The National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists held their annual national conventions earlier this month, and not surprisingly, sports journalists were at the forefront.
At the 39th NABJ Convention in Boston, there were several heart-warming moments:
— The annual mentor breakfast sponsored by ESPN was standing room only. ESPN anchor Stuart Scott was scheduled to speak, but could not attend the event as he continues his fight against cancer. Jay Harris replaced him and led a tribute to Scott. The NABJ Sports Task Force presented Scott with a special award of merit, and Scott sent a touching video message to the crowd.
— There was a salute to longtime Boston Globe sportswriter Larry Whiteside, remembering his many contributions to the Globe, NABJ and a generation of black sportswriters. Whiteside, who was inducted into the writers’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008, died in 2007, and NABJ offers a scholarship in his name. He famously created “The Black List” of sportswriters, which started with nine in 1971 and was designed to aid sports editors in helping hire qualified African-American journalists.
At the end of the ceremony, Boston Globe sports editor Joe Sullivan was honored for his long-standing commitment to diversity.
“Every time I stop by the host hotel lobby during the NABJ Convention, I continually run into a familiar sight. It’s Joe Sullivan talking to a job candidate he just met there,” said Marc J. Spears, NABJ Sports Task Force chairman. “I’ve always been disappointed in the sports editors nationally who think it’s hard to find top black job candidates. I wish they would follow Joe’s lead. His list of NABJ hires is probably second only to ESPN. That’s why the Sports Task Force wanted to honor him.”
— The Sam Lacy Pioneer Awards opened with tributes to sportswriter Wendell Smith and auto racer Wendell Scott, and then Pioneer Awards were presented to Boston Celtics legend Tom “Satch” Sanders, women’s basketball Hall of Famer Michelle Edwards and several other Boston-area pioneers in the sports industry.
And as always, the Sports Task Force Annual Scholarship Jam was a big hit. The event at the House of Blues attracted more than 1,000 people and raised enough for a $2,500 scholarship, plus sending the winner to the 2015 convention. NABJ hopes to add an internship element for next summer.
Next year’s convention will be in Minneapolis, Aug. 5 to 9.
Meanwhile, NAHJ celebrated its 30-year anniversary during its convention on Aug. 7-9 in San Antonio.
ESPN kicked things off Friday night with a party at Boudro’s on the Riverwalk, then NAHJ followed up with a pair of panels Saturday.
ESPN digital anchor Toni Gonzalez-Collins moderated the first panel, “Sports Journalism: Inside and Outside The Lines,” which featured former San Antonio Spurs guard Bruce Bowen and MLB.com reporter Jesse Sanchez. The panel dissected the delicate relationship between athletes and reporters.
The second panel, “From the Minors to the Big Leagues,” was moderated by The Wichita Eagle’s Tony Adame, an APSE Diversity Fellowship graduate, and featured Gonzalez-Collins, Sanchez and Seattle Times Assistant Sports Editor Ed Guzman. The panel focused on how recent college graduates or newcomers in the industry can make the transition from smaller markets to bigger markets and how to get your foot in the door in the sports industry.
Next year’s convention will be in Orlando from Sept. 18 to 20.