Archive for February, 2022

2022 SPJ Region 1 Virtual Conference Information and Free Registration

The 2022 SPJ Region 1 Conference is being hosted by the Press Club of Long Island on Saturday, March 19. Register online for FREE to get access to the Zoom link.

Join us for panels on investigative journalism and covering climate, and leadership discussions.

The virtual conference is sponsored by Newsday and News 12.

SPJ Region 1 Virtual Conference Schedule

  • 8a-9a: Chapter Leader Meeting
  • 9a-930a: Opening Remarks
    • PCLI President Brendan O’Reilly
    • SPJ Region 1 Coordinator Chris Vaccaro
    • SPJ President Rebecca Aguilar
  • 930a-1030a: PANEL 1 – Investigative Journalism
    • Moderator: Sandra Peddie (Newsday)
    • Speakers: Rosalind Adams (Buzzfeed), Pei-Sze Cheng (NBC), Keith Herbert (NBC), Walt Kane (News 12)
  • 1045a-1145a: PANEL 2 – Covering Climate
    • Moderator: Scott Brinton (Hofstra)
    • Speakers: David Abel (Boston Globe), Jase Bernhardt (Hofstra), JD Allen (WSHU), Dharna Noorm (Boston Globe)

ABOUT INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM PANEL: In an era of journalism cutbacks, one area media companies have been committed to is investigative reporting. Top investigative journalists from NBC, BuzzFeed News, News12 New Jersey and Newsday will discuss how they got into investigative reporting, how it differs from daily coverage, investigations that have made a difference and what it takes to do it well. The panel will highlight career-focused, practical tips for journalists hoping to break into it.

Investigative Journalism Panel Speakers

  • MODERATOR: Newsday investigative reporter Sandra Peddie has won more than 70 awards, including the Selden Ring Award for stories on pension fraud in special government districts that led to changes in New York State law. A finalist for the Public Service Pulitzer in 2014 for a series of stories on police misconduct, Peddie also was a reporter on Newsday’s 1995 Pulitzer Prize-winning police disability fraud series. In 2011, she was named Long Island’s Outstanding Journalist of the Year by the Press Club of Long Island and later was inducted into its Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame. She has won two New York Emmys, most recently for the documentary, “American Gangster.” Peddie  served on the board of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. She has taught journalism at Hofstra and Stony Brook universities. The graduate of Wellesley College is the author of two books: The Repetitive Strain Injury Sourcebook, published in 1997, and SONNY, The Last of the Old-Time Mafia Bosses, John Sonny Franzese, to be released this month.
  • Emmy® Award-winning reporter Pei-Sze Cheng is a member of NBC 4 New York’s investigative unit, the I-Team. Cheng’s investigations have generated results. Her reporting on a teenager’s overdose led police to make an arrest. Cheng-led investigations that found dozens of traffic signs missing along Routes 4 and 46 in New Jersey resulted in installation of new signs and introduction of new state legislation to further remedy the situation. Cheng’s investigation of Sunrise Highway in Suffolk County found scores of “wrong way” signs missing from entrance exit ramps, resulting in the installation of 229 new signs. Before becoming a member of the I-Team in 2013, Cheng served as NBC 4 New York general assignment reporter for more than eight years. A native of Suffolk County, Cheng began her reporting career at News 12 Connecticut and later moved to WFSB-TV in Hartford where she served as the New Haven bureau reporter and fill-in anchor. Cheng is a graduate of Columbia University, where she earned a BA in political science. She is an active member of the Asian American Journalists Association. .
  • Keith Herbert has been a politics editor at NBC News Digital since last May. Before that, he was a Newsday deputy Long Island editor for politics, an editor and reporter on the  investigations team and transportation reporter. Keith was a member of the Newsday team that won the Polk Award in 2020 for “Long Island Divided,” an investigation of housing segregation. Before Newsday, Herbert was a court reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer and a general assignment reporter with the Morning Call in Allentown, Pa. He graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia with a BA in journalism. He is a former president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and vice president of the Press Club of Long Island.
  • Walt Kane has won nearly 300 awards, including 15 Emmy Awards, four Edward R. Murrow Awards, 10 National Headliner Awards and six Deadline Club Awards. Kan and his team are based at News 12 New Jersey but KIYC investigations run on all News 12 stations across the tristate area. Before joining News 12, Kane worked for television stations and newspapers in New York, Michigan, Oklahoma and Kansas. A native of Brooklyn, Kane is a graduate of Manhattan College and pursued graduate studies at the University of Nebraska. 

