Excellence in Journalism 2017 | Anaheim

2015: Orlando

September 21st, 2015 | #, #, #
Former Sigma Delta Chi president receives SPJ’s highest honor

Sue Porter, vice president, programs at Scripps Howard Foundation, received the Society of Professional Journalists highest honor, the Wells Memorial Key award. She received the award during the Presidents Installation Gala.

The gala also serves as an awards ceremony for distinguished journalists, but the Wells Memorial Key is always given out last. Recipient names are kept secret until it’s time to present the pin, and Porter said she was surprised.

“It’s incredibly humbling to win an award like this, after you’ve sat through an evening like this,” Porter said. Continue reading

September 21st, 2015 | #
Storify: TV News: Survival of The Fittest

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September 20th, 2015
Trading spaces: Incoming SPJ president Paul Fletcher installed

Paul Fletcher takes over the title of SPJ president from Dana Neuts on Sunday during the Excellence in Journalism Conference in Orlando.

September 20th, 2015 | #, #, #, #, #
Why web coding is for you-even if you don’t realize it yet

ProPublica news app developer Lena Groeger discusses how journalists can begin to learn about data reporting and web coding.

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September 20th, 2015 | #, #, #, #, #
Reporters from abroad find value in returning home for training

Many attendees of this year’s Excellence in Journalism conference arrived via relatively short trips to Orlando. However for some like Alfredo Corchado, who works in Mexico City for the Dallas Morning News, the commute involved international time zones and lasted much longer. Continue reading

September 20th, 2015 | #, #, #
The future of journalism

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September 20th, 2015 | #, #, #, #, #, #
Storify: The art of storytelling: by Boyd Huppert

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September 20th, 2015 | #, #, #, #, #, #, #
EIJ conference app fuels competition, clashes

App scores as of 5 p.m. Sunday – seven hours before the competition’s end.

Holly Duchmann and Kailey Broussard are not only fellow student journalists at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, but even closer this weekend during Excellence in Journalism 2015 while rooming together in Orlando. However this weekend their friendship took a competitive turn.

An online competition integrated within the popular EIJ15 mobile app has seemingly formed rivalries and friendships among conference participants. The app awards points for things such as posting photos, checking in at events and participating in online surveys. Continue reading

September 20th, 2015 | #, #, #, #, #
Drones for news slowly taking to the skies

Dave Sirak of the Cox Media Group’s drone committee leads a discussion Sunday on drone usage. Photo by Shelby Reynolds

Journalists are often looking for any advantage for discovering, gathering, and reporting news events reliably and quickly. Especially if that includes eyes in the sky.

However even after ongoing examination and exploration of proposed regulations for operating drones in the U.S., news organizations largely remain in a holding pattern for legally launching drones from station helicopter pads.

Current FAA laws require a sports pilot license or higher for drone operation and prohibit commercial-purpose use, said Dave Sirak, Cox Media Group Drone Committee. Continue reading

September 20th, 2015
Beware of open records roadblocks

FERPA and personnel and open investigations, oh my.

Public entities will sometimes try to claim that open records are not available because of FERPA, personnel or an on-going investigation.

“Expand your knowledge of what a public record is,” said Frank LaMonte, Student Press Law Center executive director.


FERPA is the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act and was signed into law in 1974.

When FERPA was enacted, it wasn’t created with the intent to keep information out of the hands of journalists. Continue reading

September 20th, 2015 | #, #
9 tips for writing a killer headline

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September 20th, 2015 | #, #, #, #, #
To mock or not to mock (interview): 4 takeaways from EIJ critiques

Four students (including me) went through mock interviews in front of an audience at Michael Koretzky’s session, “Nervous as Hell: Mock (Or Maybe Real) Job Interviews for New Grads” on Saturday. Koretzky, an editor for Debt.com, grilled the students with questions, stopping them to offer constructive criticism when they stumbled.

Here are four takeaways from the critiques:

When your interviewer asks you to name some publications you read, don’t mention just one type, such as sports news. If your first publication is “Bleacher Report,” don’t say “ESPN Magazine” next. Continue reading

September 20th, 2015 | #, #, #, #
Lesley Stahl and Pierre Thomas Q&A

The Radio and Television Digital News Association honored 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl and ABC News senior justice correspondent Pierre Thomas Saturday night. Prior to the awards reception, Stahl and Thomas shared highlights of their careers with conference attendees, giving them personal insight into the field of broadcast journalism.

Stahl, who has more than 40 years experience as a television journalist, talked about her role at 60 Minutes and what goes into getting a story on the air.

