by Joe Siegel and Fred Kuhr
Over 300 journalists, media professionals, and news executives are expected to gather for annual convention of The Association of LGBTQ Journalists (aka NLGJA). This year’s event will be held September 7-10 at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel in Philadelphia.
Unlike past years, however, there will be no LGBT Media Summit. Instead, LGBT content will be spread out over the three days of the convention.
“Essentially, we analyzed the attendance and found that very few attendees came just for the LGBTQ Media Summit,” said NLGJA president and convention co-chair Jen Christensen. “Most people came for the entire convention. Additionally, we got feedback from our members who work outside the LGBTQ media who asked if they too could have more access to the LGBTQ-themed panels. We thought if we spread the panels out, everyone could benefit from them and also we would have additional time to expand the more general professional programming.”
She noted, however, “For those who are in the LGBTQ media specifically, we are bringing back the caucus gatherings so that there will be a chance for folks to gather as a group as well. I want to make sure our convention is as inclusive and as accessible as possible.”
The convention’s opening reception will be held on September 7. Good Morning America meteorologist Sam Champion will lead a panel to discuss what it is like to be out on the air as a meteorologist.
Philadelphia was selected as this year’s location due to its cultural diversity, according to Christensen.
“People in the city have always been so welcoming to NLGJA,” Christensen said. “There’s also so much to do, there’s incredible history there, there’s a strong and interesting LGBTQ community, and the location — with it being a major media market and being so close to other major media markets that would make it an easy trip for our members — was ideal.”
Another highlight of the convention will be when Ari Shapiro interviews National Public Radio’s Terry Gross about her career as host of Fresh Air, followed by an audience Q&A session.
“Finding Your Voice With Mo Rocca” features the contributor and correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning. Rocca will discuss bringing his perspective and voice to feature reporting on arts and culture. This will be moderated by CBS Sunday Morning executive producer Rand Morrison.
The Washington Post and former NLGJA president Steven Petrow will moderate an all-convention plenary of newsroom leaders to include USA Today’s Randy Lovely, Huffington Post’s Lydia Polgreen, Reuters’ Steve Adler, CNN’s Ed O’Keefe and others to talk about the future of media.
Plenaries include Social Media Reporting, Google News Lab, Fundamentals of YouTube for Content Creators, Pathway to Podcasting, Vamping and Improvising On the Air, and “In the Life” 30 Years Later: The Legacy of Joe Beam.
A plenary looking at the best ways to cover President Trump will feature NPR’s Marilyn Geewax, PBS’ John Yang, and Fox News’ Ellen Ratner.
Another plenary session — “Silent Epidemics: How media can shed light on health disparities and violence in the transgender community — will feature Dawn Ennis, Bethany Grace Howe, Frances Fernandes, and Kevin Steffens.
Some of the other features of the convention include a Women’s Networking Dinner, Travel Writers Caucus Reception, Diversity Reception, an Author’s Cafe that includes a book signing, and opportunities for professional development at the Career and Community Expo.
“Every year we continue to build on the success from the year before,” said Christensen. “This year we’ve got more great workshops, we’ve added an entire section focused on investigative work through a collaboration with Investigative Reporters and Editors (www.ire.org). We are operating in one of the most interesting times for journalists. Our members will certainly hear from the industry’s leaders about the direction media is heading in and how they can best position themselves for success going forward.”
In anticipation of this year’s event, NLGJA has already announced that next year’s convention will be held September 6-9 at the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs in Palm Springs, Calif.
“I’m sure I echo our members on the West Coast in saying that I’m very excited for NLGJA’s national convention to return to California,” said NLGJA executive director Adam Pawlus. “Palm Springs has long been a popular destination for the LGBTQ community, so I’ve no doubt that the city and our convention attendees will welcome each other with open arms.”
For more information, go to www.nlgja.org.