ABOUT COVERING CLIMATE PANEL: Scientists tell us the climate crisis is no longer a theoretical construct that could play out in the distant future. It is here — today. We can see it, feel it, in the wild weather that we are experiencing around the globe — unusually destructive hurricanes, floods and tornadoes that lash communities without mercy, soaring temperatures that turn already parched forests into tinderboxes that burn for weeks. This panel will look in-depth at how to translate the arcane science behind global warming into everyday language that is understandable to an often confused and skeptical public.  

Covering Climate Panel Speakers

  • MODERATOR: Scott Brinton is a special assistant professor of journalism at Hofstra University. He co-directs the university’s Summer High School Journalism Institute, which recruits students from nearby communities of color, and he is the editor of the award-winning Long Island Advocate, the online multimedia publication showcasing the best student work from their classes and internships. He previously worked as an award-winning executive editor of Herald Community Newspapers. 
  •  David Abel  is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and documentary filmmaker who currently covers the environment, including climate change, for The Boston Globe. Over the years, he has covered war in the Balkans, unrest in Latin America, national security issues in Washington, D.C., terrorism in New York and Boston, and poverty throughout New England. Abel’s most recent film, “Entangled,” chronicles the efforts to protect North Atlantic right whales from extinction, the impacts of those efforts on the lobster industry, and how government has struggled to balance the vying interests.  
  • J.D. Allen, a native Long Islander, is managing editor of Stony Brook University’s  WSHU radio station. He also hosts the climate podcast “Higher Ground”, which tells the stories of communities exploring solutions to climate change. Allen has reported for public radio stations across the Northeast, healthcare and small businesses for “Long Island Business News” and real estate and land-use for The Express News Group newspapers in the Hamptons. He is a lecturer at Stony Brook University, Quinnipiac University and Suffolk County Community College. He is vice president of the Press Club of Long Island. 
  • Jase Bernhardt is an assistant professor in the Department of the Geology, Environment and Sustainability at Hofstra University and also director of the department’s MA Sustainability program. His research is funded by the National Science Foundation and New York Sea Grant, the former a project to engage student teams in research, and the latter an initiative to improve rip current outreach to Long Island Latinx communities. He served as president of the Middle States Division of the American Association of Geographers in 2021. Jase received a BS. in atmospheric science from Cornell University.
  • Dharna Noor is the Boston Globe’s climate producer. Prior to joining the Globe’s climate team, Noor  worked as a staff writer at Earther, Gizmodo’s climate vertical, where she  co-produced a season of the podcast Drilled on the fossil fuel industry’s influence on education. Before that, she led the climate team at the Real News Network. Her writing has also appeared in Jacobin Magazine, In These Times and Truthout, and was also featured in a 2021 book from The New Press called “The World We Need.” 

Joining Reality Check with William Paterson SPJ

Special thanks to SPJ William Paterson chapter advisor Nick Hirshon for having me speak with his social media reporting class.

Aside from reviewing some practical wisdom about the media business, I offered two key notes for these communication students: create your own opportunities and remember you’re not entitled to anything; work for what you want. Manifest it, build it, earn it, nothing less and nothing more.

Students asked many questions about my career path and choices and we spoke about some of SPJ’s core tenets, including diversity, ethics and education.

APPLY TODAY: SPJ Northeast Launches High School Journalism Institute

The Society of Professional Journalists chapter leaders in the Northeast are launching a high school weekend journalism workshop this summer.

The SPJ Northeast High School Journalism Institute will be held at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island, on July 15-17. Applications are being accepted now for 16 spots.

Students will be trained by professional journalists and journalism professors in reporting, newswriting, video and audio journalism, and multimedia production. Because Roger Williams is a coastal university, students will cover stories related to the area’s environment, economy and infrastructure. Students will work in teams to generate news stories, photos, videos and audio. This work will be published on a website created for the program.

High school juniors and seniors from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont and the eastern half of Pennsylvania are eligible. Journalism experience is preferred but not required.

Students with limited means will be eligible for tuition waivers and free housing, meals and transportation assistance.

“Collaborating with SPJ leaders who care deeply about nurturing the next generation of great storytellers will be a great experience for the students,” said Chris R. Vaccaro, SPJ Northeast Coordinator. “We are looking forward to guiding these students on their journey and are grateful for the partnership with Roger Williams University.” 

The cost is $150 per student, which includes housing and meals.

All accepted candidates will be notified by Thursday, April 14.

Participants can expect:

  • Training from professional journalists and professors
  • Real-time reporting and hands-on editing
  • Networking and social experiences with peers and pros
  • Studying the values and principles of the Society of Professional Journalists

Qualified applications must:

  • Submit an application
  • Have received COVID-19 vaccination
  • Be able to live in a dormitory on campus
  • Manage their own travel logistics


CONTACT: Chris R. Vaccaro,


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