Apply now for the 2015 Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship

April 21, 2015 1 comment

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2015 Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship

When: Aug. 26-29, 2015, at the University of Maryland

Sponsor: Society for Features Journalism

Who is this for: Journalists of color who produce arts and features content for news organizations or those interested in pursuing careers in arts and features journalism.

What it covers: Travel and lodging costs to our annual conference, plus a $300 stipend for conference-related expenses.

Application deadline: May 22, 2015

The Society for Features Journalism is committed to developing news-gathering staffs representative of the multicultural communities its members serve. Toward this goal, SFJ is sponsoring the Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship Program for journalists of color in conjunction with its annual conference at the University of Maryland. Programming will have heavy emphasis on multimedia, leadership and writing.

Read more…

Digital Tool Tuesday: Meerkat vs. Periscope

April 15, 2015 Leave a comment


meerkat

Welcome to the weekly feature highlighting a digital tool to leverage for lifestyle and arts and entertainment coverage.

The tools: Meerkat vs. Periscope

Where to find them: Apps for iPhone and Androids

What are they: Easy to-use live streaming to social media. Periscope is a tool fully integrated with Twitter, Meerkat is a standalone app that uses Twitter. Because Periscope is a Twitter-sanctioned tool, it’s easier to stream through it.

How they work: Both give you the ability to live stream from your smartphone to Twitter followers. Both also offer real-time live streams for you to view. Both apps allow viewers to respond with “love” buttons and share the live stream with others.

The difference is in the look of the screen. Periscope’s screen can be highly animated, with little “hearts” indicating viewers’ likes floating during the broadcast. On Meerkat, comments and likes are overlaid on the screen.

Read more…

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Save the date: SFJ’s annual conference at the University of Maryland

April 13, 2015 Leave a comment
Knight Hall at the University of Maryland

Knight Hall at the University of Maryland

Plans for the 2015 Society for Features Journalism Conference at the University of Maryland Aug. 26-29:

We’ll start with an opening reception on the evening of Wednesday, Aug. 26, and offer a packed agenda of speakers and conversations that continues through noon Saturday, Aug. 29. Topics that are likely to be on our agenda: money making ideas to take home, new tricks for those moving into more digital content (everyone, right?), new storytelling techniques that resonate with digital readers. And much more.

We’ll stay at the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference center on the University of Maryland campus. Conference sessions will be in the impressive Knight Hall in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism in College Park – just a short walk from the Marriott. We’ve arranged for a block of rooms at the Marriott with a rate of $149/night for a king or $159/night for two queens (an affordable option for attendees who want to share a room and share the cost).

We’re planning an outing one evening for kicks, but this is a roll-up-your-sleeves conference that promises lots of ideas and content for SFJ members to take home and put to use right away, whether your biggest challenge is boosting revenue, creating better content, or learning new tricks to connect with online readers.

Read more…

Digital Tool Tuesday: Yik Yak

March 11, 2015 Leave a comment

The Tool: Yik Yak

yikyak

What is it? A social media app that allows users to post anonymously; others “endorse” the posts to make them “hot.” Yik Yak communities primarily are around college campuses; the users are primarily students.

How does it work? People post observations; you can find “nearby” Yik Yaks. There are two options to view; one lets you see the newest posts; the other is to see the “hot” posts — those posted endorsed (liked) by others.

The search button lets you see featured topics, and “peeks,” which are other communities (again, mostly colleges).

You may include a username to Yik Yaks. That might be a good idea if you’re trolling for info as a reporter.

Read more…

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Digital Tool Tuesday: Useful web sites

February 26, 2015 Leave a comment

spjtoolbox

Digital Tool Tuesday: Useful (and offbeat) websites for features reporting

In this edition, some resourceful websites to use in lifestyle reporting, courtesy of The Journalist’s Toolbox, itself a great compilation of what journalists need to navigate reporting in the digital age.

Food Timeline

http://www.foodtimeline.org/index.html

Simply done, this is a timeline of the history of food. Want to know when “The Virginia Housewife” was first published? This timeline has that. Want to find out when the first dedicated baby food was produced; it’s got that, too. Click on the hyperlink and get a lot of well sourced material to mine for any food history story. Bonus: a page that outlines food prices in the past.

Supertracker

https://www.supertracker.usda.gov

A USDA site, this includes great consumer information and personal tools for weight loss and increasing activity. Editors will find the Food-A-Pedia a useful tool to discover nutritional information on any food.

Math for journalists

http://www.robertniles.com/stats/

Math tutorials from the L.A. Times Robert Niles. We like the simple explanation of percent change.

Read more…

Did you miss our first SFJ Story Club chat? Catch highlights here

February 24, 2015 Leave a comment

iris burkhart and mother
Did you miss SFJ’s inaugural Story Club Twitter chat about the Sun-Sentinel’s ‘The Lost Sister”?

Catch the highlights of the discussion here.

Categories: Story Club Tags:

Join us on Monday for #SFJStoryClub

February 19, 2015 Leave a comment

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 9.57.32 AM

The newsroom gets a phone call — two sisters who had not seen each other in decades are having a reunion. The first instinct is to go cover the event, write it up and move on.

But, the folks at the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale did a little digging, and came up with this tale of loss, grief and hope.

