Sold-out NAHJ convention offered ‘many different perspectives’ in heart of Miami

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ convention took center stage at the InterContinental Miami Hotel this month, offering a platform for aspiring journalists from diverse backgrounds to gather and learn from industry professionals in a sold-out atmosphere.

The NAHJ convention featured several panels, including “The Future of Journalism in the Era of Social Media” and the “Top Five Secrets to Success for Early-Career Journalists,” aiming to provide young professionals with the tools and guidance to thrive in the evolving world of journalism.

The social media session included a panel that provided a glimpse into the changing dynamics of the profession in the digital age. Among the attendees was Sarah Torres, a 19-year-old student from Syracuse University, who traveled all the way from upstate New York for the convention. Torres is a sophomore who hopes to work in print journalism.

“I thought the tip about using video to promote print stories was so smart,” Torres said. “I’m going to use that. It’s a great way to drive engagement; print doesn’t get as many readers.”

Torres was eager to implement these strategies in her work to capture the audience’s attention and distinguish herself in a crowded media landscape. It was her first time attending the conference, and she hopes to return for the next one.

For Jolene Almendarez of Kentucky’s The Enquirer, social media is her least favorite part of the job.

“I write about politics, housing and elections,” Almendarez said. “I get death threats and insults on social media every day.”

Still, the panel was an important one for her to attend. She asked the panelists what the best way to deal with the negativity was. Almendarez received a wide array of advice, from walking away from her computer and blocking and reporting rude commentators to using the cybersecurity team at her publication to her fullest advantage.

Cat Sposato, an experienced journalist and veteran NAHJ conference attendee, shared her insights and experiences after the sessions, as well. From New York, Sposato emphasized the convention’s role in fostering a cohesive community among Latino journalists.

“It’s crazy how most of the time I won’t be able to see my New York journalism friends anywhere else but NAHJ because we’re so busy, and our schedules never align,” she said.

Reflecting on the panel, Sposato found it inspiring, as it aligned with her interests in music, culture and reporting.

“I got so many different perspectives,” she said. “I saw so many different people that I look up to and learn so much from.”

Her advice to aspiring journalists? Approach opportunities fearlessly, be authentic and create chances rather than waiting for them.

“Nobody cares, like genuinely, nobody cares. Just take the pressure off of yourself and know there’s no way for you to lose that interaction,” she said.

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the largest organization of Latino journalists in the United States, wrapped up its annual four-day convention at the InterContinental Miami Hotel on July 15. (Photo Courtesy of NAHJ)

The “Top Five Secrets” session offered valuable tips and guidance for journalists at the start of their careers. Panelists included journalists from The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and other influential publications.

It covered the importance of interesting cover letters, being authentic, making strong and impactful connections, and many more pieces of wisdom that serve to further the careers of young journalists.

Attendees Sofia Treviño and Michelle Tamayo, seniors from the University of Texas, eagerly absorbed the panelists’ wisdom. Knowing the value of the convention, the pair, along with other students, petitioned their university to fund the trip.

“This panel was so helpful,” Treviño said. “Going to the career center at school never helped me as much as the advice on this panel.”

Tamayo echoed the sentiment. She found the advice given by the panelists, some of which have been recruiters of young journalists, immensely helpful.

“I like how they gave us their tips for writing a cover letter,” Tamayo said. “That was always something that I found intimidating, and now I feel like I can write one that will make me stand out.”

Treviño and Tamayo were just two of several convention attendees who left inspired and equipped with the tools to embark on their journalism careers with newfound confidence.

“We’ve already made so many connections,” Tamayo said. “We’re already planning next year’s trip because the experience has been so helpful.”

Alejandra Carralero is a Miami based senior majoring in digital journalism.  She has passion for cats (especially hers), the environment, and artsy movies. After graduating she hopes to travel the world to search for interesting stories the world needs to hear.