The National Association of Black Journalists has a new leader at the helm this year. Under the leadership of Greg Lee, NABJ’s youngest president, the progression towards a wider and more technologically-savvy set of goals is already underway.
Lee came to Atlanta on Feb. 29 to converse with the members of AABJ on a more personal level. With the NABJ convention coming up in June, the recent divide from UNITY and the current state of African-American presence in the media, there was plenty to talk about while sitting down with the president.
Are you excited for the convention this year?
Yes, not only is it in my hometown of New Orleans, but I’m also excited because a lot of our members haven’t been to New Orleans. A lot of them have not been able to go since [Hurricane] Katrina and the oil spills. It’s an opportunity for our membership to tell the untold stories of New Orleans and also just to have the opportunity and professional development based in multimedia. We have to really train out members and make sure they thrive in their careers, so I’m looking forward to our convention this year.
How are registration and sponsorships for the convention coming along so far?
So far, the sponsorships have been very well-received. We have a lot of opportunities because of the fact that there are a lot of stories that haven’t been told. Companies are interested in things such as the oil spill. People are interested in the recovery of [Hurricane] Katrina. Also, people are interested in the stories of the people that were affected after Katrina as far as mental health issues. So there’s a lot interest in the recovery of the city and I think a lot of people are excited because everyone knows what the city of New Orleans brings in terms of when you visit there.
What’s your biggest goal fir this year’s convention?
Renewal of our organization. Membership’s coming back, we want to continue the momentum that Philadelphia built and continue our membership coming together to organize a united front, build a stronger AABJ and make sure that what our founders put in place in 1975 continues to have a lasting legacy.
Do you have any surprises planned for the convention?
No, not really any surprises. Giving back to the community by having a community service project and being able to leave a legacy in that community. But there may be more surprises, we’re still planning.
Will there be a concentration on social media and digital learning at the convention?
Yes, definitely a focus on social media.
In this new age of journalism, what skill would you say is most important for a journalist to have?
Versatility, the ability to do a lot of things.
How do you feel about African-America presence in the newsroom now?
We need to do a better job of that. Newsroom managers need to make it a priority, and managers make a priority of what they want to make a priority of. They can do what they want to do, so it’s up to them to decide if they really mean that they support diversity and put actions behind that.
I saw that you planned a series of advocacy visits to major media outlets to address the lack of diversity in the broadcast industry. How is that going?
Every city that I go to I make sure that I reach out to a newsroom to tap into what they’re doing journalistically, but also diversity-wise to make sure that they stay on their toes, to make sure they’ll be held accountabel and have to answer to somebody.
Are there any plans to collaborate with UNITY on any future projects?
We collaborated with them on several projects. I have a collaboration that I do with sports journalism where we train minority students to become sports journalists. So we have ongoing projects. We may have left UNITY but there are still issues and common goals that we have together so we’re still going to be there for them.
Do you have any plans to get more members involved with the NABJ this year?
My whole goal is to be more volunteer-based, making sure our members are involved in the process. The more bodies to help support the NABJ, the better our organization will be because we have a small staff and we need more help from our volunteer members. But our members need to accept that this is an investment in an organization. This is the only thing that we own in the media industry. We need to embrace it.
In the next few years, what progress do you think will have been made in the NABJ?
Continuing to grow. No taking two steps backwards, only taking steps forward. Continuing to make steps towards the positive. We need to be patient in our growth, but we need to make sure that we grow.
Is there anything else that you want the AABJ to know about?
As their president, I’m here for them. Anything they need, I’m here for them. I’m here to support them, as they are here to support me. This is one of our model chapters and I’m very proud to be here.
Published in the February Issue of the AABJ Byline: “NABJ President visits Atlanta,” pg. 1.