Friday, April 9

Noon-1:15 p.m. – Freelance Journalism

  • Hear how Seattle-based freelancer Wudan Yan and Liza Burby, a freelancer from Long Island, navigated over the past year to pitch ideas and write stories in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both will provide perspective on what topics they covered, and Chris Faraone, executive director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, will provide an editor’s perspective on what pitches and topics caught his eye during the pandemic. SPJ Freelance Community chair Hilary Niles of New England will moderate.
    • Hilary Niles is a full-time freelance journalist with credits on the BBC and NPR, The Boston Globe, and magazines from Vermont to Australia. In addition to audio projects and writing for print/digital, she specializes in data reporting and is an intrepid project manager. Hilary is an alum of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and the Missouri School of Journalism, serves on the Society of Professional Journalists’ FOI Committee, and chairs SPJ’s Freelance Community.
    • Liza N. Burby is an award-winning journalist, editor and founding publisher of Long Island Parent magazine. She is currently working as a project-based manager on editorial content for magazines at companies and organizations like Bonnier Corp, Adelphi University and Stony Brook University. Her articles have appeared in numerous newspapers, including Newsday and The New York Times, and over 50 national magazines and websites. She has been a guest speaker on radio and TV talk shows and at local events. Further, she’s the author of nearly 40 nonfiction books for children and five books for adults, including her second edition on How to Publish Your Children’s Book and a middle grade biography about the first woman newspaper editor and publisher, Amelia Bloomer for Harper Collins (June 2022). She is also a senior adjunct professor in the journalism program at Adelphi University and faculty advisor to the prize-winning school paper, The Delphian. Her site is
    • Wudan Yan is an independent journalist in Seattle writing for The New York Times, Elemental, MIT Tech Review, and many others. She co-hosts The Writers’ Co-op, a business podcast for freelance creatives.
    • A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent and I Killed Breitbart, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.

1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. – How to Get a Job

  • Learn the secrets to successful job-hunting in a pandemic economic downturn and a shrinking journalism industry. Where the jobs are, resume writing, clip, cover letters, interview tips and more.
    • Bill Bleyer is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Long Island and the Sea: A Maritime History, The Fire Island Lighthouse: Long Island’s Welcoming Beacon, and Sagamore Hill: Theodore Roosevelt’s Summer White House, and co-author of Long Island and the Civil War. Bleyer was an award-winning staff writer for Newsday for 33 years before retiring in 2014 to write books and and freelance for magazines and Newsday.
    • Erin Geismar is a New York journalist who has made a career out of understanding how to help legacy newspapers excel in a digital landscape. A former reporter and editor at Newsday, Erin is now a managing editor at the New York Post, overseeing a website that reaches 75 million people each month. She is a graduate of Ithaca College and also an alum of the East Hampton Press.
    • Nancy Han is the Executive Vice President of News at NowThis, the leading socially distributed news brand. As head of news, Han leads a dynamic team covering the issues young audiences care about across social platforms, reaching 70% of Americans in their 20s and racking up billions of views each month with its video-first, written, and audio offerings. Han has 15 years of news leadership experience at some of the world’s largest news organizations. Prior to joining NowThis, Han was Senior Producer at CBS News where she was responsible for programming the 8am hour of CBS This Morning. During her tenure, the show won a 2017 Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast. Prior to joining CBS, Han was an Executive Producer at ABC News, overseeing the company’s 24/7 live-streaming channel, ABC News Now.  Han previously was Executive Producer for ABC News’ early morning news programs: World News Now, America This Morning and Good Morning America News. Han has also taught for five years as an adjunct professor of journalism at NYU, her alma mater.
    • Bernice Kearney is the news director at KSAT12 News and has worked in local news for more than 30 years, collaborating with team members to bring the stories of South Texas to life. Bernice’s journalism story started in 1988 as a junior at St. Mary’s University, when she began working as an intern at a local television station. Pairing up with a reporter and a producer, she learned about storytelling and crafting newscasts – and the essential role journalists play in a free and open society. She gravitated toward producing newscasts and was hired to produce the morning newscast for the station where she interned. After a few years of waking up in the middle of the night, Bernice moved to producing afternoon and evening newscasts. In 1993, Bernice joined the KSAT12 News team as the 10 pm producer, which allowed her to innovate the way local newscasts are produced. As Bernice grew in the business, she moved into leadership and roles at KSAT12 News – first, as Senior Producer, then as Executive Producer, and finally, to News Director, a position she’s held since 2013. As News Director, Bernice is responsible for outlining the newsroom’s vision and strategic plan and putting systems in place to achieve those goals.
    • Calvin Lawrence Jr. is Director of Community Affairs & Newsroom Development at Newsday, where he is responsible for the media company’s community outreach efforts and the recruiting, training, and overall well-being of Newsday journalists. He previously worked for ABC News as a digital news editor after his first stint at Newsday, where he held various editing positions over 18 years. He has also reported or edited for the Miami Herald, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Ann Arbor News and USA Today.
    • Kate Nalepinski is a multimedia journalist from Long Island, NY. After she graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in journalism in 2018, Kate worked as a staff reporter with Times Review Media Group, covering education and breaking news on the North Fork of Long Island. Last year, Kate started freelancing for Herald Community Newspapers, managing editorial content for Long Beach Magazine. She currently works as the associate editor of the Long Island Advance in Patchogue, NY, where she manages digital content and social media for five online publications.

