Penthouse party yields friendships (NAHJ 2015)

I’ve seldom considered while attending a conference the portion that exists beyond the obvious.

Most of the conferences I have attended – ranging from technology symposiums to Toastmasters reunions and car shows – are painstakingly orchestrated. Every opportunity for networking and enjoying oneself is boastfully announced.

But at NAHJ’s Excellence in Journalism 2015, the brightest opportunity was hidden in the dimmest hallways of the Marriott World Center.

In a recent interview, NAHJ President Mekhalo Medina said that his association does not exist to throw BBQs and parties, but instead to push the envelope for Latino journalists and increase their involvement in the media.

Though his message is sound, it’s incomprehensive and highly formal. It does not address the natural byproduct of individuals that chase after such a lofty goal.

A unique camaraderie that, on a sticky evening in August, expressed itself in the form of loud noises, throat-scratching drinks and lots of smiles.

The professional networking that imbued the exposition floor took on a new and much simpler, organic character. The seasoned journalists, company founders and media junkies I met amongst folding tables replete with company paraphernalia were replaced by those wanting a good time.

The venue demonstrated a quality about these men and women that workshops and panels can’t exhibit. Every sip taken from a shot glass and each raucous greeting solidified why these men and women are journalists and members of the media.

That is, to lead a full life as practitioners of a craft that is ultimately about documenting the happenings of human life as it somehow sleeps and awakens, day after night and night after day.The unison laughs and coordinated hollers that permeated the crowd served as a testament to the joy for living that journalism lends these people.

Now, I too feel that vigor.

The event was a surprise, a shock, a delight and a spark all at once. But above all, it was a demonstration that a passion for journalism bores on ardently in the heart of its most zealous aficionados.

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