By Holly Edgell | July 19th, 2012
Protests, grandstanding, goofy t-shirts and hats — oh, and presidential politics. Covering a national party convention in an election year is a tough job, and SPJ members in the Carolinas are getting ready to tackle it. In fact, they’re practically shouting, “Bring it on!”
On July 28, Greater Charlotte SPJ will host a day-long event, “Ready, Set, Go: Preparing To Cover DNC 2012,” to prepare journalists, academics, and insiders for what could be the story of a lifetime. The seminar will be held at UNC Charlotte Center City, and promises to provide context, tips, and insights across media platforms. I asked chapter president Frank Barrows four questions about the seminar.
EDGELL: What’s the excitement and/or stress level among your members as the Greater Charlotte Chapter gets closer to the big day?
BARROWS: Many of our members will cover the convention or its impact on the city for their news organizations. I think, generally speaking, the best word to use to describe our members’ attitude toward the arrival of the Democratic National Convention in early September is dedicated. The folks I’ve talked with are resolute in their determination to do the best possible journalism, and to that end a good number of them have signed up for “Ready, Set, Go: Preparing To Cover DNC 2012.”
EDGELL: This event seems like a great way to provide a service to journalists in your area. How did the chapter decide to do this and what key elements did you want to include?
BARROWS: The idea was hatched by Cheryl Spainhour, who teaches journalism at UNC Charlotte. She realized that most of the reporters who come to the convention in Charlotte from nearby media outlets will have had no experience with national political conventions. We wanted to provide them with an overview of the history of conventions, as well as, most importantly, practical advice from veterans who’ve been-there-and-done-that.
EDGELL: What does the convention coming to town mean for journalists in your region? Seems like this could be one of the highlights of an entire career.
BARROWS: It’s a great opportunity to do significant journalism, and we’re hoping that our seminar will help them. Our speakers include Rob Christensen of the News & Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina’s senior political reporter and a veteran of 10 conventions; Charles Bierbauer, dean of the University of South Carolina College of Mass Communications and Information Studies, who worked nine conventions during his time at CNN; John Ensslin, national SPJ president, who covered the Democratic Convention in Denver in 2008 for the Rocky Mountain News; and WCNC‘s Carrie Hofmann, a producer at a Denver television station during that convention.
Registration, which includes lunch, is $15 for dues-paying SPJ members and students, $25 for others. This event, in partnership with the UNC Charlotte Department of Communication Studies, is funded by a grant from the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of SPJ.
EDGELL: For journalists who are not SPJ members and are planning to attend, what message do you hope they take away from the event about SPJ, your chapter?
BARROWS: We hope they’ll see the benefits of SPJ membership and decide to join. This is the kind of event that local SPJ chapters are uniquely qualified to pull together, and an example of the type of educational opportunities SPJ can provide.
Learn more about Greater Charlotte SPJ
Contact Frank Barrows: email@example.com
Find tools for storytelling at the SPJ eCampus. Free to SPJ Members!