8 things you should know about SPJ, or how to get free money for programs

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This past weekend was our regional conference and the national board meeting. Most of you headed to San Francisco for a super weekend of programs and networking and that amazing San Francisco food. I went to Indianapolis for the full-day board meeting and a lot of Starbucks. Sad face emoji. I wish I could have been in both places at once. Below are some of the highlights from both events, and here again are all the winners from the Region 11 Mark of Excellence college journalism awards.

First, a HUGE thank you to SPJ NorCal for putting on such an amazing conference, to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Audrey Cooper and KQED’s Holly Kernan for a terrific keynote conversation and to all the panelists and attendees for creating such energy in each session. And a HUGE thank you to SPJ President Dana Neuts and the national board for a thoughtful day of deliberation and progress in the name of journalism. And for drinks after.

Here are a few scenes from the regional conference, courtesy of Twitter.

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No wait. That last one’s not right…

Now here are eight things you should know.

1) Our regional leaders’ meeting in San Francisco had representation from San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas and the Sacramento State student chapter. Part of the discussion was that San Quentin (!) wants to start a chapter. This prompted some jokes about lifetime SPJ membership and the Society of Prison Journalists, but all kidding aside, I was happy to hear the prisoners are occupying their time by exploring our industry. More info on that as it develops.

2) There is interest in a regular presidents’ conference call or better yet Skype conversation. I’ll try to start that in May. Our likely first order of business will be discussing how and when SPJ chooses annual convention cities. Our lineup the next three years is Orlando for EIJ15, New Orleans for EIJ16 and Anaheim for EIJ17. Future sites have yet to be chosen but the board directed staff in Indianapolis this weekend to broaden its search criteria to include host cities with hotel room rates of up to $250 or $260 a night and to continue moving the convention around the country. The thought behind the increased room rates is that bigger cities, even at greater costs, might attract more convention-goers and a wider, more electric mix of panelists. The board stressed that since a third of our national conference attendees are students, there must be an effort to control costs and pick dates that work best for students (i.e. not summer or early September.) Because of TV sweeps months, Jewish holidays and factors such as the timing of  regional conferences and chapter awards banquets, our national conventions will likely continue to be held in mid- to late September, but staff is exploring options there, too. I’d like to hear from each chapter — and unaffiliated Region 11 members — about preferences for convention cities, room rates, times and more. So let’s discuss that in our first president’s conversation. SPJ staff expects to make a recommendation for EIJ2018 prior to our convention in Orlando in September so I figured it’s best not to wait to discuss it. [Another great idea: Register for that convention now! It takes place Sept. 18-20. And it’s going to be awesome.]

3) Speaking of unaffiliated members, the board directed SPJ president-elect Paul Fletcher to explore how to give the 41 percent of our members nationally who are not in chapters a stronger voice at the annual convention and throughout the year. (Coincidentally, Region 11 also breaks down 59 percent chapter members and 41 percent unaffiliated members.) Fletcher is forming a task force and will examine a range of options on how to address this issue. Speaking of chapters, please join me in welcoming Region 11’s newest: the student chapter at California State Polytechnic University, which the SPJ board added this weekend.

4)  Looking ahead, the Valley of the Sun chapter in Phoenix is already planning NEXT YEAR’S regional conference. The board has dates picked out (April 1-2, 2016), a likely venue (the Heard Museum, on light rail with its own stop from the airport and plenty of hotels within walking/rail distance!) and half the programming plotted out already. Nice work, Phoenix! Looking further ahead, Las Vegas is the likely location for the 2017 regional conference and San Diego is gearing up to host the 2018 gathering. Great planning, everyone. You have your work cut out for you to top the excellent effort that San Francisco put into planning and throwing such a great party.

5) The names of some candidates for the next SPJ board cycle were announced in Indianapolis. New candidates have until about a week before EIJ15 to announce their candidacy. So far, there are only two contested elections (secretary-treasurer and at-large director). Yes, I intend on running again, but I encourage anyone interested in being a candidate to contact Sonny Albarado, past president of SPJ and this year’s nominations chair, or click here for more info.

6) Chapter grants, which SPJ has doled out in the past (in our region, for instance, to Phoenix and Hawaii), are changing. The good news is the regional directors have $1,000 for chapter grants (so if you have a great program you believe would benefit from a cash infusion, please email me the details and your pitch). But the bad news is that conventional chapter grants were removed from the FY2016 budget because of staff concerns they were difficult to manage and too few chapters made requests. I tried to get the regional directors to advocate for retaining them at a regional directors meeting Saturday, but the suggestion didn’t catch on because other directors figured we should see how requests (and awards) go for the pot of money we control. So apply today!

