Northwestern students attend annual journalism conferences virtually


Illustration by Carly Schulman

Journalism students and faculty alike Zoomed into three national conferences that offer opportunities for professional networking and career advancement.

Maria Ximena Aragon, Assistant Web Editor

Through Animal Crossing meet-ups and interactions over social media with their journalism heroes, Northwestern student journalists attended virtual conferences in a step towards career advancement.

In early August, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, National Association of Black Journalists and Asian American Journalists Association held their annual conferences online for the first time due to the pandemic. Between workshops, panel discussions and professional networking opportunities, NU students were among thousands in attendance.

Medill junior Gia Yetikyel, a former Daily contributor, attended the joint NAHJ-NABJ conference that ran in early August and was originally scheduled to be held in Washington, D.C.

“I kind of expected it wouldn’t be the same because virtual just feels like a two-dimensional version of anything,” Yetikyel said. “I must say they really did an excellent job of getting great speakers and great panels ― they really wanted people to get involved, especially with the student workshop.”

Her years of networking with NBC officials and taking headshots did not entirely translate to a virtual setting, but Yetikyel said she was able to connect with professionals she wouldn’t have had the chance to meet in person. Messaging NBC News Correspondent Gadi Schwartz through Zoom and receiving a comment from him on her Instagram post were experiences that Yetikyel described as highlights of her year.

Registration costed $105 per member for the NAHJ/NABJ conference and $50 for the AAJA conference. The Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications offered qualifying students reimbursements for attending.

Medill junior David Deloso, who joined AAJA in April, was debating whether he should attend the conference until Medill offered to reimburse the cost.

The AAJA conference also provided workshops and programming ranging from “Multimedia Journalism in a Time of Social Distancing” to “Why It’s Important To Cover Pacific Islander Communities.”

AAJA also offered some social opportunities such as film screenings, pre-recorded karaoke and Animal Crossing meetups. Deloso said he used the conference to find people with similar interests and set up one-on-one appointments.

“My specific interests in journalism are a bit niche, and finding a broader world of people who are interested in the same things as me was really eye-opening,” Deloso said.

The opportunity for student journalists of color to expand their professional network beyond NU is an experience Medill Prof. Mei-Ling Hopgood credits her career to. Professional organizations like AAJA, NAHJ and NABJ have been “so influential” in her life, Hopgood said, which is why she urges her own students to join them.

As the industry continues to grapple with the effects of working remotely, conversations surrounding diversity and truth at professional conferences have become essential for both NU students and professionals alike.

“We have this steep learning curve in the industry going on about coverage, reporting, editing and producing in this environment,” Hopgood said. “We’re all learning together and the power of being part of those conversations is so important.”

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Twitter: @menitaaragon

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