Medill students learn from annual national journalism conventions

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Russell Leung/The North West Daily

2022 Asian American Journalist Association Convention. This summer, several Medill students attended national journalism conventions to learn from peers and industry leaders with similar identities and backgrounds.

When Medill freshman Angela Zhang finished her freshman year of college, she had all the basics of journalism under her belt. Without professional experience, she says she does not know which paths to explore.

Spending the summer in Los Angeles provided the perfect opportunity to attend the Asian American Journalists Association’s first in-person national convention in three years, July 27-30, which centered around the theme “Owning our stories”.

“After my freshman year at Medill, I was kind of in a black hole,” Zhang said. “I wrote this to myself: ‘My goal here is not necessarily to force interactions, but to let my curiosity take me wherever it is.'”

Zhang was one of many Medill students to attend journalism conventions for various professional affinity groups this summer. The conventions provided journalists of all levels with opportunities such as workshops, panels, career development and networking in a variety of journalism specializations.

Zhang said a panel that tagged her was “The Virus of Racism: The Next Step in the Fight against AAPI Hate.”

She said she learned that despite journalism’s standard of objectivity, Asian American journalists could still retain their humanity and have an opinion, especially when healing from trauma.

“You look around and see reporters from so many different histories, so many different identities, but at the same time all connected to this space and the questions posed to the panelists,” Zhang said. “It was a really powerful moment.”

Medill junior Julia Richardson spent early August attending the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists national convention and job fair in Las Vegas , which centered around the theme “Changing the Game”.

She said she enjoys networking and attending broadcast journalism workshops.

“It was cool to see people I’ve been watching on TV for so long, even people I kinda know but (didn’t) really get to talk to, or mutuals through social media “, said Richardson. “The camaraderie was really special.”

While she hopes to pursue broadcast journalism in a local market, she said she appreciates the panelists’ honesty about navigating the field as a woman of color.

Being in a space with people who looked like her and who spoke honestly about their career paths allowed her to experience the realities of what she might face later, she said.

“Being a person of color, you don’t always go into newsrooms and see a ton of people who look like you,” Richardson said. “It was really cool to look around and see that so many people like me want to do the same things and have the same goals.”

Medill sophomore Brendan Le said having a space where journalists of color could feel comfortable is one of the reasons AAJA’s NU student chapter, Asian American Student Journalists, was created.

Since the chapter’s revitalization at Spring Quarter, Le said he and the board have promoted the AAJA convention as an opportunity for students to meet other Asian American industry journalists.

“The idea came from a lack of space for Asian American journalists to have a discussion about journalism from their perspective,” Le said. “In the classroom, we’re often so limited in what we can talk about, especially in terms of who journalism is and how being Asian American plays into our coverage and the events that affect us. involve.”

Richardson said after the convention, she spent time reflecting and unwinding about everything she had learned.

Although this year’s convention seemed weaker as a rising senior, she said next year might be a different story.

“Hopefully knocking on wood, I’ll have a job this time next year,” Richardson said. “(The convention) felt more like a good training ground for what was to come.”

Zhang said she thought she had a better idea of ​​the journalistic avenues she wanted to explore, like the intersection of data visualization and art.

Her biggest takeaway is to pursue what speaks to her heart — something she said she wanted to continue nurturing during her time at NU and share as a future peer counselor.

“One thing I realized is that it’s possible as an Asian American in this field to venture out and be your own director and own your narrative,” Zhang said. . “I want to share that spirit with other students and other people who might share some of the identities that I have or don’t have, and that in itself is part of what I think storytelling is really about.”

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @jennajwang

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