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Home > SPJ Convention > 2009 Highlights

The 2009 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference is now history! Thanks to everyone who attended, spoke, exhibited, performed and volunteered their time — because of you, the event was a roaring success.

If you couldn't join us, this collection of streaming media (free to all SPJ members) and Working Press coverage is the next best thing.

Members without an online ID, get one here | Non-members, join in!



Mark of Excellence Awards: Roxana Saberi
Roxana Saberi, the freelance journalist imprisoned in Iran from Jan. 31 to May 11, delivers the keynote address at SPJ's Mark of Excellence Awards luncheon on Friday, Aug. 28, 2009. Listen to or download audio (5.34 MB, 11:40)
— Read a transcript of the speech


Confessions of a Former Disco Maniac: The Write Moves
Award-winning journalist Michael Quintanilla gets down with his bad self in his one-man show about writing, “Confessions of a Former Disco Maniac,” that has been described as a “roller coaster ride of inspirational, theatrical journalism.” If you’ve seen his program you know what to expect: music, images and a disco ball or as Michael prefers to call it, “journaltainment.” But it is his stories of struggle and survival, joy and just fun that will remind you why you became a journalist, especially before blogging and tweeting and alternative forms of story telling became a must. Unashamedly, Michael shakes his groove thing while sharing his odyssey to reinvent and redefine himself. More recently, Michael has taken his popular workshop to Harvard University’s Neiman Conference on Narrative Journalism, the American Press Institute, the American Association of Sunday and Features Editors, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the National Association of Lesbian and Gay Journalists, among other professional groups across the country. Listen to or download audio (22 MB, 1:01:36)

Site Stampede: 60 Sites in 60 Minutes: Real Resources for Working Journalists
A fresh look at the technology landscape and the tools that are being used by journalists all over the world. Citizen journalism contribution sites, professional development sites, information repositories, social media tools, aggregators and much more will be covered.
Speaking: Jeff Cutler, content specialist/freelance journalist; Ron Sylvester, reporter, Wichita Eagle
Listen to or download audio (42.6 MB, 1:01:33)


Launching Your Freelance Journalism Career
In today’s uncertain job market, journalists can be downsized and tossed out at a moment’s notice. Having some freelance work in reserve can be a lifesaver, both financially and professionally, as well as the launching pad for a new career as an independent journalist. Attendees will find out what it takes to freelance either part- or fulltime, how to find work, set rates, get paid, overcome isolation, promote their freelance efforts, network, and much more.
Speaking: Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, Freelancer
Listen to or download audio (25.9 MB, 1:15:10)


A Bulletproof Career
Whether you're job hunting, been laid off or are just worried you could be next, this session is for you. Hear news managers explain how they make the cuts, what recruiters are looking for and what advice a career counselor can provide.
Speaking: Dan Bradley, vice president news, Media General; Ernest Sotomayor, assistant dean, Career Services, The Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University; Virgil Smith, vice president/talent management, Gannett Company, Inc.
Listen to or download audio (44.1 MB, 1:00:00)


Beating Burnout
In February 2007, University of Kansas professor Scott Reinardy conducted a study of 800 journalists examining newsroom burnout and found that nearly half of the respondents under the age of 34 (about 44 percent) said they didn't know if they'd stay in journalism and another 34 percent said they were planning to leave the business altogether. The culprit: Stress. Given the recent upheavals in our industry, these numbers are probably higher now. What can the industry do to hold on to its younger workers? How can Gen Jers enhance their careers in such turbulent times without suffering exhaustion?
Moderating: Scott Reinardy, professor, University of Kansas
Speaking: Aiesha D. Little, associate editor, Cincinnati Magazine; Isha Cogborn, life coach, Epiphany Institute; Sonya Smith, Web editor/reporter, Orange County Register; Renee Petrina, copy editor, Indianapolis Star
Listen to or download audio (42.4 MB, 1:00:31)


