SPJ 2020 Journalism Conference • Sept. 12-13, 2020



Reception talk: Dogs, money and fire eating

By Billy O'Keefe

Compiled by Julieta Chiquillo, Amanda Dolasinski, Josephine Varnier and Emory Williamson / Photos by Nikki Villoria
Optimism was on tap along with an open bar at the opening night reception Thursday night at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.

Former SPJ Presidents Irwin Gratz, Robert Leger and David Carlson enjoy an evening of mingling and fundraising for the SPJ Opening Night Reception and Harper Memorial Fund Auction.

Former SPJ Presidents Irwin Gratz, Robert Leger and David Carlson enjoy an evening of mingling and fundraising for the SPJ Opening Night Reception and Harper Memorial Fund Auction.

“It’s the best time to be in journalism,” said Sue Porter, vice president of programs at the Scripps Howard Foundation. “It’s not just an evolution; it’s a revolution. That’s what I’m hearing here.”


According to a 1970s document – on display at the Harper Memorial Fund Auction on Thursday night – outlining the society’s policy on national conventions, the board of directors opposed accepting contributions from non-media organizations. Times have changed that. Eli Lilly & Co. and Geico are two sponsors for this year’s convention.


“I was a little disappointed the galleries weren’t open tonight,” writer Debra Krol said. “I edit the publications for the Heard Museum in Phoenix, so I came to compare. But I freelance also, just like everyone around here.
“When Heard has an event like this, we give tours,” she said.


One student journalist has an unusual fall-back skill. Fire eating.

Lee Ann Harper, right, mingles with SPJ staffers on Thursday at the Eiteljorg Museum.

Lee Ann Harper, right, mingles with SPJ staffers on Thursday at the Eiteljorg Museum.

Larissa Kirsten Larivee, from Minnesota State University, Mankato, eats fire at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. She has been attending and re-enacting at the festival since she was 4.
She said she was taught fire eating by the Guinness World Record holder for eating 68 torches in one minute.
Larivee is running for campus representative on the SPJ Board of Directors.
No word on whether there will be a demonstration at the convention.


Rodney Muhumuza, of Uganda, is baffled by one thing in the United States: Americans’ obsession with their pets.
“Americans love their dogs more than they love themselves,” Muhumuza said. “There’s a recession and unemployment, but people are still taking care of their dogs.”
A reporter for the Kansas City Star, Muhumuza said he has enjoyed the convention. He is a recipient of the Alfred Friendly Press Fellowship, which brings in aspiring journalists from developing countries around the world.


The largest single donation for SPJ’s Legal Defense Fund Jail-N-Bail fundraiser came from John C. O’Connell.
Well, it’s not exactly his money. O’Connell, executive editor of Herald Community Newspapers, made the $500 donation on behalf of the Press Club of Long Island chapter of SPJ.
The money from the New York-based group is something O’Connell believes is imperative for SPJ.
“This is what we ought to be doing,” he said.




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