4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. – Social Mixer / Trivia

  • Lou Harry, SPJ’s Quill Editor and Manager of Publications and Awards, has written for more than 50 publications ranging from The Sondheim Review to This Old House and from Variety to Men’s Health. His 30+ books are as wide ranging, including The High-Impact Infidelity Diet: A Novel (Random House and optioned by Warner Bros.), Creative Block (Running Press), and The Biggest Trivia Book Ever (Applesauce Press). A former professional stand-up comic and the host of the Lou Harry Gets Real podcast, he has hosted trivia events at conventions, clubs, and Zoom meetings and enjoys every minute of these. Follow him @louharry

Saturday, April 10

10 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. – Media and First Amendment — Hot Topics

  • Media law and First Amendment issues are in a constant state of flux.  Roy Gutterman, professor and director of the Tully Center for Free Speech at the Newhouse School at Syracuse and Mike Grygiel, media law lawyer with Greenberg Traurig in Albany, will talk about recent developing legal issues including defamation, privacy and other hot topics.  The discussion will also include Q&A.
    • Roy Gutterman is an associate professor of communications law and journalism and director of the Tully Center for Free Speech at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.  He is a former newspaper reporter and practicing lawyer.
    • Michael J. Grygiel co-chairs Greenberg Traurig, LLP’s National Media and Entertainment Litigation Group. He focuses his practice on media law, with an emphasis on defending news and entertainment organizations from newsgathering and publication-related claims, including defamation, copyright infringement and invasion of privacy matters. As counsel of record, he has defended defamation and invasion of privacy cases in state and federal courts in jurisdictions across the country, including New York, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas.

11 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. – Investigative Stories that Matter

  • How to find, dig into, build newsroom support for and complete investigative stories on topics that matter.
    • Lisa Yanick Litwiller is the director of audience at Hearst communities. She oversaw Hearst’s investigation into sexual abuse tied to Boys & Girls Clubs across the country that has so far uncovered more than 350 victims in 35 states.
    • Viktoria Sundqvist is the newsroom data analyst at Hearst Connecticut Media. She was a reporter on the Boys & Girls Club project and is now tasked with following each case and adding new ones to Hearst’s ongoing sexual abuse database.

Noon – 12:45 p.m. – Covering Online Extremism

  • Zello, Parler, Discord—these are just a few of the emerging social platforms where extremist groups have found a tool to organize. The effectiveness of these tools came to a crescendo during the January 6 U.S. Capitol Riots, and reporters Micah Loewinger and Hampton Stall were tracking them through it all. Learn about their reporting techniques using these platforms, how their coverage has affected these groups, and what they are doing to keep up with these groups online.
    • Micah Loewinger is a reporter/producer for On the Media, where he’s learning to use fewer adverbs. His series on Zello and the insurrection, his piece on a Syrian refugee camp in a Swedish Wild West theme park, and the story of how distance learning saved his friend’s life are among his proudest contributions to the gilded OTM pantheon. Before stumbling into a job at OTM, Micah interned for NPR Music, Radiolab, Soundcheck, WNET’s Great Performances, and Bush Radio in Cape Town, South Africa, the continent’s oldest community-run station. Everything he knows about this medium he learned from the best frickin’ college radio station in the world, WNYU 89.1FM, where he served as program director and made janky radio documentaries. Micah likes to cook borscht and scroll through Twitter.
    • Hampton Stall is a multi-disciplinary researcher and artist based out of the U.S. South. He is a senior researcher at the Armed Conflict Location Event Data (ACLED) Project and the founder of MilitiaWatch, a blog on U.S.-based, armed right-wing movements. He has worked on issues pertaining to Syria, Ireland, and more. Maps, conflicts, and (counter)revolutionary struggle are his usual focus.

1 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. – SPJ National Keynote / Super Session

  • Note: You’ll need to register for this event via SPJ national. The same Zoom for Region 1 will not apply to this national keynote and super session.

3 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Region 1 Mark of Excellence Awards