NAHJ Convention in San Antonio, TX
On Wednesday, August 6, I flew to San Antonio, Texas with one of my good friends, Keeley Ibrahim for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists conference. The flight was pretty long, but it was well worth it. By the time we left the airport, I immediately fell in love. It was 9:00 pm and it was about 95°, how could you not love that! Being in NYC all Summer, I’ll be honest I was a little worried about the weather since so many people have told me it’s sweltering hot but it was perfect. Even at 9:00 am it was warm but with a nice breeze. My friend and I found a great deal on Groupon and stayed at the Wyndham San Antonio Riverwalk. Our package deal included breakfast and it was a deluxe two-queen room, check out the photo below. We were on the 12th floor with a beautiful view of the pool and River Walk.
Once we dropped our bags, we didn’t waste any time and started to sightsee. Our hotel was only a few steps away from the River Walk which is really a river walk. I felt as if I was in Venice, Italy, there were river boats with tours day and night, restaurants, hotels, lounges and tourist shops lining the entire walk. Throughout the walk there were also stunning waterfalls, big and small, in certain areas there were stairs to the upper level of the walk and of course my favorite, ice cream shops! After a long walk we stopped at Ben & Jerry’s for some ice cream because on a weekday most places in that area closed by 11:00 PM. The following day, we woke up bright and early for the convention. Our first stop was the Media and Career Expo where exhibitors and recruiters met with a number of freelancers, students, journalists and others for networking and job opportunities. Companies such as, ABC, ESPN, Telemundo, Univision, CNN and much more were on hand to offer resume critiques, meet individually with those who were interested in the company and offer their career advice.
The photo on the right was the “You’re Hired. Now What?” workshop. From left to right: Paul Alexander, News Director at KRIS-TV, Diana Fuentes, Editor at San Antonio Express-News, Mónica Diaz, VP of Diversity Inclusion & Wellness at ESPN, Carolina Astrain, Reporter at Victoria Advocate and Polo Sandoval, National Correspondent at CNN.
For the next 3 days we attended workshops like “The 4 Under 40 Journalism Superstars You Need to Meet,” “You’re Hired. Now What?,” and “How to be a Multimedia Journalist Superstar.” These were just some of the workshops we attended but all workshops were so informative and everyone gave great advice. Each journalist spoke about how they began in the industry, mistakes they made along the way and how they continue to strive in the company they’re in. It was also great to meet with panelists one-on-one, they were all so helpful and eager to assist everyone attending the panel. After the workshops, we took a break and had a fun photoshoot with Toyota, who was the Title Sponsor for the NAHJ convention.
We even had the opportunity to attend the “NAHJ Newsmakers Luncheon,” which was one memorable night. During the luncheon there was a panel discussion about the importance of diversity in the newsroom. Alex Nogales, President & CEO at Hispanic Media Coalition and MSNBC President Phil Griffin were part of the panel that was moderated by Univision anchor, Enrique Acevedo. Many of you might remember MSNBC’s Cinco de Mayo segment where Way Too Early host, Thomas Roberts talked about the origins of Cinco de Mayo and Morning Joe producer, Louis Burgdorf wore a sombrero, pretended to drink Tequila and shaking maracas while on the air. You can watch the clip here. Griffin publicly apologized to NAHJ and even answered tough questions from attendees. “I apologize to everybody in this room for what took place on May 5,” he said. Griffin also agreed to hold a meeting with prospective Hispanic on-air talent. The entire discussion was definitely an interesting one and I’m glad Griffin agreed to come to NAHJ and apologize. It was brave and it was nice to hear what MSNBC’s plans are for the future. After the luncheon, Keeley and I met John Quiñones, the host of What Would You Do? on ABC. Keeley Ibrahim and I with John Quiñones, the host of What Would You Do?
On our last day in San Antonio, we got dressed up and headed to the NAHJ Hall of Fame Gala and Gran Baile. This was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. That night we celebrated 30 years of NAHJ. We learned about the history of NAHJ, honored the founders and media companies who are making a difference were given an award. Alex Pérez, correspondent of ABC News was the host and the keynote address was given by Julián Castro, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. NAHJ honored four media companies that evening, CNN, PBS, Fox News Latino and BuzzFeed. Also that night, after two years as NAHJ President, Hugo Balta said goodbye to the organization. The election results were announced and the new NAHJ President is Mekahlo Medina, the tech/social media anchor KNBC. The other winners are, Ivette Davila Richard will now be the VP of Broadcast, Rebecca Aguilar is VP Online, Ken Molestina is the At Large Officer and Yvonne Latty is the Academic Officer. To see the full list and find out more about the winners go to NAHJ.org.
After the results, Medina gave a great and inspiring speech. “When you head home and go back to work Monday morning I challenge you to stand up. To stand up for the stories that are important to the Latino community, be unafraid,” he said. “We are here, we are family, we are NAHJ and we believe in each and every one of you.” The NAHJ conference was one experience I’ll never forget. I learned so much and I met a number of successful journalists in the industry. Thank you NAHJ and see you next year!