SPJ Convention

Convention Home

We’re looking to host a terrific convention in Las Vegas, Sept. 28-30, 2023. Interesting keynotes, networking, special events and breakout sessions will fill our time together.

SPJ Convention

Convention Hotel Info

Hotel: Planet  Hollywood Las Vegas

Room Rate: $159

Resort Fee: $20 per night per room (mandatory) Covers the following:

  • Unlimited local phone calls (no long distance or international calls)
  • Two (2) Guest admissions per day to the Fitness Center (does not include use of the spa)
  • In-Room Internet access to include two (2) devices per room per day (Property-wide roaming may be available for an additional fee.)

Cut Off Date: 09/05/23

Booking Link

Call In Reservations: For guests that prefer to phone in their reservations, they may call our Reservation Center at 866-317-1829 to secure a reservation on your group block. However, guests should be aware that a processing fee per reservation will be incurred if they choose not to use your dedicated weblink. Currently, the name of the group is listed as SPJ. Callers may also use your group code to identify the group, SMSPJ3.

SPJ Convention

Convention Sponsorship

#SPJ23 is a premier gathering of highly engaged journalists working in all forms of media. The conference offers renowned speakers, hands-on workshops, plenary sessions, breakout sessions, networking opportunities, an expo, award presentations, banquets, receptions, tours and much more.

To see all available opportunities for sponsors, exhibitors and advertisers, download this brochure [PDF].

This year’s conference is Sept. 28-30. Around 500 – 700 journalists, news producers, editors, bloggers, photographers, students and other media professionals will gather in Las Vegas to learn about journalism and media trends, new digital tools, emerging technologies, career opportunities and more. We will take deep dives into topics like tools for investigative journalism and newsroom diversity as well as covering hot button issues like immigration and healthcare. The conference will provide job seekers and recruiters a place to network and explore new opportunities.

Exhibitors will have the rare opportunity to connect in-person with all walks of the journalism community while broadly promoting their brand.

For more information on how you can participate as a sponsor, exhibitor and/or advertiser, download this brochure [PDF].

Questions? Contact Katie Riggs.

SPJ Convention

Convention Schedule

Date: Start Time: End Time: Session Type: 
Thursday, September 28
 6:00 AM11:00 PMSPJ Student Newsroom
 8:00 AM6:00 PMFreelance Corner 
 7:00 AM5:30 PMRegistration Open
 9:00 AM12:00 PMSPJ Pre Con 
 9:00 AM12:00 PMSPJ Pre Con 
 8:00 AM12:00 PMExhibit Hall Set Up – Exhibitors 
 12:30 PM5:30 PMExhibit Hall Open 
 11:00 AM12:30 PMGeneral Session: Gio Benitez
 12:30 PM3:30 PMSPJ BOD Meeting
 12:30 PM1:30 PMExhibit Hall Welcome Reception/Lunch Break 
 1:30 PM3:30 PMDeep Dive Block 1 (5 concurrent sessions)
 3:45 PM4:45 PMBreakout Block 1 (5)
 5:00 PM6:00 PMSPJ Opening Business Meeting
 7:00 PM9:00 PMOpening Night Reception 
Friday, September 29
 6:00 AM11:00 PMSPJ Student Newsroom
 8:00 AM4:30 PMFreelance Corner 
 8:00 AM4:30 PMRegistration Open
 8:00 AM4:30 PMExhibit Hall Hours
 9:00 AM12:00 PMSPJ Foundation Board Meeting
 8:30 AM9:30 AMBreakout Block 2 (5)
 9:45 AM10:45 AMBreakout Block 3 (5)
 11:00 AM12:30 PMGeneral Session: Lisa Guerrero
 12:30 PM1:30 PMLunch Break
Regional Meetings (12)
 1:30 PM2:30 PMBreakout Block 4 (5)
 2:45 PM4:15 PMDeep Dive Block 2 (5)
 5:30 PM7:00 PMSPJ Student Awards Reception & Program 
 7:00 PM9:00 PMSPJ Foundation Donor Reception 
Saturday, September 30
 8:00 AM11:00 PMSPJ Student Newsroom
 8:00 AM6:00 PMFreelance Corner 
 8:00 AM12:00 PMRegistration Open
 8:00 AM12:00 PMExhibit Hall Open 
 9:00 AM10:00 AMBreakout Block 5 (5)
 10:15 AM11:15 AMBreakout Block 6 (5)
 11:30 AM12:45 PMGeneral Session: Fellows Features 
 12:45 PM1:30 PMLunch Break 
 1:30 PM2:30 PMBreakout Block 7 (5)
 2:45 PM3:45 PMBreakout Block 8 (5)
 4:00 PM6:00 PMSPJ Closing Business Meeting 
 7:30 PM9:30 PMSPJ President’s Dinner
Sunday, October 1   
 9:00 AM1:00 PMSPJ BOD Meeting

Keynote Speakers

Friday: Gio Benitez

Kick off your SPJ convention experience with the engaging and uplifting Gio Benitez.  As co-anchor of “Good Morning America Weekend Edition,” he starts each day informing his national audience of timely news, culture, wellness and other useful information to help you live your best life. 

Benitez is an award-winning reporter who has covered a wide range of stories for the network, including the Pulse nightclub shooting, El Chapo’s underground escape from a Mexican prison and the Boston Marathon bombing. He has a long history of breaking exclusive investigative stories as part of the series, “GMA Investigates.” Some of these investigations have led to important safety recalls. 

In his role as transportation correspondent since 2020, Benitez has covered aviation during the industry’s near-total collapse in the pandemic as well as the onset of America’s private space industry. He has also reported extensively on plane and helicopter crashes across the country, train derailments and the dangerous effects of hot cars on children. 

Join us as he shares his professional experiences, career trajectory and key moments which shaped him as a journalist and role model.

Friday: Lisa Guerrero

Award-winning journalist Lisa Guerrero will share insights from her iconic career as the first female sideline reporter for “Monday Night Football” to becoming today’s head investigator for Inside Edition. Guerrero ‘s career has been full of trials and tribulations as a woman and a Latina in the news business. Her new book, “Warrior: My Path to Being Brave,” chronicles her rollercoaster experience and details the scrutiny and harassment she faced as a woman in the sports news industry. 

Guerrero is the chief investigative correspondent for Inside Edition and travels the country covering crimes, scams, cold cases and consumer reports. Her journalism career began in 1997 as a sports anchor in Los Angeles. She then moved to the Fox Network and was the first female host of the San Diego Chargers magazine-style television show and co-hosted “The Best Damn Sports Show Period,” before joining ABC’s Monday Night Football as its first female sideline reporter. In 2006, she joined Inside Edition where she won the National Headliner Award for Best Investigative Report and been nominated for a Prisim Award and Genesis Award for her investigative reporting work. 

Get inspired while learning how to deal with harassment and scrutiny as well as finding your voice in a demanding business.

