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Society of Professional Journalists Region 9 Conference in Albuquerque, NM

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University of New Mexico Continuing Education Conference Center

1634 University Boulevard Northeast

Albuquerque, NM 87102

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Event description
Gathering of journalism pros, students, educators from SPJ Region 9 - New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and West Texas. Open to the public

About this Event


Make plans now to join us at the SPJ Region 9 Conference, April 5 – 6, 2019 at the Continuing Education Conference Center on the scenic campus of the University of New Mexico.

This conference is presented by the SPJ Rio Grande Chapter with help from the SPJ@UNM chapter.

Highlights include:

FREE FRIDAY! All five training workshops on Friday, April 5, are free to attend thanks to the generous support of our friends and sponsors! Please register for FREE FRIDAY sessions individually and separately from the Saturday slate.

    • FACEBOOK FOR JOURNALISTS - a training collaboration from Facebook and SPJ designed for working journalists.
    • GETTING IT DOWN, GETTING IT RIGHT - hands on workshop on better note taking, quoting, research, vetting for accuracy, protecting sources.
    • DATA ANALYSIS AND VISUALIZATION - a special training for all experience levels provided by Data Journalist John Roby. Using R to analyze, visualize and share real-world data.
    • GOOGLE MAPPING SKILLS - after an overview of Google tools for journalists, instructor Dan Petty will focus using My Maps and Google Earth Pro for adding maps to your journalism.
    • THINK LIKE A BUSINESS - journalism today means taking your career into your own hands. This workshop covers nuts and bolts of establishing yourself as a business.

COVERING THE CLIMATE CRISIS IN THE WEST - a plenary presentation by Tom Yulsman, from the Center for the Environment, that challenges all local reporters to champion timely, evidence-based reporting on this critical problem.

THE BORDER: REALITY VS HYSTERIA - a plenary session to learn firsthand from journalists who live and breath immigration and customs issues in the culturally complex border region.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER SATURDAY: JENNI MONET - award-winning journalist who writes about Indigenous rights and injustice for such publications as The LA Times, The Guardian and the Center for Investigative Reporting. Monet is a tribal citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna and divides her time between New York and the Indigenous world.

CANNABIS EMPHASIS - a session exploring emerging story approaches from the health, business and justice beats. What can Colorado teach the rest of us?

MARK OF EXCELLENCE AWARDS - will be distributed to outstanding student journalists at our Saturday luncheon (featuring a special keynote speaker)!

LOTS MORE! The following panels, presentations and workshops are now under construction:

  • Overcoming Journalism’s Urban / Rural Divide - Opportunity for Collaboration
  • Open Government / Open Data - Access and Action Needed
  • Whose Voices Are You Hearing? A New Mexico Recipe for Covering Diverse Communities
  • Improving Your Reporting Through Better Storytelling
  • #MeToo on the Job - Appropriate Responses in our Newsrooms & Communities
  • Public Lands in the Crosshairs

EVEN MORE! You'll have a chance to bid on dozen of valuable items in our SILENT AUCTION.

We're planning a special BREWPUB HAPPY HOUR event for Friday night. Special Guest: ABE STREEP, western writer and winner of the 2019 American Mosaic Journalism Prize.

GOOD NEWS! Our prices remain low, low, low. Same as they were in 2016! SPJ member registration is $50. Students $25. The general public is welcome at $65.

TICKETING GUIDANCE. Click the register button and be prepared to pick your FREE FRIDAY sessions first (pick up to three, see agenda below). Then pick your registration category for Saturday's fee-based registration. You can also choose to provide student scholarships!

THE HOTEL nearest the conference center is Home2 Suites by Hilton -- Albuquerque/Downtown-University and they provide a discount for attendees at the UNM Conference Center. (Use Corporate Account #0560056353 for the discount.)

Note: There is no official conference hotel. There are many hotels within a 1-2 mile radius of the conference center.

We encourage you to book your room soon!


So far the list of generous supporters includes:

  • Thornburg Foundation
  • McCune Foundation
  • Albuquerque Journal
  • Searchlight New Mexico
  • New Mexico In Depth
  • Albuquerque Business First
  • Las Cruces Sun News
  • Media Placitas
  • New Mexico Press Association
  • NM Foundation for Open Government
  • Tom Johnson
  • New Mexico News Port
  • Center for the Environment
  • Santa Fe Council for International Relations
  • The Utah and Colorado Chapters of SPJ
  • SPJ National Headquarters

CONFERENCE SCHEDULE (Sessions marked * are still under construction)


The Society of Professional Journalists’ Region 9 Conference

April 5–6, 2019

Room B and C, North Building

Continuing Education Conference Center

University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Presented by

SPJ Rio Grande (Pro Chapter) & SPJ @ UNM (Student Chapter)

Friday, April 5

10:00-11:30 SPJ Rio Grande Board Meeting (tentative)

12:00-4:00 Conference Registration Desk is Open

12:15-12:30 “Free Friday” Welcoming Remarks

12:30-1:50 FREE FRIDAY Opening Workshop

  • Workshop 1: Facebook for Journalists: Tools including Live, Groups, Video, Insights and Safety features.

