Excellence in Journalism Conference 2017


Entrance of the Anaheim Marriott

Touching down in sunny Orange County California, I was busy scrolling through the EIJ app’s schedule hoping I could make the ‘Three P’s in a Podcast’ workshop. Turns out I had plenty of time but it was much harder to choose between workshops as the weekend progressed.


The Anahaim Convention center at sunset


Overall I learned a ton from startup podcasting, investigative reporting as a freelancer, covering stories of hate and extremist movements, covering violence against native women, re-selling stories as a freelancer, how to make journalism more democratic, covering undocumented communities, covering the police and violence against journalists and investigative reporting as a freelancer.

Not to mention the Super Sessions on covering immigrant communties and pressing the president.

The auido below is the panel discussion on covering immigrant and refugee communities.


Check out the conference highlights here.

You  can also take a virtual tour of the conference here.

And a 360 video of the Opening Night Reception at the bowling lanes.



We took a quick escape from the conference to visit the Huntington Beach Pier


The Society of Professional Journalists National Pro Chapter put together a storify of tweets at the conference.

EIJ News has a rundown of workshops, tweets, and all things SPJ.

I went from workshop to workshop and then checked out the career fair. Big name newsrooms were there from the New York Times, LA Times, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, CNN, CBS, and many more. You can find a full list here. The internship applications season hasn’t started yet but there are a few PAID internships with The New York Times, LA Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Boston Globe for summer 2018 Due in early November so It’s worth taking a look and getting an application in early!


Some of the workshops offered handouts that I think would be super useful for journalism students so I’ve listed a few below:

Data journalism for newbies Q&A

FOI power tools: A useful guide to getting around Trump’s roadblocks 

Data sources 

Time is money: Reselling your work handout 

How journalism can get better at democracy slide deck

Accused: The unsolved murder of Elizabeth Andes

Self evaluation for broadcasting


NBC Nightly News’s Lester Holt won the prestigious Paul white award. He called to accept the award and make a speach from Miami where he was reporting on Hurricane Irma. Holt said that when he was a journalist in his 20’s he never imagined standing there and addressing the conference to accept an award like this. He called on young journalists not to loose hope. He said WNBC radio station once rejected his application in Aug 1977, the same place where he now anchors every night. “If I had a stick mic right now, I’d drop it,” he said winking into the camera.


Lester Holt accepts the Paul White Award live from Miami

You can watch his address here. Holt’s video introduction starts about the 10:50 mark.

The Seattle Time’s won a Kaleidoscope award for its work with Under Our Skin. That starts at the 26:50 mark.

CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent, Jake Tapper accepted the John F. Hogan Distinguished Service Award. You can watch his speech at the same link. It starts about the 33:50 mark with an epic video introduction.


Jake Tapper accepts the John F. Hogan Distinguished Service award


SPJ Cofffee and Training workshop

The Society of Professional Journalists national chapter held a coffee training and networking event. Members of pro and student chapters each wrote down one sucess they had in the last year on a sticky note and posted it on a wall.

Stickynote panel

One cool idea came from the Connecticut chapter. They hosted a workshop at a shooting range to teach journlaists what it is like to fire a weapon. This was inspired by new state legislation and firearm education around it.

While we may not be able to host such a thing as a student chapter, there are a few ideas I want to bring to you all for this year and years to come:

  • Zombie Stories
  • Fake News game show
  • IRE social night
  • Podcasting workshops/talks
  • FOI panels


SPJ Elections!

You can watch the opening business meeting at EIJ 17 and all the candidates speaches here.

Rebecca Baker was installed as the 2017-2018 SPJ President.

Here’s the rest of the election results:

President-elect: J. Alex Tarquinio @alextarquinio

Secretary-Treasurer: Patricia Gallagher Newberry @pattinewberry

Vice President, Campus Chapter Affairs: Sue Kopen Katcef @UMNewsie 

At-Large Director: Lauren Bartlett @LBartlettLA

Campus Adviser At-Large: Jeff South @jcsouth

Student Representatives:

Rahim Chagani @chaganirahim 

Haley Harding @Hayley__Harding

Region 10 Director: Ethan Chung @EthanDChung

Region 2 Director: Andy Schotz @spjregion2

Region 3 Director: Michael Koretzky @koretzky

Region 6 Director: Joe Radske @JRadske

Region 11 Director: Matt Hall @SDuncovered

Region 12 Director: Kelly Kissel @kisselAP


The Society of Professional Journalists voted to approve bylaws changes for a smaler board.

Governance task force chair Patti Newberry said the geogrpahical representation model is no longer relevant with new technology and easier modes of communication. The new board size, she says, will be more efficient.

See the full interview here.

A board of nine members will now run SPJ, down from 23. This includes:

  • Three officers, a president, president-elect, and secretary-treasurer for positions of one year.
  • Four at-large directors for two year terms.
  • Two appointed directors, meant to provide specific expertise, for one year terms

The new structure continues the board’s long-standing responsibilities and aditionally will draft a strateigic plan and adopt a new organizational chart to ensure meaningful communication between the board and chapters and communities.

You can read the full rundown of the changes and what they mean here. 


As a reminder, you can find the National SPJ resources for students here. Sign up for thier newsletters! It’s helpful I promise!


Also, If you ever find yourself in Anaheim, check out this press themed pizzeria!



An artful pizza baked in a firestone oven from The Pizza Press were the perfect ending to a day full of workshops. (Pizza in photo: The Gazette)




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