SPJ Region 4 Conference/Detroit

Photo courtesy Ashley McCuen

Photo courtesy Ashley McCuen


REGISTER HERE for a spot at the regional conference. 

It’s time to check out the revitalized city and its Motown/auto roots!

EVENT DATE: March 31-April 1

WHERE: Hotel St. Regis Detroit
3071 West Grand Boulevard
Detroit, MI 48202

Registration/Meet & greet from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on March 31

There will be keynote speakers and workshops on improving your news gathering, reporting and writing skills. Sessions also are planned to address social media and the tools of the field.

Career advisors, resume critiques and a social hour offer plenty of opportunities for networking.

Registration also includes three meal events.

Here are the registration fees:


Profession SPJ member $75

SPJ student member $60

Professional non-SPJ $95

Student non-SPJ $75

The hotel is charging a conference rate of $99 for single room, and $109 for doubles. The hotel has a few suites available at $189 a night. The hotel does have some co-joined rooms that can be reserved. COMPLETE HOTEL RESERVATION HERE. 

Note on parking: If you are staying at the hotel, the parking fee is $20 ($10 for Friday/$10 for Saturday), but there also is parking available nearby on street lots.

The hotel is one block from the AMTRAK station in Detroit. UBER and taxi service is available from the airport.



Marcia Hart

Walter Middlebrook


Event schedule:

8:30 a.m.: Continental breakfast

9 a.m.-9:45 a.m.: Morning keynote speaker

10 a.m-11:15 a.m.: Morning panels: Google; Authors; student workshop; Ethics

Breaking into book publishing

Four journalists of recent nonfiction books about Detroit share their experiences in the world of book publishing. You will learn the ins and outs of proposals, contracts, royalties, and advances; the pros and cons of agents, editors, and publishers; and the dos and don'ts of everything from research to publicity.

Nathan Bomey, a USA Today business reporter, wrote "Detroit Resurrected: To Bankruptcy and Back," a 2017 Michigan Notable Book. A former Detroit Free Press reporter, he recently signed a contract for his next book, "Post-Fact Era: How Truth Died in the Trumpian Age."

Aaron Foley, editor of BLAC Detroit Magazine, made news with his 2015 release, "How to Live in Detroit Without Being a Jackass." He has worked for the Lansing State Journal, MLive, WardsAuto, and Jalopnik, and was published in "A Detroit Anthology."

Amy Haimerl drew national attention with "Detroit Hustle: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Home." She has covered business for Fortune, Reuters, and The New York Times, and was entrepreneurship editor at Crain's Detroit. She teaches journalism at Michigan State University.

Tom Stanton has authored six nonfiction books, including the 2016 New York Times sports bestseller "Terror in the City of Champions." A former newspaper editor and founder, he serves as associate professor of journalism at University of Detroit Mercy.

Sports, shoot, pay, organize: Student workshop tips for new reporters

How to break into sports journalism

Detroit Free Press Lions beat reporter Dave Birkett will be available from 10-11:15 to discuss how to break into the business of sports journalism. Birkett was named by the APSE as one of the nation's Top 10 beat reporters in 2016, and he was the 2013 Michigan Sports Writer of the Year. He has covered the Lions since 2010. He's a Pro Football Hall of Fame voter and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.

Pro Tips: How to shoot better photos on your phone

Want professional tips on how to shoot better photos with your phone? Practical tips on how to maintain your beat? Financial insight on creating a budget after starting your first job? This panel will discuss all three of these topics at the same time. Attendees will be broken down into three groups and rotated through these SPJ’s workshops.

A photographer will provide some practical tips on shooting with an smart phone and how to get the most out off these photos.

How to budget: Financial help for journalists

Former Bankrate editor and Detroit News personal finance columnist and financial author Brian O’Connor will offer practical plans on paying down debt on a new reporter’s salary, show how to set up a short and longer term budget and make finances less stressful.

Never get beat on your beat

Wall Street Journal reporter Christina Rogers, who during her 15-year career worked from Roanoke to Detroit, will walk reporters through the importance of maintaining a strong beat. A simple but effective system can help reporters create a comprehensive strategy to stay ahead of the competition and your editors by never getting beat on your beat.

SPJ ethics

Description coming

Spreadsheet Reporting 101, hosted by Google

Bring your laptop and come learn how to request, analyze and visualize data using Google Spreadsheets. Attendees of all levels will find out why Google Spreadsheets is one of the most powerful tools for any type of reporter. Free and easy to learn, attendees will analyze data and quickly create a data visualization in this 90-minute hands-on workshop. 

