Jul. 25, 2013  

Forging the Future Recap

Journalists and media professionals from all over Florida flocked to the Mayfair Hotel in Coconut Grove on Saturday, July 13 for an intense one-day conference in Coconut Grove. SPJ South Florida and the South Florida chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists teamed up to host this successful and innovative day of media education.

More than 200 attendees soaked in a busy roster of sessions to learn how to shoot broadcast-quality video from their smartphones, dazzle an employer with a digital resume, the ins-and-outs of storytelling from abroad and more.


“Highlights included a two-hour workshop led by social media guru Sree Sreenivasan (formerly of Columbia University, now with the Metropolitan Museum of Art); training sessions on multimedia, investigative and foreign reporting; and panels reflecting on the role and coverage of Latinos in the media,” said Christine Armario, Vice President of Print for the local NAHJ chapter.

Session hosts included leaders from CNN, The Miami Herald, Columbia University and the New York Times. Click here to see the full roster. The afternoon lunch was highlighted by SPJ’s annual Sunshine State Awards, which included first-ever winners of the Journalist of the Year award (Michael E. Miller of Miami New Times), Integrity Florida Award for Public Corruption Reporting award (Suzie Schottelkotte from the Lakeland Ledger for Money in Mulberry), First Amendment Foundation Freedom of Information award (Greg Fox from WESH-TV for TextGate) and an award for Diversity in the newsroom (Eric Deggans from the Tampa Bay Times).

“Attending the Miami Media Conference 2013 was one of the best educational experiences of my journalism career. The workshops and lectures, held in the beautiful Mayfair Hotel, taught me new skills and honed old ones at this brilliant gathering of Florida’s finest journalists, conducted by NAHJ/SPJ,” said Kalhan Rosenblatt, editor in chief of Florida Gulf Coast University’s student newspaper, the Eagle News. “The sessions encompassed what it means to be a journalist in the 21st century and how to use those skills to better yourself and your career. From smart phone apps that can improve mobile journalism with SPJ’s Rebekah Monson to Reporting Abroad with Ben Fox (Associated Press), Tim Pageant  (WLRN), and Francesca Borri (Miami Herald), the entire spectrum of journalism was covered.”


The day before the convention Rosenblatt was in a car accident on her way to Miami and was rushed to the hospital. Despite that, she said, “nothing would stand in my way of attending this event. You can be sure, come hell or high water, I will be at the next one.”

After the local chapters of NAHJ and SPJ decided to come together to host a combined conference, the national board of NAHJ took noticed and stepped in to commit money and resources in order to grow the event and make it more successful.

“We’re extremely grateful and really honored and humbled that the national board of NAHJ took notice of this event and believed in it. They committed their money and resources for a first time conference, having faith that it would succeed. And it did!” said Jason Parsley, SPJSoFla president. “I hope this is just the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership between our local chapters. I can’t wait to collaborate with them in the future.”

National NAHJ President Hugo Balta attended the conference and was impressed.

“It’s a wonderful event and it certainly exceeded my expectations,” he said. “This shows the power of working with like minded associations. For us to work with SPJ was a perfect marriage. I’ve talked to many people, panelists and attendees they’re energized with the programing and quality of the speakers.”

One of the highlights of the event included recruiters from CNN, WSVN, Fox News Latino, NBC Latino, Fusion (an ABC/Univision joint venture), and the Miami Herald. Those one on one recruitment sessions were filled from start to finish.

One of the inspirations for Forging the Future came from the national board’s of SPJ and NAHJ joining forces this year, along with the Radio Television Digital News Association, to host a combined national conference Excellence in Journalism 2013, Aug. 24-26 in Anaheim, California.

“This conference was a great example, a mirror of what we’re going to see at the national conference,” Balta said.

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