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Time to get excited! Here’s the preliminary agenda for the 2016 Society of Professional Journalists Regional Conference, set for April 8-9 at the Short Pump Hilton in Richmond. This year’s Region 2 conference will be held jointly with the Virginia Press Asspj-vert__5_sociation, meaning members of each group who register get access to the others’ activities and events.

This is a preliminary agenda, so check back here and on our Twitter and Facebook accounts for updated information, including how to register.

Friday, April 8

* 10 a.m. – Registration for VPA and SPJ

* 10 a.m. – VPA Contest display room opens.

* 1-4 p.m. – Bonus Session: VCU Photo Shooting & Editing Held at VCU Campus ($30 fee, separate registration required)

* 2-5 p.m. – VPA/VPS Board Meeting

* 2-4:30 p.m. – Job Fair/Clip-Resume Critiques

* 5:30 p.m. – VPA Reception

* 6:30 p.m. – VPA Virginian of the Year/AP Banquet

* 7-11 p.m. – Possible SPJ Reception/Film Screening

Saturday, April 9

* 9 a.m. – Registration for VPA and SPJ

* 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. SPJ Silent Auction & Resume Critiques

* 9 a.m. – VPA Contest Display

* 9:30-11 a.m. – FOIA Session

* 11 a.m.-noon -Reporter Safety: Tips for Doing Your Job Without Compromising Your Safety

* 11 a.m. -noon – So You Want to be An International Reporter: Hear From Those Who Have Done it and How You Can Do the Same

* 12-1:45 p.m. – VPA/AP Annual Meeting/Business Meeting and Awards Luncheon

* 12-1:45 p.m. – SPJ Annual Mark of Excellence Awards/Keynote Luncheon

* 2-3 p.m. – Small Unmanned Aerial Systems

* 2-3 p.m. – The State of the News Media: Discussion of a Pew Report about the Climate of Today’s News Outlets

* 2-3 p.m. – Sharpen Your Social Media Skills: How to Use It to Expand Your Reach and Attract More Readers

* 2-3 p.m. – New Products and Existing Products: “Steal Our Ideas”

* 3-4 p.m. -Stop Errors in Their Tracks: Copy Editing for Everyone

* 3-4 p.m. – Ethics Advice: How to Act When You Find Yourself in Questionable Situations

* 5-6 p.m. – SPJ Reception & Wrap Up

* 5-6 p.m. – VPA Reception & Cash Bar – Foyer

* 6 p.m. – VPA Ad/News/Editorial Awards Banquet

* 8:45 p.m. – 1 a.m. – Possible member-generated After Banquet Party

Questions? Comments? Email SPJ Virginia Pro Chapter Robyn Sidersky. You can also follow SPJ Region 2 on Twitter and Facebook.

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Now is the time for all good Virginia Pro Chapter members to come to the aid of their foundation.

We need your stuff.

Your good stuff, that is, for a silent auction starting at 6 p.m. during the hospitality hour of the George Mason Banquet Tuesday, June 18.  Proceeds benefit the Virginia SPJ/SDX Educational Foundation, which awards scholarships to undergraduates studying for careers in the news media.

The success of the auction depends on you. Donations to prior auctions have included a 1940 Royal portable typewriter, historic newspapers, CNN reporter apparel and  framed original cartoons.  In addition to journalism memorabilia, popular items include college logo items and tickets to sporting events.  (Actually we’ll take almost anything that doesn’t require immediate refrigeration.)

And, of course, we want you to buy this stuff at the banquet – no, not your own stuff, somebody else’s.  Remember, it’s for a good cause.

If you have treasures to donate, please contact Gail Gilmore at 804-379-5493 or gpgilmore at aol.com.

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Dick Hammerstrom, local news editor for The Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, has been selected as recipient of the 2013 George Mason Award by the Society of Professional Journalists, Virginia Pro Chapter.
The Mason award, established in 1964, is presented to an individual for outstanding contributions to Virginia journalism. Hammerstrom has worked for newspapers in Virginia and North Carolina and been an editor with The Free Lance-Star since 1997.
Journalists throughout the state know Hammerstrom as the go-to guy for Freedom of Information Act and open government issues. He also helps promote better access to courtrooms and court-record laws for journalists and the public around the state. He has been the chairman of the Virginia Press Association’s FOI Committee for more than a decade and involved in open government issues since the 1980s. He also served as vice president of the Virginia Co- alition for Open Government and as Virginia’s Sunshine Chairman for the Society of Professional Journalists.
Hammerstrom has conducted training sessions on press law issues to journalism organizations, on college campuses and in The Free Lance-Star newsroom.
“Dick is a most worthy recipient of this award,” said Nick Cadwallender, publisher of The Free Lance-Star. “He is a recognized expert on FOIA law and has always been willing to share his knowledge, especially with young jour- nalists starting their careers.”
Ginger Stanley, executive director of the Virginia Press Association, said Hammerstrom is well known to what she referred to as “the access community.” Stanley has known Hammerstrom since the mid-1980s and said he “has put his heart and soul” into the open government cause.
She praised him for leadership of VPA’s efforts fighting for open government and better access laws and noted his work to with other open government advocates and law en- forcement officials to make police information more acces- sible to the public.

SPJ Virginia Pro Chapter will present the Mason award to Hammerstrom at its 50th George Mason Award Banquet on Tuesday, June 18 at University of Richmond. The chapter and its Virginia SPJ,SDX Educational Foundation will also present two scholarships to Virginia college journalists.
Tickets are $50 a person and include an open bar reception, silent auction, dinner and the program. Proceeds benefit the scholarship foundation. For reservations and information, contact Brian Eckert at (804) 287-6659 or beckert@richmond.edu.
The Mason award is named for the Virginian who attended the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, but refused to sign the Constitution because it did not include a declaration of individual rights. The Bill of Rights, eventually added to the document, is based on the Virginia Declaration of Rights, written principally by Mason in 1776.

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