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National Association of Black Journalists Convention and Career Fair roundup

Khorri Atkinson | 8/8/2013, 9:45 a.m. | Updated on 8/8/2013, 9:45 a.m.

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) hosted its 38th annual Convention and Career Fair from July 31-Aug. 4 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. It was the NABJ’s first time in the Sunshine State since 2009.

While the convention may be a reunion for some to catch up with old friends, it was also a valuable resource for thousands of students, journalists, public relations specialists and persons in academia and an opportunity to learn the latest journalism tools as the industry continues to shift digitally.

The convention had more than 50 professional development workshops and thought-provoking plenary sessions that discussed breaking news, industry changes, hot topics and newsmakers sessions, which include conversations with civil rights activists the Rev. Al Sharpton, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Roland Martin and others. Also in attendance were Trayvon Martin’s parents, who discussed the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of their son. They talked about their continuing effort to repeal Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law. After the various professional development workshops, the organization gave attendees two passes to enjoy Disney World.

NABJ was founded on Dec. 12, 1975, in Washington, D.C., by 44 men and woman. NABJ continues to be the leading voice for advocating for better representation of African-Americans in media coverage. It is the largest organization of journalists of color in the nation. Since its establishment, NABJ has invested thousands of dollars in aspiring African-American journalists who are members of the organization. For its convention each year, the organization offered an all-expenses-paid trip and fellowship to more than 25 students nationwide so they could attend and cover convention happenings and news events in Orlando.

Students were placed in different groups that suited their career needs, including print, broadcast reporting, copywriting, photography, layout and graphic design, and public relations. For a week, students were mentored by professionals from news outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, NBC News, and the Chicago Tribune. They reported for the convention news site nabjmonitor.org.

Before the end of the convention, NABJ members elected Bob Butler, a KCBS Radio reporter in San Francisco and veteran member, to be the 20th president of the nation’s largest minority journalism organization.

At its opening ceremony, the organization awarded the title of Professional Chapter of the Year was the New York Association of Black Journalists, under the leadership of New York Daily News reporter Michael Feeney. Syracuse University’s NABJ student chapter and the Temple University Association of Black Journalists shared the organization’s Student Chapter of the Year Award.

NABJ’s 39th annual Convention and Career Fair will be in Boston July 30-Aug. 3, 2014. It will be the first time the NABJ visits New England.