Why attend AAJA’s National Convention? Here are 6 reasons
by AAJA-Asia 2017 national convention goers
AAJA’s national convention “Rise & Revolutionize”, which took place between July 26 through 29 in Philadelphia, attracted around 850 attendees. The conference had something for everyone. It offered a full schedule with various programming tracks during the day and back-to-back networking events after hours for AAJA members.
The gala banquet keynote speakers were Eddie Huang, celebrity chef and author of Fresh Off the Boat, and Rich Cho, general manager of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.
Next year’s AAJA national convention will be in Houston in August 2018. Seven Asia members, who attended the Philadelphia conference, tell us why Asia chapter members should consider planning for next year’s convention.
- Connect and reconnect
Attending an AAJA convention is like “coming home”, says AAJA-Asia president Angie Lau (anchor for Bloomberg News in Hong Kong). She calls the convention a “giant family reunion” because AAJA members are your network “from getting advice to sharing advice.”
The national convention is an opportunity to “connect or reconnect”, says former Asia chapter president Ken Moritsugu (news director for Japan and the Koreas for AP). He says the convention puts him in touch “with other journalists, with American news media trends, with Asian American issues.”
- Find your support network
“You are only as strong as your support system and AAJA [unites] all of us,” says India-based Archith Seshadri (anchor for Wion News in New Delhi). He’s made it to 10 AAJA conventions so far.
Beijing-based Wendy Tang (freelance tech reporter) says networking at the conventions have helped her find her professional support base. “We meet once a year at the convention to catch up, discuss the industry and find new job opportunities,” she said.
- Sharpen your journalism skills
The national convention is a place to sharpen your professional skills. The convention is the “J-school I never went to,” says Seshadri.
Tokyo-based Jake Adelstein (investigative journalist) finds AAJA workshops helpful to his job. “This year the [Investigative Reporters and Editors] workshop on data on deadline was enormously useful in learning to better make use of Excel, to analyze data [and] make pivot tables,” he said.
- Be inspired, be energized
Moritsugu says he has learned from and has felt inspired by the experiences of others he’s met at conventions. “I always leave the convention smarter and re-energized about journalism and AAJA,” he said.
“My AAJA connections and the work of other [Asian American and Pacific Islander] journalists have continued to be an inspiration,” said Tang.
- Hang out. Enjoy!
The national convention is the only time of the year you get to see most AAJA members outside of your chapter and “you end up skipping regular convention programming because time flies when you’re catching up,” says Tokyo-based Yuri Nagano (senior reporter for Acuris/Mergermarket Group in Tokyo).
The karaoke night at the end of the convention “is always a wonderful way” to spend time “with my favorite AAJAers”, says Adelstein.
- Explore an unfamiliar city
Travelling to national conventions may mean learning about a new city for many of us.
“I love it when the AAJA national convention takes place in a city I’ve never visited before,” says HK-based Oanh Ha (Asia consumer and health news team leader, Bloomberg News) “It’s a great chance to meet local journalists from the city, understand the issues in that community and explore a part of the U.S. I’m not familiar with,” she said.
This year it was interesting to walk the historical sights of Philadelphia, where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed, said Nagano.
The 2018 national convention will take place at the Marriot Marquis Houston from August 8-11.
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