All the News That's Fit to Link: The Value and Practice of Link Journalism
Newsrooms are expanding their core editorial mission of original reporting to include helping readers find the most important, relevant, and interesting news and information on the web — even if they didn't report it themselves. In contrast to links chosen by algorithms, journalists at news organizations such as The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The Dallas Morning News, and The Knoxville News Sentinel are using their editorial judgment to curate the web and help readers find valuable content. This new practice of "link journalism" is becoming an integral part of journalism on the Web. News sites have also found that link journalism increases traffic and engagement.
Moderating: Scott Karp, CEO, Publish2 and editor, Publishing 2.0 blog
Speaking: Bill Adee, editor, Digital Media, Chicago Tribune; Jack Lail, news director of innovation, Knoxville News Sentinel; Eric Umansky, senior writer, ProPublica
Listen to or download audio (53 MB, 1:12:35)


The Bright Spot in Traditional Journalism: Community Journalism
Circulation and readership data show that while metro newspapers are in serious decline, community papers are holding their own or in some cases even increasing readership — and doing good journalism, too. It’s more difficult to do strong, courageous journalism in smaller markets, but it can be done. There are excellent career opportunities in community journalism, and not just as a steppingstone to reporting jobs at larger papers; the path to management and even ownership can be faster at community papers.
Speaking: Al Cross, director, Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based at the University of Kentucky; Benjy Hamm, executive editor, Landmark Community Newspapers Inc.; Ryan Craig, editor and publisher, Todd County Standard, Elkton, Ky.; Rama Sobhani, reporter, The Sun-Commercial, Vincennes, Ind.
Listen to or download audio (54 MB, 1:10:28)


America's Insatiable Appetite for Sports, and the New Media Careers it's Creating
Description: At a time when much of the news industry is contracting, the number of sports information outlets is exploding, and so, too, are job opportunities in this new media paradigm. Why? Advertisers are following readers and viewers to these increasingly popular sports news outlets. Despite the economic downturn, there are projections that online sports advertising will double in the five-year period ending in 2012. The 10 largest sports blogs now collectively bring in tens of millions of dollars in revenue annually. Sports leagues and teams are bolstering their own Web sites to draw viewers and advertisers away from mainstream media, and to better control the flow of information to the public. And, entire cable networks are being created to cover individual sports teams, conferences and regions. The session will cover who's creating this burgeoning sports information business, the jobs it's spawning, and the new kind of journalism it's producing.
Speaking: Tim Franklin, director, National Sports Journalism Center and Louis A. Weil, Jr. Endowed Chair, Indiana University School of Journalism; Mark Silverman, president, Big Ten Network; Pat Forde, senior sports columnist, ESPN.com; Lynn Hoppes, senior director of Page 2 and commentary, ESPN.com Listen to or download audio (34.7 MB, 1:12:17)


Super Session: Creating Stability in an Age of Uncertainty
Not everyone can be an entrepreneur or find just the right niche to strike out on his own, create a profitable business and do solid journalism in the process. But we all can learn from those journalism entrepreneurs, like Rafat Ali. Not only did Rafat launch paidcontent.org during the dotcom bust, he did it without much support from the traditional journalism-entrenched industry. Rafat will take us back to describe how he got started, what hurdles he faced, lessons he learned, and essentially how he broke through the status quo to create a fantastically successful venture. In addition, Rafat will talk about the future and what journalists can do to remake the industry by producing journalism and delivering news to a more diverse and increasingly finicky audience. Victor Hernandez of CNN moderates.
Listen to or download audio (18.2 MB, 52:27)



Super Session: Reporting from the Frontlines

Reporting about international conflicts and issues is in a challenging period, as the United States continues to have a major troop presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, and as a new U.S. foreign policy takes shape. At the same time, most traditional media are downsizing or eliminating their international bureaus. Explore the now and the future of news from abroad. International reporting in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and other global hot spots, with attention to major global issues in other parts of the world, will be explored. CBS News Correspondent Kimberly Dozier and the Chicago Tribune's James Janega speak.
Listen to or download audio (25 MB, 54:41)


Me, My 3,000 Facebook Friends & I
Want to feel more popular? Useful? Relevant? Award-winning, nationally-syndicated columnist and radio talk show host Ilyce Glink has, like few others, learned to work the social media channels that remain a mystery to so many of us. She will share her experiences developing her presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, MoneyWatch, ActiveRain, Trulia and other social networking channels, and offer examples of how these efforts have led to more viewers, readers, jobs and opportunities.
Speaking: Ilyce R. Glink, Freelancer
Listen to or download audio (46.4 MB, 1:04:52)