In 2018, Facebook and SPJ partnered to teach Facebook Tools for Journalists at conferences and newsrooms around the country. Facebook and SPJ are committed to creating opportunities for journalists everywhere to learn about ways Facebook tools can help create and share incredible works of journalism, as well as engaging the public in the stories about their communities. Visit: https://www.spj.org/facebook.asp

Note: All participants are asked to fill out this pre-survey.

Lynn Walsh, Emmy award-winning freelance journalist who has worked in investigative, data and TV journalism at the national level as well as locally in California, Ohio, Texas and Florida. Based in San Diego, she is a past national president of SPJ and Project Manager at the Trusting News project.

1:50-2:05 Refreshment Break

2:05-3:25 FREE FRIDAY Simultaneous Workshops

  • Workshop 2: Getting it Down & Getting it Right: How to take better notes, conduct better research and fact-check your own work

Whether you’re reporting from the office or the field, gathering good information is crucial for any story. In this hands-on workshop, veteran journalists will teach you strategies for taking notes that capture key quotes and vivid color, conducting thorough research, and vetting the accuracy of what you’ve learned.

Sarah Scoles, freelance science journalist (Wired, Pacific Standard, TheAtlantic.com), Denver, CO

Julia Dendinger, Assistant Editor, Valencia County News-Bulletin, Belen, NM

Judy Fahys, Reporter, KUER/Mountain West News Bureau (formerly of the Salt Lake Tribune), Salt Lake City, UT

April Reese, freelance science and environment journalist (Scientific American, Science magazine, Nature), Santa Fe, NM

  • Workshop 3: Data Analysis & Visualization: Learning what's really happening in your data, visualizing it and sharing it with others

Data lies beneath more and more of the work we do as journalists – and not just for the big investigations. Your best data work is done not with Excel, but with a dedicated programming language like R. This workshop will help you up your reporting game by learning a programming approach to analyzing and visualizing a real-world dataset, and generating story ideas from your exploration.

Note: Appropriate for any experience level, but you must be comfortable with basic computer operation. Also, you must provide a laptop (Windows, Mac or Linux). Attendees will be given links to download free software and data, which must be done before the workshop begins.

John R. Roby, data journalist, has done data analysis, data visualization and data-driven reporting for publications based in New Mexico, New York and California. Based in Santa Fe, NM.

3:25-340 Refreshment Break

3:40-5:00 FREE FRIDAY Simultaneous Workshops

  • Workshop 4: Google Mapping Skills: Overview, My Maps, Google EarthPro

(Details coming)

Dan Petty, The Denver Post, Denver, CO

  • Workshop 5: Think Like a Business: Fellowships, Grants & Survival Skills for Journalists

Week after bloody week, journalists are losing staff jobs and facing financial collapse. Others have worked years, against odds, to make independent journalism pay the bills. No matter who you are or where you worked before, today’s realities mean we all need to think like a business, not an employee.

This workshop will cover the nuts and bolts of turning a job into a self-owned business and brand. Some of the questions we’ll explore:

-Where do I find project grants? How do I win them? -Should I form an LLC? -How can I work smart and save on taxes? -What’s a fellowship and what could it do for me? -What’s my side gig?

Panelists: tba*

Karen Coates, Bosque Farms, NM

5:00-5:15 Wrap Up

6:00 Happy Hour - featuring Abe Streep, winner, American Mosaic Journalism Prize (location TBA)


Saturday, April 6

8:00-3:00 Conference Registration Desk is Open

8:00-8;45 Check In / Breakfast

8:45-9:00 Opening Remarks from SPJ Local, Regional and National

Welcome to Albuquerque, New Mexico! Your host is the SPJ Rio Grande Chapter led by President Karen Coates. Additional greetings from National SPJ Secretary Matt Hall and Region 9 Director Ed Otte

9:00-9:45 Presentation: Covering the Climate Crisis in the West

Speaker: Tom Yulsman, Center for the Environment, Boulder, CO

Climate change is one of the biggest issues of our time, affecting every corner of the West. But how can we make such an enormous topic sensible for our readers? How can we turn science and data into great storytelling? What tools can we use to root our reporting in evidence-based research—especially in an era of fake news amid a societal backlash against science?

Tom Yulsman is director of the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado and a Professor of Journalism within the College of Media, Communication and Information. He writes ImaGeo, a visual blog for Discover magazine that focuses on the intersection of imagery, imagination and planet Earth. His book, Origins: The Quest for our Cosmic Roots, was published in 2003. He is a past editor-in-chief of Earth magazine, and his work has appeared widely in publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post, Scientific American, bioGraphic, Audubon, Climate Central, and Astronomy.

