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Join hands with other organizations.

NOTHING PERSONAL, but sometimes I think there are too many journalism organizations. And too little time and money.

For the past four years, I've been co-editor of the NABJ Journal, the newspaper of the National Association of Black Journalists. In that role I've attended not only the annual conventions of NABJ, but also those of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and, most recently, of NCEW.

I've yet to go to the conventions of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Associated Press Managing Editors association, or the annual conclaves for journalists who are cartoonists, photographers, investigative reporters, environmental reporters, publishers, or educators; or who are Hispanic, Asian-American, Native American, or gay.

As a columnist, I confess, I have communed with the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and with a new group of African-American columnists called the Trotter group, after William Monroe Trotter, a militant black Boston publisher early in the century.

Did I enjoy myself at the meetings I did make? Of course; what are conventions for? But I wouldn't have been at most of them if someone else hadn't been willing to pay my way. Otherwise, like most of my colleagues whose specialty, interests, and ethnicity qualify them for at least two of these groups, I'd be trying to decide which one -- and only one -- I'd attend each year.

Here's the problem for the editorial writers, cartoonists, and other journalism specialty organizations: We journalists whom society defines by something bigger than a profession -- such as color or sexual orientation -- can commune with people doing the same jobs we do at a convention of the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian-American Journalists Association, the Native American Journalists Association, or the Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.

And we get so much more there. Sharing professional expertise and making contacts in the business are only part of why one goes, for instance, to an NABJ or an NAHJ convention.

We are there to see old friends. We are there to see how we can make a difference. We are there because we have a cause, a passion. It's social. It's cultural. It's political. And at NABJ, with 2,000 members and as many programs, workshops, and amenities as it can find sponsors to underwrite, going to an annual convention most of all is cost-effective.

You can't beat 'em. Why not join 'em?

When I left NCEW's convention in Lexington, Ky., last year, I wondered: Why don't these organizations get together? Why not hold joint conventions at the regional, if not national, level? Maybe NCEW could also conduct one of its much-praised critique sessions at an NABJ convention.

The black, Hispanic, Asian-American, and Native American journalists' organizations are holding a joint convention in Atlanta in 1994, even as they hold their own separate meetings there.

They're calling that the Unity convention. The Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association plans to send representatives, and so do other journalism groups.

Unity among journalism organizations shouldn't be such a novel idea.

Is NCEW waiting to be asked? Here's your invitation.

Richard Prince is an editorial writer and columnist at the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y.
COPYRIGHT 1993 National Conference of Editorial Writers
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:In Search of Diversity: The Masthead Symposium; joint regional conventions
Author:Prince, Richard
Publication:The Masthead
Date:Jun 22, 1993
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