Now, we’re going to dissect this story apart and learn how it unfolded. Join us on Monday, February 23rd from 1-2 pm EST for SFJ’s first Story Club Twitter chat about “The Lost Sister,” a great piece by Nicole Brochu and photographer Joe Cavaretta, who tracked down this story and turned it around in record time.

To participate in the Story Club Twitter chat you can send questions to the SFJ listserv by 3 p.m. Friday, February 20th. Or, send them on Monday using Twitter and the hashtag #SFJStoryClub. Be sure to follow along next week!

Categories: Features news Tags: ,

SFJ Campus Connection: Journalism internship links galore & tips on moving to a new city

February 19, 2015 Leave a comment

Our third issue of SFJ Campus Connection is here! It’s the perfect tool for anyone on the hunt for an internship. Plus hear from a Mashable employee about how he networks to find places to live.

Follow this link to the PDF version with hotlinks: SFJ Newsletter 3

SFJ Newsletter 3

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Digital Tool Tuesday

February 11, 2015 Leave a comment

Digital Tool Tuesday Welcome to a new weekly feature of SFJ, in which we share tips about a digital tool to leverage for lifestyle and arts and entertainment coverage. The tool: Storymap

Storymap screenshot from the Burning of Columbia

Storymap screenshot from the Burning of Columbia

What does it do? Creates clickable map that allows you to tell a story at each point.

What’s cool about it? Embed video and photos at each point, bringing a map to life.

Read more…

ABC News, USA Today interns talk to Campus Connection

October 31, 2014 Leave a comment

This fall, we hear from two summer interns and their experiences at ABC News and USA Today. Also, Washington & Lee University (in Lexington, Va.) professors give tips to students.

Our quarterly Campus Connection newsletter aims to connect college journalism students and professors with the features journalism society at large. If you have ideas for future newsletters, please like us on Facebook and leave a comment there. Thanks!

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Diversity fellows: What we learned at SFJ14

September 15, 2014 Leave a comment

Mariecar Mendoza WatsonDenisePhoto (1)

The Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship winners, Mariecar Mendoza and Denise Watson, reflect on their time at the 2014 SFJ annual conference:

During a time in the media industry where metrics and analytics rule many newsrooms, it’s refreshing to know that there is a still a smart, creative group of enthusiastic people who champion the art of storytelling.

What’s more, they’re focused on storytelling about music that moves, food that strengthens bonds with loved ones – or helps folks with their gastrointestinal tract.

That’s the biggest takeaway I got from my first Society of Features Journalism conference, hosted in Nashville this summer.

When I was a teen, I always dreamed of being in the same room with arts and entertainment writers and editors who understood the importance of what most newsrooms scornfully dub “fun journalism.” This year, not only got nearly a week with them, but I got real time with them to bounce around ideas – steal a few ideas, too – and find out how they’re dealing with this digital world that has everyone working on so many platforms at such a fast pace.

Tommy Tomlinson, a writer for Forbes, probably summed up what features writing means to me when he told the attentive crowd of SFJers: “I like to write big stories out of little moments.”

Read more…

Categories: Diversity fellowship

Take our Survey and Help Features Journalism!

July 30, 2014 Leave a comment

bubbleThere’s never a bad time to take stock, which is why we seek your input on the current status of the Society for Features Journalism.

We have a long-standing commitment to recognize and celebrate excellence in feature storytelling and this remains at the heart of the group’s mission.  But times change, and our workplaces are in transition.  Your daily routine may barely resemble what it was just a few years ago.

Please take a few minutes to share your feedback. Let us know how we can help you in this challenging new environment.

We believe that SFJ is an important resource for you and your colleagues — your smart and savvy ideas will help us keep it that way!

Thanks, in advance. And, take the survey now: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SFJ0814

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Musically speaking at SFJ14 in Nashville

June 24, 2014 Comments off
johnny-cash

“Johnny Cash: The Life” is available for purchase on Amazon

Nashville, the home of country music, also is home to the Johnny Cash Museum. Learn more about the “Man in Black” with Robert Hilburn, author of Johnny Cash: The Life, the featured luncheon speaker at SFJ Nashville 2014.

Hilburn, one of the top music beat writers in the country, was the only journalist at Cash’s famed Folsom Prison concert. His book draws from interviews with Cash and his contemporaries, and, boy, does he have stories.

That’s just one of the musically related highlights of the Nashville bash, Aug. 20-23 at the John Seigenthaler Center at Vanderbilt University.

— Watch a special performance of “Freedom Sings,” a music lesson on the fragility of the First Amendment, with Nashville musicians and journalists.

— Listen to the stories of music in Nashville from Peter Cooper of The Tennessean. And he’ll share details on the paper’s video project, The Story Behind the Song.

— And let writer Tommy Tomlinson uncover how a three-minute song can teach you about the art of narrative storytelling. Click here for registration and hotel details.

And, the winners are…

June 16, 2014 Leave a comment

Photo courtesy Flickr

SOCIETY OF FEATURES JOURNALISM HONORS THE BEST IN ITS FIELD

FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES:
Betsey Guzior, SFJ President, 803-771-8441
Merrilee Cox, SFJ Executive Director, 301-314-2631

The Society for Features Journalism has honored four Pulitzer Prize winners and three Pulitzer finalists as part of its 2014 Excellence-in-Features Awards contest.

Also receiving awards were nine newspapers for outstanding features sections and journalists in 14 other categories. Contest winners were announced today.

