Fourteen panels, 48 (!!) speakers, 27 sponsors, ~200 registrants and 200-plus MOE awards. Plus dozens and dozens of Tweets — and $500 from a Silent Auction for the Student Press Law Center.
That’s the takeaway from the joint Region 4/Region 5 spring conference in Cincinnati April 1-2.
Lots of great networking and learning too. Among them:
- Louisville Public Media has created a model worth replicating by using the strength of its public radio membership base to fund the innovative work of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.
- Journalists in Region 4 & 5, like those elsewhere, need to keep the pressure on police and prosecutors to obtain dash-cam, body-cam and surveillance camera footage in a timely way. The debate over whether such footage is an “incident report” (which should be immediately available) or “investigatory” (and therefore, withheld until the completion of police investigations) rages on.
- SPJ’s Fix It By 50 campaign is an important effort as House and Senate measures inch forward to bring the Freedom of Information Act into the digital age.
- Region 4 students are producing a TON of award-worthy work. More than 400 entered the annual Mark of Excellence competition, with more than 100 taking home MOE awards.
SPJers are among the best group of people to spend a weekend with!
A special shoutout to the conference planning committee: Deb Givens, Region 5 director and conference co-chair, with me; Shannon Brock, Kentucky Living; Carrie Buchanan, John Carroll University; April Corbin, Kentucky freelancer; Michele Day, Northern Kentucky University; Hagit Limor, University of Cincinnati; Ginny McCabe, Cincinnati freelancer; Tom McKee, WCPO-TV Cincinnati; Kaye Spector, Cleveland Clinic; and Jenny Wohlfarth, University of Cincinnati.
Thanks, too, to national SPJ President Paul Fletcher for making the trip — providing remarks at lunch and serving as a panelist for the FOIA session as well as one on ethics. He was, by the way, joined by four former national presidents during the weekend, with Limor, Kevin Z. Smith, Mac McKerral and Paul Davis also in attendance.
Special congrats, too, to Miami University Mark of Excellence winners. I’m especially proud of that kid named A.J. Newberry.