Saturday: 2023 Fellows of the Society

The 2023 Fellows of the Society will share inspiring words about journalism and their careers. SPJ’s top professional honor, this award recognizes journalists who have made an extraordinary contribution to the profession. The 2023 Fellows will be announced soon. 

Breakout Sessions

SPJ23 offers over 40 breakout sessions to boost your skills and keep you up to date on everything happening in the journalism industry. This year, there will be sessions that dive deeper and run for 90 minutes, two hours or have multiple parts as well as the usual one-hour breakouts. Sessions and speakers may be added or changed. The schedule with times and dates for each session will be announced soon. For now, take a look at some of the breakout sessions offered at SPJ23 sorted by subject.

Breakout Sessions by Topic:

Strengthen Your Reporting — General and Beat Specific Sessions

How to Get the Best Interview for Your Story

Sometimes the interview for your story can be a challenge. Become the best interviewer with this session. Be prepared to leave with dozens of tips on how to get the best interview. Reporters on the panel will share their expertise on:

-How to get crucial interviews during breaking news

-How to conduct interviews with compassion when covering tragic stories

-How to encourage people to break their silence when they don’t want to talk

-How to get around the “no comment” come back


  • Rebecca Aguilar, Freelance Reporter
    • Rebecca Aguilar is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning reporter with more than 40 years in the news business. She spent 28 years in television news. In 2021, she became the first Latina and woman of color to become president of SPJ. She’s also the founder of Latinas in Journalism.
  • Jason Wolf, Sports Investigative Reporter, The Arizona Republic/USA Today
    • Jason Wolf is a 27-time recipient of the Associated Press Sports Editors national top 10 writing award. He’s also won first-place awards from the Society for Features Journalism and the Pro Football Writers of America. Wolf has extensive experience covering professional, college and high school sports.
  • Jaewon Jung, Senior Reporter, KTNV-13
    • Jaewon Jung is the senior reporter at KTNV Channel 13 in Las Vegas. She has been nominated for three regional Emmy awards for her work. During her career, she has covered high-profile cases like Robert Telles, wildfires and other extreme weather events.

Enriching Local News Stories with a Dose of Science (deep dive: two hour session)

Expert sources and scientific findings can deepen news consumers’ understanding of local issues, providing research-backed insights and countering misinformation — not just for “science” topics like COVID-19 and climate change but also for a host of locally relevant issues, from immigration, jobs and homelessness to transportation, crime and environmental justice. But many local and general assignment  reporters aren’t comfortable with science, and lack scientist contacts to turn to. Through presentations and interactive exercises, find out how to integrate science skillfully into your stories, find and vet scientist sources beyond the usual suspects and avoid classic science reporting pitfalls.


  • Tori Espensen, Scientific Outreach Manager, SciLine
    • A neuroscientist and science communicator, Tori Espensen is scientific outreach manager at SciLine, a philanthropically funded free service that connects journalists to scientist-sources and research-backed resources on deadline. Espensen designs training curricula to help reporters integrate science into their stories and for scientists wishing to work more effectively with the  media.
  • Nsikan Akpan, Health and Science Editor, WNYC/Gothamist
    • Nsikan Akpan leads the health and science desk at WNYC/Gothamist, where he edits and manages the newsroom’s coverage of science, health, technology and the environment. He previously covered or edited science stories at NatGeo, PBS NewsHour, NPR and other outlets.
  • Laura Helmuth, Editor in Chief, Scientific American
    • Laura Helmuth is editor in chief at Scientific American. Previously she served as The Washington Post’s health and science editor, director of digital news at NatGeo and science and health editor at Slate. She is also a past president of the National Association of Science Writers.

Preparing to Cover a Mass Shooting

The odds of covering a mass shooting are greater today than ever before. As journalists, we have to be prepared for the unexpected. In this session, journalists who covered mass shootings will share what they did before they got to the scene and how they built trust with witnesses, survivors and law enforcement during a very emotional time. Find out how your news team back at the office can help you and how to make sure self-care is a priority.


  • Eleanore Vega, Freelance Journalist
    • Eleanore Vega is a freelance journalist and SPJ Diversity and Inclusion Committee chair. For 14 years she was the CBS News West Coast bureau chief and led the coverage of numerous breaking news stories on the West Coast including the San Bernardino and Las Vegas mass shootings.
  • Craig Fiegner, News Reporter, KNX 1070 Newsradio
    • Craig Fiegener is a veteran reporter at KNX 1070 Newsradio in Los Angeles. The breaking news reporter covered the Seal Beach Salon and Las Vegas concert mass shootings. Fiegener has worked for KCBS-TV and KNBC-TV in Los Angeles and KSNV-TV in Las Vegas.
  • Yazmin Beltran, Public Information Officer, Clark County, Nevada
    • Yazmin Beltran is the president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Nevada Chapter. Before becoming a public information officer for Clark County, Nevada, Beltran was a newspaper reporter and a TV news producer. She was a TV newscast producer during the 2017 Mandalay Bay Mass Shooting.

Turning Articles into Stories: How to Find, Report and Write Narrative Non-Fiction

Stories are everywhere. But they often get lost in the information. Learn ways to find narratives off the news, on your beat and in the shadows. Writers, photographers and editors will learn the ingredients they need for a compelling narrative, ways to report, write and structure stories, and come away with ideas to pursue.


  • Lane DeGregory, Tampa Bay Times
    • Lane DeGregory is a Pulitzer-Prize winning writer for the Tampa Bay Times who has written for newspapers for 30 years and lectured at colleges. She hosts “WriteLane,” a podcast about non-fiction storytelling. University of Chicago Press recently published her annotated anthology “The Girl in the Window and Other True Tales.”

Uncovering the Truth: Identifying and Combating Misinformation on Any Beat (deep dive: 90 minute session)

PolitiFact has been fact-checking politicians and online misinformation for more than 15 years. Learn the secrets of the job (the good and the bad) and how fact-checking journalism can improve your reporting, hold the powerful to account and build trust with your audience.


  • Aaron Sharockman, Executive Director, PolitiFact
    • Aaron Sharockman is the executive director of PolitiFact, and the vice president for sales and strategic partnerships at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. Sharockman has more than a decade of experience reporting on and teaching mis- and disinformation tactics with a focus on empowering citizens with more accurate information.
  • Katie Sanders, Managing Editor, PolitiFact
    • Katie Sanders is the managing editor of PolitiFact at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. Katie oversees PolitiFact’s nonprofit fact-checking newsroom and its Pulitzer Prize-winning website. She currently serves on the boards of the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors and the First Amendment Foundation.
  • Alex Mahadevan, Director, MediaWise
    • Alex Mahadevan is director of MediaWise at the Poynter Institute. He has taught digital media literacy to thousands of middle and high schoolers, and has trained hundreds of international journalists in verification and digital investigative tools.

Headless Body in Topless Bar: Headline Writing 101

It takes some journalists a whole career to become good headline writers – but you can do it in just 50 minutes during this session. Every story deserves a strong headline. Three simple steps will help you master this critical skill.