Thomas began his career as a newspaper reporter in 1987 and transitioned into broadcast in 2000.  Continue reading

September 20th, 2015 | #, #, #, #, #
Five tiers of news coverage

Tier one stories are easy pickings... If what we're delivering is not foreboding news of a hurricane, how we deliver can hit the audience just as hard as a tidal wave

September 20th, 2015 | #, #
‘The Doctor is In’ — Time lapse

-1 hour session -750 photos, taken in 5 second intervals Continue reading

September 20th, 2015 | #, #, #, #
Combining forces to advance EIJ

Sonny Albarado, an Arkansas Democratic-Gazette projects editor, speaks during a National Association of Hispanic Journalists meeting Sunday.

Fewer than five percent of this year’s 1,500 attendees to Excellence in Journalism are members of more than one organization associated with the conference. Among those in rarified air, Sonny Albarado, an Arkansas Democratic-Gazette projects editor.“That feels pretty good and it’s actually higher than I thought it would be,” he said.

Excellence in Journalism 2015 is comprised of three organizations, but it wasn’t always that way.  Continue reading

September 20th, 2015 | #, #, #, #
Meet SPJ student delegates voting Sunday

"As a college chapter, we don't really look at ourselves as professional journalists. So it's really weird for us as college kids to feel like we're professionals within this organization."

September 20th, 2015 | #, #, #
Mapping the attendees

In an effort to show the geographic diversity of the Excellence in Journalism 2015 conference, we mapped the home cities of 1,311 attendees. According to SPJ Director of Education Scott Leadingham, the data does not include on-site registrations. Click on individual data points to view the city name, and zoom out to view attendees from outside the continental United States.

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September 19th, 2015 | #, #, #, #, #
Storify: #EIJ15 Day 2 Highlights from the EIJ News Staff

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September 19th, 2015
Six takeaways from incoming SPJ president Paul Fletcher

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September 19th, 2015 | #, #, #, #, #
15 amazing online tools

Al Tompkins is the senior faculty for broadcasting and online content at The Poynter Institute. He led a session Saturday morning showcasing 15 new online tools that have the ability to change the way a journalist presents a story. The following are the tools that he mentioned with a brief description:

snipandshare: Google Chrome released this extension this morning and it makes posting content such as GIFs, still images, video or words to social media much easier. It is free to sign up and easy to use. Continue reading

September 19th, 2015 | #, #, #
What to do if you’re in the middle of an unruly protest

From the Occupy protests in 2011 to the recent Freddie Grey protests in Baltimore, journalists have been seeing more demonstrations across the country that have the potential to be violent.

In the Stay Safe and Savvy session on day two of the Excellence in Journalism conference, members of The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), law enforcement and media came together to discuss ways of preventing and diffusing confrontational situations.

One tip shared was that social media can serve as a valuable heads up if protest scenes threaten to turn violent. Continue reading

September 19th, 2015 | #, #, #
7 takeaways from current SPJ president Dana Neuts

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September 19th, 2015 | #, #, #
Storify: #GeekOut15: Latest Gadgets, Apps & Technology

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September 19th, 2015 | #, #
Quiz: How to be a great freelancer

Do you have what it takes to be a great freelance writer? Take this quiz, based on information from Debt.com editor Michael Koretzky’s session, “Freelance Foul-Ups: 10 Tips for Pissing Off A Hiring Editor (And 10 Ways to Get Assignments).”

View Survey If you got all eight questions correct, you’re on your way to a great freelance career. Continue reading

September 19th, 2015 | #
What you need to know about branding

In today’s world, it’s all about branding yourself. Building a brand is about reinforcing what you are already doing. It doesn’t matter if you are just starting out or you have a lot of experience behind your name.

“Your branding should be consistent with your goal,” said Robyn Davis Sekula, communications consultant.

Creating a brand that will increase your professional identity is essential to all journalists.

If you are wondering where to start on branding yourself, don’t worry. #EIJNews has you covered with tips on how to start:

Branding is no longer an “on-air” issue: Branding is more about expanding who you are and what you do. Continue reading

September 19th, 2015 | #, #, #, #
Stereotypes and skin color: navigating ethnicity as a latino journalist

Dunia Elvir speaks at the panel discussion on ethnicity and race in Latino-American journalism.

When Denise Isaac, a Panama-born meteorologist for Miami’s Telemundo 51, moved to the United States for college, she faced an unexpected challenge mingling with her new peers.

“When I first got here, people just automatically thought I was a black African-American,” Isaac said as a panelist during an #EIJ15 Saturday session, Off-Color: Navigating Race and Ethnicity as a Latino Journalist.

Isaac said she didn’t fit the stereotypes her young colleagues had about her skin color. Continue reading

September 19th, 2015 | #, #, #, #
Important lessons shared in wake of WDBJ shooting tragedy

It’s been three weeks since Vester Flanagan shot and killed two former WDBJ7 coworkers during a live broadcast in Franklin County, Virginia.

