5 ways to get the most out of the next journalism conference

By Luis Gomez:

Conferences are opportunities to meet like-minded journalists, find jobs, learn new skills or simply recharge your batteries.

Life in a newsroom often revolves around chasing stories, finding sources, producing and packaging a segment, and ultimately meeting those deadlines. And when you account all the hours in the day, odds are you will not get much of an opportunity to learn a new set of skills every month or even every year.

Yet, career growth in journalism depends on acquiring new skills and staying relevant. Coding, video editing, or even solid writing are just a number skills most newsrooms seek in journalists today; they represent a foot in the door or one step above in the career ladder.

One solution: Attend a conference!

Journalism conferences offer access to workshops, insightful people, job opportunities, and that reassuring sensation that everything will be okay because now you know how to work with Google’s Fusion Tables. Everyone has a unique experience, we all walk away with different things.

Not sure where to start? Feel free to try any of these exercises at the next conference you attend: (Plus, I’ll share a list of upcoming conferences in California below.)

  1. Plan ahead: Sign up to a conference with intention—know why you want to attend, whether it is to meet a number of specific people or attend a workshop. Look at the full schedule and plan your day accordingly. Use the time gaps between workshops to mingle or schedule a lunch/coffee/beer meeting with someone. Try this tip: Email someone you want to meet ahead of time, preferably before the conference begins, and ask to pick their brain.
  2. Carry a notepad: Take notes, take notes, take notes at all times. Nothing says you’re truly invested in what people have to say like taking notes while they talk. Yes, conferences are like classrooms and you will benefit from writing down information. Try this tip: Use your notepad to write down notes about someone new you met, whether it’s about where they work or what they do.
  3. Ask questions: Stick around after a session, ask questions to the presenters, ask questions to the organizers. Walk around the booths, ask questions. Spend every hour asking questions. And take down notes. Try this tip: Here’s some good questions to ask someone you meet: What are the pressing challenges in your newsroom and how would you solve them? What will be the journalism jobs in 10 or 15 years? If you could run your own newsroom, which existing brands would you emulate and why?
  4. Mingle, mingle, mingle: Rub shoulders with strangers. And if that’s not your thing, recruit someone you know to help make an introduction. It is perfectly OK to leverage anything (food, drinks, people, anything) to start a conversation with a stranger. Try this tip: Arrive early for a workshop, stand by the door and hand out your business cards and introduce yourself with a handshake. People will remember you for being bold and proactive.
  5. Keep in touch: After it’s all said and done, you will have walked away with a renewed sense of purpose in your career not just in the skills yo pick up but also in the people you meet. Follow up with those people you met and maintain those relationships. Try this tip: Make your follow-up email short and interesting, add a GIF or a scenic photo of where you live. It adds a personal touch and makes you stand out.

Now to the good part. Here’s a list of upcoming journalism conferences in California where you can try any of the above tips:

  • V3con (AAJA-Los Angeles) June 26 to 27 in Los Angeles, CA
  • AEJMC 15 (Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication) Aug. 6 to 9 in San Francisco, CA
  • AAJA National Convention (Asian American Journalism Association) Aug. 12 to 15 in San Francisco, CA
  • Coming Home (National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association) Sept. 3 to 6 in San Francisco, CA
  • ONA15 (Online News Association) Sept. 24 to 26 in Los Angeles, CA
  • ASNE-APME 15 (American Society of News Editors) Oct. 16 to 18 in Palo Alto, CA

Also, across the country:

  • NABJ Conference (National Association of Black Journalists) takes place Aug. 5 to Aug. 9 in Minneapolis, MN.
  • Excellence in Journalism (National Association of Hispanic Journalists) Sept. 18 to 20 in Orlando, FL
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CNN reporters, CSUN student winners of CCNMA’s 16th Ruben Salazar Awards

CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California today announced the winners of its 16th Ruben Salazar Journalism Awards recognizing work published or broadcast in California that exemplifies journalistic excellence while contributing to a better understanding of Latinos.