  • Claire Regan, National President, SPJ
    • Claire Regan is an assistant professor at Wagner College in New York City and a contributing writer for the Staten Island Advance. She is past president of the New York City Deadline Club and current president of SPJ national.

From Cuffs to the Courthouse: How to Cover Criminal Justice

Crime and the court system can get complicated. Experienced journalists will share their tips on how to build trust within the police department and the courthouse that can help you break stories. They’ll also help you figure out how to find newsworthy cases and what you need to know about a case before stepping into the courtroom.


  • Daniela Ibarra, Multimedia Journalist, KSAT-TV
  • Rebecca Aguilar, Freelance Journalist
  • Vanessa Murphy, Investigative Reporter, KLAS-TV
  • Katelyn Newberg, Reporter, Las Vegas Review-Journal

“Following The Science” to the Podcast Universe

Medical misinformation kills – but how can we be sure we know it when we see it? It’s been especially confusing during the pandemic, since science is by nature uncertain and sometimes gets mixed up with values and political ideology.  Fay Flam, SPJ’s Pulliam Editorial Fellow, explored ways to sort truth from fiction and to investigate why people spread and believe dubious claims. Podcasting was the medium Flam chose to let experts explain complex ideas in detail and context.  


  • Faye Flam, Science Columnist, Bloomberg
    • Faye Flam is the host of “Follow the Science podcast.” She has written for Science Magazine, Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Times, Psychology Today, The Washington Post and She has taught science writing to college students and worked as a journalism critic for the Knight Foundation. She currently writes commentary pieces about science as a columnist for Bloomberg View. In 2020, Flam received the  Eugene C. Pulliam Fellowship for Editorial Writing from SPJ to study the consequences of misinformation, conflicting statements and confusion surrounding medical issues. 
  • Todd Gillman, Washington Bureau Chief, Dallas Morning News
    • Todd Gillman became Washington Bureau Chief of the Dallas Morning News in 2009 and has covered East Texas, Dallas City Hall and politics since joining The News in 1989. He’s been elected three times to the White House Correspondents’ Association board, with a term ending in 2023. He also serves on the SPJ Foundation Board. Todd has a Master in Public Policy from Harvard and a BA from Johns Hopkins in international studies.

State of Sports Journalism

A conversation about the rapidly changing sports media industry, led by the first-year SPJ Sports Committee

Exposing Threats to Journalism and Journalists

Defend Yourself Against Online Abuse 

This session hosted by PEN America, equips writers and journalists, as well as their allies and employers, with practical tools and strategies to defend against online abuse. Taking a holistic approach to digital safety, Jeje Mohammed, PEN America’s senior manager of free expression and digital safety, will talk about how to prepare, respond, take care of yourself and support others.


  • Jeje Mohammed, Senior Manager of Free Expression and Digital Safety,  PEN America
    • Jeje Mohamed has over nine years of experience working on human rights issues, journalism and safety and security in the Middle East and internationally. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the American University in Cairo in multimedia journalism and international relations.

Threats to Journalists Are Threats to Society

Attacks on journalists are increasing around the world, including the United States. Panelists will discuss how these attacks threaten not only press freedom but also the core of democratic societies. Panelists will also discuss what steps have been taken to protect journalists and why more awareness of this issue is necessary.


  • Jessica Jerreat, Voice of America’s Press Freedom Editor
    • Jessica Jerreat, has worked at the intersection of press freedom and international news for organizations including the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists and The Times of London. Prior to joining VOA in March 2020, Jerreat was senior editor at CPJ, where she edited in depth reports into global censorship and attacks on the press. She previously edited news for the broadsheet press in the U.K. including for the foreign desk of The Times and at the Daily Telegraph. Jerreat has a master’s in War, Media, and Society from the University of Kent at Canterbury, with a focus on propaganda, the press and conflict in the Korean war.
  • Vicente Calderon, Founder,
    • Vicente Calderón is a Mexican reporter with more than 35 years of experience as a journalist on both sides of the border. He is the founder of, a website and news service platform that caters to media outlets locally and internationally.
  • Glenn Cook, Executive Editor,  Las Vegas Review-Journal
    • Glenn Cook was named executive editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2018 after serving two years as managing editor. Under his leadership, the newspaper won multiple public records lawsuits, including a four-year battle that ended the practice of keeping autopsy reports confidential.

The Review-Journal’s Fight for Jeff German’s Sources (deep dive: two hour session)

Jeff German spent 40 years building trust with sources and uncovering corruption, in the smallest offices and large federal schemes. His colleagues at the Las Vegas Review-Journal helped solve his killing, allegedly by an elected official in retaliation for his reporting. Now, the RJ is embroiled in a legal fight with local police attempting to protect Jeff’s anonymous sources from being revealed. Editors will discuss the days following German’s death and the legal ramifications of the case for journalists everywhere.


  • Glenn Cook, Executive Editor, Las Vegas Review-Journal
    • Glenn Cook is executive editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. An RJ employee since 1996, Cook wrote for the editorial page for 11 years and was a columnist for seven years. Cook is a Tucson, Arizona, native and a graduate of the University of Arizona and UNLV.
  • David Ferrara, Assistant City Editor, Las Vegas Review-Journal
    • David Ferrara is an assistant city editor and former reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where he worked closely with German for several years covering the legal system. Before joining the Review-Journal, he reported for a newspaper in Alabama and various news outlets in the Chicago area.
  • Benjamin Lipman, Chief Legal Officer, Las Vegas Review-Journal
    • Ben Lipman is the chief legal officer of Las Vegas Review-Journal, Inc.  Prior to heading west to the Review-Journal in 2019, Ben was in private practice in St. Louis for over 27 years, practicing primarily in the areas of media law and commercial litigation.
  • Ashley Kissinger, Senior Lawyer, Ballard Spahr’s Media & Entertainment Law Group
    • Ashley Kissinger is a senior lawyer in Ballard Spahr’s nationally recognized Media & Entertainment Law Group. She defends complex defamation, privacy, and copyright infringement cases nationwide, protects the press’s right to keep sources and newsgathering materials confidential, and helps clients obtain access to public information.

“Bad Press” Documentary Screening and Q&A (two-part session)

Bad Press is a feature documentary that premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and won the Special Jury Award for Freedom of Expression. When the Muscogee Nation suddenly begins censoring their free press, a rogue reporter fights to expose her government’s corruption in a historic battle that will have ramifications for all of Indian Country. The film screening (98 min) will be followed by a Q&A with co-director Rebecca Landsberry-Baker, co-director Joe Peeler and the main protagonist, journalist Angel Ellis.


  • Rebecca Landsberry-Baker, co-director, “Bad Press”
    • Rebecca Landsberry-Baker is an enrolled citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the executive director of the Native American Journalists Association. She made her directorial debut with the documentary feature film “Bad Press”.
  • Joe Peeler, co-director, “Bad Press”
    • Joe Peeler is a Sundance award-winning director and editor whose work has appeared on Netflix, HBO, FX, ESPN, Hulu and CBS. Joe co-directed “Bad Press,” which premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Freedom of Expression.
  • Angel Ellis, Director, Mvskoke Media
    • Angel Ellis is a Muscogee (Creek) Citizen and native Oklahoman.  She has worked in newspapers close to a decade in nearly every capacity from reporting to press prep. She became director of Mvskoke Media in 2020, after it shifted from a tribally funded newsletter to an autonomous news-gathering agency. 