Hundreds of EIJ15 attendees gathered at the Orlando World Center Marriott Saturday for a panel discussion about the shooting’s effects on the journalism community. “I think what your ears heard and your eyes saw, your brain didn’t want to process,” Kelly Zuber, WDBJ news director, said to the audience.

Immediate effects fell on the WDBJ newsroom that day.

An employee  who was close friends and often played golf with cameraman and victim Adam Ward, was tasked with editing video footage that day, Zuber said. Continue reading

September 19th, 2015 | #, #, #, #
‘Listen to it like you hate me’: audio editing advice from a radio professional

From free headshots to intensive workshops, journalists are offered an array of professional tune-ups all weekend long at EIJ 2015.

Looking to oil the gears in my multimedia storytelling, I spotted an audio and video critique salon stationed along the marbled corridor of the Marriott Hotel. I sat down, pulled up a chair along with my most recent freelance radio story, and allowed Charlie Meyerson, Vice President and News Chief of Rivet Radio, to tear it apart.

He heavily quoted “The Elements of Style” and critics like Lee Bey, known for handing over drafts and saying, “Read it like you hate me.”

“What a great gift it is for someone to offer you that forthright feedback,” Meyerson said. Continue reading

September 19th, 2015
New and old friends at the EIJ15 opening night reception

Noëlle Kachinsky and Steve Schuster did not know each other when they arrived in Florida for the 2015 EIJ conference, but on Friday evening they were together at an outside table, learning about each other at BB King’s Blues Club.

Kachinksy, assistant news director at WGXA Television in Macon, Ga., and Schuster, the past president of the SPJ Milwaukee and Maryland-Pro Chapters, met at the EIJ15 Opening Night Reception sponsored by CNN Newsource. The night included lively blues music, mac and cheese and chicken, and dancing. Continue reading

September 19th, 2015 | #
NBCUniversity – Journalism in the digital age

NBC handpicked 70 journalists from around the world to teach the latest in digital journalism. The day-long workshop Friday was geared toward conferences attendees who want to take their careers to the next level.

“You have to know how to be digital,” said Todd Mokhtari, vice president of news at KNBC, Los Angeles.  “You have to be social media, you have to be technically savvy, but what’s getting lost in this is the writing.”

Mokhtari and the other NBCU “professors” spent the day concentrating on writing skills and embracing digital media. Continue reading

September 19th, 2015 | #, #, #
Video Reel tips&tricks

Editing Video reel tips&tricks _ Piktochart Infographic Editor

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September 19th, 2015 | #, #, #, #
Storify: #EIJ15 One of today’s many workshops

[View the story “”Follow the Money” gave pointers on investigative journalism ” on Storify]

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September 18th, 2015 | #
Prepping for the Pros

Becoming a network correspondent is not for the faint of heart, says Al Tompkins, a senior faculty in broadcast & online at the Poynter Institute. He spoke to a select few at the CNN From Local Reporter To Network Correspondent workshop, one of the many held at the Excellence in Journalism 2015 conference.

Tompkins gave career insight to those who aspire to work for network news one day, instructing them to “remember that it’s possible to move up the ladder and go to network. Continue reading

September 18th, 2015
EIJ15 visits B.B. King’s Blues Bar

EIJ15 visits B.B. King's Blues Bar.

September 18th, 2015
Do’s and don’ts of comment sections

Marie Shanahan remembers the day with perfect clarity.

It was June 20, 2008, in Hartford, Connecticut. Community activists, the city mayor and state representatives protested unmoderated anonymous comment sections outside the Hartford Courant newsroom.

“That’s when I realized there is a serious problem here and we have to do something about it,” said Shanahan, who was a senior online producer at the time with the Courant.

The Courant’s comment system at the time was entirely anonymous, Shanahan said, and users could login multiple times under multiple pseudonyms. Continue reading

September 18th, 2015 | #, #, #, #, #, #
Storify: #EIJ15 Day 1 Highlights from the EIJ News Staff

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September 18th, 2015 | #, #, #, #, #, #, #
One of the most important tools in a journalist’s arsenal

Some parts of the Constitution are more hotly contested in the 21st Century than others. Most Americans assume that Freedom of the Press is a given in this day and age and doesn’t need to be defended in court. Third world countries jail journalists, not the United States.

Wrong, according to organizers of the Society of Professional Journalists Legal Defense Fund.

Many journalists every year come under fire from government agencies and need help defending their First Amendment right to publish their stories freely. Continue reading

September 18th, 2015 | #, #, #, #, #, #, #
Small screen, big divide?

In broadcast news, visuals are everything. And that doesn’t just mean the videography.

Ever since the early days of broadcast news and the first anchors in the ’50s and early ’60s, appearance has been important. Crisp suits, confident body language and posture, and deftly applied stage makeup are essential for TV personalities no matter the genre.

