By Charlie Kadado
2016 UNITY Fellow
One step inside the student newsroom at the joint NABJ-NAHJ national convention and it’s easy to notice the great talent and ambition of some of the top journalism students from across the country.
The student project included 28 of the most gifted journalism students and recent graduates I’ve ever met. They are aggressive networkers and creative journalists, and I felt incredibly honored to work among them.
It was also a great honor to be among the 4,000 black and Hispanic journalists who attended the 2016 convention in Washington D.C. from Aug. 3 to Aug. 7 – a chance to attend workshops, hear from national speakers and network with recruiters and potential employers.
Every year, as part of the national convention, the student project draws top journalism students to learn tricks of the trade and network with top industry professionals.
It’s hard work and students definitely stay busy. But it’s so rewarding.
On our first day, the mentors emphasized the importance of being a multi-platform journalist. If you’re a writer, learn to take photos. If you’re on-air talent, learn to shoot video. If you’re a photojournalist, learn to tweet from scenes.
Most importantly, as one mentor said, “Learn to be uncomfortable.”
Being multi-platform means making digital content a priority – tweeting from workshops, going ‘live’ on Facebook whenever possible and producing web-only content for the website. The future of this industry points in that direction, mentors said.
It’s a valuable lesson for all of us – both aspiring and experienced journalists. The student program prepared us to take on the additional responsibilities for modern journalists. News no longer caters to press time or broadcast time; news caters to consumer demand.
Although I worked mostly in the broadcast section, I still had obligations to the print and web editions. No matter what platform I was working on, live-tweeting during our day was also critical – and the mentors were watching closely.
The NABJ-NAHJ mentors are patient, selfless people with a genuine desire to help us learn and grow. They have all succeeded in the industry, and now hope to pass on their success to students. It was so rewarding to hear their advice.
The opportunity to network with hundreds of media outlets and companies was also so rewarding. It’s not often companies are willing to review a demo reel or clips and offer valuable advice for improvement.
It’s a venue most journalists would love to be in – a chance to be in the same room as top company recruiters and media influencers. It’s not every day a general manager passes out business cards to a room full of students.
“I’m a GM now, but one day I hope to run a media company or media empire,” said Kristie Gonzales, president and general manager of KVUE in Austin, Texas. “I hope to have some of you awesome people working for me.”
Outside the convention hall, the NABJ-NAHJ student project gave me the opportunity to improve my demo reel and work on news packages on tight deadlines. I also had the honor of co-anchoring the Wednesday night NABJ-NAHJ broadcast at WJLA, the ABC-affiliate station in Washington D.C.
Thanks to this incredible fellowship, I’m now in Las Vegas ready to participate in the AAJA student project. I’m eager to meet more ambitious young journalists and professional mentors.
It’s a very special feeling to be able to tell a news director in Washington D.C., “See you at AAJA.”
Thank you, UNITY.