More than 600 entries were judged in the contest, which honors the craft of feature storytelling and the people who do it for a living at news organizations and wire services in the United States and Canada.

Pulitzer Prize winners who won SFJ awards included:

–Liz Balmaseda of the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, who place first in arts-and-entertainment commentary in the small newspaper division. She won a Pulitzer for commentary in 1993.

–Philip Kennicott of the Washington Post, who placed first in SFJ’S Arts and Entertainment Commentary Portfolio category in the large-newspaper division. He received a Pulitzer for criticism in 2013.

–Eli Saslow of the Washington Post, who placed first in Narrative Writing in the large-newspaper division for “Into the Lonely Quiet,” a poignant look at a family who lost a child in the Newton, Conn., school shooting. He won a Pulitzer this year for Explanatory Reporting.

–Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post, who placed second for his General Commentary Portfolio in the large-newspaper division. He has won two Pulitzers for Feature Writing.

Others honored by SFJ included this year’s three Pulitzer Feature Writing finalists, a category in which no award was given. They are:

–Scott Farwell of the Dallas Morning News, who won SFJ’s Series or Project award in the large-newspaper division for “The Girl in the Closet,” a series about a woman’s efforts to lead a normal life after years of severe abuse. He was a Pulitzer Feature Writing finalist for that series.

–Christopher Goffard of the Los Angeles Times, who placed first and second in SFJ’s General Feature category. He was a Feature Writing finalist for “The Manhunt for Christopher Dormer,” which was not entered in SFJ’s contest.

–Mark Johnson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who was the writer of the series “The Course of Their Lives,” which earned two SFJ awards. He was a Pulitzer Feature Writing finalist for that series.

Also winning awards was Carlos Frias, who was an SFJ Diversity Fellow last year. Frias, of the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, received honors in General Feature, Short Feature and for his body of work in General Commentary and Feature Specialty Writing.

Winning best-section honors in the small-newspaper category (circulation of 90,000 or less) were the Colorado Springs Gazette, Edmonton (Canada) Journal and Portland (Maine) Press Herald.

In the medium-size category (circulation of 90,001 to 199,999), the winners were the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram, St. Louis Post Dispatch and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk.

Winners in the large-newspaper category (circulation of 200,000 and above) were the Los Angeles Times, Star Tribune in Minneapolis and the Washington Post.

Among smaller newspapers, those receiving the most awards were the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, with nine, and the Edmonton (Canada) Journal and (Albany, N.Y.) Times Union, with seven apiece. In the middle-sized newspaper category, the big winners were The Virginian-Pilot with 10 awards, CNN.com with five and the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman with four. In the large-newspaper category, the Washington Post received 13 honors, the Los Angeles Times won 11 and the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times had nine.

SFJ will recognize the winners at its national conference Aug. 20-23 in Nashville. SFJ is an organization that promotes and celebrates features journalism.

For a complete list of this year’s winners, please see this link: http://featuresjournalism.org/sfj-26th-annual-contest-winners-by-category

FOR CONTEST INQUIRIES: 
Suzy Fleming Leonard, contest co-chair, 321-543-4261
Jim Haag, contest co-chair, 757-446-2977

SFJ debuts new quarterly newsletter for journalism students

June 4, 2014 Leave a comment

We are happy to introduce a new venture: SFJ Campus Connection, a quarterly newsletter with a focus on helping journalists of the future.

Our membership of features writers and editors have dozens of years of industry experience among them. So we are taking advantage of their knowledge to produce the pieces that you’ll see in our newsletter. Best advice for interns, for instance, or links to internship postings.

We also take the name literally — we hope this newsletter will better link SFJ and colleges, and become a useful resource for students who want to be features journalists.

So we are providing the first few issues for free, but after that, they will be available exclusively to SFJ members. Remember, we offer a student discount of just $25 per year.

If you have ideas for this newsletter, please share on our Facebook page.

 

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Video x 2 = SFJ14 in Nashville

June 2, 2014 Comments off
Capture

Photo courtesy Grant Wickes

“We need more video!” That’s the battle cry from editors in newsrooms. But where you do you go from there?

At SFJ14 in Nashville, you’ll get instruction and inspiration from two seasoned pros, in two sessions on the opening day of the Society for Features Journalism conference. Val Hoeppner travels around the country teaching journalists how to shoot video. She’ll bring her enthusiasm and the newest tools for you to use. Later, learn how to take those skills to the next level with Josh Meltzer of Western Kentucky University.

Sign up for the conference, Aug. 20-23, at the John Seigenthaler Center at Vanderbilt University in beautiful Nashville. Click here for registration and hotel details.

Now Open: Conference Registration for SFJ14 in Nashville

May 15, 2014 Leave a comment
nashville

Photo courtesy Flickr

We want to see you in August for SFJ14. The annual features journalism conference is an excellent way to gain new skills, networks and friends in features journalism. Register now and save big on early bird rates. Download the registration form and reserve your room today! See you August 20th-23rd in Tennessee!

Registration rates:
Members (early bird by June 9 ): $275
After: $300

Non-members (early bird by June 9 ): $400
After: $500

Day Rate: $75

Payment options:
Check (made payable to SFJ)
PayPal (please add $5 to cover processing costs)
Credit Card (please add $5 to cover processing costs)

Categories: Uncategorized

Reserve your Room at SFJ14 in Nashville

May 14, 2014 Leave a comment
Photo courtesy Flickr

Photo courtesy Flickr

It’s not too soon to make your plans for this year’s SFJ Conference in Nashville, August 20-23.  