7) SPJ updated and expanded its job bank! Good luck finding work, if you’re looking!

8) For more about the national board meeting, please read SPJ President Dana Neuts’ thorough recap. Of note in Dana’s post is this section about our 2016 national convention destination:

The board discussed how to handle the proposed Marriage & Conscience Act now in committee in Louisiana. The board will send a letter to the Louisiana legislature citing its concern about the bill which addresses religious and moral beliefs, unlike other religious freedom legislation being considered in other states. Our hope is that the bill will be defeated. If not, SPJ will have to reconsider hosting its 2016 spring board meeting, and SPJ and its partner RTDNA will have to discuss the implications for EIJ16, both scheduled for New Orleans next year. President-elect Paul Fletcher and secretary-treasurer Lynn Walsh will work on the letter to the legislature and share it with the board for input by the end of this month. We will also share it with RTDNA, and they will vote on whether or not they wish to sign the letter as well.

Board member Bill McCloskey noted at the national board meeting that the Louisiana Legislature’s final day of the session is in June so we’ll know before too long the bill’s fate.

That’s a wrap. Go out and do good work.

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Congratulations to all our Region 11 2014 college journalism award winners

I am very pleased to announce the 2014 Mark of Excellence Award winners from Region 11. The complete list of honorees is below.

Each year, the MOE Awards honor the best of collegiate journalism around the country and in Region 11, from Arizona, California, Nevada and Hawaii.

Honorees received their award certificates on Saturday morning at the Region 11 Spring Conference in San Francisco. I’m in Indianapolis for Saturday’s national SPJ board meeting (and will report back to you soon on both it and our spring conference) so I missed the MOE ceremony. But I asked the emcee to read the following remarks on my behalf:

I’m sorry I couldn’t be here to congratulate each and every one of you in person, so please accept my deep appreciation not only for joining SPJ this weekend to celebrate all this excellent reporting but also for jumping into journalism in the first place, for joining what David Carr, our great media critic and champion, called our “grand, grand caper.”

This weekend is a celebration FOR journalists, but also OF journalists, of those at this conference and those who cannot be. Think of The New York Times’ David Carr and other journalists we lost this year. Think of The Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian, jailed in Tehran since July, and other reporters held against their will. Think of those on foreign soil and those reporting for duty in Arizona, Nevada, California and Hawaii.

“Being a journalist, I never feel bad talking to journalism students because it’s a grand, grand caper,” Carr’s quote goes. “You get to leave, go talk to strangers, ask them anything, come back, type up their stories, edit the tape. That’s not gonna retire your loans as quickly as it should, and it’s not going to turn you into a person who’s worried about what kind of car they should buy, but that’s kind of as it should be. I mean, it beats working.”

Carr’s right, of course. It does. So have fun this weekend. Celebrate your good work, then go do more of it. Congratulations, one and all.

The first-place winners named in San Francisco will move on to the national MOE competition among the 12 SPJ regions. National winners will be notified in the late spring and will be recognized at Excellence in Journalism 2015 (EIJ15) in Orlando, Florida, Sept. 18 to 20. (Yes, you can register now for that conference.)

Entries were judged by professionals with at least three years of journalism experience.

Please direct any MOE Awards questions to Awards Coordinator Abbi Martzall: awards@spj.org, and 317-920-4791.

Note: The following list reflects the spelling and titles submitted in the award-entry process.

Art / Graphics

Breaking News Photography (Large) 10,000+ Students

Winner: Stenner street standoff – by Morgan Butler, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Finalist: UC students protest tuition increase – by Stephen De Ropp, University of California, Santa Cruz

Finalist: Businesses, community members respond to passage of religious service refusal bill – by Connor Radnovich, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

 

Breaking News Photography (Small) 1-9,999 Students

Winner: Students protest police brutality – by Max Westerman, Santa Clara University

Finalist: Clay promises consistent policy enforcement – by Jeremy Bloom, Occidental College

 

Editorial Cartooning

Winner: Distrust among faculty and administration deepens – by Anthony Mata, City College of San Francisco

Finalist: Really metro, Not again; Smokers light up off campus; Dream weaver – by Jose Tobar, Los Angeles City College

 

Feature Photography (Large) 10,000+ Students

Winner: Wake of the storm – by Neil Bedi, UCLA

Finalist: Camp Texas – by Jim Tuttle, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Finalist: A story of ALS – by Connor Radnovich, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

 

General News Photography (Large) 10,000+ Students

Winner: Church members pray for Liberia’s healing from Ebola – by Jessica Wardarski, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Finalist: Test of strength – by Brandon Choe, UCLA

 

General News Photography (Small) 1-9,999 Students

Winner: Obama declares part of San Gabriel Mountains a national monument – by Helen Arase, University of La Verne