Things you'll need: a laptop (no tablets), a free Google account.

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Lunch keynote with Police Chief James Craig

Detroit Police Chief James Craig offers his perspective on issues facing today’s urban police forces from community policing, community relations to international and local terrorism. The chief, who is often quoted in the national press on a number of policing issues, has agreed to take questions from the audience during his presentation.

12:40 p.m.-1:45 p.m.:  An eye on politics: Reviewing 2016 election coverage

The 2016 Presidential Election was unusual to say the least. President Trump’s message may have permanently shaken the boundaries of the left and the right put Michigan and Ohio into the GOP. What did we learn from this election and how could journalists cover politics differently in the future?

Aaron Pickrell is managing partner at the Remington Road Group – a strategic consulting firm based in Columbus, OH. Aaron has spent two decades working in politics and government, most recently serving as Senior Advisor for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in Ohio.  He also served as Senior Advisor for President Obama’s successful re-election campaign in Ohio and as the State Director for President Obama’s 2008 campaign.

Lena Epstein was most recently the Co-Chair of the Donald Trump Michigan Presidential Campaign. Lena describes herself as a clear-thinking conservative, grounded in realistic solutions to many of the issues troubling the country. Her post-election cry for unity has made her a popular speaker among Democrats and Republicans. Lena is a Harvard graduate and a third-generation owner and General Manager of Southfield, Mich.-based Vesco Oil Corporation, one of the largest distributors of automotive and industrial lubricants and supporting services in the country.

Chad Livengood is a senior reporter for Crain’s Detroit Business covering public affairs and the revitalization of Detroit. He previously spent nearly five years in The Detroit News’ Lansing Bureau covering Gov. Rick Snyder's administration, the Legislature and Michigan politics. At The News, Chad also covered the 2016 presidential election and Detroit's municipal bankruptcy in 2013 and 2014.

Chrissie Thompson is the Columbus Bureau Chief for the Cincinnati Enquirer and closely followed the presidential campaign of Gov. John Kasich and then the campaign of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton afterwards. Prior to joining the Enquirer in 2013, she was an automotive reporter for the Detroit Free Press and Automotive News.

2 p.m.-3:15 p.m.: Afternoon sessions

Tweets, snaps and Facebook: The good and bad of social media in the media

Panel will examine the good, the bad and the ugly of social media, how sources use it to bypass media and what to expect from readers and listeners using social media. Additionally, it will look to the future on current trends and the potential of social media facing stricter regulations. The discussion will include some practical tips on a social media strategy.

Dr. Stine Eckert, an expert in gender and minorities in social media, as well as international comparative research. Dr. Eckert teaches journalism at Wayne State University. Dr. Eckert is currently conducting a study on islamophobia and social media.

Bill Emkow, social media expert from WXYZ-TV, formerly of the Detroit Free Press and MLive.com. Emkow has advised two different sites in Michigan to help them become the No. 1 site in the state through savvy social media and online content.

Dr. Elizabeth Stoycheff, journalism and New Media professor at Wayne State University, Dr. Stoycheff’s expertise includes political communication, internet censorship, online surveillance and international relations. Her recent research was featured in The Atlantic, “How Surveillance Stifles Dissent on the Internet.”

Brian Manzullo, social media manager of the Detroit Free Press, is a recognized leader in creating engaging multimedia content on multiple digital and social platforms.

Moderator: Scott Burgess

Quick and Easy Interactive Maps with Fusion Tables, hosted by Google

Building beautiful and informative interactive maps is easy with Google Fusion Tables. In this hands-on workshop, attendees of any skill level will learn how to import and combine data and then turn it into an interactive map using this free online tool. 

Things you'll need: a laptop (no tablets), a free Google account

Speaker bio: Frank Bi (@frankiebi) is a data journalist and engineer at The Verge, a technology news website operated by Vox Media that covers the intersection of technology, science, art and culture. Frank is an active member of the Asian American Journalists Association. He lives in New York City.

Social Media Guidelines for Reporting Suicide

Thishands-on, 90-minute workshop, offers journalists the strategies and language to share stories that are informative, accurate and meaningful. It presents the reality of suicide contagion along with best practices for reporting on this issue as spot news or a news feature. It should benefit journalists of every age, market and platform. The workshop is a collaboration of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Nationwide Children's Hospital and the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.

3:30 p.m.: Wrapping up

Description coming