Around 700 journalists, less than half of those who regularly attend these meetings, are participating in the 2009 Convention of the National Association of Hispanics Journalism (NAHJ) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The rhythms of bomba and plena at the opening reception on Wednesday night weren’t enough to improve the mood of an industry that it is being affectedby closings, lay-offs and new technology.
“Our industry is in crisis and this is a fight. We’re not giving up and we’re here to get new skills,” said Francis Robles from The Miami Herald. “Our goal is to evolve, embrace and reinvent ourselves as journalists,” added Nancy San Martin, co-chair of the Convention with Robles and also from the Miami Herald.
The food and drinks at the Convention are not as abundant as in the past. “Like it’s happening around the country with the banks and car industry, NAHJ doesn’t have money to waste and journalists need to adapt to his reality,” said Iván Román, NAHJ’s Executive Director.
This Convention’s goal is to adapt to new trends and technology to survive and advance in the communication business. In the past, the goal of this Convention was to increase the presence of Latino journalists in the newsroom, how to cover different communities and what to do in order to get a job in TV.
But the internet changed the rules to communicate around the world. Under the sun of Puerto Rico reporters and editors of the mainstream media and community-based publications are learning Twitter, blogging, podcasting, Final Cut, streaming live video, how to cover the environment, what it is needed to do a slide show and the skills of the very popular Social Media.
However, not all is tech at this Convention. During Thursday’s lunch there was a panel on freedom of the press in Venezuela. Alberto Federico Ravell, director of Globolvision, said from Caracas: “In Venezuela we can say whatever we want but the risk is very high. We’re being prosecuted and our lives threatened.”
But journalists are not this serious after all. At the opening ceremony, comedian Marga Gómez put it his way: “We have to thank you for keeping journalism above Perez Hilton.”
By Javier Castaño / Puerto Rico