Finalist: Dalai Lama Makes Historical Appearance – by Malu Veltze, Santa Clara University

 

Photo Illustration (Large) 10,000+ Students

Winner: Net neutrality – by Megan Heddinger, Joseph Pack, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Finalist: Breaking the silence – by Julien Brundrett, Erin Ng, Tim Bradbury, UCLA

 

Photo Illustration (Small) 1-9,999 Students

Winner: ASU State Press – Photo Illustration – by Alexis Macklin, Arizona State University

Finalist: Santa Clara will clear the air – by Malu Veltze; Vishakha Joshi, Santa Clara University

 

Sports Photography (Large) 10,000+ Students

Winner: Shaquielle McKissic’s double-double powers ASU men’s basketball past Pepperdine – by Ben Moffat, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Finalist: Cold Water Classic – by Stephen De Ropp, University of California, Santa Cruz

Finalist: Sacked for Territorial Cup – by Rebecca Sasnett, University of Arizona

 

Sports Photography (Small) 1-9,999 Students

Winner: Leopards lose third straight game – by Helen Arase, University of La Verne

 

Magazines

Best Student Magazine

Winner: Brink – by Alana Levinson, Erica Hellerstein, and Carly Nairn, University of California at Berkeley

Finalist: TUSK Magazine – by Arnold Holland / Jeff Brody, CSU Fullerton

Finalist: The Osprey – by The Osprey, Humboldt State University

 

Non-Fiction Magazine Article

Winner: Fever of unknown origin – by Brittany Patterson, University of California at Berkeley

Finalist: The Call of the wild – by Carly Nairn, University of California at Berkeley

Finalist: Chosen – by Erica Hellerstein, University of California at Berkeley

 

Newspapers

Best All-Around Daily Student Newspaper

Winner: March 3, Oct. 9, Dec. 5 issues – by Daily Bruin staff, UCLA

Finalist: Daily Titan – by Staff, Cal State Fullerton

Finalist: The Daily Californian – by Staff, University of California, Berkeley

 

Best All-Around Non Daily Student Newspaper

Winner: Three Occidental Weekly issues – by Staff, Occidental College

Finalist: The Lumberjack – by The Lumberjack, Humboldt State University

Finalist: City on a Hill Press – by City on a Hill Press staff, University of California, Santa Cruz

 

Breaking News Reporting (Large) 10,000+ Students

Winner: Wildcat clash with police officers – by Staff of The Daily Wildcat, University of Arizona

Finalist: Black Student Union members encounter racism – by JoshuOne Barnes, Santa Rosa Junior College

Finalist: UC Regents Committee approves tuition increase – by Samantha Hamilton, Pamela Avila, Susana Alvarez, University of California, Santa Cruz

 

Breaking News Reporting (Small) 1-9,999 Students

Winner: Allies, trustees clash over college policy – by Juliet Suess, Occidental College

Finalist: Race too close to call – by Collin Baker, Santa Clara University

 

Editorial Writing

Winner: Students deserve a voice – by Nathan Quast, Santa Rosa Junior College

Finalist: ASU State Press – Editorial Writing – by State Press Editorial Board, Arizona State University

Finalist: Daily Bruin editorial board – by Daily Bruin editorial board, UCLA

 

Feature Writing (Large) 10,000+ Students

Winner: UCLA, student groups combat sexual assault – by Kate Parkinson-Morgan, UCLA

Finalist: Coming up for air – by Elizabeth Case, UCLA

Finalist: Beyond stereotypes: Homeless yet hopeful in Sonoma County – by Julie Lee, Nate Voge, Jeanine Flaton-Buckley and Estefany Gonzales, Santa Rosa Junior College

 

Feature Writing (Small) 1-9,999 Students

Winner: Demystifying disabilities – by Mariela Patron, University of La Verne

Finalist: Eating disorders: It’s more than just the food – by Katie Callahan, Point Loma Nazarene University

Finalist: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ opens in Warehouse Theater – by Maureen Wolff, Azusa Pacific University

 

General Column Writing (Large) 10,000+ Students

Winner: Americans influenced more by YA; #getoverit; Ruined by emails – by Trey Ross, University of Arizona

Finalist: Conflict of interest, academic freedom and culture of litigation – by Eitan Arom, UCLA

Finalist: Know justice, Know peace – by Salina Nasir, Cal Poly Pomona

 

General Column Writing (Small) 1-9,999 Students

Winner: Back to Black – by Marissa Black, Azusa Pacific University

Finalist: No rest; Hero; Halo – by Will Westwater, Occidental College

 

General News Reporting (Large) 10,000+ Students

Winner: Facing a waning future – by Virgie Hoban, University of California, Berkeley