The Embassy Suites at Vanderbilt , our proud host for the 2014 SFJ conference, is ready to accept reservations NOW!   Located in the heart of Nashville at 1811 Broadway St., the Embassy Suites is close to the John Seigenthaler Center at Vanderbilt University, the site of this year’s conference.

Follow this link to make reservations today. Use the code SFJ to save. Or, call 615-277-4966.  To guarantee the best rate, be sure to book early. Music City awaits … so what are YOU waiting for?

…Next week, we’ll begin revealing our lineup of speakers and sessions.

Going Once, Going Twice… Bid for Your ONA 2014 Conference Registration

May 12, 2014 Leave a comment

onaTo the highest bidder: Registration at the Online News Association’s conference in Chicago, Sept. 25-27.

We know the SFJ conference in Nashville will be the hottest journalism meet-up this year. But we hear ONA is pretty great, too. And who doesn’t love Chicago?

Because ONA recognizes SFJ as a vital and innovative group, it has donated one registration to its fall conference. This is a value of up to $989. The cheapest registration for ONA members is $439.

This generous gift will raise funds for the SFJ Foundation, which supports SFJ’s Diversity Fellowship program. The SFJ Foundation is a 501c3 organization, and donations are tax deductible.

So it’s a win-win for SFJ and for you!

Here’s how it works:
* Go to the SFJ Facebook page
* Enter your bid in the comments section.
* The starting bid is $350, and you can bid as often as you want.
* Bidding ends at 5 p.m. MONDAY May 19th.
* Upon receipt of check payable to SFJ Foundation, you will receive notification from ONA about your registration.

This auction is open only to SFJ members (Not a member yet? Join here.)

A Missing Pulitzer Prize: An Open Letter to Features Journalists

April 19, 2014 Comments off

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The Pulitzer board did not award a prize for feature writing this year.

Why?

The Poynter Institute’s Roy Peter Clark, a former Pulitzer juror and a friend of features folks, speculated this week that part of the reason for the snub is that features journalism is a bit hard to define.

What is features writing anyway?

Members of our organization, the Society for Features Journalism, produce some of the finest narrative storytelling in journalism. Some of us drive cultural and artistic discussions in our communities. Many of us still tell stories no one else would spend to time to do.

And, yes, some of us are writing celebrity blogs, compiling Top 10 lists, making how-to videos, posting reality show recaps and cooking up crazy reader contests.

It’s all features.

Features writers, editors and producers have been rattled by the recession and the changes in the news industry. Arts critics are rare these days, and features sections have been decimated or eliminated.

But know this: Many of the survivors — lifestyle and arts and entertainment journalists — are leading newsrooms into a digital age and finding new ways to reach out to readers and tell stories. Innovative work in newsrooms is being driven by the features staffs, who, through powerful and resourceful storytelling, learned the hard way to create something exciting, often from nothing.

Quality features journalism is spreading beyond traditional print newsrooms. Some of the recent winners in our SFJ national writing awards were from CNN and Today.com.

Did features journalism take a hit Monday when the Pulitzer board decided to withhold a prize in features writing?

No way.

Betsey Guzior
President, SFJ
Features Editor, The State, Columbia, SC

P.S. SFJ guarantees prizes in its annual writing and best section contest. Enter by clicking here

Categories: See all contest posts

Deadline extended for 2014 Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship

April 12, 2014 Leave a comment

SFJ’s Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship Program is seeking applications from journalists of color who are interested in attending our annual conference, happening Aug. 20-23 at the Freedom Forum in Nashville. Programming will have heavy emphasis on multimedia, leadership and writing.

Diversity fellows learn what’s happening in features departments nationwide while networking with outstanding journalists specializing in lifestyle coverage. Fellowships cover SFJ conference registration, airfare and hotel. Fellows will also receive a $300 stipend to be used toward conference-related expenses such as baggage and transportation fees and meals not covered by the conference.

Fellows are asked to contribute to the conference by completing a project and presenting a short report to the group at the conclusion of the event.

Read more…

Announcing the 26th Annual Excellence in Features Journalism

February 27, 2014 Comments off
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The 2014 SFJ Excellence-in-Features Awards is now taking entries. We’re using an online system this year, which we hope will make the experience less cumbersome. Here’s how to get started:

Get detailed instructions on the categories here, and learn how to apply here.

For details on the categories, check out the BNC site or find them under the “Contest” heading here labeled “26th annual Excellence in Features Journalism.”

The deadline for entries is April 18.

Also, this year we have three new categories:

Narrative Storytelling: A single story told in a narrative style, using techniques such as character development, use of dialogue, sense of place, scene building, narrative arc and adherence to theme. Sidebars accepted. Each entry consists of one story. All entries, regardless of circulation group, compete in one group.
Blog Portfolio: Three blog posts by the same writer on any feature topic, including commentary and reviews. Each entry consists of three blog posts. All entries, regardless of circulation group, compete in one group.
Digital Innovation: New or improved online ventures, which can include new or upgraded websites, apps, social-media experiments or other ways to share information in the digital world. Entries will be judged on creativity and impact. Must include a description of no more than 250 words on how the innovation came about, its goals and its success. Submit explanation as a Word document attachment. One entry consists of one innovation, such as an app or a website. All entries, regardless of circulation group, compete in one group.

http://featuresjournalism.org/contests-2/award-submission-info/

Categories: See all contest posts

@WeAreSfj Among “151 Twitters Worth a Follow” in #journalism

February 11, 2014 Leave a comment

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Do you recognize some of these Twitter handles: @nytimes, @poynter, @stkonrath and @wikileaks?

