MIAMI, FL – From September 7-10, 650 journalists and media professionals convened for “Out in the Sunshine,” the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association’s (NLGJA) 2006 National Convention & 3rd Annual LGBT Media Summit. The convention was held at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel in Miami Beach, Fla. and is the largest professional gathering of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) journalists in the country.
The convention program included seven plenary sessions and 37 individual breakout sessions with content focused on professional and career development, with particular attention paid to issues of diversity, underserved communities and coverage of the LGBT community and its issues.
The LGBT Media Summit and convention program featured a diverse roster of individuals from LGBT-specific publications and broadcasts as well as journalists from many of the country’s most well-known mainstream news organizations. Session leaders and panelists included Maria Elena Salinas, co-anchor of Noticiero Univision; The Miami Herald’s John Yearwood; Jenny Stewart of PlanetOut, Inc.; Jack Shafer of Slate.com; CBS News on LOGO’s Jason Bellini; Angela Tuck, public editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Thomas Roberts of CNN; Pam Spaulding of the blog Pam’s House Blend; Mark Segal, publisher, Philadelphia Gay News, and Jeffrey Kofman of ABC News.
The convention marked a major period of transition for the sixteen-year old NLGJA as Pamela Strother, who has been the organization’s Executive Director for six years, will end her 10-years of service with NLGJA on October 13, 2006. Strother addressed convention attendees at Saturday’s luncheon plenary session and was introduced and honored by NLGJA’s current national president, Eric Hegedus, and former national president Robert Dodge.
Closing her remarks, Strother said, “What all of you have offered me this weekend in your expressions of appreciation and recognition of my work is an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life. This outpouring mirrors my gratitude to you. Thank you for teaching me so much about journalism. Thank you for sharing so much about yourselves and the important work that you do everyday, and thank you for building an organization where the care and compassion for your fellow members comes above all else.”
“Pamela Strother has been one of the most influential people who have been part of the success of NLGJA,” Hegedus said. “Her desire to understand the world of journalism has meant that we have been able address issues as they arise; we’ll always appreciate her dedication to stay on top of both growth and changes in the news industry. And her commitment to creating and maintaining industry contacts guarantees that we’ll be able to continue our peer-to-peer work for better journalism.”
NLGJA’s search and transition committee is already at work and, during any interim period between Strother’s departure and the start of a new executive director, the organization’s Deputy Executive Director, Thomas Cashman Avila, will serve as Acting Executive Director.
In addition to skills and awareness-building programming, several NLGJA members received special awards during the conference. Karen Bailis (NLGJA Vice President for Print & New Media, Newsday), Howard Goldberg (NLGJA board member, Associated Press) and Tom Musbach (former NLGJA board member, online journalist) were presented with Distinguished Service Awards for their commitment to NLGJA, while Beth Maples-Bays, (NLGJA Nashville Chapter vice president, Out & About Newspaper) was presented with the Women’s Distinguished Service Award at the organization’s annual Women’s Cocktail Reception & Networking Dinner.
The convention closed with a meeting of NLGJA’s National Board of Directors, in which National President Eric Hegedus officially began his second term, Ina Fried (CNETnews.com) was appointed to Vice President for Print & New Media, Marshall McPeek (WCMH-TV, Columbus) to National Secretary and seven new board members were selected.
NLGJA’s next national gathering will be its 2006 Excellence in Journalism Awards & Hall of Fame Ceremony, to be held Wednesday, November 8 at Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton.
NLGJA’s Excellence in Journalism Awards were established in 1993 to foster, recognize and reward excellence in journalism on issues related to the LGBT community. In addition to Journalist of the Year, awards will be presented for HIV/AIDS coverage, written news, written feature, written opinion/editorial, radio, television, photojournalism, new media, LGBT media and student journalism.
Established in 2005 as part of NLGJA’s 15th anniversary celebration, the LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame honors individuals who made exemplary contributions through their careers to NLGJA’s mission of promoting fair and accurate coverage of issues affecting the LGBT community. This year, three honorees will join the six members inducted in the program’s inaugural year, which include Leroy F. Aarons, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, Thomas Morgan III, Sarah Pettit, Randy Shilts, and Don Slater.
The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) is an organization of journalists, media professionals, educators and students who work within the news industry to foster fair and accurate coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. NLGJA opposes all forms of workplace bias and provides professional development to its members. More information about NLGJA may be found at the newly re-designed nlgja.org.