Finalist: Research keys on building stockpiles of organs – by Patrick O’Connor, University of Arizona School of Journalism

Finalist: Students seek clarity, closure in student-professor relationship investigations – by Nicholas Palomino Mendoza, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

 

General News Reporting (Small) 1-9,999 Students

Winner: Looking mental illness straight in the eye – by Katie Callahan, Point Loma Nazarene University

Finalist: Housing law faces student opposition – by Mallory Miller, Santa Clara University

Finalist: Adjunct faculty unionization coverage – by Mariela Patron, Kristina Bugante, University of La Verne

 

In-Depth Reporting (Large) 10,000+ Students

Winner: Wake of the storm – by Katie Shepherd, UCLA

Finalist: Love thy sister – by Sara Grossman, University of California, Berkeley

Finalist: Central American minors pushed north by poverty, violence, hopes for refuge – by Emilie Eaton, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

 

In-Depth Reporting (Small) 1-9,999 Students

Winner: The courage to heal – by Katie Madden, University of La Verne

 

Sports Column Writing

Winner: Bo knows – by Kevin Bowman, UCLA

Finalist: NFL’s moral battle; NCAA; NBA’s gamble – by Joe Siegal, Occidental College

Finalist: Anaheim a cursed city ; Wildcats scratch and claw ; Arizona’s win over Oregon – by James Kelley, university of arizona

 

Sports Writing (Large) 10,000+ Students

Winner: Phoenix-area golf courses continue to struggle – by Kristen Hwang, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Finalist: Athletic trainer finds lifelong friend and “Coach” at UCLA – by Andrew Erickson, UCLA

Finalist: Coaches and companions – by Aubrey Yeo, UCLA

Sports Writing (Small) 1-9,999 Students

Winner: Hoops program continues run of mediocrity – by Brendan Weber, Santa Clara University

Finalist: McFeely journeys from Ireland to Eagle Rock – by Margaret Su, Occidental College

Finalist: Constructing a program from the ground up – by Katie Richcreek, Azusa Pacific University

 

Online

Best Affiliated Web Site

Winner: MustangNews.net – by Mustang News, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Finalist: Lomabeat.com excels in student-generated content – by Loma Beat staff, The Point staff, Point Loma Nazarene University

Finalist: Spectrum – by Daily Bruin Photo staff, UCLA

 

Best Digital-Only Student Publication

Winner: The State Press – Best Digital-Only Publication – by Danielle Grobmeier, Julia Shumway, Sean Logan, Arizona State University

Finalist: Gun Wars – by News21 staff, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Finalist: Scientific Tucsonan – by Scientific Tucsonan, University of Arizona School of Journalism

 

Best Independent Online Student Publication

Winner: The Downtown Devil – by Downtown Devil staff, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Finalist: Intersections South LA – by Intersections South LA, University of Southern California

 

Best Use of Multimedia

Winner: Coming up for air – by Elizabeth Case, Lexy Atmore, Ryan Hansberry, Connie Chiou, UCLA

Finalist: Gun wars – by News21 staff, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Finalist: Leimert Park’s Third Renaissance – by Intersections South LA, University of Southern California

 

Online Feature Reporting

Winner: A way of Life – by Laura Sposato and Yihyun Jeong, Arizona State University

Finalist: Midwives combine tradition and science to curb maternal deaths in Chiapas – by Lauren Loftus and Alex Lancial, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Finalist: Stories heard around the world – by Bianca Broszus, UCLA

 

Online In-Depth Reporting

Winner: Arizona’s water future – by Cronkite News, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Finalist: Downwind – by Jessica Boehm, Arizona State University

Finalist: Women emerge as a forceful voice in the business of defending firearms – by Lauren Loftus & Natalie Krebs , ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

 

Online News Reporting

Winner: Rare illness in California afflicts children with Polio-like symptoms – by Jake Nicol Sally Schilling, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

Finalist: Department of Defense military gear in Arizona – by Emilie Eaton, Camaron Stevenson, , ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Finalist: Crisis in El Bordo: Record number of deportations contribute to homeless influx in Tijuana Canal – by Cyrus Saatsaz, San Diego State University

View/Edit Results & Comments

 

Online Opinion & Commentary

Winner: From the Editor’s Desk – by Francesca Bessey, Will Federman, University of Southern California

Finalist: Theatrical and film commentary – by David Dixon, San Diego State Universtiy

Finalist: The Curtain Critic – by Molly Bilker, Julie Akerly, Faith Miller, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

 

Online Sports Reporting

Winner: Lost in the lights – by Jacob Lauing, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Finalist: Team manager series – by Daily Bruin staff, UCLA

