NABJ and NAHJ reunite in Las Vegas two years since pandemic’s start

After two years of pandemic disruptions, Black and Latino journalists from across the country will reunite in Las Vegas for their first joint in-person conference since 2016. 

Many are thrilled to connect face-to-face after virtual conferences in 2020 and 2021, and early numbers show registration for the 2022 NABJ-NAHJ Convention and Career Fair is higher than anticipated. 

That’s despite changes to on-site registration and extra coronavirus precautions. Attendees are required to be fully vaccinated and wear masks at all times.   

“Early numbers have been exceeding our expectations. We are almost beyond capacity,” said David Peña, NAHJ executive director. “When those numbers come out, I think everybody will be quite surprised. But it’s all part of the excitement of people wanting to be back as a community.” 

This year, the convention brings together familiar faces, some who met for the first time over screens. NAHJ student representative Jorge Flores, who works at Telemundo 20 in San Diego, attended his first convention virtually during the pandemic. He says attending the convention in person can really help attendees find their dream job.

“I’m very excited that being in person is really going to make a big difference to connect and network with professionals,” said Jorge Flores, an NAHJ student representative.  

The Las Vegas Strip lighted up as he NABJ/NAHJ 2022 Convention gets underway in Las Vegas, Nev., on Tuesday, August 2, 2022.

And like most years, it will bring together first-time attendees looking to launch their career.

Juan Daniel Avila, a recent San Diego State University graduate, has always wanted to become a sports journalist. 

“As a graduate student, the one thing you want to pursue is a job, and obviously, learning as much as possible about the journalism field,” said Avila. 

Avila is a DACA recipient and is driven to use the convention to reach that goal. During his senior year, he joined the NAHJ SDSU student chapter. He said it helped him gain confidence of becoming a sports journalist. Avila is also excited to attend his first convention in Las Vegas where Latinos are well represented — something he doesn’t see in newsrooms. 

NABJ member Keristen Holmes said she’s excited to be back with her peers. She’s never missed a convention since her first one in 2016, which has held jointly with NAHJ. She is ready to come back in-person to see her NABJ family, as well as helping graduated students achieve their dreams.

“I remember my first convention and before that I used to tell people, ‘why would I take time off work to go talk about work?’ “ Holmes said. “Now it’s the revival in my career that I need every year. It’s the reunion that I need with my colleagues and friends from all across the country.”

Karina Bazarte graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelors in journalism and minor in Spanish. She is currently an intern for CBS 8 San Diego and is pursuing her career in broadcast journalism and podcasting. Reach her at email karinab619 [at] gmail [dot] com and on Twitter @KBazarte.

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