According to JournalismDegree.org, they are among the “151 Twitters Worth A Follow” in its recently released “Best in #Journalism” list.

So the Society for Feature Journalism — @WeAreSFJ — is in good company at spot #106!

Here’s JournalismDegree’s description of our Twitter account: “The Society of Features Journalism helps journalists refine their craft through some of the most innovative posts across the internet. They’re incredibly active in retweeting other notable journalism publications, which only makes their feed stronger.”

JournalismDegree.org describes itself as “a site dedicated to providing timely and relevant information about journalism degrees and programs.”

It decided to put out this list because of Twitter’s effect on journalism.

“These are some of the journalists, bloggers, and news organizations that are pushing the limits of what can be accomplished with Twitter,” the site explains. “Budding journalists and seasoned pros should be following every one of these accounts.”

Thank you! We are honored to have been included on this list and we’ll keep tweeting away.

2014 Golden Globes: The Day After

January 13, 2014 Leave a comment

The 2014 Golden Globes are over, and the general consensus seems to be: We love Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as hosts; we love it when celebrities get drunk and unpredictable; and we have plenty of comments to offer on the dresses that hit the red carpet Jan. 12.

But if you’re looking for second-day story on the entertaining evening, here are three things that are generating talk (click on image for links).

1. How E! considered Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s diagnosis a “fun fact.”

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Read more…

Renew or Join SFJ in 2014

December 16, 2013 Leave a comment

imagesGet full access to membership perks, including quarterly newsletters and our email listserv. Become a Society for Features Journalism member in 2014!

Joining is easy. Just download and complete this registration form: https://db.tt/r2aeFpCO

You can also make your membership payment online with PayPal.

And, don’t forget! There is a multiple-member discount, so you can add new colleagues and save big.

Questions?  Email Merrilee Cox.

Happy holidays, and see you next year!

Categories: Uncategorized

Digital technology changes journalism ethics

October 15, 2013 Leave a comment
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Kelly McBride

By Greg Braxton
2013 SFJ Diversity Fellow

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA — Ethics have always been a hallmark of journalism. But the advance of digital technology within newsroom is fueling an ethics revolution.

That was the message behind the session, “Ethics In a Digital Age,” officiated by Kelly McBride, a Poynter Institute faculty member specializing in media ethics.

“Journalism ethics will change,” McBride said during a spirited address during the Society for Features Journalism conference at the institute.

Although independence has been held as one of the pillars of journalism, readers now are valuing transparency over independence, said McBride.

“When we are transparent, then we have the trust that is crucial in a relationship with the audience,” she said. “We have to show people why they should believe, we have to communicate why we are trustworthy.”

Read more…

Creativity can still be nurtured in newsrooms, says Geisler

October 15, 2013 Leave a comment
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Jill Geisler

By Greg Braxton
2013 SFJ Diversity Fellow

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA — The business of journalism is such a relentless beast filled with deadlines and constant pressure that it can have a negative, even stifling impact effect on creativity and attitude.

In a session spiced with good humor and energy during the Society of Features Journalism conference, senior Poynter Institute faculty member Jill Geisler, who specializes in leadership and management, spoke on how to nurture creativity with newsrooms, and how to heighten it without sacrificing the demands of producing news.

“We’re often so tied up on the product,” said Geisler in an address that was mainly geared to editors. “We have to be as good at growing and nurturing people as we are about the product … you want your most creative people to be engaged in the workplace.”

She provoked laughter among the attendees when she said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun,” noting that “play” is important to people who are creative.

“Set up a climate where playfulness can or can’t happen with creative people,” said Geisler, who also said that editors should not be reluctant to use “tough love” when necessary.

Geisler provided several tips, including leading “with Feedback Glasses,” instructing editors to have continued meaningful interaction with their reporters and staff so that there is an understanding of mutual goals, which will fuel motivation between both parties.

Read more…

Reporter talks about profile story that turned tragic

October 15, 2013 1 comment
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Leonora LaPeter Anton

By Greg Braxton

2013 SFJ Diversity Fellow

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA — Personality profiles can be the most insightful, involving pieces in print journalism, providing in-depth glimpses into fascinating figures while simultaneously allowing writers time and space to display their craft.

But every so often, the process produces results that can be unexpected, and, in some instances, even tragic.

Tampa Bay Times enterprise reporter Leonora LaPeter Anton encountered that delicate situation with her award-winning 2012 profile of a woman suffering from persistent genital arousal disorder, a rare debilitating disease that produces unwanted sexual feelings and responses. The intricately detailed story which exposed the humiliating ordeal of Gretchen Molannen also proved to be a troubling experience for both Molannen and the seasoned Anton, who detailed their encounters during a gripping session at the October conference for the Society for Features Journalism.

Before the story with Molannen was published in late November, she committed suicide. She took her life on Dec. 1, the day after the story appeared online.

Choking up at times as she recalled the experience, Anton defined the experience as a journey between her and Molannen, two people that always had a trace of possibility that something horrible may happen.