Diversity in Your Reporting and Newsroom

Build a Newsroom Culture that Values Differences and Dissent (pre-convention three-hour session, additional registration required, 30 people cap)

Who journalists are as humans — our world views, experiences and assumptions — affects our coverage. Yet how often do we actually discuss our own identities? In this workshop, you’ll learn how to have more candid conversations about the richness and the limitations of your staff’s visible and invisible diversity. And you’ll assess coverage to see what values are embedded in it. How does your approach affect who might feel seen and understood by your work, and who might feel mischaracterized or left out? You’ll leave with a set of tools to take back to your own colleagues and coverage.


  • Joy Mayer, Director, Trusting News
    • Joy Mayer spent almost 20 years as a working journalist, including 12 as an accidental academic. She now runs Trusting News, which empowers journalists to actively earn trust and demonstrate their credibility.
  • Eve Pearlman, CEO and Co-Founder, Spaceship Media
    • Eve Pearlman is a veteran journalist and community engagement strategist. Before launching Spaceship Media, she worked with news and social media start-ups, including State, a London-based social media platform connecting people around shared interests, andAOL’s Patch. She holds a bachelor’s from Cornell University and a master’s in journalism from Northwestern.
  • Andy Sevilla, Deputy Managing Editor, Austin American-Statesman
    • Andy Sevilla is the deputy managing editor at the Austin American-Statesman, where he has worked since 2015. He edits politics and education, and he was part of the editing team for coverage of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which was honored as a Pulitzer Prize finalist for public service.
  • Lynn Walsh, Assistant Director, Trusting News
    • Lynn Walsh is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has worked in investigative journalism at the national level and locally in California, Ohio, Texas and Florida. She is the former Ethics Chair for SPJ and a past national president for the organization. Lynn is also an adjunct professor and freelance journalist.

Best Practices for Reporting on Immigrant or Ethnic Communities with SPJ’s New America Award Winners

SPJ’s New America Award honors public service journalism that explores and exposes issues of importance to immigrant or ethnic communities in the United States. Entries were submitted by media outlets, journalists, community and issue advocacy groups, individuals and others concerned with ethnic issues. The New America Award is presented in three categories: print/online, audio (includes radio and podcasts) and television.  A panel of the three New America Overall Excellence Award winners will highlight their 2022 recognized work.


  • Rod Hicks, Director of Ethics and Diversity, Society of Professional Journalists
    • Rod is currently SPJ’s director of diversity and ethics. In that role he provides consulting, resources and education to our members in those topical areas. Previous to his work at SPJ, Rod gained many years of experience at numerous news organizations across the country.

Why Ethical and Inclusive Language Matters in a Newsroom, and How to Get Everyone Using It (two-part session)

Using ethical and inclusive language in journalism can increase trust in news, improve accuracy and reduce the harms that media can cause. For example, research has found that the use of person-first language boosts trust in news among often-stigmatized groups, and journalists can apply research on gendered language, suicide and mass shootings to avoid perpetuating stereotypes and even save lives. This session will cover research and best practices for developing ethical and inclusive language guidelines and tips for getting everyone in your newsroom to adopt them.


  • Laura E. Davis, Founder, Stylebot
    • Laura E. Davis is an associate professor of professional practice at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism and the founder of Stylebot, an AI-enabled style guide that helps journalists save time without sacrificing quality.
  • Caitlin Hernández, Reporter, LAist
    • Caitlin Hernández is a reporter at LAist, an NPR affiliate serving Greater Los Angeles, and lead author of the newsroom’s public-facing and participatory style guide, Dialogue. Hernández is focused on making inclusive language more attainable by collaborating across the newsroom to craft pragmatic guidance.

Telling Impactful Stories at the Intersections of Aging, Equity, Caregiving, the Environment and Advocacy

Join a panel of leaders in the aging industry as they share foundational concepts journalists of all ages must know, to effectively cover aging in America — the story impacting millions of American families. The U.S. Census Bureau, projects by 2030 all baby boomers will be age 65. By 2034, older adults are projected to outnumber those 18 and younger for the first time in U.S. history. AARP estimates 53 million Americans already serve as unpaid family caregivers. This session will explore ‘aging’ stories across housing, transportation, health care, caregiving, employment and climate. Racial inequities and systematic racism often compound these growing societal challenges.


  • Julia Yarbough, Magid Associates and Keeping It REAL Caregiving
    • Julia Yarbough is a multiple Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist and communications consultant with Magid Associates. She is the creator of the Keeping It REAL Caregiving website and newsletter which focuses on educating, informing and advocating for caregivers. She is also a 2022 ASA Rise Fellow from the American Society on Aging, a regional advocate for the California Coalition on Family Caregiving and is on the Equity in Aging Advisory Committee of California Department of Aging.
  • Dr. Norman Jackson, Ph.D., MS gerontologists/San Diego State University
    • Norman Jackson, Ph.D., MS is a gerontologist and  lecturer at the San Diego State University School of Social Work. He is also the Associate Director with the UCSD Center for Criminality, Addiction Research, Training & Application and the gerontology coordinator at SDSU, where he focuses on increasing the visibility of students addressing an aging society to improve lives of vulnerable and at-risk older populations.
  • Donna Benton Ph.D., research associate professor of gerontology
    • Donna Benton Ph.D. is a research associate professor of gerontology and the director of the Family Caregiver Support Center at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.  She is a member of the CA Coalition on Family Caregiving, Work Family Coalition and the Elder Justice Coalition and works on the CA Master Plan of Aging.
  • Jennifer M-F Horn, MSW, Family Caregiver Support Center – Care Planner PPACG Area Agency on Aging
    • Jennifer Horn received her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Colorado State University – Pueblo and her master’s in social work from Newman University in 2020. Horn has spent nearly two decades researching older LGBT adults’ transmission of trauma, historical context, intersectionality and racial injustice.

Reporting on Diverse Latino/a/x Communities

This session will cover best practices for reporting on the diverse Latino/a/x communities in the U.S. The panelists will address what labels to use to describe the different Latino communities and best practices for reporting on Latinos and immigration, politics, gender, race, ethnicity and more. The panelists also will discuss how journalists can improve coverage of Latino communities and why representation matters. The panelists are all journalists, journalism educators and authors in a groundbreaking book “Reporting on Latino/a/x Communities: A Guide for Journalists” (Routledge, 2022). 


