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Archive for the ‘SPJ Region 2’ Category

By Matt Chaney

tr_shapiro

T. Rees Shapiro

Rees Shapiro, the keynote speaker at the SPJ Region 2 Spring Conference, advised journalists to get out of the office, report from the ground and talk to people face to face.

Shapiro, an education reporter for The Washington Post, emphasized how getting out, going places and relating to people on a personal basis helped him cover important stories on college campuses across Virginia.

Without being there, he said, he could never have provided some of the first eyewitness accounts of the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech, gotten interviews with the family and close friends of murdered University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, or written the story that first cast doubt on the now-discredited Rolling Stone story about a supposed gang rape at U.Va.

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By Alyssa Sims

“Don’t listen to what we have to say here and be afraid,” Kelly Zuber, news director of WDBJ in Roanoke, told a mix of veteran journalists and journalism students attending the VPA/SPJ joint conference on Saturday (April 9).

Zuber spoke at a panel about the impact that the shooting of WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward had on the journalism community. Parker, 24, and Ward, 27, were killed while doing a story last August by a disgruntled former station employee.

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By Matt Chaney

A panel of FOIA experts expressed mixed opinions about the state of open government in Virginia at the VPA/SPJ Region 2 Conference on Saturday (April 9).

david_ress

David Ress

The panelists said that while gains have been made for transparency, much remains to be done to hold government officials on all levels more accountable. They also emphasized that while the Freedom of Information Act is important to journalists, it exists to benefit the public.

“It’s up to us to keep pushing. While the law is the law, we can put the pressure on to say it’s the public who has the right to know,” Dave Ress, a reporter for the Daily Press of Newport News said.

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By Margaret Carmel

Before the internet, readers and viewers had no way to interact with the journalists who brought them the news. But today, social media enables journalists to connect with their audiences for a variety of purposes. From gathering sources and building a personal brand to communicating with consumers, it has become an essential skill in the modern journalist’s toolbox.

At the VPA/SPJ Region 2 Conference, three experts shared their wisdom on how to more effectively utilize social media. The panelists were Bob Bennett, senior producer for WAVY-TV/WVBT-TV in Norfolk; Roben Farzad, host of the show “Full Disclosure” on NPR One; and Bryan Devasher, breaking news reporter at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“I always wonder what my morning of 9/11 would have been like in the era of the smartphone,” Farzad said. “Anybody can be recording anything. Anyone is suddenly this sentinel of information.”

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By Janeal Downs

A good news story means more than presenting information as an inverted pyramid and applying AP style. In today’s newsrooms, reporters also must be copy editors and turn in articles that are as ready for publication as possible.

At the VPA/SPJ Region 2 Conference, two experienced editors offered advice on how journalists can better copy-edit themselves. Karen Denny, director of the Annapolis Bureau of Maryland Capital News Service, and Suzanne Wardle, copy editor and books editor for The Roanoke Times, led a session titled “Stop Errors in Their Tracks: Copy Editing for Everyone.”

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By Diana DiGangi

In a panel at the VPA/SPJ Region 2 Conference, newspaper editors Paige Mudd and Steve Gunn had an inspiring message for the journalists in the audience: Journalism is changing, but it’s not necessarily dying.

Mudd is the top editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and Gunn holds the corresponding position at The Virginian-Pilot.

Gunn said the industry is reducing jobs in design and production. But he added, “If your goal in life is to be a great reporter who goes out and gets information and delivers it to 10 platforms, no problem. There’s going to be jobs, especially at smaller papers.” (more…)

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Paul Fletcher, SPJ’s national president, gave a workshop at the VPA/SPJ Regional 2 Conference about how to apply sound ethical principles to journalistic decision-making.

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