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NABJ/NAHJ convention expected to bring 5K to Las Vegas

Updated August 3, 2022 - 11:00 am

Journalists and other media professionals from across the country are coming to Las Vegas this week for the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists joint conference.

The NABJ/NAHJ Convention and Career Fair begins Wednesday at Caesars Palace. About 5,000 attendees are expected to join the five-day event that may be the largest gathering of journalists of color, said Dorothy Tucker, the NABJ’s president.

“It’s an opportunity for us all to come together because we have a lot of the same issues,” she said. “We face the same kind of problems in our newsrooms, so it’s an opportunity to join forces on a number of different levels. One, to talk to media leaders in a huge network. And, our (two organizations’) members work together in the newsroom. This way they get a chance to come together for the conventions.”

The two professional organizations convene together every few years — the last time through a virtual conference in 2020 and before that at an in-person joint conference in Washington in 2016.

The groups’ leadership chose Las Vegas as the host city based on past success, the amount of available space and the entertainment options, Tucker said.

This year’s convention offers more than 200 sessions on training, leadership development, skills-building, networking and panels, along with a career fair with about 90 partners. Anthony Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, is expected to speak through a video call, Tucker said.

The combined meeting also helps discussions of diversity and inclusion in media, said Yazmin Beltran, interim president of the NAHJ Nevada chapter.

“This specific convention is called ‘Changing the game, rompiendo barreras,’ ” Beltran said. “We want to make sure newsrooms have that diversity, that African Americans and Hispanics are represented in media and are represented how they should be represented. It’s good for us to get that message out. We’re not there yet in terms of representation of our communities, but we’re getting there.

“Events like this with major players in media and in business, when you get them in the same room, it’s a chance to explain that,” she said.

The groups’ leaders say the larger-than-usual expected attendance numbers relate to both organizations growing their memberships since the last in-person meetups in 2019.

On top of that, many professionals are eager to take their connections to a real-life setting. Michelle Johnson, a Boston University professor and session leader at the convention, said it’s special to see so many journalists of color collaborating and networking together.

“After two years of not seeing folks, it’s going to be exciting to see everyone in the room again,” said Johnson, a former NABJ board member and regular conventiongoer. “It’s exciting to walk into a room and there’s 2,000 Black journalists in one room.”

McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at mross@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on Twitter.

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