Conferences every student journalist should attend

FAMU students at the National Association of Black Journalists. Photo courtesy Instagram @famusjgc82

Captivating innovations are taking the field by storm, minorities are rising as stakeholders in front of and behind the camera, and a new digital world is emerging full force.

In an industry driven by competitiveness, many senior journalists believe it is important to absorb all the opportunities afforded to student journalists – especially the ones outside the classroom.

Conferences are seen by many as the go-to arena to accomplish just that. Across the nation, leading newsroom associations and data analyst executives alike host thousands of annual conferences specifically tailored to give student journalists the experience of a lifetime.

Networking opportunities and revolutionary technology are made accessible under one roof, giving college students a preview of the field that awaits them after graduation.

Journalists from historically black colleges or universities are often known to travel to the annual National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) convention.

Taking place from July 8 until July 12, the four-day convention and career fair connects young professionals with workshops that caters towards the necessity of African Americans in the workplace and with career opportunities that are appreciative of diversification.

Raiyana Malone recounts how gratifying her experience was from her attendance last year.

“I was in awe about the amount of people that genuinely want you to succeed. It was amazing to be a part of that. It is inspiring to say the least,” said the third year Broadcast Journalism student, who also serves as secretary for the FAMU chapter of the Association of Black Journalists.

As the largest organization of journalists of color in the nation, NABJ also serves as a hub for the ultimate networking with exemplary African American media professionals whose experiences are tools for navigating the field.

Due to the opportunities that will be present at this year’s convention in Washington, D.C., Malone urges all attendees to prepare to be diligent in their networking. Familiarizing yourself with media professionals who you admire, especially FAMU alum who are eager to offer jobs to fellow rattlers, is her key advice. She said, “Know the conference schedule like the back of your hand. You should know where you want to go and who you want to see.”

If a conference in D.C. isn’t one’s cup of tea, Atlanta host opportunities with the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). Beginning on October 24, journalists can attend the Region 3 SPJ conference to hone in on their journalistic skills.

According to, attendees will be offered workshops that “cover writing, reporting, editing as well as broader topics of ethics and freedom of information.”

SPJ’s mission focuses on teaching ethical practices which is something that senior broadcast journalism student, Alexis Hamilton, admires.

As president of the FAMU SPJ chapter, Hamilton vouches for the conferences’ genuine goal of educating the attendees on properly maximizing their skills.

“If you’re interested in networking and learning more about being an ethical journalist, this is a great place to start,” says Hamilton.

Last, but certainly not least, the Online News Association (ONA) Conference in late September is a full-fledged tour of digital journalism. Since its inception, the digital sector of journalism rolls out advancements in technology that don’t always trickle down to the classroom.

“ONA gives journalism an outlet to advance with new technology,” said Aiyana Ishmael, the ONA student representative. “You’re hanging out with the next set of groundbreakers and wavemakers, so it is a major opportunity.”

Ishmael says she understands how intimidating attending conferences, when career opportunities have predominantly white executives, can be for HBCU students.

“We, especially as black people, need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. No matter how afraid or uncomfortable you are, go into these rooms. They need us there and want us there. If you take the first step. That’s half the battle,” said Ishmael.

She believes taking the first step into these rooms starts with having the courage to use these conferences to empower your career as a journalist.

More information on attending these conferences can be found at,, and