  • Teresa Puente, Assistant Professor, California State University, Long Beach
    • Teresa Puente teaches journalism at California State University, Long Beach and is faculty adviser to DÍG EN ESPAÑOL. Her recent journalistic work has been published in Time, Newsweek, The Hill, The Guardian and more. She was formerly a reporter at the Chicago Tribune and on the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board.
  • Laura Castañeda, Professor of Professional Practice, University of Southern California
    • Laura Castañeda, EdD, is a professor of professional practice in the USC Annenberg School of Journalism. She previously worked for The San Francisco Chronicle, The Dallas Morning News and The Associated Press. She has published freelance work in The New York Times,, Columbia Journalism Review and more.
  • Claudia Cruz, Director of Internships and Experiential Learning, Reynolds School of Journalism, University of Nevada, Reno
    • Claudia Cruz is director of internships and experiential learning at the Reynolds School of Journalism, University of Nevada, Reno. She also is editor of the university’s Noticiero Móvil bilingual news service. She previously worked as a technology reporter for CNET en Español and covered corporations like Apple, Alphabet and Facebook.

Creating an International Immigration Documentary

Two universities —  Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Guatemala City’s Francisco Marroquín University — came together to produce an international immigration documentary (in Spanish and English) after months in the field, nights of Zoom meetings and moments of serendipity. “Border of Dreams” follows two families – one that crossed into the U.S. in the dead of night and one that got caught at the border. With the help of an award-winning border photographer, a nonprofit saint and these families, the student journalists’ lives were changed. They hope the audience has a similar experience when they meet the families on the screen during the session. 


  • Scott Winter, Bethel University
    • Scott Winter has led international social justice reporting trips for years to Kosovo, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, India and Guatemala for 15 years in his time at University of Nebraska and Bethel University in Minnesota. He’s also a former journalist and author of a biography.
  • Soraya Keiser, documentary producer, Bethel University
    • Journalist Soraya Keiser won the 2022 Ernie Pyle Human-Interest Profile top prize from the Associated Collegiate Press. She’s co-editor of Textura Guatemala 2022, which is nominated for Best Student Magazine. 

Campus Media Diversity: How to Make Coverage and Staffing More Inclusive

For more than five decades, the news industry has talked about making its coverage more inclusive and its staffs more diverse, with limited success. Is this also an issue at student-run campus media at majority-white colleges and universities? What can their leaders and advisers do to bring more diversity and inclusion to their coverage and staffing?


  • Gary Estwick, Breaking News and Race & Culture Editor, The Tennessean, 
  • Sandra Jones, News Anchor/Reporter

Exploring Investigative and Data Reporting

Information Lock-Up: When the Freedom of Information Act is Not Enough (deep dive: 90 minute session)

Many states are tightening up laws regarding the free flow of information making it harder for journalists to do their jobs. More than that, they are making it harder for everyday citizens to know more about what goes on in government. This isn’t a federal problem for the national news organizations to fight. It’s a fight that happens in all places including newsrooms with one reporter and it’s all across America. That’s why on a grassroots level it takes voices from journalists and advocacy groups working together to keep their states’ records and meetings open to the public.

Prying Loose Public Records (deep dive: 90 minute session)

Data from government agencies is often the backbone of award-winning reporting, but it’s getting tougher and tougher to access public records. The people’s right to know is under attack across the country. But never fear; there are ways to get the job done. This session provides a broad introduction to using open records laws at federal and state levels. You’ll get a checklist of what you need to write a strong open records request and get tips on what to do to overcome roadblocks, such as expensive fees. There also will be time for Q&A to help with your particular cases.


  • Diana R. Fuentes, Executive Director, Investigative Reporters and Editors
    • Diana R. Fuentes has more than 35 years of journalism experience, as reporter, editor and publisher. She has extensive expertise in wrangling public information from agencies, testifies at the legislature on open records laws and is on the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas board of directors, where she served as president.

Sports Journalism Investigations: Follow the Money

Sports investigative reporter Jason Wolf goes far beyond the scores and statistics. Wolf has investigated everything from professional athletes’ nonprofits to sports memorabilia to college athletics finances. He will demonstrate how to use public records to follow the money to insightful stories with many layers.


  • Jason Wolf, Sports Enterprise and Investigative Reporter, Arizona Republic
    • Jason Wolf is a sports enterprise and investigative reporter for The Arizona Republic. His work has earned dozens of national writing awards, including first-place accolades from the Associated Press Sports Editors, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pro Football Writers of America.

Power in Numbers: Building Compelling Data-Driven Stories

It’s no longer enough to build news stories around interviews alone. A credible article must be backed by data presented in an engaging and compelling way. In this hands-on session, you’ll learn the skills required to become a modern journalist at the exciting intersection of data, information design and customized narratives.


  • Sandeep Junnarkar, Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY
    • Sandeep Junnarkar directs the data journalism program at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York. He’s also a consulting newsroom trainer at Bloomberg News. He began his career by helping to build The New York Times’s earliest digital editions, and later served as CNET’s NYC bureau chief.
  • Jere Hester, Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY
    • Jere Hester directs editorial projects and partnerships and is interim director of urban reporting at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York, where he established the NYCity News Service. He has also served as the founding editor-in-chief of THE CITY, a NYC news site, and city editor of the NY Daily News.

How Google Tools Can Enhance Your Reporting

Bring your laptop to this hands-on session that will show how several Google tools can be incorporated into your daily journalism. Google tools provide valuable, inventive and often unexpected ways for journalists to access and process information, leading to more nuanced stories. Fundamentals of Search, Trends, Data GIFs, Verification, Maps and more will be highlighted. Don’t forget to bring your laptop


  • Amara Aguilar, Society of Professional Journalists & University of Southern California
    • Amara Aguilar is a professor of journalism at the University of Southern California who centers her work around emerging technology, visual journalism, social media, design, Latinx audiences and engaging diverse communities.

Using Technology and Online Resources

TikTok for News: How News Organizations Are Keeping Gen-Z Informed (two-part session)

As social media apps focus more on short-form video, journalists discuss how their organizations have pivoted and adapted how they share the news with audiences. This session will go over different approaches to content, the ethics of the apps and advice for journalists looking to get started.


  • Carolyn Burt, Audience Engagement Producer, Southern California News Group
    • Carolyn Burt is an audience engagement producer at Southern California News Group where she specializes in short-form video. In 2022, she interned at the Los Angeles Times on their audience engagement team. She is also a proud alumn of the SPJ Student Newsroom.
  • Bella Ross, Community Engagement Editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune
    • Bella Ross is a community engagement editor for The San Diego Union-Tribune’s opinion section and a member of the editorial board, where her job includes making short-form videos about public policy. She graduated from San Diego State University in 2020 with degrees in journalism and political science.
  • Safi Nazzal, Content Creator, 404 by Los Angeles Times
    • Safi Nazzal is a filmmaker and content creator for 404 by L.A. Times, where he hosts an experimental puppet news show called the Sorry Report. He takes pride in “fabricating” the news.

The New and Old Newsroom Skills Students Need in the Era of Generative AI

Generative AI is poised to redefine the newsroom roles of the future. Journalism educators need to prepare students to harness the capabilities of large language models responsibly, both in the classroom and on the job. In some cases, this will mean teaching new skills, and in others, it will mean getting back to the fundamentals of journalism and re-emphasizing skills that might have been overlooked in the digital era. This session will empower journalism educators to make both short-term and long-term changes to their classes and curriculums so they can prepare their students for a rapidly changing industry.


