By Charlie Kadado
UNITY Reporting Fellow
There are three kinds of people who attend journalism conventions: those looking for jobs, those looking to hire and those reuniting with friends and former colleagues. Most conventions have a rather equal distribution, but at NLGJA, the number of reuniting friends proves just how small and connected the journalism industry really is.
The NLGJA convention, held from Sept. 8 to Sept. 10 in Miami Beach, Florida, is smaller, but it offers a chance for more intimate conversations and one-on-one opportunities with industry professionals. It’s a small, valuable network of friends – a nice change from the other larger, more chaotic conventions.
WATCH: This year, a network of 300 LGBTQ journalists attended the NLGJA national convention at the Ritz-Carlton in Miami Beach, Florida.
Admittedly, before the NLGJA convention, I didn’t know much about LGBTQ issues and terminology, mostly because I wasn’t exposed to LGBTQ events or organizations. I learned a great deal by listening to panelists talk about discrimination they’ve faced, or stories they felt were better told by NLGJA members.
Stories like the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting that killed 49 people, including Jonathan Camuy, an assistant producer at Telemundo, who died at 25. Many LGBTQ journalists put their personal emotions aside to prioritize objective and fair reporting that week.
But we also heard from journalists whose personal stories and reflections were valued and appreciated in many major newsrooms. LGBTQ journalists offered unique insight into victim stories – who they were, what they did and what they believed in.
NLGJA also became an important resource for journalists covering the tragedy. The day of the Pulse shooting, NLGJA offered tips and an online style book for journalists covering the deadliest attack against an LGBTQ community in the U.S.
That’s where NLGJA becomes a great resource for outsiders, like me. I learned that it’s better to ask questions than to write something (or say something) that is potentially inaccurate. I wasn’t familiar with certain acceptable pronouns for fellow NLGJA students. But I asked, I learned and I checked the NLGJA style book.
I also learned about the unique backgrounds of this year’s NLGJA student project participants and mentors. The mentors have diverse work experiences ranging from academia, to digital reporting, to management in some of America’s largest media companies.
They skipped a chance to enjoy the Miami sun to help us grow and learn new skills.
I learned to connect with everyone around me, because recruiters could be my future employer, fellow students could be my future colleagues and other networkers could be important long term contacts.
But most importantly, I learned new information about a thriving community that represents millions of diverse Americans of different ages, ethnic backgrounds, beliefs and religions. Those are valuable lessons for journalists who may not identify as LGBTQ, but can now understand the LGBTQ community before telling their stories.
Charlie Kadado is a junior broadcast journalism student at Wayne State University in Detroit. He is a member of the Journalism Institute for Media Diversity, a nationally-acclaimed honors program which promotes diversity and inclusion at WSU. Kadado currently works as a reporter for Shelby TV, the local news station in Macomb County, Mich., where he covers courts and breaking news. His professional experience includes working as the online editor for Lebanese Examiner, a multicultural publication for Lebanese Americans, where he helped grow its circulation by 25,000. He also covered the widely reported trash crisis and mass protests in Beirut in August 2015. Kadado developed an early interest in journalism in 2008 after working as a Kid Reporter for the New York-based Scholastic News. In his free time, he enjoys keeping up with daily news, traveling and photography. Kadado expects to graduate in winter 2017.