Journalism major works to bring NABJ chapter to UH

Fueled by a transformative NABJ 2020 Basics Bootcamp experience, Lyrik Walker hopes to help aspiring black journalists

Picture of Lyrik Walker with a speaker at the NABJ bootcamp conference.

Lyrik Walker, a broadcast journalism junior at the Valenti School of Communication, attended the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) 2020 Basics Bootcamp Feb. 14 and 15 at Paul Quinn College. This intensive, two-day training gave prepared attendees for a career in the newsroom through interactive talks with industry veterans, hands-on workshops and networking opportunities.

“During the weekend, they used the word ‘service’ a lot,” said Walker. “As a reporter, you are serving the community by giving them the stories that they want. Journalism is a community service, really.”

The bootcamp’s talks focused on foundational and the technical aspects of journalism. However, Walker says what she gained from the training extended beyond the talks. She also appreciated the networking opportunities, where she met people who treated her like family and received valuable advice on how to apply for larger media markets right out of college. The advice was as diverse as the people who attend.

“Everyone’s journey is different, and there are a lot of things you have to do as a reporter, such as investigate,” said Walker. “Even if you’re not an investigative reporter, you can spend weeks and months on a story. It’s not just about stepping in front of a camera and talking.”

NABJ’s purpose since its founding in 1975 has been to provide quality programs and services to and advocate on behalf of black journalists. Similarly, journalism organizations such as the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) and the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) work to provide professional services to other minority groups.

While most journalism workshops have angled themselves to teach on multimedia reporting after the digital takeover, NABJ makes sure age-old practices and lessons – such as producing a competent package or understanding the mission of the newsroom – are also taught to young journalists.

“It’s important to see other people who look like you doing the things that you want to do,” said Walker. “Having someone to advocate for people without a voice is so important.”

Walker is also in the process of starting a chapter for NABJ right here on the University of Houston campus.

“There aren’t a lot of journalism organizations on campus and a lot of the ones that we have are geared towards sports,” said Walker. “I wanted to diversify the journalism program on campus.”

Though her busy schedule made Walker hesitant about attending NABJ at first, this bootcamp helped Walker understand the importance of attending such professional development events. She now urges students to attend them if they can.

“These events are essential. You have to go,” said Walker. “From the number of people that you meet to the different connections you make and those who want to help you—coming to these conferences is vital.”