Read more…

Editors use their beats to find inspiration for books

October 14, 2013 Leave a comment
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Diane Cowen

By Carlos Frías
2013 SFJ Diversity Fellow

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA — In the 40 minutes it takes Diane Cowen to commute from the Houston Chronicle, she’d considered, conceived and came home ready to celebrate the idea for her first book.

Cowen, the Chronicle’s food and religion writer, burst through the door, heading for her computer, and called out to her husband, “I’m going to write a cookbook!”

His response? “OK. What are we going to have for dinner tonight?”

They went out to dinner.

She came up with the idea for “Sunday Dinners,” a book that examines the Sunday mealtime traditions for famous families of faith such as Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes, simply by thinking about her beats — something she suggests any reporter can do.

“I thought sarcastically, ‘I guess I could write a cookbook for religious people.’ I literally laughed out loud in my car and then… I thought, ‘That is not a bad idea,’ ” she said during the Society for Features Journalism panel examining how books can spring from the newsroom.

Read more…

Tompkins revs up the story machine at SFJ conference

October 11, 2013 Leave a comment
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Al Tompkins

By Carlos Frías
2013 SFJ Diversity Fellow

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA — To watch Al Tompkins concoct story ideas is a free association spectacle.

Government shutdown, you say? Tompkins, a Poynter professor and journalist of 35 years, sees FHA loans that aren’t being processed, veterans’ disability checks getting held up, the flu spreading wildly without the CDC open to warn us, border patrols shutting down and food stamps not getting processed.

He can do that with just about any topic, conjuring story ideas simply by asking how a big, public event affects five areas: money, family, safety, health, community.

With that filter, writers and editors can devise local angles to big stories. And not all of them have to focus on malfeasance.

“Part of our job is to investigate wrong-doing. Part of our job is to investigate right-doing,” Tompkins said. “There are people who do good work and we should hold them up when they do. … People are hungry for that.”

The core of reporting, he said, is to forget our stereotypes — that politicians are all crooked, that the elderly are all frail, that “kids today” all know nothing.

“It’s not all like you think,” Tompkins said.

Read more…

Call for Entries: Show & Steal Submissions at SFJ 13

August 22, 2013 Comments off

UntitledThis is the call for entries for the Show & Steal presentation at the Society for Features Journalism 2013 Conference.

CATEGORIES

Moneymakers: Reader contests, special promotions and new sections.

Saved The Day: Quick turn-around packages, great ideas stolen from the newsletter or last year’s Show & Steal.

Totally Entertaining: Fun topics from the world of entertainment and pop culture.

Holidays: How did you cover (any) holidays this year in a fresh, innovative way?

Editor’s Choice: Enterprise, special projects or any great concept that doesn’t fit elsewhere.

Online Superstars: Digital content only, a video, blog or anything else that got lots of traffic and buzz.

CONTENT PUBLICATION

Content should have been published between June 1, 2012, and July 31, 2013.

FORMAT

For print entries, please send PDFs of your pages. For online entries, please send web links.

SEND ENTRIES: ShowSteal@chron.com

DEADLINE IS: Sept. 6, 2013

If you have any questions, contact Melissa Aguilar and Diane Cowen, Show & Steal committee co-chairs, at ShowSteal@chron.com.

Early Bird Registration Extended Through Aug. 23rd

July 8, 2013 Comments off

We want to see you in October for #SFJ13. The annual features journalism conference is an excellent way to gain new skills, networks and friends in features journalism.

Need more convincing? Here are a few tips to make the sell to your editor or boss:

The challenge: Convince the boss to let me attend the SFJ Annual Conference at The Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg October 9-12.

The solution, Part 1: For three days, I will rub elbows with the most talented features journalists and the best journalism trainers in the country.  I will return renewed, refreshed, energized and filled with new ideas to help make everyone in my newsroom a better journalist/writer/editor/producer.

The solution, Part 2: I will become more productive, a virtual “…Story Idea Machine”** and will be better prepared to handle the challenge of “Leading Creative People”**.

The solution, Part 3: I’ll move further along the ever changing cutting edge of the business with “Visual Thinking from Big Data to Simple Idea”** and “Tablet Storytelling”**

Read more…

Reserve Your Room for the Features Journalism Conference

June 17, 2013 Comments off
poynter

The SFJ 2013 conference runs from Oct. 9-12th in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Take a moment to mark your calendar and make your plans to join us for the SFJ 2013 Features Journalism Conference.

Hotel reservations are being accepted now.

A bulk room rate has been secured for $109/night.  The hotel offers free wifi and provides a shuttle to and from the Poynter campus.

You can reserve your room now by going to this link: http://cwp.marriott.com/tpasd/societyoffeaturesjournal

Your SFJ testimonials wanted!

June 5, 2013 Leave a comment

A scene from our awesome 2012 silent auction.

A scene from our awesome 2012 silent auction.

As we gear up for our annual conference this fall at Poynter, we want to hear from our members past and present — and from any past conference attendees — about how the Society for Features Journalism has helped you.

We would love to hear why you attended the conference and what’s the best idea you picked up at a recent SFJ conference that you put to use in your newsroom?

As the features editor of The Roanoke Times, I’ve attended five conferences and have felt recharged at each one. It’s a great way to network and meet other features editors and learn from one another. It’s also nice to have the time away from the daily pressures of the office to evaluate our jobs and challenges, and get advice if needed.

