SPJ Region 12 Conference in Nashville

NASHVILLE, TENN. (ETSPJ) — Join SPJ in Music City for the Society of Professional Journalists Region 12 Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, March 29 and 30, 2019.

Hosted at Lipscomb University by the SPJ Middle Tennessee Professional Chapter and student chapter, the event will feature inspiring speakers and workshops that provide tangible skills for collegiate and full-time journalists.


The conference kicks off with a Friday night reception on March 29, provides workshops and training on the morning of Saturday, March 30, and culminates that day with the Mark of Excellence awards luncheon for SPJ Region 12 collegiate journalists.

Friday, March 29
Location: First Amendment Center
It will begin with an informal Friday night reception — food, drinks, networking and a fast-paced evening of “lightning talks” hosted by Blake Farmer, a Nashville Public Radio reporter and frequent NPR contributor.

Speakers each get 5 minutes to show-and-tell about an exciting tool, technique, platform, or trend in journalism — and we’re still accepting pitches from attendees who have something they want to brag about (email Blake at bfarmer@wpln.org).

Saturday, March 30
Location: Lipscomb University
Dive into a series of morning sessions between 8 a.m. and lunch, when a keynote speech and the Mark of Excellence awards will be presented. One final session will run in the afternoon, followed by a post-conference hangout at a local brewery — leaving Saturday night open for those who choose to explore Nashville’s superb music and food scenes.
Detailed Schedule (Updated March 5*)
(Additional panelists to be confirmed.)

7:15 a.m. Breakfast available until 9:15 a.m.

8 a.m. Early Riser Kickoff: In Defense Of The Media: Join Associated Press Editor Scott Stroud for a provocative conversation about defending journalism in the age of “fake news,” distrust, political tribalism and social media.

9 a.m. (A) Cyntoia Brown: Covering A Viral Movement — What’s it like to cover an emotionally and politically challenging story that gets national attention from Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West — and what are the pitfalls? Learn from Tennessee journalists who covered the campaign to free Cyntoia Brown, who received a life sentence at age 16. Panelists: Stacy Case (Fox 17), Steven Hale (Nashville Scene), Adam Tamburin (The Tennessean)

9 a.m. (B) Finding Sensitive Interview Subjects: Finding patients for health stories is tough! But healthcare reporters do it every day, and then tell stories of traumatic, deeply personal experiences. Learn tips that apply to all beats for reaching people and telling their stories with empathy. Panelists: Jessica Bliss (The Tennessean), Blake Farmer (WPLN), Michele Johnson (Tennessee Justice Center)

10 a.m. (A) Social Media 2.0: The industry is far beyond tweeting links and hoping for Facebook likes. Get practical advice for truly engaging with your digital audience, dealing with trolls and paying attention to the social media metrics that actually matter. Panelists: David Plazas (The Tennessean), Annie Culver (Shareablee)

10 a.m. (B) The TV Reporter Who Does It All: Multimedia journalists are in high demand in broadcast news. One of the nation’s best is WSMV’s Forrest Sanders — an expert on camera and behind it — and he loves sharing best practices.

11 a.m. (A) Music Journalism Beyond The Concert Review: From longform narratives to investigating #MeToo in the music industry, learn from some of the world’s best music journalists. Panelists: Marissa Moss (Rolling Stone, American Songwriter), Jason Moon Wilkins (WPLN)

11 a.m. (B) Sports Reporting Is The Toughest Beat: In 2019, sports coverage is a 24/7, multimedia, tweet-by-tweet affair. You have to be well sourced, a brand-builder, a video personality, and someone who can gain the trust of players, agents, and GMs alike. Panelists: Teresa Walker (AP), Russell Vannozzi (Lipscomb University)

Noon: Mark of Excellence Awards Luncheon

Keynote: Marc Perrusquia, investigative reporter, author of “A Spy in Canaan,” and director of the Institute for Public Service Reporting in Memphis

1:30 p.m. How I Got That Story: Investigative and longform journalists share the thrilling tips, public record discoveries, and surprising interview revelations that led to their blockbuster stories. Panelists: Dennis Ferrier (Fox 17), Meribah Knight (WPLN’s The Promise podcast), Deborah Fisher (Tennessee Coalition For Open Government), Phil Williams (News Channel 5)

3 p.m. Post-conference brewery wind down

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