A hefty percentage of the almost 1,500 arriving for the National Assn. of Black Journalists convention networked at an opening reception Wednesday at the Century Plaza Hotel's fountain patio.
Which is better, Spago or Maple Drive? That was what some East Coast journalists wanted to know, as they made plans for post-reception celebrity watching.
Others, such as Pamela Carter, a journalism student at the University of Texas, stayed with the cheese and crackers at the reception. Carter scraped together the money to attend the convention because she considered it, "an investment in my career."
"It's expensive," she said, "but when you consider all the information you get, it's worth it."
The information would come in the form of job-training seminars, luncheons and workshops sponsored by such media corporations as Gannett, Times Mirror, the New York Times, NBC, Capital Cities/ABC and CBS. In addition, sessions address topics such as "Blacks in Hollywood," "The New South Africa?" and "Blacks in the New Multicultural America."
Earlier in the afternoon, Hollywood executives Jeffrey Katzenberg, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, and Mike Medavoy, chairman of Tristar, participated in the "Blacks in Hollywood" panel discussion.
After that session, Katzenberg said, "They want to know about Hollywood, the access and how does the talent make its way into the mainstream of movie and television making. . . . These are very successful people here, they want to understand how the system works. How they can succeed and get recognized by the system."
"I came because I thought it was time to listen to each other," Medavoy said. "They (aspirants to the movie industry) fall into two categories: the people who are really frustrated with the fact that they're having a hard time getting in or getting through. The others are asking how do we get in."
"The main function of the convention is to network, to help find jobs and to talk about the media's coverage of minorities and how it can be better," said association president Thomas Morgan, an urban affairs reporter for the New York Times. "It's about the role of black journalists in doing a better job to help the public understand the issues that affect not only minorities but all people."
Some people, on the first night, were not happy with the convention. Referring to convention activities, one journalist said, "The real story is the competition between the newspapers. There are papers with the worst records for minority hiring sponsoring some of the biggest events."
This is the first NABJ convention to be held in Los Angeles and Mark Gail, a photographer for the Fort Worth Star Telegram, said he already noticed a difference from the previous year's get-together in Manhattan.
"In New York, people talked about going to Harlem or a tour of the Statue of Liberty," Gail said. "Here, they're not too excited about Disneyland or the Universal Tour. They're all talking about standing in line for Arsenio (Hall) tickets."