SFJ18 contest seeks: best podcast

podcast mic

Enter in our annual Excellence-in-Writing contest’s best podcast category! Podcasts must have aired in 2017. Deadline is March 2.

To see all our categories, click here.

To go directly to our contest website, click here.

The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic told through a podcast. One
entry consists of links to three podcasts by the same person or persons.


2017 SFJ conference schedule: Success Stories

sfj17 banner

REGISTER TODAY! $125 for college students; $350 for members; $450 for non-members!



4-5:15 P.M. | SFJ board meeting
The Star’s Press Pavilion, 1601 McGee St.
Board and committee chairs gather to discuss last-minute details about the conference and begin planning for next year.

6-9 p.m. Opening reception at the hotel
Brookside Room at the Westin Kansas City at Crown Center, 1 E. Pershing Road
Come meet your fellow features creatures, register for the conference and relax.

THURSDAY, Sept. 28

Location: The Star’s Press Pavilion, 1601 McGee St.

8-9 a.m.: Shuttle service from hotel to Press Pavilion. Continental breakfast and registration at the Pavilion.

9-10 a.m.: Robb Armstrong of “Jump Start (an Andrews McMeel syndicate) will tell us how he went from a college student at Syracuse University with a comic strip to becoming a nationally syndicated cartoonist. He’s also written a memoir, Fearless: A Cartoonist’s Guide to Life.”

10-11:15 a.m.: Digital tools you shouldn’t live without, by Jennifer Brett of Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Topics she’ll cover include:

  • How to repurpose user-generated content from Facebook without an embed code. (once you have secured the content creator’s permission, of course)

  • How to use geo curation to enhance social searches

  • How to repurpose ephemeral Snapchat or Instagram Stories

  • How to create engaging social pushes to promote your content using a combination of apps

  • Facebook Live tips

11:15-11:30 a.m.: Break.

11:30 a.m. to noon: Visit KC, KC’s tourism bureau, welcomes us. 

Noon-1:30 p.m.: Awards luncheon. 

1:30-2 p.m.: Break

2-3 p.m.: SFJ winners tell all.
They’ve received their awards – now hear about their work. Jim Haag, a contest coordinator and retired Virginian-Pilot features editor, will lead a panel discussion with Rashod Ollison of The Virginian-Pilot, Jeneé Osterheldt of The Kansas City Star and Christopher Wynn of The Dallas Morning News.

3-4 p.m.: Show & Steal. Sharon Chapman and Laura Coffey.
One of the most popular segments of the conference, editors share their best ideas from the year past for anyone to steal.

4-5 p.m.: Shuttle service back to hotel.

5:30-6:30 p.m.: Shuttle service to Andrews McMeel from hotel lobby.

6-9 p.m.: Silent Auction at Andrews McMeel, 1130 Walnut St.
If you have “Doonesbury,” “For Better For Worse” or “Phoebe the Unicorn” in your paper, then you’re an Andrews McMeel client. The syndicate is hosting this year’s Silent Auction in its lovely art deco digs.

FRIDAY, Sept. 29

Location: The Star’s Press Pavilion

8-9 a.m.: Shuttle service from hotel to Press Pavilion. Continental breakfast 

9-10 a.m.: How to dive deep, author Candice Millard
Kansas City-based bestselling author and journalist Candice Millard has written three award-winning New York Times bestsellers: “The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey,” “Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine & the Murder of a President” (about James Garfield) and her latest, “Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill.” Candice will explain how she does her meticulous research and how she finds the story that no one else has told.

10-11:30 a.m.SPJ-Google News Lab Training: Google Tools Fundamentals with Abigail Edge
Freelance journalist Abigail Edge will give an overview of how Google’s tools can help you research stories, fact-check, find what’s trending, and locate useful datasets. The workshop will highlight: advanced Google Search techniques, Google Trends, Google Public Data Explorer, and more to ensure you’re covered on how to fully uncover things.

11:30-noon: Break

Noon-1 p.m.: Lunch + Diversity Fellows presentation
Grab a bite to eat while listening to our amazing Diversity Fellows, Rashod Ollison of The
Virginian-Pilot and Michelle Zenarosa of Everyday Feminism and Woke magazines.

1-2 p.m.: Facebook Live shows: How to do them, and do they make money?
The Kansas City Star has launched several regularly scheduled Facebook Live shows, some of which are sponsored. Here are some lessons The Star has learned, presented by Brittany Coale (digital sales manager), Rachel Crader (growth editor), Jill Silva (Chow Town Live host and barbecue writer) and Shelly Yang (video journalist).

2-3 p.m.: Atten-TION! with Jennifer Rowe of Missouri School of Journalism
Help your stories get noticed with exciting headlines and compelling leads. This session will provide tips for how to write attention-grabbing headlines and story leads with contemporary and classic examples from award-winning features. Learn how to sell your stories and start them off so that readers just can’t turn away.

3-4 p.m.: Lynden Steele: Life after the Pulitzer — how to find the story after the story
Lynden, assistant managing editor for photography at The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and his team won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography for its coverage of the protests in Ferguson. But the stories don’t end with journalism’s highest honor; Lynden will share how the newsroom followed up with even more award-winning coverage.

4-4:15 p.m.: Meet the future
We’ll introduce our student attendees.