Finalist: Landon’s last stand: The Final Home Game – by Paolo Uggetti, University of Southern California

 

Radio Broadcast

Best All-Around Radio Newscast

Winner: ARN Live Show – November 5, 2014 – by Carrie Poppy, Camile Requiestas, Victor Figueroa, Andy Vasoyan, University of Southern California

Finalist: Long Story Short – by Jonaki Mehta, Chirag Govardhan, UCLA

Finalist: The Evening Update – by KCSN News Staff, California State University-Northridge

 

Radio Feature

Winner: Me, my dad and Marvin Gaye – by Sarah Zahedi, University of Southern California

Finalist: Carl the bartender keeps Santa Monica laughing – by Victor Figueroa, University of Southern California

Finalist: Divided love: a nanny’s story – by Bryony Inge, University of Southern California

 

Radio In-Depth Reporting

Winner: Bad apps target smartphone users – by Peter Haden, Arizona State University

Finalist: Hash tag yes all women – by Daniel Max, California State University-Northridge

Finalist: College graduate career options – by Samantha Benitz, California State University-Northridge

 

Radio News Reporting

Winner: LAFD aims to recruit more women firefighters – by Sarah Zahedi, University of Southern California

Finalist: Young musicians prepare for ‘World Series of High School Bands’ – by Mariana Dale, University of Arizona School of Journalism

Finalist: The high cost of inmate phone calls – by Sukey Lewis, University of California Berkeley

 

Radio Sports Reporting

Winner: Race fans flock for the ‘Almost-Crashes’ – by Peter Haden, Arizona State University

Finalist: How draft insurance is changing college football – by Matt Levin, University of Southern California

Finalist: Coaches’ friendship transcends the playing field – by Rebecca Rankin, UCLA

Television Broadcast

Best All-Around Television Newscast

Winner: Cronkite News – by Kelsey Tardio, Brittany Ducksworth, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Finalist: Valley View News – by Valley View News, California State University, Northridge

Finalist: ATVN Broadcast – by Faith Miller, Hannah Button, Christina Schoellkopf and Andrea Edoria, University of Southern California

 

Television Breaking News Reporting

Winner: Record rainfall in the desert – by Megan Thompson, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Finalist: Secret Service director gets grilled – by Brittany Bade, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Finalist: Same-sex marriage now legal in Arizona – by Mackenzie Scott , ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

 

Television Feature Reporting

Winner: Broadway blues – by Rachel Witte, UC Berkeley

Finalist: Harrison McIntosh – by Christian Reina, Scott Feuerhelm, Armando Tapia, University of La Verne

Finalist: Armless athlete rides in El Tour de Tucson – by Megan Guthrie, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

 

Television General News Reporting

Winner: Mesa Police Body Camera – by Tara Molina, Arizona State University

Finalist: Airport pollution – by Hector Mejia, California State University, Northridge

Finalist: Investigation: Prescription pills can be gateway drug to heroin addiction – by Vivian Padilla, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

 

Television In-Depth Reporting

Winner: Arizona’s water future – by Vondalynn Dias, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Finalist: Depression: The hidden struggle – by Jetske Wauran, University of La Verne

Finalist: Maxlove – by Eldrin Masangkay, Francesca Manto, UCLA

 

Television News and Feature Photography

Winner: Depression: The hidden struggle – by Jetske Wauran, University of La Verne

Finalist: Backyard Bike Shop- by Shayne Dwyer, Arizona State University

Finalist: Local dairy takes a page from the past for future products – by Megan Thompson, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

 

Television Sports Photography

Winner: The greener golf ball – by Kari Osep, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Finalist: Witt twins – by Robby Baker, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

 

Television Sports Reporting

Winner: Concussions: It’s a girl thing, too – by Kari Osep, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Finalist: Cal Poly pitcher’s love of the outdoors goes beyond the diamond – by Lisa Diaz, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Finalist: Phoenix sports Mecca – by Arianna Grainey, Arizona State University

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Western region extends early-bird conference registration deadline!

BREAKING NEWS. Well, great news, at least.

We decided last night to extend the deadline for early-bird registration until March 30.

But why delay? Register today.

Click here to book your tickets for our spring conference and our Mark of Excellence breakfast.

Two other reasons to sign up now: Space is limited and our programming is phenomenal.

We’ll be updating our list of programs all week and should have it finalized soon, so please keep checking back.

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Don’t delay! Register today for a discount on our spring conference, now just five weeks away

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Our SPJ western region spring conference will start exactly five weeks from today, and I’m proud to announce that our first day of programming is set — and stellar.

That first day on April 17 will feature a trio of intensive, hands-on, half-day workshops — on data mining, data security and data visualization — that are just the first of many reasons to register for the conference today.

First-class first-day instructors include Associated Press data journalist Serdar Tumgoren and Center for Investigative Reporting senior editor for data journalism Jennifer LaFleur,  who will show you how to dig into everything from tweets to census data and campaign finance records at our data mining session; Cyrus Farivar, senior business editor at Ars Technica, who will guide you through safe and confidential data storage at our data security session, and Silk‘s Alex Salkever and Tableau‘s Jewel Loree, who will teach you how to analyze and embed data sets into your work in eye-popping ways at our data visualization session.

Learn more at our conference website. Check back for updates on our second day of programming and information about a tour of Twitter HQ we’re setting up for Friday morning before the half-day workshops.

It’s sure to be a weekend of inspiring panels and incredible networking.

Register now to get the early-bird discount.

And be sure to buy a ticket to our Mark of Excellence awards breakfast scheduled for Saturday, April 18, when we will recognize dozens of students from more than 15 colleges in SPJ’s region 11.

Hope you come to San Francisco in April to hang out with the cool cats.

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We have a venue and not one but two great keynote speakers so register now!

Our regional conference just got a lot more awesome.

We have a venue for it now, the historic Hotel Whitcomb on Market Street in San Francisco near Twitter HQ (and its well-known wall) …

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… and very close to other cool stuff.

Our keynote conversation will feature two Bay Area media leaders: The San Francisco Chronicle’s new editor-in-chief, Audrey Cooper — the youngest woman to lead a major U.S. newspaper — and Holly Kernan, executive editor for news at KQED, a dynamic television, radio and digital public media outlet.

If that’s not enough for you to stop reading this blog post and lock in our early-bird discount and register right now, read on for more details.

On April 17, we’ll offer intensive hands-on workshops on data security,  building your brand and data visualization at the Impact Hub.

On April 18, we’ll feature a full day of programming at the Hotel Whitcomb, where media professionals will share expertise on innovative publishing platforms, new funding models, hot trends in podcasting, science reporting, making the most of online video, mastering data visualization and more.

Our early-bird discount ends March 17 so don’t delay. (Second chance: Register here.)

Conference-goers can also take advantage of a discounted room rate of $159 a night to stay in the Whitcomb Hotel. Book your room reservation online or by phone at (415) 626-8000. You must say that you are attending the Society of Professional Journalists’ conference to receive the conference room rate.

Check back here and on the conference website for more information. A full schedule of workshops and programming will be posted soon.

See you in San Francisco.

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Journalism’s worst week

What a week. What a terrible, awful, heartrending week for our industry, our colleagues, us. Tributes and obituaries are everywhere. Heaven just got one hell of a news team, but it has been a brutal week for journalism.

Our losses seem almost unbearable. Truth, a touch more elusive.

Laurie Becklund. Bob Simon. David Carr. Alison Gordon. Stan Chambers. R.I.P., all.

Our first cruel blow came Sunday when former San Diego Tribune and Los Angeles Times border reporter Laurie Becklund died at her home of metastatic breast cancer. She was 66 and “born a reporter,” journalist Barbara Kantrowitz told the Times.

From the Times’ tribute: “Toward the end of her life, Becklund was still reporting, according to Kantrowitz, untangling the politics of breast cancer. ‘She wanted to find out why so much attention was paid to early detection and not to metastatic cancer,’ Kantrowitz said.”

Then Tuesday, within about an hour, a quick succession of stunning revelations: Jon Stewart was leaving The Daily Show, on his own terms, but still; Brian Williams was leaving NBC Nightly News, on a six-month suspension for embellishing an Iraq War anecdote, and CBS 8 sports director Kyle Kraska was shot 10 times — 10! — outside his San Diego home in a dispute with his painter and rushed to the hospital, where he remains in critical but stable condition. Each of those were stories that alone could occupy our conversations for a week. But not this week.

Because Wednesday, suddenly, 60 Minutes standout Bob Simon was dead in a car crash in New York. It was unfathomable. He was 73 and had won 27 Emmys, believed, as CBS reported, to be the most ever earned for a field reporter; he’d also won four Peabody Awards in a five-decade career.

Thursday was no less terrible: David Carr, just 58, The New York Times’ marvelous media critic and champion, collapsed in his newsroom and died. Grieving, we learned, too, that Alison Gordon, the first full-time female beat reporter in Major League Baseball, was dead at 72. Yahoo Sports recalled that her initial Baseball Writers Association of America membership card “infamously referred to her as Mr. Alison Gordon, because they’d never had a woman in the association.”

Her death brought sorrow because she was a standard-bearer, but Carr’s collapse is just heart-breaking because he was for many the heart of the industry. A gruff, no-holds-barred giant of journalism, he once told the graduates of UC Berkeley: “Being a journalist, I never feel bad talking to journalism students because it’s a grand, grand caper. You get to leave, go talk to strangers, ask them anything, come back, type up their stories, edit the tape. That’s not gonna retire your loans as quickly as it should, and it’s not going to turn you into a person who’s worried about what kind of car they should buy, but that’s kind of as it should be. I mean, it beats working.”

Twitter, as the Washington Post put it, howled with pain Thursday night, when the co-editor-in-chief of Variety wrote this:

The question certainly seemed hyphothetical.

And that was before Friday, when maybe we all thought we’d wake up, catch our breath and stagger into the weekend with the sort of bad news — someone else’s — that we typically deliver, but no.

Friday, we learned that KTLA newsman Stan Chambers was dead at 91. Over the course of 63 years — 63! — with the station, he reported more than 22,000 stories. Twenty-two thousand.

Some of those stories were sad, like the one we’re telling now. It’s just part of the job. We get that. Always has been. But this week, mourning these losses, we grieve for our own and thank them for their service and send them on their way and remember why we do the work we do. Why we try.

So thank you for your service, everyone. Now and always, caper on.

Here is Carr’s commencement speech to the University of California, Berkeley, in 2014 when he spoke of this grand, grand caper, and of us.

 

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Save the date for our regional conference

The committee planning our Region 11 spring conference in San Francisco is working hard to make sure the trip is worth your while, so please set aside the weekend of April 17 to join us. We expect to have an announcement by the end of next week about the venue, workshops and speakers. We’ve scheduled Saturday, April 18, for a full day of programming and for the presentation of our prestigious Mark of Excellence Awards for the region’s best college journalism. We’re also considering a nighttime reception on Friday, April 17, and some optional sightseeing on Sunday, April 19.

Our venue remains in flux because the site we had chosen came back to us with a contract total higher than we expected, so we are pursuing a range of options and will pick a site very soon and share it with you.

As for the MOE Awards, judges have begun their work and expect winners will be announced next month.

We will post more information when we have it on our conference website and the website of our hosts, SPJ NorCal. We will have discounts for early-bird registration, students and SPJ members.

Thanks for your patience as we wrap up our planning. Looking forward to having a big group in April. Any questions, please email me at matthew.hall@utsandiego.com with the subject line “Region 11 conference.”

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Time to recognize the best

Paging all journalists: It’s time to be rewarded for your hard work.

Yes, I’m talking to you.

All of you can now submit entries for SPJ’s annual Sigma Delta Chi Awards and Mark of Excellence Awards honoring the best professional and collegiate journalism of the 2014 calendar year. Students can enter the Mark of Excellence Awards through Jan. 23, and professionals have until Feb. 6 to enter the Sigma Delta Chi Awards.

If you already know the drill, here’s your entry form for both contests.

If you don’t, read on and …

SPJ’s annual Mark of Excellence Awards honor the best student journalism of 2014 for print, radio, TV and digital platforms, whether you belong to a Region 11 campus chapter or not. First-place regional winners will be showcased at our regional spring conference in the Bay Area (date TBD) in 2015 and then compete at the national level.

Because it may help, here are last year’s Region 11 winners, the 2012 Region 11 winners and the 2011 Region 11 winners, and here are some of the rules from SPJ’s website:

The contest is open to anyone enrolled in a college or university in the U.S. studying for an academic degree in 2014. International SPJ student members may also enter. Students who have had full-time, professional journalism experience, outside of internships, are not eligible. Entries must have been published or broadcast during the 2014 calendar year.

SPJ’s annual Sigma Delta Chi Awards honor the best professional journalism in categories covering print, radio, television, newsletters, art/graphics, online and research. The contest is open to any U.S. media outlet. SPJ’s website has a page with rules, hints, entry requirements and more. Here are last year’s winners if you want to take a look.

Questions? Contact Awards Coordinator Abbi Martzall via email or by phone 317/927-8000, ext. 210. Or leave a comment below.

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New campus chapters, social media accounts

Our social media reach is slowly expanding here in Region 11. As is our empire itself; I’m happy to report that we have a new SPJ chapter at CSU, Sacramento, and that California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, is working to start another.

Dorothy Mills-Gregg, president of the CSU Sacramento chapter writes: “We have three programmers and each one is contacting News10, Capital Public Radio, and the Sacramento Bee to get a tour. … After our first tour, we have the idea of partnering with a club on campus to discuss their issues in the media. For example, we could partner with the Pride Center, which is very active on our campus, and do a panel on LGBT communities covered by the media. Also, there is a newspaper called the Homeward Street Journal which does something with the homeless that we want to look into and see if there’s anything we can do with them.”

