Saturday, August 3, 2013

What happens at NABJ conferences: A story told in GIFs

The way you react when someone responds to your tweet that you're going to NABJ with a reply that NABJ is a racist organization and that nobody would allow the National Association of *White* Journalists to exist.

You walk in the place and are sad because you don't immediately see anyone you know

...but then you turn around the corner and you see somebody you've known since you were a toddler...hanging out with one of your friends from college...who's got an arm around a former co-worker...who's waving at a friend you met at the last NABJ conference.

How you know Atlanta and Los Angeles are in the house.

When you run into a former friend or ex.

When you're in the middle of a conversation and you see somebody come by in an entirely inappropriate (too tight/short/low cut/garish) ensemble.

Then you see one of the NABJ babies for whom you've been a mentor -- and she is gainfully employed, doing well and looks like a million bucks.

When you plan to go to a session and are glad it's as useful as you had hoped, either to what you do now or what you want to do.

When you decide to leave a session because the description led you think it would be something that it is clearly not.

When one of the big-name speakers or presenters is incredibly boring and unprepared and expects the crowd to be impressed by his/her mere presence and reputation.

When you stumble onto a session by happenstance or by tagging along with a friend and it's really good and informative.

When you're introduced to someone you admire -- and that person already knows who you are.

When you run your Big Crazy Idea by your mentors or other people you admire and respect -- and they co-sign it and encourage you to do it.

When somebody very attractive looks you up and down and smiles appreciatively and you're glad to know that in that moment, you've still got it.

When you go to that party and you intend only to stay a few minutes, but your friends egg you on, so you decide to get a drink

...and then the music starts getting good to you

...until finally you just let go.

But now the conference is coming to a close. See you next year in Boston, NABJ.

Next week, it's back to the workplace.

NABJ 2013, some good -- and some not so much
My second day at NABJ 2013

Friday, August 2, 2013

My second day at NABJ 2013

As promised, I went back to NABJ 2013 today.

Again, some general, preliminary thoughts:

1. There weren't as many sessions on the schedule today, and the ones that were scheduled weren't nearly as interesting (with the exception of a morning session about the Affordable Care Act).

2. I skipped the main session with the parents of Trayvon Martin, largely for the reasons I mentioned in yesterday's post.

3. I went to a session called "Covering the Big Events," which was about how to rally a multimedia, diverse newsroom to cover large events such as natural disasters, sports championships and big-deal elections. It was pretty good, although there wasn't really time for me to talk with the panelists about how to make sure web/interactive teams are involved in that kind of planning from the get-go.

4. I had 25 minutes to attend a session called "The Branding of You" (I had to go pick up kiddo from summer day camp) which I thought would be interesting, but the panelists wasted so much time at the beginning of the standing-room-only session that I had to leave before they even got into the meat of the discussion.

5. The Affordable Care Act session on the federal health insurance marketplace exchanges was valuable. For the first time, I think I understand how it's all going to work. Also in that Affordable Care Act session, there was a raffle -- and to my surprise, I was one of the winners! I'm the proud owner of a brand-new iPad.

6. I managed to escape paying for parking today, but only because my husband and I had lunch in one of the hotel's restaurants, which will validate for parking as long as you spend more than $30.

NABJ 2013, some good -- and some not so much
What happens at NABJ conferences

Thursday, August 1, 2013

NABJ 2013, some good -- and some not so much.

I attended #NABJ13 today, and left with mixed feelings about the conference, as usual.

This year's conference is hosted at the Gaylord Palms resort here in Orlando, so I didn't have much of an excuse for skipping the event entirely.

Some general impressions, not well-formed:

1. It's always a pleasure to catch up with old friends and meet new people at NABJ. It's something of a cliché at this point to say that the annual conference feels like a family reunion writ large, but you know what? It really, really is.

2. The first session I peeked in on was about the verdict in the George Zimmerman case. My employer's top editor, Mark Russell, was one of the speakers on the panel, along with a couple of straight-news reporters and a few more opinion journalists. I think, at this point, that I've had to deal with so much about the case that my brain wants something of a break from it for a little bit, so I wasn't as engaged in the panel as I might have been.

3. I left that one to pop into a meeting of the digital journalism task force, which was a good experience. I may or may not have volunteered to be on the board next year.

4. The session on data visualization was the highlight of the day for me. A reporter and editor from American Public Media's 'Marketplace' led that session, which taught me some new ways to think about data -- and gave me some new tools I hope to implement soon.

5. If you're actually planning to attend as many sessions as possible, there wasn't enough time on the schedule for lunch. I was lucky that my darling husband, who is working with college students on the NABJ Monitor, had thought to save a plate for me.

6. I actually left in the middle of another forum about education reform -- mostly because I was dismayed by the way moderator Roland Martin kept bringing the subject back to himself and his own thoughts on education. He did quite a bit less moderating of the discussion than I would've liked to have seen. Of course, I left halfway through, so maybe it got better. Somehow, I doubt that, though.

7. The parking rate for day visitors at the Gaylord Palms resort is beyond obscene. I guess NABJ neglected to negotiate the same parking rate ($10) that the other conventions had. The charge to park for NABJ is $19.26, which is absolutely ridiculous, especially since that's the price to park in a hot parking lot. It's not even as though the Gaylord has a parking garage to keep cars cool in the hot Florida summer sun. I am Not Pleased.

I'll go back tomorrow.