4-4:15 p.m. | Changing of the guard
It’s a time-honored tradition: The current SFJ president, Kathy Lu, turns over the gavel – and a few other surprising pieces of clothing – to the incoming president, Jim Haag. Then, sadly, it’s time to wrap it up.

4:30-5:30 p.m. | SHUTTLE BACK TO HOTEL

Free evening. Students heading to Royals game. Meet at the lobby to board the bus.

SATURDAY, Sept. 30 (Campus connection)

This session is designed for our college participants. However, journalists who would like to volunteer to help provide feedback or network with the students are welcome.

Location: The Star’s Press Pavilion, 1601 McGee St.

8-9 A.M. | Shuttle service + hot breakfast 
Pick up shuttle at the hotel; breakfast

9 a.m. to noon: Network & feedback
Professional journalists — Jim Haag, Kathy Lu, Margaret Myers, Jeneé Osterheldt, Alice Short,  and Emily Spicer — will spend time with each student who wants feedback on various topics, including on resumes, clips and interview tips.

12:30-1:30 p.m.: SFJ board meeting, with lunch
The planning for next year begins now, as the new officers and committee members begin setting goals for 2018.


This tour is designed for any conference participant who wants to get to know a little bit about the city we’re meeting in.

10 A.M. | Depart hotel on bus

10:15-10:30 A.M. | Visit American Jazz Museum, 1616 E. 18th St.
Explore the museum’s history in the changing exhibit, “The Legacy Plays On,” which celebrates the museum’s 20th anniversary.

10:45-11:15 A.M. | Tour the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, 1616 E 18th St.
Video presentations and memorabilia chronicle the history and heroes of the leagues – from their origin after the Civil War to their demise in the 1960s.

11:20-11:50 A.M. | More time at AJM, 1616 E. 18th St.
Linger at the place that honors jazz masters such as Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Big Joe Turner and hundreds of others.

NOON-1 P.M. | Lunch at Gates-Bar-B-Q, 1221 Brooklyn Ave.
Enjoy a family-owned Kansas City tradition, cafeteria-style. Owner George Gates will offer a history of his place and KC’s role in the world of barbecue.

Digital Tools — making headline magic


Marketing and advertising types are just as obsessed with getting people to absorb their message.

So, here’s some digital tools that marketers use to test headlines.

Coschedule headline analyzer


Click here for link

Type in a headline, and it will rate it based on its ability to connect emotionally, tell your story simply, and what “power words” you can use. It breaks down a headline on its neutrality, and gives you a preview as a Google SEO.

It’s not free, but you can sign up for a trial period.

Advanced Marketing Institute headline analyzer


Click here for link

This is a less sexy version of a headline analyzer. It lets you get your headline parsed by subject.

Mailchimp’s subject line analyzer


Click here for link

You have to be a Mailchimp subscriber to use this, but this can help you hone your subject lines, which could make the difference between a read clicking and not clicking.




Digital tool of the day: Soundbite

The tool: Soundcite, created by KnightLabs.

What is it? A way to smoothly embed sound bites into a narrative

What can it do? Take sound clips, 9-1-1 call excerpts and other recorded material and use it as part of your story. Bring your stories to life with sound.

Use it to illustrate parts of songs; to bring quotes to life in a narrative. To insert audio history.

Find it: https://soundcite.knightlab.com

Here’s how the New York Times used music bites in a great story you the lost history of American female musicians.



Digital tools: Line, Peach and Kik are all names you should know


Today we’re talking about three messaging apps that are being used in different ways.



What is Peach? You might have heard about the new social app called Peach. It’s either the hottest app going, or the app that’s already been declared dead on arrival.

What’s different about Peach? It seems to have more of an emotional component, allowing your words to be enhanced by media that speaks to the mood of your post, using a “magical words” tool.

In other words, it’s like Oprah. It is designed to evoke feelings. As the New Republic writes, “Advertisers have known this for decades. It isn’t enough for a thing to be useful or good; the thing has to fulfill some more unconscious need. So in other words, successful apps build structures that reward our pleasure centers. They compel you to click.”


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What is Line? A messaging app that’s popular in Asia. Much like Facebook, it builds around a community. 60 percent of its user base are in Japan, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan.

One advantage is that is was created with a mobile-first mentality, and, while it’s a messaging app, it has evolved into a network in which publications can share news and links to their followers.

It also has some intuitive functions, like a “digital butler” service that will deliver goods and services on demand. And it’s got virtual stickers, which are like emojis. Future plans are to add payments and other mobile services onto the platform.

The Wall Street Journal has harnessed it to share targeted stories to its followers, mostly in Asia. One disadvantage? It doesn’t have accompanying analytics, so it’s probably a hard sell to use in a wide sense.



What is Kik? Kik is a messaging platform that is being used by young people. It works like a messaging service, but the conversation can be among several people, much like a chat room. Messages disappear quickly.

Kik doesn’t require a link to a “real” profile like Facebook, which is why it’s being used by 40 percent of young people, by one estimation. And it’s why it’s been targeted by criminals and linked to cyber-bullying. Kik conversations between 13-year-old Nicole Lovell and an 18-year-old Virginia Tech student led to kidnapping and murder of the girl, and subsequent stories to parents and teens about the app.

Have a Digital Tool question or idea? Email Betsey Guzior at bguzior@bizjournals.com