More than 60 journos attend SPJ Region 3 conference; 125 MOE awards given out

Helen Mitternight at conference freelance panel
Helen Mitternight, Charleston freelance journalist, shares her experience as an independent journalist at the SPJ Region 3 Spring Conference & Freelance Blitz on March 24. Mitternight, along with (from the left) Bob Sullivan, Holly Fisher, Mitternight, Stell Simonton and Haisten Willis were members of the Freelance Panel. (Photo by Sharon Dunten)

CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA — On a sunny spring day in the middle of Charleston’s historic district during its busiest time of year — Spring Break, more than 60 journalists gathered at the College of Charleston for the 2018 SPJ Spring Conference & Freelance Blitz. It was full day of programming and sharing for both freelance and newsroom journalists.

The conference provided five breakout sessions, a multi award-winning keynote speaker, two panels full of experts in freelancing and editors who hire them, and trainers from both Google and Facebook. And to top it off — 125 collegiate SPJ Mark of Excellence regional awards  were given out to outstanding student journalists and publications during the luncheon.

The conference was sponsored by SPJ Region 3, Cox Institute and Content That Works. Also contributing to the conference, Google News Lab, Facebook, and the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information. 

Thank you to the following individuals who shared their expertise for the conference: Bob Sullivan, Independent Journalist, Author, and Investigative Journalist; Lori Johnston, Owner, Fast Copy Services; Keith Herndon, Executive Director, Cox Institute, University of Georgia; Haisten Willis, SPJ Georgia President; Adina Solomon, Atlanta Freelance Journalist; Ginger Willis, Professional Organizer; Stell Simonton, Atlanta Freelance Journalist; Louise Phelps, Publisher/CEO, Coast Empire News; Helen Mitternight, Charleston Freelance Journalist; Holly Fisher, Charleston Freelance Journalist; Kevin D. Liles, Photojournalist; Frank LoMonte, Executive Director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information; Andy Owens, Editor the Charleston Regional Business Journal; Hanna Raskin, Food Editor/Food Critic, Charleston Post & Courier; Jesse Darland, Managing Editor, Content That Works; Paul Osmundson, Editor at Columbia The State newspaper; Debora Wenger, Trainer, Google News Lab; and Kerwin Speight, Trainer, Facebook & SPJ.

Special thanks to SPJ Region 3 intern Sarah Jones and Francis Marion University student Sara Porter for all their work on the conference. And also all the SPJ Georgia members who volunteered at the conference: Shelly (and her husband Michael) Gable, Pam Dorsett, Stell Simonton and SPJ member Holly Fisher.

And thank you to all the professional and student journalists that attended the 2018 SPJ  Region 3 Spring Conference and Freelance Blitz.

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Thank you to College of Charleston’s Cassandra Foster for assisting in the facility arrangements and Jeff the IT guy who stayed on duty the whole day to meet our IT needs. 

Special thanks to the College of Charleston for the use of their beautiful facility for the conference!

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Adina Solomon at conference
The “How to Get Things Done” session was presented by Adina Solomon, freelance journalist from Atlanta. She presented tips and information on how to set up business data to effectively run your independent journalist business efficiently. (Photo by Sharon Dunten)
Kevin Liles Presentation at conference
Photojournalist Kevin D. Liles held a session at the SPJ Region 3 Conference on how to make an impact in photos whether as a freelance or newsroom journalist. (Photo by Sharon Dunten)


Lori Johnston at conference
Lori Johnston, owner of Fast Copy Services, Atlanta, asked journalists critical questions before stepping into the independent journalism field. Johnston’s business provides content for many local, regional and national news organizations. (Photo by Sharon Dunten)

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Andy Owens editors panel at conference
Andy Owens, Top Editor at the Charleston Regional Business Journal, discussed how he as an editor selects freelance journalists to work for his publication. To the right on the panel: Jesse Darland from Content That Works and Hanna Raskin from the Charleston Post & Courier. (Photo by Sharon Dunten)

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Bob Sullivan at conference
Bob Sullivan, keynote speaker at the SPJ Region 3 Spring Conference & Freelance Blitz, said the news and content industries’ work with independent journalists is changing quickly and both need to seriously address and re-evaluated on how they are getting paid and treated as professionals. (Photo by Sharon Dunten)


Debora Wenger at conference
The ability to search for what and where topics are trending are critical skills for independent journalists seeking information to pitch to editors. Debora Wenger, Google News Lab Trainer, presented a tutorial on several assets of Google from research to photo search to creating maps. Wenger is also a journalism professor at the University of Mississippi. (Photo by Sharon Dunten)

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Editors Panel at conference
Paul Osmundson, Senior Editor at the Columbia The State newspaper (third from left), participated in the editors panel to give freelance journalists advice on how to approach and communicate with editors of publications. Also in the photo, from the left, Hanna Raskin, Charleston Post & Courier; Louise Phelps, Coastal Empire News; Osmundson, and Haisten Willis, SPJ Georgia president and moderator. (Photo by Sharon Dunten) 
Frank LoMonte at conference 2
Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, surprised many journalists with information that counters public officials’ statements to what is prohibited by journalists to print or post online. For example, HIPAA and FERPA laws have nothing to do with publishing photos of people in public.  (Photo by Sharon Dunten)

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Ginger at conference
“3 Words to Get Your Organized” breakout session, led by Professional Organizer Ginger Willis, gave participants at the SPJ Region 3 Conference quick steps toward getting organized in a home or newsroom office. (Photo by Sharon Dunten)


Kerwin Speight at conference
Facebook Tools Trainer Kerwin Speight introduced the new Facebook Tools training program from Facebook and the Society of Professional Journalists. ( Photo by Sharon Dunten)

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