BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Happening today, thousands of journalists from all over the country are here in Birmingham for the National Association of Black Journalists Convention and Career Fair.

3,500 people will fill the BJCC, learning and growing as journalists all while networking with over 90 companies.

NABJ Executive Director Drew Berry said working and student journalists will have the opportunity to attend a variety of sessions for digital, print, broadcast and more- there are about 200 total.

A heavy focus will be placed on artificial intelligence, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

City leaders said this is the third largest attendance in the history of NABJ conventions right behind Miami and Las Vegas.

The Convention Visitors Bureau said this is the largest convention in Birmingham since the pandemic, with a projected $7.5 million economic impact.

City Councilor Hunter Williams said Birmingham has some of the most unique attractions.

He added the city and CVB wants to support them by continuing to market Birmingham through bringing in large events like this.

“We’re talking about a level of people coming in that allows us to probably be able to be marketable to more hotels in our city center and within the city limits of Birmingham, definitely within the region,” said Williams. “But it also allows us to be able to market these specific events as events that were a success.”.

NABJ officials say students will get their hands on real life news experience in addition to the many workshops that will help journalists improve while restoring their confidence and strength.

“You come here, you’re beaten down in your newsroom sometimes, but you come here, you let your hair down and you commemorate with friends and colleagues, people that you learn from people that you teach,” said Bob Butler, former NABJ President.

“And these students are here a couple days early because they’re preparing to do stories about things going on at the convention and also things going on in greater Birmingham to show them real life news reporting experience,” said Stephon Dingle, anchor and reporter for CBS News Baltimore.

Dingle, who serves as a mentor for the students, said this year’s theme is ‘Revolution to Evolution’- figuring out how they can evolve in their presence in making more newsrooms diverse.

Khenedi Wright, a rising junior at Tennessee State University, is from Birmingham. Wright said she can’t wait to help showcase some of her favorites around the city like Ruby Sunshine, Yo Mama’s, and Barons Baseball.

“I’ve been talking to different broadcasters, connecting them with family members that I know that own small businesses. We’re doing a lot of small business work and a lot of work about population influx and climate control,” said Wright.

Carlton Wiggins, a recent graduate from Temple University, is from Pennsylvania. He plans to trace his family history that leads back to Birmingham and hopes to visit the Civil Rights Institute.

“Kind of being in the footsteps where history was made, especially seeing that people like me have fought and come this far to where we are now,” said Wiggins. “I guess just kind of seeing where those steps were taken, how things have changed over history and just seeing this impact that was made.”

Registration for day one of the NABJ Convention goes until 7 pm this evening.