Over 4,600 journalists descended on Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace hotel at the 2022 NABJ-NAHJ convention this week, shattering expectations for the conference, according to a National Association of Hispanic Journalists spokesperson. But it also caused capacity issues that left some standing during sessions and created waits to get into events.
The strong showing was even a surprise to Drew Berry, the executive director of the National Association of Black Journalists. This is the first in-person conference the organization has held with the NAHJ since 2016.
“This could end up being a record-breaking number of folks here,” Berry said. “It’s even grander than we expected.”
Despite some of the capacity issues, such as attendees listening to panelists from outside of rooms, Berry said he hasn’t received any complaints about room capacity.
Berry said he believes the oversold convention was due to the growth of the organizations over the last four years. Plus, many journalists expressed excitement to return in-person for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Jalea Brooks, an NABJ member attending her first joint conference, said networking with other journalists is the best part of the convention.
Brooks also noted the distances between panels and described them as challenging.
“It’s been hard trying to navigate the area since this is such a big hotel and on top of that trying to get to the panels on time,” she added.
Chelsea Jones attended the conference’s opening event where attendees needed to wait to enter because the event was overcapacity.
“It is crowded, it’s a little bit toasty,” she said. “This is such a big hotel.”
She added the distances between the panels have made it seem less crowded, but difficult to navigate and get to panels on time. Jones said she would’ve preferred a more centralized conference.
“I wish we didn’t have to walk what feels like miles to get to the career fair,” Jones said, who is attending her 5th NABJ conference. But the benefit of getting to connect with other journalists and learn outweighed the complications, Jones said.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misspelled the name of Drew Berry, the executive director of the National Association of Black journalists. The story has been updated.
Claudia Rivera Cotto is completing a masters degree in investigative journalism at the University of Missouri. She works as a teaching assistant for cross-cultural journalism as well as research assistant for the Watchdog Writers group. Reach her at claudia.riveracotto13 [at] gmail [dot] com and on Twitter at @claudiam_rivera.