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NABJ conference, day two: Valerie Jarrett and LeBron James in the house, but TMZ is not



Michael_jackson_300x400 TAMPA -- It's an odd thing to watch people talk for 90 minutes about someone who isn't in the room.

But that was the feeling I was left with, after watching the opening plenary session of the National Association of Black Journalists here in the Tampa Convention Center on Thursday. Centered on coverage of Michael Jackson's death, the panel featured plenty of journalists who had been in on the action, including: Rolling Stone writer Toure, CNN U.S. president Jon Klein, former Ebony magazine editorial director Bryan Monroe.

But most of the talk was centered on an outlet that couldn't make time to attend:, the Web site that broke the new that the King of Pop had died -- minutes before records indicate he was even pronounced dead.

As a result, some tantalizing questions went unanswered: Did TMZ pay someone at the hospital for the information? How do conventional news outlets, which don't pay for tips, compete with those who have checkbooks wide open? And how will this change the nature of media coverage?

Nabj-732805 "CNN would rather be right than first," Klein said, shrugging off any notions that they were pressured by the fact that they did not confirm Jackson's death until two hours after TMZ reported it. "It's more okay to be wrong online . . . users online need to understand what's there is correct as far as we know right now."

It was a bracing start to the whirlwind of workshops, press conferences, networking events and parties that form the NABJ conference.

As president of the local chapter, the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists, I've been in the thick of it all, planning a massive party Friday at the Florida Aquarium featuring syndicated radio legend Tom Joyner and hip hop DJ Kid Capri. More details here.

Folks who are unfamiliar with the scope of NABJ are often surprised by the big names at hand. I just watched NBA superstar LeBron James give a TV interview about a new movie on his early years as NBC personality and former NFL star Tiki Barber looked on.

Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts hosted a packed breakfast Thursday organized by our Sports Task Force and news broke that President Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett would be speaking here on Friday. On Saturday, Chris Rock comes here to promote his new movie, Good Hair.

It's an amazing event to witness up close; I won't be blogging much over the next few days, because I'm one of the guys who has to make it all happen. But I'll try to pop in some observations and anecdotes over the next few days, as more than 1,500 journalists of color come together in hopes of maintaining and increasing diversity in American newsrooms at a time of historic decline.


[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:00pm]


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