  • Laura E. Davis, Founder, Stylebot
    • Laura E. Davis is the founder of Stylebot, an AI-enabled style guide that helps journalists save time without sacrificing quality, and an associate professor of professional practice at the University of Southern California Annenberg School of Journalism.
  • Rebecca Haggerty, Director of the Undergraduate Journalism program, University of Southern California Annenberg
    • Rebecca Haggerty is an associate professor of practice and the Director of the Undergraduate Journalism program at University of Southern California Annenberg, where she leads curriculum development and review.
  • Laura Castañeda, Professor of Professional Practice, University of Southern California Annenberg
    • Laura Castañeda, EdD, is an award-winning professor of professional practice in the USC Annenberg School of Journalism. Before joining USC Annenberg, she taught at Temple University and worked as a staff writer, editor and columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle, The Dallas Morning News, and The Associated Press.
  • Tomoki Chien, student journalist, University of Southern California Annenberg
    • Tomoki Chien is an award-winning print and photo journalist and journalism student at the University of Southern California, where he’s the photo editor and a reporter at the Daily Trojan and founding editor of Annenberg Media’s “Morning, Trojan” — a daily newsletter for USC students.

Canva for News Organizations: Easy Ways to Make Your Instagram Stand Out (two-part session)

This two part session will teach attendees easy tips and tricks on how they can use Canva to share articles on Instagram. In part one, we will go over creating grid posts and Instagram stories. In part two, we’ll go over Instagram Reels. Both sessions will include bonus tips and tricks. We’ll also go over some features Canva provides such as infographics, templates, removing the background of images and AI tools. Attendees are encouraged to sign up for a Canva account prior to the session so that they can participate throughout.


  • Carolyn Burt, Audience Engagement Producer, Southern California News Group
    • Carolyn is an Audience Engagement Producer at Southern California News Group where she oversees the social media of the OC Register, Press-Enterprise and nine other publications. In 2022 she interned at the Los Angeles Times on their audience engagement team. She is also an alumn of the SPJ Student Newsroom.

Building Connections with Communities, Funders and Partners

Media, Trust and Democracy: “Trustworthy” Documentary Screening and Panel Discussion  (deep dive: two hour session)

If journalism declines, democracy declines. “Trustworthy” is a documentary that chronicles a 5,300-mile journey across America to explore how the growing crisis of trust in media threatens our democracy, and whether we can find common ground. From small towns to urban enclaves, those interviewed include journalists, experts and everyday Americans across the political spectrum about how we got to this critical moment, how we can become better news and information consumers, and how we can come together to rise above the misinformation and discourse aimed at dividing our communities.


  • Stephany Zamora, Executive Producer, “Trustworthy” Documentary
    • Stephany Zamora is the creator of “Trustworthy.” She is a California native raised in Silicon Valley, a veteran tech executive who specializes in business systems and operations for growing startup companies. She formed SZ Strategies to leverage her entrepreneurial spirit to create meaningful films that challenge and inspire society.
  • Gabriel Escobar, Editor and Senior Vice President, The Philadelphia Inquirer
    • Gabriel Escobar joined The Inquirer in 2007 and has served as metropolitan editor, assistant managing editor and managing editor. Before that, he worked at The Washington Post for 16 years as the city editor, a reporter on the local and national desks and as a foreign correspondent in Latin America.
  • Cathie Batbie-Loucks, News Director, KVOA-TV
    • Cathie Batbie-Loucks is the news director of KVOA-TV in Tucson, Arizona, and has been with the NBC-affiliate for over 19 years, previously serving as assistant news director, content management center director, assignment manager and news producer. She began her career at WTWO-TV in Terre Haute, Indiana, and graduated from Indiana University in Broadcast Journalism.
  • Alex Mahadevan, Director, MediaWise, Poynter Institute
    • Alex Mahadevan is director of MediaWise at the Poynter Institute. He has taught digital media literacy to thousands of middle and high schoolers, and has trained hundreds of international journalists in verification and digital investigative tools.

Fitting in the News: Creating Personalized Interactives

Study after study shows many people feel disconnected from the news. Here’s one surefire way to engage audiences: creating personalized interactives that show people how they fit into the news and giving them the information they need to make decisions. In this session, we’ll take you through conceiving and producing effective personalized interactives.


  • Jere Hester, Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY
    • Jere Hester directs editorial projects and partnerships and is interim director of urban reporting at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York, where he established the NYCity News Service. He has also served as the founding editor-in-chief of THE CITY, a NYC news site, and city editor of the NY Daily News.
  • Sandeep Junnarkar, Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY
    • Sandeep Junnarkar directs the data journalism program at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York. He’s also a consulting newsroom trainer at Bloomberg News. He began his career by helping to build The New York Times’s earliest digital editions, and later served as CNET’s NYC bureau chief.

How Nonprofit News Organizations are Building the Future of Local News

Nevada Independent co-founders Jon Ralston and Elizabeth “E” Thompson and San Jose Spotlight co-founder and CEO Ramona Giwargis will be joined by the American Journalism Project’s Vice President of Growth Investments Michelle Srbinovich, for a conversation about the growing role of nonprofit newsrooms in our local news ecosystems. The session will discuss how nonprofit news is helping drive impactful, community-based reporting that buttresses our democracy, while also creating opportunities for greater innovation and representation in local journalism. Panelists will share lessons learned from leading nonprofit news organizations that aim to be the primary sources of local news for their communities.


  • Jon Ralston, Founder and CEO, Nevada Independent
    • Jon Ralston has covered Nevada politics for over 30 years. His blog, Ralston Reports, (est. 2012) now lives on Jon previously hosted several shows, including “Ralston Live” on Vegas PBS and “Ralston Reports” on KSNV News 3. He is an MSNBC contributor and has appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
  • Elizabeth “E” Thompson, Editor-in-Chief, Nevada Independent
    • E Thompson has covered Nevada politics and government since 2008. Her television work includes hosting “Nevada Week in Review” on Vegas PBS for most of 2014, co-hosting the daily political talk show “The Agenda” on KSNV News 3 from 2012-2013 and working as the political analyst for KTNV News 13 from 2009-2011.
  • Ramona Giwargis, Co-Founder and CEO, San Jose Spotlight
    • Ramona Giwargis is an award-winning news leader with more than a decade of experience covering politics, working across Northern California and Nevada. She is passionate about watchdog journalism that uncovers truth, exposes wrongdoing and spotlights injustice. An Assyrian immigrant, Ramona cares deeply about telling the stories of minority and underserved communities.
  • Michelle Srbinovich, Vice President of Growth Investments, American Journalism Project
    • Michelle Srbinovich is a former Detroit media and nonprofit executive turned venture philanthropist. She became the youngest general manager of a major market NPR affiliate as Detroit was entering into municipal bankruptcy, leading the station’s transformation into a cultural institution.