Here at Excellence in Journalism 2015, JCPenny is sponsoring a booth with free styling advice to help journalists and media professionals become “camera ready.” Complete with sample clothes, and a full makeup and hair set up, stylists spent Friday helping journalists improve their visual appeal. Continue reading

September 18th, 2015 | #, #, #, #, #
Tracking the crowds

For SPJ Director of Education Scott Leadingham, planning a conference is all about drawing from past experience.

“You kind of learn year after year about what works and what doesn’t, and what’s popular and what’s not,” he said. “When we schedule rooms, we look at what will probably be more popular, so we can schedule for bigger rooms. It’s guesswork. Sometimes it’s not as popular as we think, and sometimes it’s more.”

Attendees stand outside the crowded “News Content: What Works?” session. Continue reading

September 18th, 2015 | #, #, #, #, #, #
Breakdown of EIJ15 attendees

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September 18th, 2015 | #, #, #
Storify: #EIJ15 on Sports beat reporting

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September 18th, 2015 | #, #, #, #
Top 8 ways to eliminate mistakes in your copy

A few dozen journalists dedicated their Friday to an eight-hour editing boot camp, giving attendees a chance to go beyond a rule refresher course and focus on tips that trick the brain into catching more mistakes.

The American Copy Editors Society sponsored the workshop, covering topics from why copy editing is important to SEO headline writing. Presenters included ACES President Teresa Schmedding and board members Fred Vultee and Neil Holdway.

“We call it a boot camp for a reason,” Schmedding said. Continue reading

September 18th, 2015 | #, #, #, #, #
The Origins of “Excellence in Journalism”

It’s become an annual pilgrimage, every fall, for journalists and media industry professionals from across the globe to come together. All in the name of ‘Excellence in Journalism,” ready to recruit new hires, learn valuable skills, and discuss the current issues at the forefront of the media industry.

But where did “Excellence in Journalism” come from?

For years prior to the first Excellence in Journalism conference, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) held an annual conference for its’ members. In 2010 the organization combined forces with the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) to hold a joint conference annually beginning in 2011. Continue reading

September 18th, 2015 | #, #, #, #, #
Storify: #EIJ15 on wild Florida airboat tour

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September 18th, 2015
A guide to the professional headshot; Expo booth offers free photos

Selfies are overrated, says Grace Solorzano. The Telemundo Miami producer took her place on the orange tape in front of the camera Friday morning. Toes to the right, shoulders to the left, nose to the camera. Continue reading

September 18th, 2015
First-time visit to the House of Mouse

Standing near the International Food and Wine entrance of the Epcot Theme Park in Orlando Thursday evening, Michael Pearson looked forward to seeing what the attraction was “all about.”

It was Pearson’s first time at a Disney theme park. Meeting Mickey Mouse, watching fireworks explode into the sky at night, and spending hours in line at the Disney empire’s biggest physical stage has become a childhood rite of passage, an almost religious experience.

Except Pearson is 60.

“This is my first time in Mickey Mouse Land,” acknowledged Pearson, the News Director for Time Warner Cable News Austin/San Antonio, who has been to many conferences. Continue reading

September 18th, 2015 | #, #, #
Storify: EIJ15 kicks off with Epcot Food and Wine Festival

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September 18th, 2015
Perks of the press (and not being a wallflower)

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September 18th, 2015 | #, #, #
On eve of EIJ15, attendees share excitement for 2015 gathering

For only the second time, the Radio Television Digital News Association and Society of Professional Journalist join the NHAJ for a conference focus on training, development, networking and diversity.

More than 1,500 journalist and media professionals descend onto Orlando, Florida for Excellence in Journalism 2015, which officially kicked off Thursday night with a private event at Disney’s Epcot Center.

But reasons for coming to Orlando often varied between different generations, professional backgrounds and career aspirations.

“I’m expecting to learn more about journalism and perfecting my craft,” said Abby Payne, Editor-in-Chief at Weber State University’s The Signpost. Continue reading

September 18th, 2015 | #, #, #, #
Eagerness, expectations for Excellence in Journalism 2015

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September 18th, 2015 | #, #, #
Exotic cuisine, fireworks help jumpstart Excellence in Journalism 2015

The liquid nitro chocolate-almond truffle with whiskey caramel stole the show Thursday night.

About 1,500 journalists from around the country were invited to a sneak peak of the 20th annual Food & Wine Festival at Disney World’s Epcot International park to kick off the Excellence in Journalism conference in Orlando. The festival showcased food and spirits from around the world, but the truffles seemed to gather the most attention.

“You know how on ‘Chopped,’ when the judges say it has the perfect texture, I now know what they mean,” said Kaitlin Dain of Lubbock, Texas. Continue reading

September 17th, 2015 | #, #, #, #
Sights, sounds, tastes from Epcot Food & Wine Festival

Sliders, fireworks and more.