Yes they did! And they should be proud of it, too.
When the NABJ 2010 convention concluded in San Diego two weeks ago, more than 35 guests left the soft-sided carry bags they received in their convention package at the front desk of the host hotel, Manchester Hyatt. They were responding to a request by NABJ President Kathy Times and the Haiti News Project that any unwanted bags be left at the hotel so they can be donated to Haitian journalists.
The response was impressive, especially considering that a single announcement requesting the bag donation was made on the last night of the convention. John Yearwood, World Editor at the Miami Herald and a HNP consortium member, came up with the idea during the annual awards dinner, a black-tie affair that attracted several hundred guests. “I knew from past conventions that some people don’t want or don’t have enough space for the bags, so they leave them in the room,” Yearwood said. He asked Times if she would make the pitch before the dinner ended. She immediately agreed.
Times made the announcement as the dinner concluded, so there was no expectation that anyone would even remember to leave the bag as they hurried to catch planes the next day.
It turns out that quite a few NABJers got the message: The bags will be a bonus gift to each Haitian journalist who receives a computer donated by the HNP.
Word about the bag donations spread beyond San Diego. A week later, journalists at the Philadelphia Inquirer found 15 “nearly new” bags from a previous convention, which they donated to the project.
The carry bags have become a valued freebie at NABJ conventions. Sponsors recognize the value of having journalists carry a product with their logo on it as they travel around the country and the world in pursuit of news. So the sponsors don’t skimp on quality when ordering a supply of 2,000 or so bags. They want the bags to be used and to last. Many journalists have been known to hang onto the best-quality bags for years.
Most of the bags are designed to carry a computer, with compartments for notebooks, pens, cell phones and other reportorial accoutrements. This year’s bag sponsor, Toyota, came up with an over-size bag large enough for a computer and much more.
Haitian journalists, some of whom lost everything in the Jan. 12 earthquake including homes and all their worldly possessions, are sure to put the bags — and computers — to good use.
If you have a bag to donate — it should be new or excellent condition — call HNP coordinator Joe Oglesby at 305-608-2333 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions.