Free-and-easy tech for your regional conference

Dear SPJ regional conference director:

So, are you having fun yet?

If you’re like me, you agreed to organize your region’s conference because you wanted to book mind-blowing speakers. But you didn’t realize the job – and it is a job – would bog you down with mind-numbing tech like setting up a website and a PayPal account.

Well, now you don’t have to.

In 2009, I took charge of the Region 3 conference in sunny South Florida. I built a 12-page website in Dreamweaver and set up a PayPal account linked to my chapter’s bank account. What a giant pain in my ass that was.

But now my pain is your gain…


These days, you gotta offer online registration and payment. But setting up a PayPal account is much harder than using one. So here’s some advice: Don’t bother. Use ours.

For our 2009 regional, SPJ South Florida opened a PayPal account. We still have it. We’re offering it to any conference director who’s interested.

We’ll handle the back end and generate reports for you (so you can be assured we’re not ripping you off). Whenever you want, our treasurer will cut you a check for whatever your owed at the moment. You’ll pay the usual PayPal fees, but we won’t charge you anything extra.

Why is SPJ South Florida being so friendly? Well, besides just being nice folk, we have an ulterior motive: We want SPJ National to offer this convenience next year. If we can prove how easy it is, then maybe it happens.

Speaking just for me, I believe the national board and headquarters staff should handle as many of the boring logistics as possible – so our members have more time to do the fun, creative stuff. That’s how you boost both membership and morale.

If you’re interested, email


How cool would it be if your regional conference had a smartphone app just like the national Excellence in Journalism convention did in New Orleans?

A company called Guidebook offers a small-scale mobile app that really works. How do I know? I’ve messed around with it, and I’ve quizzed a company rep at length.

I organize a college media convention in Manhattan, but it’s too big to take advantage of the free app, which limits the number of downloads to 500. But if your conference has less than 500 attendees, this could be perfect. And it’s a breeze to use.

The Guidebook website says the free app was only available till Sept. 30, but I can get that extended for you. If a number of conference organizer desire the app, we can hit up Guidebook together in one fell swoop.

Email me if you’re interested.


Last year, some regional conferences used a free website called Eventbrite to promote themselves and register folks. It’s not a bad way to go. But it’s also not the easiest on the eyes. And it doesn’t give you much room to blog about your amazing events in advance, much less cover what’s happening.

So check out what the Asian American Journalists Association did with an equally free Tumblr site for its national convention this year. If you’ve never tried Tumblr, it’s simple to use and easy to update.

Of course, if you’re working a large regional conference that partners with an active chapter, this isn’t a problem. Check out Region 1, which is the first to have its website go live and really has its shit together – thanks to the Press Club of Long Island. But if you don’t have that kind of support, check out Tumblr or Eventbrite.


The problem with Eventbrite and Tumblr is that the list of all your sessions is confusing if you have them running on tracks – which means two or more sessions are presented at the same time.

Sched takes care of that in a very appealing way.

Basically, Sched makes a color-coordinated flowchart of your sessions. It’s easy to scan, and getting more info is just a click away. Check out what the Texas Tribune Festival looked like. Cool, huh?

Since Sched is free, even the excellent organizers in Region 1 could use it – just plug in the sessions and then link to it from your homepage.

So that’s every pair of shoes in the place. Hope it helps. Any questions, holler.

  • MichaelCarl

    A name change will accomplish little and only further muddy the waters. Presently, the name focuses on the practitioners, a personal touch that conveys concern for the professionalism and quality of those in the profession. Changing the name will create the impression of an impersonal focus on the art, not the artist.

  • SPJ AirPlay

    I don’t want to say I liked any Kotaku pieces from this year, lest i influence the judges. (I’m not one, but still.) I’ll look for pieces from 2014 that I thought were well done.

  • Pesty

    That’s certainly understandable. You might just want to hold on to the list until after judging for the Kunkel awards has been decided then. Personally, I think it would be nice to recognize the good pieces of journalism that were done even at bad outlets, lest they get lumped in with the rest of the refuse and forgotten.

    In the last few years, gamers and consumers in this industry have built up quite the portfolio of bad examples either meticulously catalogued ( or just held in their own memory. I think it would be a good next step to make a concerted effort to remember examples of good reporting too.

  • chizwoz

    Suggesting that women don’t qualify as minorities is a bit sexist 😉

  • chizwoz

    If they were doing on a site-wide basis, you’d have to remove nearly everyone on that list.

  • Aidey

    About 50% of the worlds population doesn’t qualify as minority.

  • chizwoz

    I know. Hence the wink.

  • chizwoz

    Haha you thought you’d only get 50. You have much to learn young padawan.

  • durka durka

    yeah why is briana wu who knows nothing of the history of tomb raider talks matter? Most people dont even know that lara’s physique was a accident that had to do with a screw up during 3d modeling, psx limited rendering and too many polygons…all that while running out of time and having to push a character out. The first 3 games have nearly identical graphics so nothing could be done, after that the character was established. By the time the game went to the hd era, half the gameplay was gone but “oh its progressive because lara isnt dressed sexilly anymore and has smaller breasts”

    Half the game is gone, traps gone, medkits gone, ammo scanvanging gone, keys gone, yet another cover based shooter that interupts the gameplay every 4 minutes with a cutscene but “the character is more representitive of women now”

    You know what else is more representitive now? generic dudes with guns, what happen to the dinosaurs and the monsters from the old games?

    I swear the progressive press has no idea what makes games good, which is why they keep shilling their hipster buddies “emotional” walking simulators.

  • Jeremy Fine

    Michael, “we don’t care what you think” has been the common refrain from SPJ since day one, whether it was your button-pushing “updates” or your irritating habit of listening to the loudest people instead of taking a wider view.

    And now, as a response, you’ve created an award that, by design, excludes any material that could actually demonstrate the wild imbalance that actually took place, by demanding that its presence in reality not be demonstrated?

    What a sad day this is. You had the chance to show you had balls, and instead, you retreated back into your hugbox, where you pretend you are capable of that which you have failed to demonstrate chronically:


  • bryoneill11

    If kotaku or Polygon ending up winning some shit, all this was for nothing.

  • chizwoz

    Not necessarily. Not everyone at Polygon and Kotaku are as bad as their worst offenders like Kuchera and Hernandez. Totilo wrote very reasonably about Daniel Vavra’s participation with gamergate and Owen Good at Polygon wrote a very impartial piece on the airplay thingy.
    While I would probably agree that the games industry would be a better place if these 2 sites just went out of business, that’s probably not going to happen. So trying to improve them is more realistic approach.

  • SPJ AirPlay

    I’ll give you “irritating” and even “button-pushing” – I’m self-actualized enough to concede those traits – but how can a contest fail to be objective because it eschews opinion?

  • Vetarnias

    For the news reporting category, I can understand: it’s a fairly traditional way of describing it, but I doubt you will find much of it in the gaming press, which tends towards hype. Brave games journalism is rare (and Kotaku’s maudlin “Ubisoft and Bethesda blacklist us!” doesn’t really count if it’s just a passive-aggressive way to arm-twist them into feeding Kotaku content that it can get page hits from), and what little of it exists should be rewarded, yes. It’s not the place for opinion pieces.

    But for features, though, why not? Why don’t opinion pieces count? Or essays? Or anything that bears a passing resemblance of what goes on in video games writing? If those are out, I’m not even sure what would be left to qualify. It’s even more obvious for the video categories, as all you’ll find there is opinion.

    Surely you don’t buy the GamerGate narrative that there can exist such a thing as an “objective review”? Assuming that you don’t, is this post really saying that the Kunkels – with opinion pieces out of the way – don’t even have an award for game reviewing, when the Pulitzers, just to name those, have prizes for both editorials and criticism? That what is missing from the current state of affairs is precisely recognition for video games reviewing?

    Likewise, does that mean that the entire field of “new games journalism” is disqualified because it values its very subjectivity? Never mind that I’m quite certain that if in 20 years’ time, if not sooner, it will be the only kind of games writing from today that will still be read – and if not that, then nothing.

    Which is how I interpret the Kunkel Awards in the light of this update: it’s all for naught.

    Would you care to point to a piece of writing (ideally one too old to qualify for these awards), that exemplifies what you consider to be an admissible feature?

  • A thanks to all people making this happen!

  • bryoneill11

    So two judges are anon… *sigh* If Kotaku or Polygon win something this was all for nothing. They dont respect Koratzky or SPJ and still this guy talk shit about gamergate and defend these idiots. Nobody will respect us after this shit

  • Bill

    “Mano-a-mano” means “hand-to-hand” you monstrous hack.

    Obviously you should be fired for making this error. By yourself if necessary.

  • yohami

    Tracy is a crazy malajusted individual who happens to be right and saying the truth, in a world manipulated by the mainstream media which no longer seeks the truth, if it ever did at all, but pushes a narrative for the highest bidder.

    “harassing the parents of dead kids”

    Have you watched the hoax theories videos and read their material? To me the only difference between these hoaxes and other hoaxes that have been accepted as such, like the Rolling Stone rape case, the -only- difference, is that with the shootings you have the whole body of media repeating the same story even though its incongruent with any kind of evidence, and no one is crossing the line to talk to the people on the fringe pointing at it. Journalism anyone. Just go there and get the data, make up your own mind. Report what you find.

  • Michael Koretzky

    I’ve not heard from anyone that I misquoted them. The letter to the “aggrieved” party hasn’t been altered. How is this bad journalism?

  • Mac Mckerral

    Hmmm. Seems like ruexperienced6 needs to check his/her math.
    The author interviewed three sources and acquired a copy of a letter related to the firing/suspension, also a “source.”
    People should be concerned about the trend — putting upon student journalists — not blog posts about it.
    And after the Missouri incident, the lack of knowledge among journalism faculty about student press rights and ethical behavior also should raise concerns.

  • ruexperienced6

    You give the impression that Kissinger and the student reporters were regularly drinking in the newsroom and it was negatively effecting the quality of their writing. And you implied (outright inferred) that the reason why the editor was reprimanded was to cover that up. To lead the reader to this conclusion the only evidence you present is the account of Decrisco and what she claims she overheard a member of her staff say (an unattributed and unsourced quote). That whole theory fails the smell test.

  • ruexperienced6

    The (lack of) sources I am referring to are those documenting the explosive accusation that DeCrisico was suspended as retribution for Kissinger engaging in inappropriate behavior regularly drinking with her students. For that cockamimie theory DeCrisicio is the one and only source.

    “People should be concerned about the trend”… That thinking just proves my point. Why let the facts get in the way of a good story (regardless of what damage you can inflict on someone’s reputation) that fits a preconceived narrative that administrations are threatening or censoring student media (the whole point of this blog). It’s editorializing, not reporting.

  • Welch

    Garbage article if I have ever read one. And I have!

  • yikes

    What’s with all the obnoxious wacky fish cartoons?

  • lazydisc

    Absolutely agree with this, and I’ll add that it seems to me that DeCriscio’s actions did, in fact, violate ethics — not just because she gave out sandwiches, but because she outright expresses her religious sympathies for the hate group’s “remarkable testimony.” How could she remain head editor of the publication as long as they would still be reporting on that story throughout the semester? Also, Koretzky and Seaman both ignore the fact that DeCriscio was not in fact fired, but demoted, hardly a “draconian” action.

  • Michael Koretzky

    Nicole was removed as editor. How is that not a firing?

  • Michael Koretzky

    Nicole says Meg Kissinger drank with her students. I asked Kissinger twice if she did. She refused to directly answer the question.

    Ad yes, I both implied and inferred. That’s why I called it my theory.

  • Michael Koretzky

    Can you give me specifics? I quoted Meg accurately (she hasn’t told me I didn’t) and reprinted the letter explaining Nicole’s dismissal. That’s more than “one source.”

  • Michael Koretzky

    I’m open to criticism, but this simply tells me your read a lot of garbage. If you have specifics, I’m open to dispassionate debate. See above.

  • Michael Koretzky

    So they suck, huh? Oh well. I tried. I thought for sure the objections would run more against the puns than the art. Mea culpa.

  • Michele Boyet

    This is such a tragedy for Nicole and all of the students involved. What a brave editor — hang in there, Nicole. Can you get someone to live stream the CMA session? Would love to support and listen in.

    To all the rude commenters here, have you no decency to support student journalism? Silly fish cartoons aside, at least question the facts and discuss the situation before you slam those involved. I dealt with a lot of shady shit as editor at my school paper in my college days, but this is just horrible all around. Great real world experience… administration and advisers certainly can act a lot like politicians.

  • Gideon Grudo

    There’s a clear divide between the author’s theory and the sourced theory. Both are backed up with reason. That ain’t editorializing. Your comments, however, are clever in that they call facts into question without presenting facts. Well done.

  • ruexperienced6

    Oh so you asked Kissinger twice and she said the fact that she drank once had nothing to do with DeCriscio’s suspension? Then clearly by Occam’s Razor the student editor MUST have been suspended as punishment for speaking out against drinking in the newsroom. Do you also happen to believe that there was a second shooter involved in the Kennedy assassination and that 9/11 was an inside job?

  • Gideon Grudo

    If you push just a bit more and mention Hitler, we’ll have reached a proof of Godwin’s Law.

  • Hughlon Thornbury

    From what I’ve read in a (admittedly) quick look of Kissinger’s own writings, does she not inject her own tone and opinion into the pieces she writes? She is far from someone who should be throwing stones about opinion in writings. Maybe I’m missing something, but I doubt it. It’s apparent you stepped on some toes Mike.
    As for inference and theory, as one sage luminary once said, “If I let go of a hammer on a planet that has a positive gravity, I need not see it fall to know that it has in fact fallen”
    Ankle-biters might can ridicule the source, but if they can’t successfully present an opposing argument that the statement is implausible, then they’re just barking and saying nothing.

  • Bob

    There’s nothing wrong with fish puns!

  • Dave Bliss

    How is covering a story at the same time you’re giving food to your subjects not a conflict of interest? Why didn’t she reveal her involvement with the group before she gave herself the assignment? She says they know her.

    As far as the drinking thing, it’s utterly unsubstantiated. She’s a disgruntled (current employee. MK should sue you and SPJ for libel. Try reporting man.)

    I also think it points to your character to cackle about how this University supports the student by funding her to go speak at your bullshit conference session, unchallenged, to gripe about the reaction to her ethical misstep. If it’s so important, maybe she could tell the school what she’s doing, and if it means so much, maybe your watchdog group could pay for the trip. Instead you revel in the fact that you’re stealing the school’s money. You don’t seem to know the first thing about ethics, and you seem to be the one teaching this kid a reprehensible professional conduct.

    If she were such a great writer, she might have reported in the on-line post called “the Odyssey” the true the tactics “Brother” Phillip used. This was an attack group, targeting women, carrying vile placrads, screaming sexist epithets and daring the crowd to fight back. No Christians there, though Nicole is certainly ready to give them credit for being just that– all by carefully undrereporting the facts. Try reporting kid. No one at the school tried to stop her from socializing with this bunch, and she received no “disapproval” from anyone, except the editorial board (for misusing her power as editor to slant the coverage). She just shouldn’t have pretended to be covering the story, or using her position as editor to provide herself with a chance to use news coverage in this clearly biased mindset. You don’t feed your new subject.

    You aren’t helping her by allowing her to think she’s due the protections she clearly forfeit. Maybe you can hire her as a blogger.

  • Dave Bliss

    She was demoted.


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