Five Reasons Why You should Register for #AAJA16

April 13, 2016

aaja 2016

By Donna Tam, digital editor at Marketplace

#AAJA16 might be months away, but it’s a good time to consider your plans for convention. The early bird deadline is April 18, and that means you could get a great deal ($250 for professional members and $150 if you are a student member) for noteworthy programming. And, if you have been a full-time member for the last five years or more, you can tack on another discount.

This year’s theme is “Power of One” and it represents the power we have as a community to speak with one voice. With that in mind, we are focusing convention programming on what makes AAJA unique: We are connected to our communities. Of course, we will have our usual hands-on training workshops, career-building panels and networking opportunities. But we will also hold sessions focused on our AAPI identity and the issues affecting our community in the newsroom and beyond, as well as taboo issues that are often difficult to discuss in newsrooms.

To entice you into attending #AAJA16, I composed a handy listicle about why #AAJA16 is worth your time and money. (I’ve also embedded the link to registration like twelve times in the post because SEO, amirite?):

1.) #AAJA16 will be the largest gathering of Asian Pacific Islander American professionals in the nation. We got power in numbers, people. And, this year’s event will speak to the power we have as members of the media, and as voters. AAJA has partnered with the Asian Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) to make this a convergence of “journalists, news executives, media researchers, business leaders, community action groups and nonprofits” that culminates in a Presidential Candidate Town Hall. Hello, election year.

2.) We got you covered on the skillz part,
so your editors can justify sending you. As usual, we’re planning skills workshops aimed at hands-on learning. This year we’ll do a data visualization workshop again, but we’re also adding a session about turning Slack bots into newsroom assistants. We’re also planning a breaking news coverage simulation based on the San Bernardino shootings, and another session on how to think more creatively when taking photos of political candidates.

3.) We’re bringing back the real talk.
These are our “Candid Convos” sessions. Last year, we tackled things like overcoming humility and getting comfortable with self promotion, and work/life balance when it comes to long distance romantic relationships and family obligations. This year, we’re going deeper. We want to give our members a safe space to talk about dealing with depression and mental health, or the whole “No, that’s the other Asian” issue. We also want to talk about intercommunity racism, particularly as it applies to the history of black and AAPI community relations. It’s a huge topic, given recent events like the like the #NotYourMule discussion and what happened with #OscarSoWhite. But, we’re not just talking. We want to make sure we give our members the tools to address these kinds of issues.

4.) We’re even more inclusive than usual.
Last year AAJA did some major restructuring and one thing that resulted was a formalization of our affinity groups. The whole process made us think about how we go about representing all of our members. Yes, we are all Asian American journalists, but we all have different ways of storytelling. We’re not just writers; we’re broadcast talent, photographers, videographers, social media editors, data nerds, mid-career journalists and cub reporters. We wanted our programming to reflect that. To that end, we have workshops that many of our groups helped design — that includes sessions for visual journalists, sports journalists, broadcasters and freelancers. We’re also bringing back our mid-career salons to introduce our more veteran journalists with an opportunity to talk to newsroom leaders, expand their circles and their think about their future. And, as always, we made sure to provide the basics for all the students and green journalists, including a session for young journalists looking to be leaders.

5.) VEGAS BABY! If all else fails, #AAJA16 is not only about your professional development — it can also serve as a vacation, or time to reconnect and network with your #aajafamily. We’ve got some fun Wednesday sessions planned for our members who want to arrive early and experience Las Vegas. Or, if you’re not about the glitz and gambling that Vegas is known for, don’t worry. We’ve enlisted some of our on-the-ground members to share their super top secret list of underground, artsy, or unexpected  things to do in Vegas while you’re there. I’ll post that list as we get a little closer.
Donna Tam is the digital editor at Marketplace and a member of the #AAJA16 planning committee. She really wants you to attend convention this year. AAJA will hold its 26th Annual AAJA National Convention at Caesars Palace Las Vegas, from Aug. 10-13, 2016. Register here.

Featured image courtesy of AP Images.

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