Posts Tagged ‘region 5’


Conference site extends deadline on discounts

SPJ in STL 2013The special hotel rate reserved for attendees of the Region 5&7 conference next month in St. Louis has been extended by one week.

Management at the Drury Plaza Hotel at the Arch agreed this week to extend the conference rate after seeing a spike in registrations through March. The conference is scheduled for April 26-28 at the hotel.

Besides several programs, there will be Mark of Excellence awards handed out during dual luncheons at the conference.

But the hotel says just a few rooms remain in the block reserved for conference attendees, so anyone interested in an overnight stay needs to book reservations right away.

A happy-hour mixer with free drinks for hotel patrons is Friday, April 26, and a meeting of region leaders is slated for Sunday, April 28, starting at 9 a.m. The conference events take place from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. that Saturday.

Drury management also urges those attendees who drive to the conference to arrive early for parking, as the baseball Cardinals will host the Pittsburgh Pirates a couple blocks away on Saturday and the hotel shares parking space with Busch Stadium.

More big names sign up to speak at dual regional

The lineup for April’s dual regional conference is growing. Drone journalism, hyperlocal news gathering and computer-assisted reporting are all on the agenda, as well as a session on how to be your own best editor.

SPJ in STL 2013And there’s more in store, but if you want to see any of it, sign up soon, so you can get the early bird registration rate and special hotel room discount.

Among the distinguished speakers:

Bill Allen, assistant professor of science journalism at the University of Missouri, who will explain the potential and peril of using civilian drones to gather news and information.

Holly Edgell, a former regional editor for Patch.com, who explains why it’s way too early to write an obituary for hyperlocal journalism.

Mark Horvit, executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors, who will show time-challenged reporters how to do quick-and-dirty enterprise stories using data records.

This year’s conference is a joint production by Regions 5 and 7, covering a broad swath of the nation from Nebraska to Kentucky. There will be two banquets, one each for the regions to hand out their Mark of Excellence awards. There will be free breakfasts, courtesy of the host Drury Plaza Hotel, for conference attendees.

And there will be plenty of activity in downtown St. Louis away from the hotel, in the shadow of the Gateway Arch.

So, visit www.spjinstl2013.com now to land a great deal on a great date with top journalists and educators. You’re bound to have fun, and you’re certain to learn something.

Joint regional conference to be held near the Gateway Arch

When Region 7 and Region 5 have their joint spring conference in St. Louis next April, the event will take place in the shadow of the Gateway Arch.

The Drury Plaza Hotel at the Arch has graciously agreed to host the conference on the weekend of April 26-28, setting aside a large block of rooms reserved for conference attendees and preparing two luncheon banquets for each region’s Mark of Excellence awards. The tentative conference schedule includes an informal welcome gathering on Friday, sessions on Saturday, and a regional strategy meeting Sunday morning.

The location not only has fine amenities and fabulous views, but also is close to downtown historic sites, sports venues, shopping, and nightlife.

This is the first time St. Louis has hosted a regional conference in three years. At the suggestion of Region 5 leadership, the Gateway City’s proximity to south central Indiana and western Kentucky also proved an optimum location for that region’s burgeoning membership in those areas.

Details about the conference sessions are pending, but anyone interested in making individual or group reservations now can do so at this link at a reduced rate for SPJ attendees. This special rate and availability are guaranteed up to March 26.

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Tell us what you want to see at the regional conference

Sure, it’s only October, and spring seems too far down the calendar to contemplate.

But time ticks down faster than you think, and soon you’ll have to consider making travel plans for the annual Region 7 conference.

In fact, the foundation is being laid for that conference right now, with help from the leaders of neighboring Region 5 (Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana). Because St. Louis is central to both regions, we decided to convene there, and very soon we expect to announce a venue.

After that, we’ll hammer out the smaller details, such as sponsors and costs.

But the whole show isn’t up to just us: Your input is important, too. Tell us now what kinds of programs you’d like to see included at the dual regional, and maybe also mention the speakers you’d like to see present them.

Last spring, the conference in Ames, Iowa, included sessions on multimedia and mobility, social media and document searches, and helpful tips for freelancers as well as news staffs. The one-day, all-day conference even helped lay the foundations for stronger chapters in Iowa, and a new chapter in Nebraska.

Next spring, journalists from Region 7 are sure to face a host of new issues and challenges, some of which already may be taking shape. What better place then to discuss them and get valuable advice from learned SPJ colleagues and other professionals than the annual conference?

So, take a few moments to let us know now your ideas for program sessions at next spring’s conference. Send those ideas to me, David Sheets, Region 7 director, at dsheets@spj.org. If you want to discuss ideas directly, include a contact number.

Springtime may seem a long way off, but it’s really just around the corner. Help the regional conference’s planners get a jump on the calendar by adding your input to our efforts today.

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New director takes over in the Heartland

There’s a new face in this space.

It belongs to me, David Sheets, the new director of Region 7 and immediate past-president of the St. Louis Pro chapter.

If the face itself doesn’t turn up here regularly, at least words will over the next two years of my term, because there’s a lot going on in the Heartland region of SPJ that deserves notice. In just the past few months, Region 7 hosted an excellent convention at Iowa State in Ames, St. Louis Pro won top honors in the small-chapter category, yours truly received the Howard S. Dubin award for service to SPJ, and the seeds of a new chapter have begun taking root in the Omaha-Lincoln area of Nebraska — a state that, as of now, has no SPJ chapter of any kind.

That last item is particularly heartening for the Heartland; it demonstrates that the energy and wisdom of SPJ still motivate the region’s journalists and give the society new hope for expansion at a time when costs and constriction make quality journalism increasingly difficult to pursue. Leaders Rob McLean, of Hearst Television, and Katie Knapp Schubert, of Omaha Public Radio, are working hard to put the Cornhusker State back on our map, and hope to have their chapter formally on SPJ’s books by January.

I urge every established and aspiring journalist in Region 7 to reach out to Rob and Katie and lend a hand with the heavy lifting. Nebraska has too great a journalism tradition to not have SPJ there fighting for it.

And I urge everyone to help bolster our efforts across the region by signing up now and getting familiar with video chat — whether it’s through Google Hangout, Skype, GoToMeeting, or a host of others — the tool I consider essential for closing the wide distances between chapters. Region 7’s sprawling size no doubt has created difficulty  for SPJ members to interact, but with practice and application of video chat I hope to minimize that sprawl by encouraging regular virtual meetings between members.

In the coming months, I’ll lay out plans for those virtual meetings and ask many of you to take part, as well as implore for patience. Surely, there will be bugs and glitches at the beginning. Over time though, those should diminish, and the distances between each of us should shrink as well.

I’ll also announce details regarding the next regional convention in spring, tentatively scheduled for St. Louis and, in a unique twist, held in partnership with Region 5 (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky).

In the meantime, I ask Region 7 members to please convey their thanks to outgoing director Kelsey Volkmann for her two years of extraordinary service; to follow Region 7’s Facebook page for regular planning updates; to follow the region’s new Twitter feed, @SPJRegion7, for up-to-the-minute information on regional events and interaction; and to put Region 7’s new email, SPJRegion7@mail.com, in your address book.

A journalist’s work never ends, and neither will our efforts in Region 7 to spread SPJ’s message and bring its members closer together.

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