The National Association of Black Journalists came to Minneapolis celebrating its 40th anniversary.
The national convention held Aug. 5 – Aug. 9 brought media professionals from television, radio, newspaper, magazine and public relations to the area to network and address issues of concern to Black journalists and the African-American community at large. As a part of the convention, 28 high school students and college freshmen were invited to participate in JSHOP, the organization’s workshop designed to train the next generation of journalists.
Modeled after the association’s St. Louis chapter’s workshop, which was the first to offer student training, JSHOP trains students in broadcast, print and photography. Professionals from around the country volunteer to instruct JSHOP and students participate at no cost, minus any travel expenses. During intensive study, students are given real-world exercises and produce their own publication and broadcast reels.
JSHOP director, Russell LaCour – a reporter with the Tulsa (Okla.) World – said JSHOP might be the most important thing that the organization does.
“The real deal is we’re celebrating 40 years as an organization and some of the same needs are still not being corrected, so we feel that a good thing to do is to start training them early,” said LaCour, who has been the director of the program for the past four years.
While participants in the week-long workshop come from varying cities, most reside in and around the convention’s rotating host city. “We feel it’s a good way to leave our footprint on each city we visit,” said LaCour.
Sheryl Kennedy-Haydel, the co-director of JSHOP, said the workshop is vital and the need for the organization is still critical.
“When you talk about 40 years, a lot of people think time means progress and that’s not the case,” said Kennedy-Haydel, a mass communications professor at Xavier University in New Orleans. “In newsrooms throughout the country there’s still not a good representation of African-Americans – especially in leadership positions.”
“I’m getting life and career experience from what they’re (the instructors) giving us,” said Ernest Marshall, 16, of Kansas City. “I’m getting the basics and more and learning what I need to improve upon.”
Founded by 44 journalists in 1975, NABJ now has membership in the thousands and awards more than $100,000 annually in scholarships and internships. JSHOP is in its fifth year of operation. Next year’s convention and workshop takes place in Washington, D.C., the birthplace of the organization.