By Maya Pope-Chappell
Every year, thousands of black journalists descend on a major city in the U.S. to build skills, network and have fun. This year’s NABJ (National Association of Black Journalists) Convention was held in Tampa Florida and emphasized personal and professional reinvention in a rapidly changing industry. Just over 1900 people were in attendance at this years convention compared to 1700 in 2007*. Although numbers were up, attendance at the Career Fair were obviously slim.
Robert Naylor, the Director of Career Development for News at the Associated Press, took notice of the slim showing at the Career Fair.
“We usually come away with an excess of 120 or so,” Naylor said referring to the number of resumes that the Associated Press normally collects. “I think we’re probably on track this year to collect maybe 60 percent of that.”
During the Career Fair, many of the recruiters and attendees gave the same two reasons for the presumed lack of attendance: the tough economy and the massive amounts of layoffs. According to a survey from the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE), 5,900 newsroom jobs were cut last year. According to ASNE’s 2009 census, over 850 were minorities, 400 of which were black journalists, the largest decline in minority employment since the survey began in 1998.
During the Career Fair, which is one of the most sought after events during NABJ, I spoke to attendees about their thoughts on the minimal showing and how it may be an example of a larger issue facing the journalism industry. Watch and listen to what they had to say.
*2008 figure unavailable because UNITY replaced the NABJ Convention that year.