For the second consecutive year, the two journalism majors attended the popular conference for Black journalists and news industry professionals. They traveled this summer to the historic Alabama city with Assistant Professor Karen Lindsey.
Nearly 4,000 Black journalists from across the country gathered in Birmingham, Alabama, in early August to learn and network at the 2023 National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Convention & Career Fair. The multi-day event included panel discussions, workshops and lectures where journalists discussed current trends in the news media, as well as the importance of the Black press.
Among those in attendance were several prominent School of Communications alumni, including Eugene Daniel ’11, Crystal Moyer ’11, Zora Stephenson ’15 and Emmanuel Morgan ’19. All four have enjoyed early career success, landing in positions with broadcast news, the NBA and The New York Times, respectively. Additionally, current students Chloe Franklin ’24 and Naomi Washington ’24 also attended this year’s convention, accompanied by Karen Lindsey, assistant professor of strategic communications.
For Franklin and Washington, this was their second straight year attending the NABJ conference – albeit this time there was no national interview.
Nonetheless, the journalism majors enjoyed their extensive access to current news professionals and insightful workshops on news writing and television production. They also attended a career fair and networked with journalists and media executives. Both students said they decided to attend the Birmingham NABJ conference because of how impactful their first trip was.
“After my first experience at the NABJ convention, I realized how crucial it was for me to go again because I am in my early career,” said Washington, who is serving as executive director of Elon News Network during the 2023-24 academic year. “Being able to make connections and go to sessions on how newsrooms work will help me lead Elon News Network. The other benefit of going is getting to visit a new city because the convention is somewhere different every year.”
Washington said she enjoyed a panel titled “Producing 101,” which featured top network producers who started their careers in local news before climbing the professional ladder. “It really assured me that everyone has to start somewhere, and with hard work, I can move up in this industry, too,” she said.
Lindsey, who was attending her first NABJ convention, left impressed with the programming, the shared insights, and the camaraderie she encountered. She reasoned it was an ideal setting for two aspiring news professionals like Franklin and Washington.
“The world of news and journalism continues to experience rapid change,” Lindsey said. “As these students approach their senior year it is even more important to spend time learning from and networking with industry professional and alumni.”
Washington said she left both conferences “feeling inspired by the incredible journalists who share the same identity as me.” Franklin echoed those sentiments, explaining that she could truly see herself in the working professionals in attendance.
“It is nice that there is a conference for Black journalists where I can feel seen and valued,” Franklin added.
While both students applauded the conference’s formal programming – and its benefits – Franklin and Washington agreed the highlight of the experience was their interactions with Elon alumni. The highpoint was a dinner with Daniel, Moyer, Stephenson and Morgan on the convention’s first night.
“The support they’ve given Chloe and me has been valuable,” Washington said. “My main takeaway from connecting with them was that we have the potential to be great journalists and all our hard work will pay off after graduation.”
Added Franklin, “It was amazing to talk to people who graduated from Elon in the School of Communications, hear about their Elon experience, and their time in the professional world, and receive their advice. There wasn’t just one conversation that left a lasting impression; the entire dinner left a lasting impression.”
While graduation is still a few months off, Franklin and Washington have already built impressive resumes. This past summer Franklin interned with KDFW-TV FOX 4 Dallas-Fort Worth, working with the affiliate’s digital team, assignment desk and reporters. She is working part-time this fall – her final full semester – as a content center producer at WSOC-TV Eyewitness News in Charlotte.
Not to be outdone, Washington completed her third internship with NBC News this summer, working out of the organization’s Washington, D.C., bureau. While in the nation’s capital, she assisted reporters and producers in the field, conducted research, and pitched stories for NBC Digital.