Journalism Immersion: Day 1 of my trip to UNITY in Chicago

UNITY brings together the AAJA, NAHJ, NABJ and NAJA 

UNITY brings together the AAJA, NAHJ, NABJ and NAJA.

Day 1, Thursday July 24, 2008

Today was my first convention day. I started out going to a plenary session about increasing diversity in both the newsroom and media. Panel members were: Felix Gutierrez, Professor of Journalism and Communication at the USC Annenberg School for CommunicationDori Maynard, President of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism EducationMark Trahant, Editorial Page Editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer; and Helen Zia, Journalist and Fulbright ScholarWomen’s Media Center. The moderator was CBS News National Correspondent, Byron Pitts.

Good lord, that’s a lot of links.

Okay, back to the session. As I was saying it was about increasing diversity in the world of media both in front of and behind the words and images. I forgot who said it, but the at one point, a panel member said that only real time we see minorities featured in the media is in “zoo” stories. Meaning Chinese New Year is when we’ll read about Asians, Cinco de Mayo, Hispanics, a powwow, Native Americans and Kwanzaa, African Americans. I can’t help but say that, from the point of view of a minority, it does feel like that at times. How’s that for a boost to the old self-esteem? I’d hope that most people think that we’re good for more than just that.

I know that and you probably do too, but do they–the general public–know that?

I’m not saying that the media has set out to brainwash the masses. Hello?! I went to school specifically to become a member of the media! I wouldn’t have done that if I honestly believed that. And I’m not saying that the masses aren’t intelligent enough to be brainwashed–remember, I grew up being a part of those masses and I’d like to think that I know my own mind; it wasn’t until my later years that I’ve joined the other side. I just think that when it comes to handling the issue of diversity, by only focusing certain types of stories, we are only showing one layer of very multi-layered groups of people. Sure, we’ve come sort of come a long way since the Kerner Commission, but we’re kind of stuck in a rut right now and this next generation of journalists–my generation–is going to have to work to get out of it.

The J-Gang, Class of 2008

The J-Gang, Class of 2008, the Next Generation.

The rest of the day at the convention I spent at the Career Fair & Media Expo. I’m not going to underline this entire paragraph with links to all the different publications I visited because honestly, I don’t think that’s too interesting to read about. I do have two things to say about my experience though:

It was so–for lack of a better word–nice to be in this type of environment that catered to me. I’m not saying that to sound like a spoiled brat and that I’m seeking attention. I’m saying that because at almost all of the career fairs I attended when I was at school either had very limited employers in the journalism field, or none at all. It can be quite discouraging. To be surrounded by people who do the same thing that I do, have similar goals as I do and just plain understand what it’s like to be in a field where job security isn’t necessarily a primary reason for entering, was quite a new experience for me. I mean, sure I had my j-gang when I was at school, but now that we’ve graduated, everybody’s gone their different ways and keeping in touch via Facebook isn’t the same as seeing each other face to face; I love my friends and family, but they just don’t always get it, you know?

The second thing I have to say is, do you have any idea how exhausting it is talking about yourself all day? I mean, it was great that people wanted to know about me, my background and whatnot, but honestly? I don’t understand how people can be so vain! I just don’t have the energy to focus on myself so much when I’d rather be doing other things! Sure, I like to think I’m an interesting person, but it’s not like there aren’t more interesting people out there? Hopefully, they’re not so vain to spend all their time talking about themselves either–it tends to suck the interestingness out of them, in my opinion.

Home of Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

Home of Chicago Deep Dish Pizza.

After I had my fill of the career fair for the day, I went back to my hotel to shower and rest a little. Then my roommate Anusha and I went to dinner at Pizzeria Uno, which is home of the original Chicago Deep Dish Pizza. I think that the one we ended up at was the original location of the first restaurant. The wait for a table for two was 45 minutes so Anusha and I decided to wander around and check out the shops nearby. I found it amusing–as I’m sure my Rome friends would have as well–that just down the street from the restaurant was Pizzeria Due, which is also owned by Uno. Since we were right by the hotel, we were also right by the Magnificent Mile. We didn’t go into many shops. We may have gone into Forever 21 though, I don’t remember. When we got back to the restaurant, my name was called and our table was up literally right as we were walking up to the door. Spooky. We enjoyed our small barbecue chicken pizza and were only able to eat one piece each since they’re not kidding when they say deep dish.

Right down the street from Uno...numero Due!

Due, right down the street from Uno.

We got back to the hotel and I ended up going with Anne, my other roommate, to the Crimson Lounge to meet up with people for Seattle Times reporter and incoming AAJA National President, Sharon Chan. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until after we’d gotten turned around and ended up going six or seven blocks in the wrong direction because the concierge at our hotel gave us bad directions. Once we got there though, it was pretty cool. I met a bunch of people and realized that I really need to work on my social/networking skills in new and different situations such as these and not be such a wallflower. Maybe that’s why I’m still single? I’m not sure. Anyway, we didn’t stay too long because the next day was going to be a long day and we wanted to get some sleep.


2 comments on “Journalism Immersion: Day 1 of my trip to UNITY in Chicago

  1. “Zoo” stories? What is that supposed to imply? That minorities are animals?

    It sounds like those stories are the same as the token asian/black person in a TV show… like “The Real World” (Which, btw is not like the real world at all… but I will save that argument for another day).

  2. hmmm… looks like the last link to my site didn’t work. Maybe this one oughta fix it.

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