Michael Martinez, CNN Newsdesk Editor & Writer

Michael Martinez, CNN Newsdesk Editor & Writer

Michael Martinez and Jaqueline Hurtado of CNN Digital and CNN en Español have won in the Print/Online category for their story “Generation Gap: Renewed Ties Expose Painful Cuban-American Rift.”

The story focuses on how Cuban-Americans are now a divided people and are evenly split nationwide about President Barack Obama’s announcement to normalize relations with Cuba.

Jaqueline Hurtado, CNNE All Platform Journalist

Jaqueline Hurtado, CNNE All Platform Journalist

The judges said: “In the past, the news media tended to portray the Cuban American community as being single-mindedly against restoring ties with Cuba.

The article contributes to a better understanding of the Cuban American community, which is becoming increasingly diverse in its views

The winner in the Student category is Alex Cory, a graduating senior at California State University, Northridge, for his story “CSUs Lag Behind UCs in Creating ‘Dream Centers.’ ”

Alex Corey, graduating senior from California State University, Northridge

Alex Corey, graduating senior from California State University, Northridge

The story looks at the slow progress of creating centers to help undocumented students at CSU and community college systems, which serve the bulk of undocumented students in California.

The judges said: “A strong news hook, a nice anecdote to lead into the larger issue and charts galore….The reporter also shows a graceful ability with words. A really fine story.”

There were no winners this year in the TV, Radio, Photography or Commentary categories.

The awards are named after the late Ruben Salazar, who at the time of his death in 1970 was a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and news director of Spanish-language television station KMEX.

The awards will be formally presented at CCNMA’s 35th Scholarship Banquet on June 5, 2015, at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. The honorees that night will be Magdalena Beltran-del Olmo, retired executive with The California Wellness Foundation; Juan Esparza Loera, editor of Vida en el Valle in Fresno; and Celina Rodriguez, who hosts a show on KZSF 1370 AM in San Jose.

CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization founded in 1972. The group is dedicated to the advancement of Latino journalists and to fostering fair and accurate portrayals of Latinos in the news media.

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#CCNMA4Diversity: Support CCNMA’s mission with your ticket to the annual scholarship banquet

Attendees applaud honoree Tony Valdez, reporter for Fox 11 News, at the CCNMA Scholarship Banquet on May 30, 2014.

Attendees applaud honoree Tony Valdez, reporter for Fox 11 News, at the 2014 CCNMA Scholarship Banquet.

CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California will honor two veteran journalists and a longtime supporter at its 35th Scholarship Banquet on June 5, 2015, at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles (506 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles). A no host cocktail reception begins at 5:30 p.m. Program and dinner start at 7 p.m.

The honorees are Celina Rodriguez, a longtime broadcaster in San Jose; Juan Esparza Loera, editor of Vida en el Valle in Fresno; and Magdalena Beltran-del Olmo, recently retired from The California Wellness Foundation.

“Honoring Magdalena Beltran-del Olmo is well-deserved,” said Julio Moran, executive director of CCNMA. “She started out on the CCNMA staff, worked in public relations and marketing, and while at The California Wellness Foundation was instrumental in awarding CCNMA thousands of dollars in grants and sponsorships.

“Celina and Juan may not be well-known in Southern California, but both are longtime journalists who have fought to make sure that Latinos stories and issues of concern to Latinos are told.”

The recipients of 2015 CCNMA scholarships also will be announced at the dinner. CCNMA has awarded more than $850,000 to more than 850 students since 1978.

The winners of CCNMA’s 16th Ruben Salazar Journalism Awards, which recognize work published or broadcast in California that exemplifies journalistic excellence while contributing to a better understanding of Latinos, will also be presented at the Banquet.

CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California, formerly known as the California Chicano News Media Association, is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization founded in 1972 and is the oldest organization of journalists of color in the country. The group is dedicated to the advancement of Latino journalists and to fostering fair and accurate portrayals of Latinos in the news media.

Tickets for the dinner are $200 each, but CCNMA members in good standing may purchase up to two tickets for $100 each. Tables of 10 are $2,000. Tickets may be purchased by check or credit card by calling the CCNMA office at (424) 229-9482, or via PayPal below.

CCNMA Banquet

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Tour Santa Catalina Island with CCNMA

Photo by Daniel A. Anderson/@DAAPhotography

Photo by Daniel A. Anderson/@DAAPhotography

On Saturday, May 9, join CCNMA on an exclusive sea cruise and tour of Santa Catalina Island. Catalina Express has offered to transport CCNMA and a select number of people to and from the resort community of Avalon.

THE TRIP: On Saturday, May 9, we will depart Long Beach at 10 a.m. and arrive in Avalon at about 11 a.m. Please note Catalina Express advises that participants arrive at the terminal at least 1 hour in advance.

We will then be shuttled to the Catalina Island Museum by golf carts driven by museum personnel for a tour of the existing Catalina Island Museum and the adjacent new $6-million museum, which is still under construction. This 1-hour tour will be led by museum officials, and will end with snacks and wine.

Later, we’ll board Catalina Conservancy buses for a ride to the scenic Wrigley Gardens and a mountain-top trail head with panoramic views of Avalon and its cozy harbor.

The buses will get us back to Avalon by 3 p.m., which will provide a few hours time to roam Avalon’s boutiques, bars, restaurants and piers before our boat departs Avalon back to Long Beach at 6 p.m.

DEPARTURE: We are scheduled to leave Avalon at 6 p.m., arriving back in Long Beach by 7 p.m.However, participants will have plenty of time to change their tickets to leave Avalon on the 3:45 p.m.boat back to Long Beach, if they wish to.

THE COST: Roundtrip is just $16. Trip is free if you become a CCNMA member today.

Please note participants will also need to pay for parking at the Catalina Express Terminal’s parking garage, located at 320 Golden Shore, Long Beach. Please call 310-519-1212 for more information about parking and directions.

This trip is intended for professional journalists only. Please email to RSVP. Space is limited. 

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DEADLINE EXTENSION: 2015 Ruben Salazar Journalism Awards

UPDATE April 18: Didn’t have a chance to submit your Ruben Salazar Application? There’s more time to do so. We’ve extended the deadline to April 27. Submit your application online.

CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California is proud to announce the 16th Ruben Salazar Journalism Awards competition to recognize stories and photographs that exemplify journalism excellence while contributing to a better understanding of Latinos in the United States by portraying Latinos fairly and accurately, including general stories affecting the Latino community.

Awards will be presented in each of five categories: Print/Online, Television, Radio, Commentary, and Print Photography. The competition is not limited to CCNMA members or to Latinos, but the stories must have been published or broadcast in California between Jan. 1, 2014, to Dec. 31, 2014. Commentary may be in print, online, radio or television.

The awards are named after the late Ruben Salazar, who at the time of his death in 1970 was a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and news director of Spanish-language television station KMEX in Los Angeles. Salazar was covering the Chicano anti-Vietnam War Moratorium in East Los Angeles when a tear gas projectile fired by a Sheriff’s deputy killed him.

Salazar had a keen sense of perspective and introspective in providing insight into the Latino community. As the Los Angeles Times eulogized him, Salazar was “sometimes an angry man as he observed the inequities around him, yet he spoke out with a calm vigor that made his words all the more impressive and influential.”

That is the type of journalism that we want to recognize.

Winners will be recognized at the annual 2015 CCNMA Scholarship Banquet in June.

For a contest entry form with contest rules please click here.

I hope you will participate in helping us recognize the coverage of Latinos as an integral part of daily journalism in California.


Julio Moran
Executive Director

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