Thanks to the Show & Steal sessions, I’ve brought back great ideas to reproduce at my paper, including asking readers for their hilarious Scared of Santa photos. And you’ll never fail to find something amazing at our annual silent auction to benefit our diversity fellows program.

Now it’s time for you to share your testimonial. How did the conference help you in your job? Leave your comments below or tweet us at @WeareSFJ. We may share some of your thoughts in our conference program this year.

— Kathy Lu

Winners Announced: 25th Annual Features Journalism Contest

May 22, 2013 Comments off

notebookThe Society for Features Journalism is pleased to announce our 25th annual contest winners!

SFJ would like to recognize the wonderful work being done on a daily basis by you and your colleagues around the country.  The full list of winners can be found on our contest page.

All winners will be formally recognized at our annual conference at Poynter in October.

Congratulations one and all!

Read more…

2013 Diversity Fellowship Winners: Greg Braxton of L.A. Times & Carlos Frias of Palm Beach Post

May 14, 2013 Comments off
Greg Braxton

Greg Braxton

The Society for Features Journalism has awarded Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowships to two minority journalists to attend the organization’s 2013 annual conference.

Greg Braxton, entertainment reporter at the Los Angeles Times, and Carlos Frias, columnist and features writer at the Palm Beach Post, will receive all-expense paid trips to attend the conference Oct. 9-12 at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Braxton has been a journalist for 35 years. A graduate of the California State University at Northridge, he started as reporter at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. He moved to the Los Angeles Times, where he has worked since 1982. Braxton has primarily covered television at the L.A. Times since 1992 and has been part of three Pulitzer Prize-winning teams at the paper. He has continually examined the issue of minority representation in film and television and says, “There is much more work to be done in the industry on this front, and I fully intend to keep reporting on it. Participating in this fellowship will help provide me with added perspectives and insights that no doubt will assist me in that endeavor.”

Carlos Frias

Carlos Frias

Frias is a graduate of the University of Florida in Gainesville. He has been a staff writer at the Cincinnati Enquirer, the St. Petersburg Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has worked at the Palm Beach Post since 2004, focusing on long-form narrative journalism and previously on special projects in sports. He won the International Latino Book Award for best debut book for “Take Me With You: A Secret Search for Family in a Forbidden Cuba” in 2009 and first-place awards from SFJ for general and specialty features in 2011. Of his job, Frias says, “Features allows us to tell the stories of amazing people in amazing circumstances and ordinary folks in extraordinary times.”

The Diversity Fellowship offers an opportunity for journalists of color to gain a broader experience in features and underscores SFJ’s commitment to diversity within our newsrooms. Applicants were judged on the quality of their work samples, their interest in features journalism and their commitment to diversity issues. The society’s membership is open to any features writer interested in sharing and learning from a community dedicated to advancing storytelling in our society.

Dallas Morning News’ writing contest celebrates narrative nonfiction by newspapers

May 2, 2013 Leave a comment

The Dallas Morning-News is sponsoring a new contest honoring narrative nonfiction writing in a daily U.S. newspaper or a U.S. newspaper website. It’s called the Best American Newspaper Narrative Writing Contest. The contest is conducted by the Mayborn Conference.

The prizes are impressive:

  • First place winner will receive $5,000 and free registration to attend the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference July 19-21, 2013 in Grapevine, Texas
  • Second place winner will receive $2,000
  • Third place winner will receive $1,000

Submissions must have been published between Jan. 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012. Deadline to enter is June 1.

Deadline extended for 2013 Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship

April 12, 2013 Leave a comment

Deadline to apply for the fellowship has been extended a week (giving you time to finish your taxes AND your application!). Please encourage your colleagues look into this wonderful opportunity.

When: Oct. 9-12, 2013, at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Sponsor: Society for Features Journalism

Who is this for: Journalists of color who produce arts and features content for news organizations or those interested in pursuing careers in arts and features.

Application deadline: April 22, 2013

About the fellowship: The Society for Features Journalism is committed to developing news-gathering staffs representative of the multicultural communities its members serve. Toward this goal, SFJ is sponsoring the Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship Program for journalists of color in conjunction with its annual conference at the Poynter Institute. Programming will have heavy emphasis on multimedia, leadership and writing.

Read more…

SFJ Contest Deadline Extended to Friday, April 5th

March 28, 2013 Comments off

Relax a little, we’ve extended our deadline — by popular demand — to Friday, April 5th.

But hurry, there’s only a few days left to submit your best in features journalism. Check out all the rules, and enter our contest now: http://featuresjournalism.org/contests-2/

Deadline for SFJ Contest is March 29th

March 19, 2013 Comments off

The deadline for the 25th Annual Features Journalism Contest is fast approaching.  Please visit our contest page to learn how you can enter. Don’t forget there are three new categories this year for entrants in video storytelling, integrated storytelling and student general features.

Contest information: http://featuresjournalism.org/contests-2/

For those of you submitting multiple entries this year, please follow a tip from Paul Saltzman of the Chicago Sun-Times:

When you have completed an entry, you will click “submit” to send the information.  You will then see “message sent” along with a rundown of the information you entered.

At this point, you will also see “go back.”  If you click on the “go back” it will indeed take you back, but it will also clear out all the fields in your submission.  You can save yourself time and effort of retyping the same information (newspaper name, address, phone, etc.) if you use the back arrow on your browser instead.  This way, you’ll only have to enter the new information for your next entry!

