NAMIC’s Pipeline to Innovation


The National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications will kick off its 22nd annual conference this week in New York. But unlike prior conferences, this year’s edition is somewhat bittersweet for the pro-diversity organization because it is the last to be held in New York.

As part of the controversial National Cable & Telecommunications Association-led consolidation of industry events, next year’s NAMIC Conference will be held in October in Denver, alongside the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing Summit, a CableLabs seminar, the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers’ Cable-Tec Expo and the Walter Kaitz Foundation Annual Fundraising Dinner.

“We’ll definitely integrate the farewell to New York into our conference agenda,” said NAMIC president Kathy Johnson. “But we are optimistic about moving forward to Denver next year, and we hope to attract new constituencies to the conference due to the fact that the other associations will be having conferences there at the same time.”

NAMIC will look to send the conference off with a bang. Under the title “Diversity: Pipeline to Innovation,” Johnson said the conference (Sept. 14-16 at the New York Marriott Marquis) will look to provide information, strategy and ideas for minorities to compete and excel in a technology-driven communications industry.

Given the sluggish economy, Johnson would not predict whether the show would be able to match or surpass last year’s figure of 600 attendees.

One of the conference’s major highlights is the unveiling of NAMIC’s biannual industry diversity employment survey, during the Sept. 15 opening session, said Johnson.

Johnson said this year’s study, which looks at employment of people of color in upper, middle and lower management positions, included more participants and larger companies than last year, although she would not provide specific details.

“It’ll be a good way to see how far the industry has come since we last did the measurement, as well as to chart out the course for the future,” she said.

The findings will be discussed during the show’s opening general session, moderated by CNN Morning Edition anchor Tony Harris and featuring what Johnson described as one of the largest gatherings of industry CEOs on one conference stage.

Scheduled to appear are Comcast executive vice president David Cohen, BET Networks chairman and CEO Debra Lee, Scripps Networks president John Lansing, Time Warner Cable senior executive vice president and chief financial officer Robert Marcus, NCTA CEO Kyle McSlarrow, A&E Television Networks CEO Abbe Raven, TV One CEO Johnathan Rodgers, DiversityInc co-founder and partner Luke Visconti and Discovery Communications president David Zaslav.

The two-day conference will also focus on the upcoming election season and the role the media plays in the political process as part of a Tuesday-morning general session. CNN political analyst Roland Martin headlines a diverse panel of executives to appear on the panel.

As part of the session, NAMIC will award its annual Mickey Leland Award to journalist and author Charlayne Hunter-Gault. The award, established in 1992 in memory of the late Congressman from Texas, is awarded to an individual for lifelong advocacy of social justice and equality for all people.

Johnson said the show will feature numerous industry sponsors, including the Walter Kaitz Foundation, which will sponsor both the show’s mentoring breakfast as well as NAMIC’s two-day Writer’s Workshop, which will help provide participants skills and information necessary to get a script on the air (see sidebar).

“The writer’s workshop is important because we want to impact the content development side of the business,” she said.

Other sponsors include ESPN Deportes, Cisco Systems, Motorola, WE TV, Discovery Communications, TV One and BET.

NAMIC will also host its annual career expo on Tuesday. Johnson said more than 30 companies have agreed to participate in the event.

NAMIC Workshop Does the Write Thing
The National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications will once again help creative minds sharpen their writing skills with its third annual Writer’s Workshop, held in conjunction with the organization’s 22nd Annual Conference in New York.
This year’s workshop will also tackle issues related to marketing and emerging digital platforms, to help writers establish industry connections and adapt to emerging platforms such as the Internet and mobile devices.
Fifteen writers of color have been chosen to participate in an intense education forum led by veteran TV executive and career strategist Carole Kirschner. Emmy-winning writer and Harvard screenwriting instructor Jeffrey Melvoin, and feature writer Charles Murray will also provide instruction.
Kirschner pointed out that this year’s sessions will “include an hour of marketing and how to present yourself. It’s half about working on your craft and half about how to network.”
With regard to digital platforms, she said, “We’ll also have a panel on creating content for emerging media like the Internet.”
The workshop will also offer participants the opportunity to have their work critiqued by top writing analysts, along with quality time with instructors to examine their notes.
“We began the workshop in New York three years ago as a one-day forum, but the young writers wanted more,” said James Jones, NAMIC vice president of education and programs. “They are hungry to expand their craft and to explore the digital platform and new environment, because the world of content is changing,”
So the workshop, Jones added, is changing with the times.
“We want to offer more in-depth opportunities and are looking at Los Angeles, New York and Chicago in 2009, and expanding the craft to cable,” he said.
The Writer’s Workshop is funded by the Walter Kaitz Foundation, with the 15 participating writers chosen via a panel of communications industry experts.
— Craig Kuhl