Texts, Lies and Videotape
The story behind the infamous text messages: How the Detroit Free Press’ relentless investigative reporting and intense legal battle to open up secret documents put the mayor of Detroit behind bars. And how lessons learned in the Free Press’ efforts might be applied in your newsroom.
Speaking: Paul Anger, editor & publisher, Detroit Free Press
Listen to or download audio (22.6 MB, 1:05:33)


Journalism 3.0
Social networks, live streaming, geospatial Web technologies, semantic search engines — oh my! These obscure terms, have now become front and center applications for many innovative journalists. With the implementation of new strategies and practices around converging newsrooms, so has the flood of new gizmos and accompanying jargon, but who can keep up!? Which technologies are simply “flavor of the month” and which possess true staying power? Is now the time to turn in the traditional reporter's notebook for a shiny, new digital “doodad”? Well, not exactly, but now is the time to embrace emerging technologies and grow your toolbox in ways our industry forefathers could have never imagined.
Speaking: Victor Hernandez, Director of Coverage, CNN
Listen to or download audio (45.4 MB, 1:03:16)


"Big J" in Tough Times
Has your boss cut your resources, time, travel budget? You can still do "Big J" projects. The presenters will share a case study of a huge investigative story involving a multi-state data investigation that uncovered — on the eve of the '08 presidential convention — a potentially huge flaw in our voting system, a flaw that could let millions of people vote more than once. They could not have done it alone. The session will cover tips on how to find collaborators you trust, how to split tasks and pitfalls to avoid.
Speaking: Hagit Limor, WCPO-TV, Cincinnati; Jodi Fleischer, WSB-TV, Atlanta
Listen to or download audio (16.5 MB, 47:37)


The Truth About Freelancing: How to Run a Profitable Writing Business
Description: Shifts within the news business are prompting many journalists to strike out on their own as freelance writers, bloggers and columnists. And it’s not a bad option. Better work/life balance, higher pay and greater fulfillment are all within reach for skilled journalists with the knowledge and work ethic to pursue them. This session will teach the ins and outs of running a profitable writing business. You’ll leave with a strong grasp of the diverse ways freelancers make a living from pitching articles and blogging for dollars to ghostwriting books and selling information directly to consumers. You’ll also learn seven secrets of profitable freelancing, and only one of them has to do with writing.
Speaking: Maya Payne Smart, Freelancer
Listen to or download audio (25.3 MB, 55:12)


Burned Out, Laid Off or Bought Out?
What's a journalist supposed to do when his/her company downsizes, especially mid-career writers, editors and broadcasters who thought their golden parachute was waiting 30 years down the road. Find out how to handle the new job search, a possible change in careers and the stress of being laid off in this tough economic climate.
Speaking: Isha Cogborn, life coach, Epiphany Institute; Holly Fisher, former research editor, SC Biz News LLC and freelance writer and editor; Mark Scarp, former editorial writer and columnist, East Valley Tribune, Phoenix and adjunct professor, Arizona State University Listen to or download audio (27.9 MB, 1:00:52)


How to Be a Healthy Skeptic Covering Health News
Almost every day news stories tout new research on new health care treatments, tests, products and procedures. But few of these stories take a skeptical look at the claims being made. This workshop will give journalists of any experience level, beginner or advanced, ten tangible tips to think about to become smarter, healthy skeptics in covering health care news. We’ll review the work of a Web site, HealthNewsReview.org, that grades U.S. health news coverage every day, posting the grades online and sending journalists emails to help them improve. Those attending will come away with new ideas about how to approach health news in a different way that will be more helpful to news consumers.
Speaking: Gary Schwitzer, associate professor, University of Minnesota; publisher, HealthNewsReview.org. Listen to or download audio (35.04 MB, 1:16:31)


Save the Cheerleader: New Media Managers
Description: Content Manager, New Media Producer, Web Editor, Internet Director — we have many names, but we are all the same in many respects. We are the innovators, the early adopters, teachers, instructors and most of all — cheerleaders — for the Web in our newsrooms. Learn how to transform your newsroom into Web enthusiasts and learn ways to “manage up,” behaviors you can practice which will earn you recognition from your senior management.
Speaking: Hilary Fosdal, interactive content manager, Barrington Broadcast Group
Listen to or download audio (30.71 MB, 1:07:05)

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