Categories: See all contest posts

Apply today for the SFJ diversity fellowship!

March 13, 2013 2 comments

2013 Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship

When: Oct. 9-12, 2013, at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Sponsor: Society for Features Journalism

Who is this for: Journalists of color who produce arts and features content for news organizations or those interested in pursuing careers in arts and features. There are two fellowships available.

Application deadline: April 15, 2013

Image

2012 diversity fellows Christina Rosales and Helaine Williams hard at work during the annual conference.

The Society for Features Journalism is committed to developing news-gathering staffs that are representative of the multicultural communities its members serve. Toward this goal, SFJ is sponsoring the Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship Program for journalists of color in conjunction with its 2013 annual conference, happening at the Poynter Institute. Programming will have heavy emphasis on multimedia, leadership and writing.

Diversity fellows learn what’s happening in features departments nationwide while networking with outstanding journalists specializing in lifestyle coverage.

Fellowships cover SFJ conference registration, airfare and hotel. Fellows will also receive a $300 stipend to be used toward conference-related expenses such as baggage and transportation fees and meals not covered by the conference.

Read more…

Features editors share Oscars coverage from around the country

February 26, 2013 Leave a comment

How did features sections across the country cover the Oscars on Sunday? We sent a query out to our members and got this roundup. Check it out for ideas for next year!

screenshot

Read more…

25th Annual Society for Features Journalism Contest — DEADLINE: March 29th

February 21, 2013 Comments off

SFJ is officially announcing our call for entries in two contests:

25th Annual SFJ Best Section, Niche Product

The SFJ Best Section and Best Niche Product awards honor the craft of feature writing and the people who do it for a living at news organizations and wire services. Winners of the 25th Annual contest will be announced in May and honored at SFJ’s national conference at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, FL., on Oct. 9-12, 2013. Learn more about SFJ’s 25th Annual Best Sections Contest here.

25th Annual SFJ Excellence-in-Feature Writing Competition

The SFJ Excellence-in-Features awards honor the craft of feature writing and the people who do it for a living at news organizations and wire services. Winners of the 25th Annual contest will be announced in May and honored at SFJ’s national conference at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, FL., on Oct. 9-12, 2013. Learn more about SFJ’s 25th Annual Excellence-in-Feature-Writing Contest here.

The deadline for all entries is March 29, 2013.

Read more…

Categories: See all contest posts

Farewell to Dear Abby, an AASFE Hall of Fame inductee

January 19, 2013 Leave a comment

Farewell to Dear Abby, an AASFE Hall of Fame inductee

The page from the 2001 AASFE conference program about that year’s Hall of Fame inductees: Pauline Friedman Phillips (Dear Abby) and Eppie Lederer (Ann Landers).

Said SFJ President Alec Harvey, managing producer of The Birmingham News, “As the author of Dear Abby, Phillips was a giant in the features world, earning one of the first places in our features hall of fame. Her advice was timeless, and her audience was huge – something the likes of which newspaper feature writers will rarely see again.”

Click on the photo to read the New York Times obit on Phillips.

Donate to SFJ Foundation today!

December 21, 2012 Leave a comment
Image

Tom Huang, SFJ Foundation board president

The SFJ Foundation is accepting donations to seed the start of its new life.

As an incentive, board president Tom Huang (of Poynter and Dallas Morning News fame) has generously offered to match donations received through Dec. 31, up to $1,000.

Perhaps this could be one of your #26actsofkindness, or your way to ensure the future of features journalism. Through our annual conference and the Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellows Program, SFJ aims to advance and recognize the important role features journalism plays in the media and society. What would we be without our stories?

To make a contribution, send a check payable to SFJ Foundation and mail to SFJ Foundation, 1100 Knight Hall, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742.

No donation is too small.

Renew your membership today!

November 27, 2012 Comments off

Before the crunch of the holiday season and other year-end activities, don’t forget to renew your SFJ Membership.

We know very well that this brave new world of journalism presents some major challenges.  We also know that your membership in SFJ provides a ready source of ideas, inspiration, support and camaraderie that can help in rapidly evolving times.

It’s an exciting time for the group.  As you know, the newly-formed SFJ Foundation has received tax-exempt status, which will allow for the expansion of training and mentoring opportunities offered through our Diversity Fellowship program.

Renewals (or new memberships) are good for one year.  If you don’t know when your membership expires, email Merrilee Cox or call 301-314-2631.

Share the word with your colleagues and take advantage of the multiple member rates.

Read more…

October Newsletter and Fall Welcome from President Alec Harvey

October 6, 2012 Comments off

This month’s October newsletter contains ideas for Halloween, the fall months, and the following note for our incoming president, Alec Harvey. You can read the full newsletter here: http://featuresjournalism.org/newsletters/octobe-2012-newsletter/

Just a quick note of welcome to those who have joined us since our invigorating conference at the University of Maryland in August.

Our speakers were inspiring and informative, and the location — the spiffy new journalism building at the University of Maryland — was beautiful.

Read more…

Categories: Members only, Newsletters

SFJ Conference 2012

September 22, 2012 1 comment
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SFJ Conference 2012, a set on Flickr.

A photo gallery from our August conference. Photos by Kathy Lu, features editor of The Roanoke Times.

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