The NAHJ convention, which this year was held in Anaheim, CA in conjunction with SPJ and RTDNA as a way to curb the overhead and planning costs of putting on a national journalism conference, came to an end Monday night.
This is the third year SPJ and RTDNA have teamed up for the Excellence in Journalism conference, but NAHJ’s presence gave the 2013 event a bump in attendees, exhibitors and input on the programming schedule.
Digital media took center stage at the conference, with over 20 of the 54 sessions focusing on several aspects of digital and social media in journalism.
The programming of the convention was done jointly with NAHJ, to include sessions of specific interest to its members.
Among the highlights: Sebastien de la Cruz singing the national anthem during the NAHJ opening party on Saturday night, actress Eva Longoria moderating a panel on the impact of the Latino vote, and a special presentation of the PBS series “Latino Americans,” which premieres September 17. Actor Benjamin Bratt, who narrated the six-part documentary series and NewsHour senior correspondent Ray Suarez, who helped in the production of the series, and wrote the companion book for the documentary, led a panel discussion after the screening.
NAHJ also brought new booths to the EIJ floor, like ESPN and Telemundo, companies that were actively recruiting. This year, though, Univision was noticeably absent from the exhibit floor. Only sister network Fusion, set to launch on October 28 was present, sharing booth space with Disney/ABC. In 2012, EIJ had over 30 exhibitors. This year, they had over 50.
According to Chris Vachon, Associate Executive Director of SPJ and lead planner of the EIJ conference, there were 1450 pre-registered attendees. But by Sunday afternoon, that number rose to 1665 people, due to walk-in registrations. Last year, EIJ had 900 attendees.
Of those registered for the 2013 conference, 30% were SPJ, 10% from RTDNA and 30% from NAHJ. An additional 30% were non-members, many of whom were speakers and exhibitors.
On Monday, NAHJ held its membership meeting, during which financial officer Blanca Torres said the organization was in the black. But the meeting ended on a dramatic note, with NAHJ’s president, Hugo Balta, telling members that despite believing in the mission of UNITY, he was recommending the board consider the possibility of withdrawing from the minority umbrella organization.
“It’s not about the money. It’s about governance,” Hugo told the crowd. “We’re the second largest minority organization, yet we have been handcuffed in making decisions,” referring to the fact that NAHJ doesn’t have representatives on the UNITY board in proportion to its membership base, signaling it should have more reps than the smaller organizations currently sitting on the board. “When NABJ leaves, it has a direct financial impact in that organization [UNITY] and it should have forced change in the structure of the organization.”
Hugo said he has asked the board to look into the matter and make a decision by the end of the year. He later confirmed to Media Moves that he had spoken to past NABJ president Gregory Lee about the possibility of hosting a joint convention in either 2015 or 2016, and the reason for setting the December deadline for making a decision was because NABJ will vote on its 2015 convention in January. Hugo also confirmed he had talked to RTDNA leadership about teaming up with them for another EIJ conference.
You can read more details about the proposed break up talks in a story on the Latino Reporter.
The final evening wrapped up with the NAHJ gala and awards, where Gilbert Bailón, Editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and David González, a columnist and co-editor of the New York Times’ Lens blog, were inducted into the Hall of Fame and Joanna Hernandez received the President’s award.