by Joe Siegel
More than 350 LGBTQ journalists are expected to attend the 2018 convention of NLGJA - The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, when it gathers from September 6-9 in sunny Palm Springs, California.
According to NLGJA Executive Director Adam K. Pawlus, the return to the West Coast is long overdue for the organization.
“NLGJA hasn't had a convention in Southern California since the 2007 National Convention in San Diego,” Pawlus said. “Palm Springs was chosen both because of its reputation as an LGBTQ-friendly city, and also its location. This will be the first time that many of our attendees have been to the city, and it will also be the first time that many of our attendees have been to an NLGJA national convention.”
Pawlus said the Palm Springs Mayor Robert Moon and the Palm Springs Gay Men's Chorus will be on hand to welcome convention attendees to the city.
The gathering will feature over 30 topical and skill-building breakout sessions, ranging from “Telling the Bisexual Story” and "Trans 101” to "Hands-On Fact Checking” and “Increasing Your ‘It Factor.’" There will also be five plenaries, including two "View From the Top" sessions, which will bring together some of the top LGBTQ newsroom leaders from across the country and industry.
Special guests will include Dennis and Judy Shepard, parents of murdered University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, to reflect on the changes in society and news coverage since Matthew was killed 20 years ago.
“Judy Shepard was a featured speaker at the 1999 National Convention in Atlanta, and we're honored to have her back with us to commemorate the 20 year mark of Matthew's death,” Pawlus noted.
He also noted that the LGBT Media Journalists Convening, sponsored by the Walter & Evelyn Haas, Jr. Foundation and the Arcus Foundation, will be running parallel to NLGJA’s convention in the Hotel Zoso this year. The Convening “uses an interactive approach to help attendees build their journalism skills, learn more about LGBTQ-centric topics beyond marriage equality and employment law and expand audiences through on-site media training with broadcast experts,” according to the website.
In the past, the LGBT Media Journalists Convening has been held in or around March and not concurrent with NGLJA’s convention.
Pawlus promises something for everyone. There will be a Diversity Reception, a Travel Writers Reception, a Lifetime Members Reception, a Women's Networking Dinner and a reception for convention attendees to get to meet the 10 students who will be participating in the CONNECT: Student Journalism Training Project, now in its 21st year.
Pawlus said he hopes the convention will provide LGBTQ journalists a place to make lasting connections, discuss the state of the LGBTQ community in the news industry and evaluate ways to improve coverage of the LGBTQ community.
“NLGJA conventions often have a very intimate and personal feel to them, which makes them unique in comparison to other conventions,” said Pawlus. “I have no doubt that this year's convention will be the best yet.”
A full agenda of speakers and sessions can be found at www.nlgja.org/2018.