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



Opening night reception raises more than $5,000 for SPJ’s Legal Defense Fund

By Billy O'Keefe

By Samantha Delgado
Hundreds of journalists networked, ate miniature quiches and bid on vacations and other items at an auction Sunday night as the Society of Professional Journalists formally kicked off its 2010 convention in Las Vegas.

David Aeikens, a former SPJ president, removes Todd Gillman’s tie during the Legal Defense Fund Silent Auction. Gillman’s tie was auctioned that evening. (NIKKI VILLORIA / The Working Press)

David Aeikens, a former SPJ president, removes Todd Gillman’s tie during the Legal Defense Fund Silent Auction. Gillman’s tie was auctioned that evening. (NIKKI VILLORIA / The Working Press)

The opening reception at the posh London Club at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino gave members a chance to mingle and spend money at an auction to support the organization’s Legal Defense Fund.
According to SPJ’s twitter feed, the auction raised more than $5,000 for the fund, which defends freedom of speech and of the press.
“I plan to get contacts and information in the next steps to my career,” said Rosa Salamea, a 22-year-old student at Bloomfield College in New Jersey.
Every seat at the reception was occupied and the cocktail tables were crowded with people munching on miniature quiches and crab-stuffed tomatoes.
Todd J. Gillman of the Dallas Morning News hosted the Legal Defense Fund silent auction as the evening’s auctioneer. (NIKKI VILLORIA / The Working Press)

Todd J. Gillman of the Dallas Morning News hosted the Legal Defense Fund silent auction as the evening’s auctioneer. (NIKKI VILLORIA / The Working Press)

People introduced themselves and exchanged business cards throughout the event, even while standing in line for a chance to satisfy their sweet tooth with glazed and sprinkled donut holes and chocolate candies.
The top-selling auction item was a folding director’s chair dubbed the “Watergate” chair, signed by reporters and editors Dan Schorr, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, Ben Bradlee and three others who exposed the Watergate scandal that led President Richard Nixon to resign from office.
Steve Geimann, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation president, bought the Watergate chair for $2,600. He has bought Watergate chairs at past conventions.
Geimann, an editor at Bloomberg News, also spent $400 on a cartoon by Walt Handelsman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist at Newsday.
SPJ auctioned this chair, which has been signed by Dan Schorr, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, Ben Bradlee and three others who exposed the Watergate scandal, at the opening night reception. (NIKKI VILLORIA / The Working Press)

SPJ auctioned this chair, which has been signed by Dan Schorr, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, Ben Bradlee and three others who exposed the Watergate scandal, at the opening night reception. (NIKKI VILLORIA / The Working Press)

Steve Geimann laughs after winning the Watergate Chair. Bidding topped off at $2,600. (NIKKI VILLORIA / The Working Press)

Steve Geimann laughs after winning the Watergate Chair. Bidding topped off at $2,600. (NIKKI VILLORIA / The Working Press)

Attendees at the opening night reception and Legal Defense Fund silent auction prepare for an evening of bidding. (NIKKI VILLORIA / The Working Press)

Attendees at the opening night reception and Legal Defense Fund silent auction prepare for an evening of bidding. (NIKKI VILLORIA / The Working Press)

William Ketter donates a five-day trip for two to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts during the Legal Defense Fund auction. The final bid for the trip was $800. (NIKKI VILLORIA / The Working Press)

William Ketter donates a five-day trip for two to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts during the Legal Defense Fund auction. The final bid for the trip was $800. (NIKKI VILLORIA / The Working Press)

Christi A. Harlan of Harlan Consulting auctions Todd J. Gillman’s tie as a final piece during the egal Defense Fund silent auction. (NIKKI VILLORIA / The Working Press)

Christi A. Harlan of Harlan Consulting auctions Todd J. Gillman’s tie as a final piece during the Legal Defense Fund silent auction. (NIKKI VILLORIA / The Working Press)

Jodi L. Cleesattle of the Calif. Dept of Justice and Tanya Mannes of the San Diego Union Tribune await the beginning of the Legal Defense Fund Silent Auction. (NIKKI VILLORIA / The Working Press)

Jodi L. Cleesattle of the Calif. Dept of Justice and Tanya Mannes of the San Diego Union Tribune await the beginning of the Legal Defense Fund Silent Auction. (NIKKI VILLORIA / The Working Press)




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