Navigating Reporter-Community Partnerships in Covering Local Stories in Underserved Areas  (deep dive: 90 minute session)

The news convention of objectivity in reporting is increasingly being challenged as news deserts are recognized and addressed around the country, particularly in communities of color and other underserved localities. The need for strategic collaborations between journalists, journalism academic programs and community-based organizations is more apparent than ever as newspapers and other media outlets struggle to remain viable in covering communities traditionally ignored by larger media. This panel will explore the challenges in navigating these collaborations from a community, student journalist and educator perspective, and will showcase examples of successful reporting initiatives that have resulted from these types of collaborations.


  • Mario Murillo, Vice Dean, Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University
    • Mario Murillo, vice dean of the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University, has a special interest in community-based radio journalism, Latin American studies, citizen media and civic engagement.
  • Scott Brinton, Assistant Professor of Journalism, Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University
    • Scott Brinton, assistant professor of journalism at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, was a community journalist for nearly three decades before joining Hofstra University as a full-time professor in 2021. His research interests include community media, BIPOC media, interactive media and community engagement.
  • Chris Vaccaro, Director of the Graduate Journalism Program at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication and an Adjunct Professor at Hofstra University
    • Chris Vaccaro, director of the graduate journalism program at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication and an adjunct professor at Hofstra University, has also been a media executive for outlets across Long Island and in New York City.
  • Fatima Moien, Graduate Journalism Student, Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University
    • Fatima Moien is a graduate journalism student at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication and a graduate research assistant examining such subjects as excluded workers (undocumented and freelance workers who are ineligible for unemployment insurance) and undocumented workers who have been victims of wage theft.

Funding Journalism Projects with Spark (deep dive: two hour session)

If you have a dream project that needs financial support, this seminar is for you. Wildfire Media will introduce the fundamentals of its Spark program, funded in part by an SPJ Foundation Grant in 2021.

The Spark training program helps freelance and investigative journalists research, develop and pitch project funding campaigns. Wildfire’s teaching faculty will explore topics such as which projects are ideal for funding campaigns, understanding public, private and personal funders, and introductory steps to grant writing and fundraising.

Seminar attendees will receive access to Wildfire’s Spark online training documents that cover in-depth fundraising, grant writing, and project development.


  • Jamie Rose, Wildfire Media
    • Jamie Rose has been working in journalism and communications for almost three decades. She is a co-founder of Momenta Group, the educational management partner of Wildfire Media, a documentary storytelling nonprofit. She was on the team that helped to create the Spark program for journalists and documentarians.

Can the Mainstream Press Win Over Conservatives?

For decades, conservative Americans have complained that the mainstream press does not fairly report on issues that concern them, if at all, and research shows conservatives are far less likely to trust the press than liberals. Should the mainstream news media make more effort to win over these news consumers and are there successful strategies for doing so? Why do so many people prefer conservative media and sites that feed them conspiracy theories and false narratives?


  • Rod Hicks, Director of Ethics and Diversity, Society of Professional Journalists
  • Ron Nixon, Vice President, News and Head of Investigations, Enterprise, Partnerships and Grants, Associated Press

Career Tips and Transition Advice

Overcoming Impostor Syndrome

Many professionals have struggled with the feeling of not measuring up to their peers. More still have questioned their places in their fields. Join a nationally-renowned impostor syndrome expert, SPJ leaders and peers in a panel discussion followed by small-group activities that will help journalists at all levels uncover and eliminate unproductive thought patterns and develop enduring professional courage and confidence.


  • Stephanie Bernaba, Owner and Principal, White Orchid Media
    • Stephanie Bernaba is a multimedia journalist, photographer and an award-winning humor writer. Her work has appeared on a wide variety of local, national and international platforms. She is the programming coordinator for the SPJ Freelance Community Board and a member of and mentor for the National Press Photographers Association.
  • Richard Gardner, Ph.D., expert, impostor syndrome
    • Richard Gardner’s research focuses on leadership, dysfunctional behaviors, negative interpersonal and organizational relationships, business ethics and negotiations in business. He also led a study on imposter syndrome, which was covered by outlets including BBC Radio, Psychology Today, Leadership Today. He is currently a faculty member at Brigham Young University.
  • Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins, Vice President, SPJ
    • Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has worked as a television news anchor, reporter and producer across the country. She’s a journalism professor at Santa Monica College and faculty advisor for SMC’s student-run newspaper. She serves as SPJ vice president and will become board president in Fall 2023.
  • Nicole DeCriscio, Region 5 Coordinator, SPJ
    • Nicole DeCriscio is the founder and board president of The Owen News Project, a nonprofit news startup in rural Indiana. She serves as SPJ’s Region 5 Coordinator, helping members and chapters in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. Nicole is also a freelance journalist based in Bloomington, Indiana.

Freelancing as a Journalist’s Road to Independence

With the continued loss of news publications across the country, many journalists are considering going freelance. It’s an appealing and potentially exciting life/work style, but freelancing isn’t easy. Learn the reasons why — and why not — to strike out on your own, pitfalls to avoid, ways to get found for assignments from both traditional journalism outlets and clients in other fields, how to manage isolation, how to network, developing contracts, how to get paid and more from experienced freelancers working in print, broadcast, photography and online. Take the first steps on the “yellow brick road” to professional and personal freedom!


  • Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, “I can write about anything!”® and SPJ Freelance Community
    • Ruth E. Thaler-Carter has been a full-time freelancer since 1984. Published nationally, regionally, state-wide, locally on the arts, business, car audio, diversity, education, gardening and law, she is the recipient of the Philip M. Stern Award, Communicator of the Year Award and Big Pencil Award. She is the author, “Get Paid to Write! Getting Started as a Freelance Writer” and co-author of “Freelancing 101: Launching Your Editorial Business.”
  • Tre’vell Anderson, podcast host
    • Tre’vell Anderson is the co-host of Crooked Media’s “What A Day” and Maximum Fun’s “FANTI” podcasts. They are the founder and chief imagination officer of Slayzhon, Inc., authoress of “We See Each Other: A Black, Trans Journey Through TV and Film” and “Historically Black Phrases.” They started in journalism at Los Angeles Times, creating diversity in Hollywood beat.
  • Solomon O. Smith, freelancer
    • Solomon O. Smith is a photojournalist and writer with associate degrees in political science, photojournalism, general studies: social and behavioral science and certificates in photojournalism, newspaper, magazine. He is working toward a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and political science. He started as a staff reporter on Valley Star and then became editor-in-chief, photo editor, staff photographer, layout editor, graphic designer, etc. He has won awards for photojournalism and newspaper work.

Switching News Platforms to Expand Your Opportunities

It’s essential today for journalists to be able to move from platform to platform because sometimes the job demands more or to help find a new job. Find out how experienced journalists have made the switch and what skills transferred quickly, and what they had to learn. Print reporters now work in TV, and TV journalists work in magazines and newspapers. Leave with tips you will need to make the change and succeed.


