For the past 11 months, I’ve been working with AAJA’s national leadership team and programming chair to build out programming for our annual convention.
I was thrilled to have been tapped by this opportunity, especially given my work curating a diverse web journalism speakers list. My goals from the outset were to increase the diversity of the speakers, including getting more young speakers on sessions and panels.
Our speaker list is published here.
Major caveat: being a group of journalists of color, we were at a somewhat natural advantage. Still, in years past, I’ve been disappointed by the lack of diversity represented at some of the conference sessions.
How do we inspire the next generation of journalists to embrace diversity and become advocates when we’re trotting out panels that don’t reflect our mission?
We invited an AAJA member to lead every single session, which means we’re highlighting the amazing work our members do all year and makes them more seasoned speakers to be poached by other conferences.
In addition to racial diversity, our attendees will see an impressive array of gender and age. There are more than 27 sessions that are being led by women. At least 15 speakers are well under age 30 and more than a few are first-time speakers.
We were clear that diversity was a priority when we invited our members to lead sessions: “While every speaker does not need to be Asian or a member of AAJA, we encourage you to consider racial, gender and age diversity as you seek panelists for your session.”
I attended Spark Camp last year and really love their method of inviting half their guests, then having their chosen guests invite another guest to ensure they’re reaching an audience that goes beyond the pool of “usual suspects.” I’m also a fan of Deanna Zandt’s #one4one campaign to raise the profile of digital influencers from all backgrounds.
Next year for AAJA programming, I’m hoping to incorporate these concepts in our call for proposals. Maybe make it mandatory that for every session someone pitches, they would need to include a suggested speaker who is a student, recent graduate or emerging star — someone full of potential that our organization should be encouraging to grow as a speaker.
Through this process, I’ve been incredibly inspired by the work being done by and conversations I’ve had with Jeanne Brooks and Lisa Williams at the Online News Association, as well as Tiffany Shackelford at the Association of Alt Weeklies.
Our conference in New York City is just a few weeks away. I hope our AAJA members gain great value from the speakers we’ve assembled. I’m looking forward to getting the feedback and working again next year to make the programming even stronger for 2014.
I’m part of a community called the Tech Lady Mafia, and this topic of diversifying conferences comes up often. This post has been adapted from emails I’ve sent contributing to those conversations.
This interview is absolutely a must-read. Baratunde Thurston offers up some great advice on diversifying the news and newsrooms.
Just one of the great pieces of advice AAJA’s Tom Huang gives to young journalists in his open letter to us on Poynter.
It’s a great read and great advice to keep in mind.
A little more than a year ago, we started diversify.journalismwith.me as a way to encourage journalism conference and workshop organizers to diversify their panels.
We were inspired when Retha Hill asked, Why Are New Media Conferences Lacking In Minorities? in a blog on PBS Media Shift.
Since then, we’ve worked to curate more than 130 journalists from UNITY orgs, journalists from across disciplines who rock, and belong on panels and in “save journalism” conversations.
We’re always continuing to add to the list. Nominate yourself and others here.
So, if you’re planning a convention, if you’re up-voting in the ONA Session Selector (which closes soon!), if you’re pitching panels for UNITY, NABJ, Excellence in Journalism or a local convention, keep diversity in mind.
Change the conversation and make it better.
Leaders of AAJA moved quickly to address questions from membership after the recent decision of NABJ leadership to leave the UNITY journalists alliance.
Some tweets from today’s conference call:
My big takeaway from Thursday’s mid-winter mixer for ThreeSixty Journalism? Get inspired. If you’re not excited about the future of journalism because of the work that YOU are doing, anyone could at least get excited about the work these amazing students are doing.
Pictured: good friend, former Minnesota Daily colleague, and ThreeSixty alum Ibrahim Hirsi, telling the story (via video) of how a high school journalism program planted a seed, that led him to found his own high school newspaper, work for his college paper, and win high profile internships.
I continue to attend ThreeSixty events and volunteer with the program every chance I get — not only because it gave me my start and created opportunities I never dreamed of — because this program is changing the future of journalism. Everyday.
Here’s my shameless pitch: Please consider supporting a program like ThreeSixty in your own community. My #jcarn entry for this month was based around arming teens and students with great journalism skills, and that’s because I see it working with ThreeSixty.
Do all the alumni become journalists? No. But many of them take the communication skills, the inquisitive thinking, and the great belief in communities and do great things.
Four of my 2002 classmates were at the mixer last week (one via video). Nine years later, two of us are in traditional journalism, one writes at the Minnesota Legislature, one works for a Minnesota Senator’s office, and one works with a charter school.
So please. Consider volunteering with students in journalism. What’s the worst that could happen?