NABJ ’17 Convention | reflections on Black journalism on day four

NEW ORLEANS — Saturday, the final full day of the National Association of Black Journalists Convention is always breakdown and getaway day.
The exhibitors and career fair interviewers have packed up their wares and have taken down their booths and work spaces. Many convention attendees can been seen with their rolling carry-on luggage as they make their way to a final workshop or meeting before taking off to Louis Armstrong Airport.
Tene Croom, NABJ Black Press Task Force chair. She also moderated two workshops on the Black Press (Charles Hallman/MSR News)
But for the rest of us not scheduled to depart until Sunday or later, the fourth day of NABJ ’17 involved a final round of workshops, business meetings, the closing ceremony and the next year’s convention host’s (Detroit in 2018) annual kick-off party, if so inclined.
“The Black Press is an agent for social change,” declared WBOK Radio General Manager Susan Henry at the session on the historical and present significance of Black newspapers and Black journalists, which the MSR attended.
As was the case of past days, overlapping schedules on Saturday created choice conflicts when it comes to attending workshops. For example, three film screenings​ were held at the same time as the morning workshops.
The MSR, however, briefly talked to filmmaker Stanley Nelson before the screening of his latest film, Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities. The film won’t make its national television premiere on PBS until next February​, but it has made the rounds of film festivals since it premiered earlier this year at Sundance.
Nelson told us that it was the first screening to a room full of Black journalists.  We will feature his comments in a future article.
The afternoon also featured various task force meetings: we attended two of them — Black Press and Sports. The discussed topics included improving a relationship with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and involving more Black Press members in NABJ workshops as panelists.
Cheryl Smith, NABJ secretary at Black Press Task Force meeting. She’s a longtime Black journalist from Dallas. (Charles Hallman/MSR News)
“We should make sure that the Black Press is represented” as opposed to being relegated to the so-called ‘Negro slot’ during the convention, noted Cheryl Smith, who works in Dallas and was reelected as NABJ secretary on Friday.
The Sports Task Force meeting’s room was overflowing, with several members forced to sit out in the hallway. It was nonetheless multi generational with newly graduated college students seeking their first media job, young and seasoned veterans, and gender-balanced as well.


This reporter and Ray Richardson of KMOJ were among the nearly 100 Black sportswriters, editors, beat writers, radio and television folk — in front of the camera, behind the mic, or behind the scenes — each one of us stood and introduced ourselves out loud as a show of togetherness​ as we closed the two-hour plus meeting.
Veteran editor Garry Howard, once the first Black journalist elected as Associated Press Sports Editors president, proudly reflected on how refreshing it was to see so many young faces as the two of us walked through the hotel lobby.
The future of Black journalism is in fine hands, both he and I agreed.


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