  • Rebecca Aguilar, Freelance Reporter
    • Rebecca Aguilar is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning reporter. She worked for 28 years in TV news and then transitioned to print and digital. Today she works on all platforms as a freelance journalist. In 2021, she became the first Latina and woman of color to become president of SPJ.
  • Brian Horwath, Reporter, KTNV-TV
    • Bryan Horwath joined the KTNV-TV team as part of the E.W. Scripps Company’s Journalism Journey Initiative, designed to help career print journalists transition into the television news industry. Before joining Channel 13, Horwath spent 15 years as a newspaper and business trade publication reporter and editor.
  • Mary Chao, Specialty Reporter, Scripps News
    • Mary Chao is a specialty reporter at Scripps News covering real estate and Asian American issues. An award-winning print journalist and columnist of over 25 years, she joined Scripps News through the Journalism Journey Initiative program transitioning veteran print journalists to broadcast.

Jumpstarting Your Journalism Journey

Looking for your first job or internship? These panelists will give you advice on how to land the gig, make yourself stand out and navigate the first few years of your career.


  • Daniela Ibarra, Multimedia Journalist, KSAT-TV
  • Blaise Labbe, Group News Director, Sinclair Broadcast Group
  • Carolyn Burt, Audience Engagement Journalist, So Cal News Group
  • Grace Da Rocha, General Assignment Reporter, Las Vegas Sun

Transitioning from Newsroom to Classroom: How to Become a Journalism Educator

Do you want to make a difference in the lives of future journalists? Learn about different paths that journalists can take into the classroom, including the types and structures of educational institutions, qualifications needed for different instructional roles, finding the right professorial job for you and ways to prepare yourself for teaching and/or collegiate media advising. This session, with diverse panelists who entered the academy in myriad ways, will help you determine the right academic fit for your experience and preferences, prepare your resume to apply for a faculty job and set yourself up for success in the classroom.


  • Bey-Ling Sha, Dean, College of Communications at California State University, Fullerton
    • Bey-Ling Sha is dean of the College of Communications at California State University, Fullerton. She chairs the 2023 SPJ Journalism Education Committee and previously served on the SPJ National Board. She was inducted in 2022 to the Hall of Fame of the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
  • Scott A. Brinton, Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism, Media Studies and Public Relations at Hofstra University
  • Arthur Santana, Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University

Freelancer-Editor Meet & Greet: Connecting Freelance Journalists and the Editors Who Hire Them (Deep dive: 90 minute session)

Finding reliable freelancers and responsive editors can be an arduous task for both sides. This session will bridge the gap. Freelance journalists will break into groups and meet face-to-face with national and local editors. Editors will offer tips on how to pitch to them, what stories they’re looking for, mistakes to avoid, who to contact and much more. In this deep dive session, freelancers will also have the chance to pitch the editors. Freelance journalists will walk out with access to pitching guidelines and contacts for more than 500 media outlets across the country. Bring resumes, business cards and pitches!


  • Stacie Overton Johnson, Freelance Journalist/TV Producer
    • Stacie Overton Johnson is the chair of SPJ’s Freelance Community. She has freelanced for HGTV, E!, national broadcast news outlets and more. She was the food editor at The National, a daily in Abu Dhabi from 2013-2017. She lives in New York, writing for the show “Goodtaste”.
  • Angel Jennings, Assistant Managing Editor for Culture and Talent, Los Angeles Times
  • Megg Mueller, Executive Editor, Nevada Magazine
    • Megg Mueller has been a journalist for almost 30 years, starting at the Reno Gazette-Journal. She worked for the news and travel departments at, wrote a weekly column, and is now the executive editor of Nevada Magazine, an 87-year-old publication that serves as the state’s official tourism magazine.
  • Cadence Bambenek, Editor-in-Chief, HotHouse Solutions

Connect with SPJ

First Timers and New Members Welcome

Are you a first time SPJ convention attendee? Are you new to the Society? Join us for an informal session and get some great tips to get the most from the convention experience and your membership.  Not only will you gain information so you can become more engaged, you’ll leave this session with new colleagues and friends to make this Vegas meeting memorable.


  • Zoë Berg, Communications Specialist, Society of Professional Journalists
    • Zoë Berg joined staff in May 2019 as the Communications Coordinator to assist with communication and marketing efforts including member outreach, social media management, advocacy work and more. In addition to that work, she serves as assistant editor to SPJ’s Quill Magazine.
  • Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, I can write about anything!®
    • Ruth Thaler-Carter is the author/publisher of “Get Paid to Write! Getting Started as a Freelance Writer,” and co-author of “Freelancing 101: Launching Your Editorial Business” and “Résumés for Freelancers” for the Editorial Freelancers Association. She is also a board member of SPJ’s Freelance Community.
  • Clayton Gutzmore, Freelance Writer, NewsBreak
    • Clayton Gutzmore is a freelance journalist in South Florida. He has bylines in The Miami Times, The Miami Herald, The Atlanta Voice, B.E.T. and Variety Magazine. Gutzmore currently writes for Newsbreak. He is a 2021 Dori Maynard Diversity Fellow for the Society of Professional Journalists.

SPJ Chapter Leaders’ Roundtable

This session is designed for SPJ officers who want to strengthen their chapters and meet other leaders. You’ll meet the Regional Coordinators who are the primary volunteer resources to support you. There will be ample time to share (and steal) great ideas from others. And, you’ll network with other leaders whom you can turn to for support, answers and friendship. Come prepared to “give and get” during this highly interactive session.


  • Chrystal O’Keefe, Membership Specialist, Society of Professional Journalists
    • Chrystal originally started SPJ in 2015 to assist with membership part-time and by 2018, she was the Manager of Membership and Chapters. Now back with SPJ, Chrystal is here to improve the experience for members and focus on the soul of SPJ, the vast number of chapters across the country.
  • Chris Vaccaro, Region 1 Coordinator, Society of Professional Journalists
    • Chris Vaccaro, director of the graduate journalism program at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication and an adjunct professor at Hofstra University, has also been a media executive for outlets across Long Island and in New York City.

SPJ Student Newsroom Behind the Scenes

Learn more about the people behind your SPJ convention news. During this session, you’ll learn more about the SPJ News and its role in the convention. Student reporters for the SPJ News will talk about their experience covering the convention and some of the work they have produced. They will also discuss their main takeaways, new skills and what they hope to bring back to their college newsroom. It will also feature a Q&A with attendees.


  • Carolyn Burt, Audience Engagement Producer, Southern California News Group
    • Carolyn was an integral part of the 2022 SPJ Newsroom at the MediaFest22 convention in Washington, D.C.  She now works at the Southern California News Group as an audience engagement producer.
  • Bob Butler, Butler Media
    • Bob Butler has decades of experience in radio and television news reporting, writing and production. He is the adviser for the SPJ News. He is also a freelance reporter at KCBS Radio in San Francisco. Butler has reported around the globe for CBS Network Radio and spent 18-months as corporate diversity director for CBS Corporation.