9:45-10:00 Refreshment Break / Silent Auction Opens (closes at 4:00 pm)

10:00-11:00 Simultaneous Sessions

  • Covering Cannabis: Is the emphasis on Business, Health Justice or...?

(panel under construction)

Moderator: SPJ@UNM

  • Improving Your Reporting Through Better Storytelling

You’ve done your research, gathered the facts and even gotten some killer quotes. Now, on deadline, it’s time to sit down and write—to take that great stuff in your notebook and weave it into a story that will (hopefully) inform and enthrall your audience. But what’s the best way to tell that story? How do you turn dry facts and figures into a compelling story that will best serve your audience? Veteran storytellers share their experience and techniques, discuss tailoring storytelling to fit a specific audience and answer your storytelling questions.

Panelists: Abe Streep (confirmed), Matt Grubs (most likely)

Moderator: Ryan Lowery

11:00-11:15 Refreshment Break

11:15-12:00 Simultaneous Sessions

  • Overcoming Journalism’s Urban / Rural Divide

Description: Journalists in rural communities are often left out of the national conversation about journalism. How can we bring more journalists together to support and learn from each other in the West? Are there opportunities for collaboration between journalists in urban and rural communities?

Panelists: *reached out to: Kara Mason (CO), Staci Matlock (NM)

Moderator: tba

  • Open Government / Open Data - Access and Action Needed

Reporters spend time and resources developing investigatory and data analysis chops, but are often stymied by a frustrating experience: not being able to access crucial government information, including what ought to be easily transferred datasets in machine readable format. This panel will discuss the importance of open data and best practices gleaned from other states so journalists can more effectively make their case for data to gatekeepers at public agencies.

Panelists: Melanie Majors, Executive Director, New Mexico Foundation for Open Government; Peter St. Cyr, Executive Director, Open Access New Mexico; John Roby, Data Journalist for Hoodline.com.

Moderator: Marjorie Childress, Deputy Director of New Mexico In Depth.

12:00-1:15 Lunch, Keynote Speaker, Mark of Excellence Awards

Keynote Speaker: Jenni Monet

Jenni Monet is an award-winning journalist who writes about Indigenous rights and injustice for such publications as The LA Times, The Guardian, the Center for Investigative Reporting and others. Jenni received top honors for her coverage of the Dakota Access Pipeline battle in which she chronicled the movement for six consecutive months, resulting in her arrest and ultimately her acquittal. Jenni is a tribal citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna and divides her time between New York and the Indigenous world.

Moderator: Bill Diven


Mark of Excellence Award Presentation

Presenter: (tba)

1:30-2:30 Plenary Session

Whose Voices Are You Hearing? A New Mexico Recipe for Covering Diverse Communities.

(under construction)

Moderator: Monica Braine

2:30-2:45 Refreshment Break

2:45-3:30 Simultaneous Sessions

  • #MeToo on the Job: Appropriate Responses in our Newsrooms & Communities

We know the national news. But how does the #MeToo movement affect our own newsrooms and local communities? How many among us have faced harassment on the job, in the field (or even in the office)? And what are regional journalism outlets doing about it?

Before the conference, we plan to issue a survey to regional SPJ chapters/members and media outlets, modeled on the groundbreaking International Women’s Media Foundation international survey of harassment and attacks against female journalists. We hope to offer survey results that give us a clearer sense of how many journalists among us face harassment, specific experiences, and responses from editors and newsroom managers. Men will be included in the survey. Does your newsroom have a sexual harassment policy? Do you recognize sexist speech or behavior while on the job? What are appropriate responses?

Panelists:: *tbd

Moderator: Megan Kamerick, KUNM-FM

  • Public Lands in the Crosshairs

(under construction)


Moderator: Harold Morgan

3:30-3:45 Refreshment Break (Last Call for Silent Auction! Bids close at 4:00)

3:45-4:45 The Border - Reality vs Hysteria

At the U.S.-Mexico border, journalists walk the hard terrain to talk with residents, travelers, law enforcement officers and political leaders. Their stories discern fact from myth and show the consequences of policy and complex points of law. Journalists distinguished for their reporting on the border will share their experiences and take questions.


Diana Alba Soular, Las Cruces Sun News and winner of team Pulitzer for "The Wall" (invited)

Nick Oza, Arizona Republic photojournalist embedded in 2018 migrant caravan (confirmed)

Monica Ortiz Uribe, radio journalist, based in El Paso (confirmed)

Emilio Gutierrez, Mexican journalist detained by U.S., Knight-Wallace Fellow (invited)

Moderator: Algernon D'Ammassa and Jessica Onsurez

4:45-5:00 Wrap Up / Silent Auction Winners

6:00 Happy Hour Event at TBA

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University of New Mexico Continuing Education Conference Center

1634 University Boulevard Northeast

Albuquerque, NM 87102

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