[By: Victoria Garcia Unzueta]
Earlier this August, HBW gave me the opportunity to attend the National Association of Black Journalists/National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NABJ/NAHJ) Joint Convention in Washington, DC. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, my plans were shifted around and I ended up becoming part of history by attending the first-ever virtual NABJ/NAHJ Joint Convention.
Partnered for the first time, NAHJ and NABJ came together to host a week full of information, networking, and community. Though Covid-19 has affected our daily lives in many ways, it didn’t stop both organizations from hosting an event which helped bring together countless journalists of color. Not only that, but they also crafted panels and presentations designed to help journalists through these unprecedented times. With sessions exploring topics from how to cover Covid-19 within our communities to mental health and self-care, this convention helped build a guiding tool for journalists to use as we navigate our new reality. There were also panels addressing the social unrest our country has faced and how we as journalists can cover them while staying true to our identities and the people around us, which was extremely valuable and helped address some of the concerns that come from being both a person of color and a journalist.
As a relatively new Hispanic journalist, being part of NAHJ has helped me immensely. Being able to attend so many panels that featured Hispanic women allowed me to see a level of representation I’d never seen before and helped reaffirm my belief that I belong in this industry. Seeing some of the journalists I’ve admired for years, such as Lester Holt and Jose Diaz-Balart, was the icing on the cake. I was able to see people who looked like me doing the work I want to do and it gave me a sense of hope and reassurance for the future.
Apart from all the great learning and work building I did, I also had a lot of fun attending the convention. The first night I attended the Convention Kick-Off presentation sponsored by Disney, which featured a live DJ, special Disney presentations, and panels with the creators of Soul. I then spent the week live tweeting the event, which proved to be a great way to network in such unusual times. With a simple Tweet about my traditional Mexican breakfast one morning, I made friends with another NAHJ member and bonded with many others who shared a similar connection. Though it felt silly, putting myself out there and staying true to my identity helped me find a community and make connections that I would not have otherwise made. Concluding the week was bittersweet, as I was grateful for the experience but sad to see it end. To wrap up the convention NAHJ hosted the “Gran Baile”, a virtual reimagination of the big dance party to close off the convention. A live DJ provided music and NAHJ provided a platform which gave us a chance to end the convention as a community, enjoying good music and even better company.
In the end, being able to attend this convention helped me grow as not only a journalist but as a person as well. I built connections, made memories, and prepared myself for a future in a growing industry. Though there’s still work left to do I am thankful to be part of something bigger than myself and I’m grateful to help add #MoreLatinosInNews.
Victoria Garcia Unzueta is a freshman here at the University of Kansas. Victoria is majoring in journalism with an emphasis in strategic communications. Victoria is originally from Dodge City, Kansas where she was editor in chief of her high school’s newspaper and yearbook. For Victoria, these experiences helped shape her passion for journalism and community advancement and helped her to find HBW, where she hopes to continue the important work being done.