CCNY Student Covers Controversy at Journalists Conference
Senior Emily Goldblum keeps passions in check while reporting on schism at UNITY 2012 that hurt meeting attendance
One of the biggest challenges young journalists face is maintaining objectivity while covering a controversial story, especially when they see themselves as an advocate. Emily Goldblum, a senior studying journalism at The City College of New York, passed that test with flying colors at UNITY 2012, a national conference for minority and LGBT journalists, where she recently covered a major story on a schism in the organization.
During the weeklong meeting, held July 30 – August 3 in Las Vegas, Emily interviewed Greg Lee, president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) about his organization’s decision not to participate in the convention. NABJ backed out after conference organizers invited the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA). It charged that by doing so the conference was straying from its mission. Consequently, attendance fell by two thirds.
It was a key “get” that helped her write the lead story for the convention news website, about the impact NABJ’s action had on the meeting and the future of the conference. “We arrived at the convention on Monday and I didn’t step outside until Friday,” Emily recalls. “I’d get to the newsroom at 9 am and just wrote all day.
“Even though I consider myself an (LGBT) advocate, I think I did a pretty good job of keeping things fair. That’s all I wanted to do. Even though my story suggested everyone at the conference thought NABJ was being homophobic, their position really wasn’t.”
Emily hails from Greenlawn, N.Y., a suburban community in Suffolk County, and graduated from Harborfields High School. However, she discovered her passion for journalism at City College after taking an introductory class with Professor Linda Villarosa, who she considers her mentor. She is pursuing a minor in journalism in addition to majoring in advertising and public relations; both programs are offered through CCNY’s media and communications arts (MCA) department.
Even though her graduation is a year away, Emily has discovered opportunities through the MCA department to launch her career. She found out about and applied for a position with “Cherry Grrl,” a lesbian magazine, and writes TV show recaps and covers New York events such as NYC Pride for the online publication. Professor Villarosa connected her to In the Life Media, producers of the PBS series “LGBT Life,” where she has a part-time position as a marketing communications assistant.
It was also Professor Villarosa who encouraged her to apply to join NLGJA, which she did five days before the convention deadline. She was accepted into the organization’s student project, which paid her way to the conference in Las Vegas.
Her interview at the conference with NABJ’s Greg Lee was not her first time dealing with a subject holding views she did not share. For In the Life, she participated in an interview with Brian S. Brown, president of the National Association for Marriage, a group opposing same-sex marriage. “The way he talked about gays touched me,” she recalls. “He was the only straight guy in the room and was saying all these outrageous comments.”
As for her post graduation plans, Emily will try to decide this year between journalism and advertising. “I’ll just let it roll its own way and see where I wind up,” she says.
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