makeup application. The moderator is Jacque Reid, host of “BET Nightly News.” Panelists are Fairweather Faces makeup artists D’Angelo Thompson and Saisha Beecham.

At 2:45 p.m. Thursday, moderator Sandy Williams, an anchor and reporter for Fox Sports Net in Atlanta, will lead a seminar on moving up the ranks in sports broadcasting and becoming a behind-the-scenes power hitter. The panel will include Andrea Berry, senior VP of broadcast operations for Fox Network; Al Jaffe, VP of production, recruitment and talent negotiations for ESPN; Matt Edgar, program director for WQXI-AM “790 the Zone” all-sports radio, Atlanta; and Jeff Gammage, producer and photographer for Fox Sports Net South, Atlanta. Panelists will address the lack of minority representation in upper management and programs designed to increase those numbers.

For those reporters who have been pulled off a story to cover breaking weather, or for those producers who have had their rundown turned upside-down 15 minutes to air because of an approaching storm, there is the “Breaking Weather!” session with meteorologists who have been in the “eye of the storm.” The moderator is WNBC-TV, New York, chief meteorologist Janice Huff. Panelists are experts from The Weather Channel, including on-camera meteorologists Paul Goodloe, Vivian Brown, Jim Cantore and Stephanie Abrams, climate expert Heidi Cullen and senior meteorologist Stu Ostro.

30th Annual NABJ Convention and Career Fair

When: Aug. 3-7

Where: Hyatt Regency Hotel, Atlanta

Why: The annual event attracts more than 3,000 attendees from around the U.S. and is the nation’s largest professional gathering devoted to black journalists. The convention’s 30th-anniversary theme, “Telling Our Story,” reflects the NABJ’s mission to “continue to voice the passion, pride, purpose and power of black journalists.”