The National Association of Hispanic Journalists and National Association of Black Journalists are officially working together after executive directors signed Friday an agreement to plan a joint convention in 2016.The convention will be the first to be solely organized by NAHJ and NABJ and has the possibility of being the largest for minority journalists since UNITY in 2012. “(We) have started a journey,” said NAHJ President Hugo Balta.Meanwhile, UNITY President David Steinberg is making rounds to all the minority journalism conventions this summer to help determine if the group should host a convention in 2016.“We are talking to folks to see what makes the most sense,” Steinberg said. UNITY consists of the Native American Journalists Association, Asian American Journalists Association and National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Both NAHJ and NABJ are former members of UNITY and left after citing governance and financial reasons.
“We’re very proud now to work at a national convention that will first and foremost be beneficial to our members,” Balta said.The details of the two groups’ joint venture needs to be worked out, but if successful it will save on costs and create increased networking opportunities for journalists and recruiters.When and where the convention will be held is still in question, however, both of the organizations’ presidents have said they are considering Washington, D.C., or a battleground state during the presidential election year. The hope is to host candidates at the convention.“For partners, it’s going to be a one-stop shop,” said NABJ President Bob Butler. “They’re going to be here, they’re going to find the people they need, and they can’t say we can’t find qualified people.”In 2008, when both NABJ and NAHJ were part of UNITY, about 6,665 people attended the UNITY conference, as reported by Unitynews.org.In 2012, without NABJ, about 2,000 people attended the conference. About 2,150 people attended this year’s NABJ conference, according to Butler. About 800 people are attending the NAHJ convention this year.“If I was a presidential candidate, I’d probably want to talk to 4,000 journalists,” Butler said. Cost will be a major factor in the feasibility of the joint convention.If the convention is not profitable for both organizations, Butler has said the convention won’t happen.Madeline Baró, an associate director of media relations for Florida International University in Miami, said she’d consider attending the joint conference in 2016.“My family is from Cuba, I’m of African descent, so of course I identify with both organizations and the goals of both organizations,” Baró, who has been a member of NABJ and NAHJ at different times, said.NAHJ and NABJ board members expect to announce more information about the joint convention by the end of the year.