At Cal Poly Pomona, Department of Communication assistant professor Jason Turcotte is excited about the prospect of a chapter: “It’s something the Communication Department here has wanted for awhile and it’s long overdue. We have many eager, hard-working students who are looking to become more engaged professionally.”

Helping these two chapters get off to good starts would be just one way I want to improve communication and connections between pros and student SPJ members. I also recently met with the San Diego State University chapter (it was a short commute, I know) to present students with their 2013-2014 outstanding Region 11 campus chapter award and help them figure out what events and speakers they’d like to have this year. If I can help you with any of your chapters, please let me know.

To that end, I’m still building out our Twitter (@SPJregion11) and Facebook (SPJ Region 11) channels.

Can Ello be far behind?

The Facebook page will be a place to showcase news about regional conferences, blog posts and more.

The Twitter page will be an account to follow for chapter news, journalism tips and trends. My aim is to post more frequently in that space than on Facebook.

We’re just getting started so please like and follow those accounts and tell us what you want to see on them. One way is to ping me on Twitter at either @SDuncovered or @SPJregion11. Or you can email me at matthew.hall@utsandiego.com. Cheers.

 

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5 goals, 4 GIFs from your new Region 11 director

Hi, everybody.

I’m the new Region 11 director, appointed by the board in July to fill Elizabeth Smith’s seat and then elected by SPJ members last week to serve through the EIJ15 conference in Orlando. Since returning to San Diego from Nashville, I’ve caught up on my sleep, “The Leftovers” and “Boardwalk Empire” and been eating more tacos and less BBQ. But I’m still brimming with ideas and inspiration from our EIJ14 conference.

Hope you are, too.

Blogging is kind of my thing, so you can expect this blog to be more regular and entertaining than it has been in recent years. This post will serve as an introduction and a solicitation.

But first, I’d like to thank and acknowledge Debra Krol of the Valley of the Sun chapter and Richard Saxton of the Los Angeles chapter, both of whom ran for the Region 11 seat and then reached out to me after the election to offer their congratulations and help. It’s that kind of support that will make this year great for all our chapters in Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada. If you missed it, Debra and I gave speeches on the convention floor in Nashville, where I was very lucky to meet many of you and also eat this:

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By now, you’ve probably heard the biggest news from our conference. To recap: We updated the SPJ Code of Ethics for the first time in 18 years. We also elected a new board and created an endowed legal defense fund. And we chose Anaheim as the site of the EIJ17 conference. There were also tons of great breakout sessions and conversations. In one, some of us from Region 11 met to discuss expectations and hopes for the coming year. Our plan is just a start, but it seemed to energize people in the room.

Some of our common goals and first steps are these:

1) Throw another excellent regional conference in Phoenix this spring.

The Valley of the Sun chapter and I will work to make that happen and share a date as soon as we have one.

2) Network and share program ideas.

There’s talk of a joint L.A.-San Diego SPJ meetup, and to everyone’s benefit, I plan to set up a Google doc soon to allow us to share successful programs in a convenient way. There, we can document and discuss together what makes certain panels work (or not), and review a series of metrics that is likely to include social media, turnout, fundraising or membership growth.

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3) Share some valuable lessons we’ve learned covering stories that touch us all, stories on drought, wildfire, Native American issues and other subjects.

Look for these in a future blog post once I compile them, with your help.

4) Better advocate for the region and its journalists.

The presidents of our pro chapters will hold a regular Skype or conference call to coordinate and communicate and tap into our collective wealth of knowledge. Then we’ll all be able to stay on top of what everyone is doing and move quickly as warranted because that line of communication is open.

5) Boost our membership at the college and pro chapter level.

We can start by connecting on the new Twitter and Facebook pages I set up for Region 11 and inviting non-SPJ members to follow us and like us there. I’d like these social media spaces to be places where we share tips, job postings, stories, issues and conversation. Please follow, like and promote them. I hope they become a forum for every reporter in all four states.

Have other thoughts, suggestions or proposals? Please add them below, email me at matthew.hall@utsandiego.com or find me on Twitter, where you’ll find I’m really responsive.

One specific thing I’d like to consider? Renaming this blog. We can do better, am I right? If you have suggestions, drop me a line. I’ll try to scare up some SPJ swag for the person who picks something that sticks.

In closing, here’s my bio. The tl;dr summary? I’m the public engagement director at U-T San Diego, where I’ve worked since 2001 as a reporter, city columnist and public engagement editor and now manage and curate social media. I’ve also worked in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. I’m president of the San Diego Pro Chapter of SPJ. I have two young daughters.

Again, got something on your mind? Please ping me. This blog’s for you.

I’m here for you. As is SPJ.

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