My journal entries from the past week will give you a unique behind the scenes view of the NABJ Convention.
Day One: 8/3/16
How to Land Your Dream Arts and Entertainment Gig Before 30
Innovative Journalism: How Real Journalists Can Use Snapchat, Facebook Live, Periscope, and Instagram to Break News
I've met some really wonderful people already and have even found some kindred spirits among them. One thing that I've found interesting about the workshops that I have attended thus far is that though the panelists "still aren't where they want to be" they have learned the value of hustling (taking odd jobs, internships, etc.) that open doors to give you a bigger platform.
I am surrounded by articulate, confident, passionate journalists with vision and determination who look like me! Based on conversations that I've had with seasoned news makers, what was most common among them was that the vets are ready and willing to begin passing the torch down to this next generation. It would behoove us, the millennials to listen intently and adhere to and glean from their wisdom.
I'm excited to learn more.
Day Two: 8/4/16
Newsmaker Plenary Race: A Conversation
I got to the hotel early in the morning and found a nice quiet spot near the main lobby to charge my phone for the day. In the process of doing so I saw a familiar face, none other than journalist Shaun King! He has a low-key demeanor, but a very powerful voice in the African-American Community.
I have yet to meet a journalist here who combines their love of news making and faith; really embracing the philosophy of bridging that gap between faith and life. When I share with attendees that I am a Christian journalist at heart and give them a glimpse of my vision, they are intrigued by the idea and admire my efforts, but their pleasant smiles are accompanied by a perplexed look hinting at the fact that they have to "see to believe" that these worlds can be blended.
What an exciting feat and challenge for me through my words, experience and unique perspective to share Jesus in a new way to people.
I very much look forward to meeting the challenge as I believe it is and will be a large part of my purpose: to bring light, hope and perspective to this generation.
Though I only attended one event today, I learned so much! I gained a deeper understanding of what is going on in the our community and the disparity on how our news and our stories are being reported and perhaps by whom our stories are being told in mainstream media. There was such an insightful group of panelists too: U.S. Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, U.S. Education Secretary John King, Blogger, Luvvie Ajayi, Black Lives Matter Activist, DeRay McKesson, and Journalist Roland Martin just to name a few.
Toward the end of my day, I saw my Twitter friend, journalist Shomari Stone in the hotel's main lobby. Such a cool moment! He actually sought me out and we had a pleasant conversation about how the Convention was going, what I aspire to do and what new stories he is working on. Then we took a few pictures and blasted them all over Twitter!
Day Three: 8/5/16
Putting a Hard Edge in Your Entertainment Reporting
My first encounter of the day was with one of my favorite people from NABJ, Founder and my mentor Ms. Norma-Adams Wade. I came into the hotel to check into my room and saw her sitting in the hotel foyer. I made it a point to greet her with a smile and she recognized me right off the bat. We exchanged pleasantries and then she invited me to sit and talk saying, "so tell me everything. The beginning is always a good place to start." I had an AMAZING conversation about life, faith and journalism with her. We discussed what she's doing now that she is retired and she mentioned that her family is her focus. We talked about what's going on in Dallas and she said, "I'm still trying to make sense of it all, but my take on it is that we aren't listening to one another. THEN she gave me her personal contact information so that we can stay in touch.
God's favor is abounding!!!
Later on in the evening, I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Lola Ogunnaike, a Features and Entertainment Journalist after my workshop. After having a trying afternoon, God really met me. The encounter that I had with Lola was such a blessing. She listened to me, and really listened and gave me some great advice about how I should move forward in this awkward stage in which I am currently finding myself.
We exchanged information and promised to keep in touch. As if that wasn't enough, she is making herself available to me as a mentor of sorts and I really appreciated that.
Day Four: 8/6/16
NABJ Day of Service
Salute To Excellence
I needed a day like today. Having the opportunity to speak with the youth (high school students) in a mentor-mentee format is always an enjoyable experience. I had the privilege of speaking with four audacious young ladies, all with different hopes and aspirations but they shared a passion for life and were not afraid to ask questions. Speaking with them, hearing their stories and being able to share my experiences with them revitalized something in me. My heart is so full. All I can do is hope that something I said stays with them.
I am a strong believer that we must invest in people and dreams, because doing so, will help us build a stronger generation. For me, ministry and journalism go hand in hand and today I got another chance to experience that with my girls!
What a wonderful opportunity to hear the accomplishments of so many journalists and have the chance to honor them at such an extravagant event (Salute To Excellence). I heard that the Gala is the most anticipated and most well attended event of the whole convention every year! I was so glad to be counted in the number of those in attendance. I was accompanied by some very nice people, we shared laughs and conversation and exchanged business cards with one another. One thing that I learned is that there are always opportunities to network at events like this. With that in mind, I do my best to stay ready.
Day Five: 8/7/16
NABJ Gospel Brunch
I was one of the first in the Gospel Brunch event space and found a vacant table in the center of the room (perfect for taking pictures!) Shortly after sitting down, I was greeted with such kindness by Gospel Recording Artist (and my Facebook Friend), Kevin Levar and his wife, Shondale Levar.
Mrs. Levar and I had a lovely conversation prior to the start of the program. Within five minutes or so of conversing with her, she shared with me that wanted to keep in touch with me and that she wanted to keep me in mind for some events that she and Kevin were going to be doing in the near future (Simply Ari may be covering some more events soon! How exciting!!!)
The performances by Kevin Levar, Jarmel Evans, and Lisa Page Brooks were wonderful and the food was delicious! It was a pleasant surprise to also hear the testimony of journalist Jarrett Hill, who is most notably recognized for detecting that 22 words from the RNC speech given by Melania Trump were in fact, copied verbatim from First Lady Mrs. Michelle Obama's speech from years prior (2008).
It was neat to be able to get some face time with him at the end of the event, speak with him briefly about how much his testimony blessed me, take a few photos to commemorate the moment, and connect over Instagram and Twitter shortly there after.
This event was the perfect way to end my NABJ Convention Experience!!! I am really looking forward to keeping in touch with the people that I met and following up with the contacts that I made while there. I hope very much to attend the next year's Convention in New Orleans!!!
When Ari isn't out covering events, she's working on bettering herself as a journalist, attending writer-related events, or enjoying spontaneous excursions in and around the Washington DC Metropolitan area.
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