SFJ Conference Schedule

Knight Hall at the University of Maryland

Knight Hall at the University of Maryland

SFJ Conference Schedule

Aug. 26-29, 2015

College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, University of Maryland

NOTE: A free continental breakfast will be served in the Knight Hall Atrium Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning from 8:30 to 9 a.m.

All sessions are in Knight Hall on the University of Maryland campus, except the Thursday afternoon/evening trip to the Washington Post, where we’ll hear four speakers, including Editor Marty Baron and two-time Pulitzer winner Gene Weingarten. We’ll have time between speakers (before dinner) for some small group tours of the Post.


4-5:45 p.m. SFJ Board Meeting: Board and committee chairs

5-6 p.m. Registration, Knight Hall Atrium (a fairly short walk from the College Park Marriott, our conference hotel on the edge of campus).

6-8 p.m.: Opening Reception, Knight Hall Atrium.


8:30-9 a.m.: Continental Breakfast, Knight Hal

l Atrium

8:30-9: Registration, Knight Hall Atrium

9-9:15 Meet our two SFJ fellows

9:15-9:30: Introductions (all attendees), special welcome for first-time attendees

9:30-10:30 The Future is sponsored: Print advertising is collapsing. Digital advertising? Well, if it never amounted to much, it can’t really “collapse.” And did we mention that readers are too busy to seek out our content, that millennials expect to encounter the content they’ve hand-selected on a number of increasingly sophisticated devices? Do not despair, legacy journalists. Not yet, anyway, because we know that some journalistic organizations are experiencing modest to moderate success (beyond branding) with products such as newsletters, events and content sharing. They are attracting advertising and, better yet, sponsorship. We hope to shed a little light on our future. Panelists: Alice Short, assistant managing editor, features, Los Angeles Times; Caitlin Dewey, digital culture critic, Washington Post; and Megan Finnerty, features reporter, The Arizona Republic.

10:30-10:40 BREAK

10:40-11:55: Show & Steal Part 1: Diane Cowen, religion/food editor, Houston Chronicle; Alec Harvey, managing producer, entertainment, dining and travel at Alabama Media Group

Noon-1: Lunch. “Storytelling past, present and future – What’s changing, and not changing, for writers and their audiences.” Featuring University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism professor Carl Sessions Stepp, who specializes in writing and editing, newsroom organization and change, among other things.


1-2:50: Smart Phone Video 101

You don’t need a fancy camera or complicated editing programs to produce high-quality, web-ready news videos. All you need is a smart phone and a talent for telling stories. By the end of this session, you’ll be able to shoot and edit your own videos, no camera crew necessary. This is a hands-on session, and you’ll be shooting and editing your own video, before you arrive, download the Pro Camera and iMovie apps to your iPhone or Android. Suzy Leonard, food and dining writer, Florida Today

1-2:50: Five things you can learn from this year’s SFJ award winners: with Jim Haag, former features editor, The Virginian-Pilot, and Annette Sisco, features editor of The (Baton Rouge) Advocate, (two of our three contest co-chairs), plus some of our contest winners talking about their work.

2:50-3: BREAK


3-3:15 p.m. Board bus or buses outside Knight Hall bound for Washington Post Community Room

3:15: Bus or buses depart for Washington Post reception, speakers, dinner in Community Room (Business attire)

4:00: Speakers in Washington Post Community Room: Q&A between two-time Pulitzer winner Gene Weingarten and his editor, Tom Schroder.

5:15-6:30: Reception and small group tours.

6:30 Buffet served

7: Keynote: Washington Post Editor Marty Baron talks with Executive Features Editor Liz Seymour about innovation in the digital age (Q&A).

9: Board bus or buses for trip back to College Park Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.



8:30-9 a.m.: Continental breakfast, Knight Hall Atrium

9-10: Digital Tools that can make you a star in your newsroom: Betsey Guzior, features editor, The State Media Co. (Columbia, S.C.), and Corey Takahashi, assistant professor or digital media at Syracuse University

10-10:15: BREAK

10:15-Noon: Show & Steal Part 2: Diane Cowen and Alec Harvey, Show & Steal co-chairs

NOON-1:45: Awards Luncheon (sponsored by Athlon Media): Jim Haag, Suzy Leonard, Annette Sisco, contest co-chairs. Before we hand out the checks, plaques and applause, we’ll hear from our two Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellows. Sofiya Ballin and Ada Tseng will talk about “What journalists don’t know about Millennials.” Expect plenty of fresh story ideas from these two young journalists. Ballin is a features reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer who has produced digital fashion features and opinion pieces and covered such trends as cuffing season and the emergence of Black Twitter. Tseng is a writer and editor based in Southern California who hosts a podcast called “Bullet Train” and has a series called “Haikus with Hotties.”

1:45-3: Social media for media mavens: How to use the tools to report and to market our news to the masses. Moderator, Marian Liu, online entertainment editor, Sun Sentinel; Gene Park, engagement producer at The Washington Post; Lori Todd, editor on the Social Media Desk at NPR.

3-3:15 BREAK

3:15-4:30: The New Digital: South Florida Sun Sentinel Managing Editor Anne Vasquez walks you through the realities of navigating newsroom transformation — in practice, mind and spirit. Don’t be afraid to blow up a newsroom structure, take risks and concede that the road ahead will be turbulent at times but, oh, so worth it.

4:30-5:30 Happy Hour conversations: Join one of our roundtables for casual conversations/brainstorms (whether you have questions or answers): Niche products that make money, How to motivate a staff in a newsroom with no raises; Tips for hosting successful community events, Big web traffic drivers, Best practices for great online videos, Podcasts that earn loyal listeners

5:30-7:30 Silent and Live Auction, Lindsey Nair, auction chair

SATURDAY, Aug. 29:

8:30-9: Continental breakfast, Knight Hall Atrium

9-10: Be a Digital Superstar: No one knows what the future of digital journalism will bring, but we all know it will involve tremendous change. NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune and Florida Today editors and reporters offer real-life tales about their own evolution as digital journalists. Pick up strategies that will make you a leader in your newsroom, so you can continue to do what you love: Make a living telling stories about your community.  Ann Maloney, managing editor, entertainment, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune; Todd A. Price, dining editor, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune; Suzy Leonard, food and dining writer, Florida Today.

10-11: Audience engagement strategies that work: Jessica Stahl, editor for search, social and communities, Washington Post; and Julia Carpenter, digital audience producer, Washington Post. Moderator, Terry Scott Bertling

11:00-11:10: BREAK

11:10-11:20 Passing of the gavel to new SFJ president Lisa Glowinski. New board member announced.

11:20-11:40: Wrap up: What can SFJ do for you? What issues/problems/challenges do you have in your newsroom that we haven’t yet helped address? What can we do between now and the next conference to make your SFJ membership even more valuable to you?

11:40: ADJOURN

Noon-1:45: Board meeting with committee members, lunch



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