NEW ORLEANS — The second day of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Convention was jam-packed in more ways than one. Many sessions were at capacity and long lines persisted as a result.
The annual ESPN mentor’s breakfast was a popular stop. If you didn’t have a ticket, you were seated on a first come, first served basis. The room only held 300 people, said an ESPN representative while we waited in a snake-like line that wrapped around the corner of the hallway.
Persistence and patience are prerequisites for aspiring Black journalists, advised Robin Roberts. “You must find a way,” she reiterated. “You have your own formula for success.” The Good Morning America co-host afterwards gave this reporter one of her prized hugs.
However, we weren’t as successful at a couple of other sessions that were closed due to reaching capacity seating.
The importance of Black journalists to tell stories and truths was a theme stressed throughout Thursday’s sessions. “There are not enough of us in the newsroom,” said Vox.com’s Lauren Williams in the morning plenary session. “Our job is to report the truth.”
Williams added that too often Black journalists aren’t taken seriously by editors, news managers and elected officials.
The MSR talked to several journalism heavyweights, including Roberts. We also ran into many others, including history professor Herb Boyd, author of Black Detroit. He and his book were featured in our recent two-part article on the 1967 Detroit riots. Boyd told those standing around us how impressed he was of our work.
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Charles Hallman is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org