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A Capital Draw

By Billy O'Keefe

KRISTINE FETALCO / The Working Press
This week, Washingtonians will see a lot more journalists than usual. But many of them have traded in their reporter’s notebooks for name badges and totes.
SPJ opened its national convention Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, while the Associated Press Managing Editors are convening at the JW Marriott on Pennsylvania Avenue. And the National Association of Hispanic Journalists honored its members at its 22nd annual Journalism Awards Gala at the Capital Hilton on Thursday night.
While SPJ and APME convention locations vary from year to year, many journalists will be able to participate in both this year.
Chris Vachon, SPJ’s associate executive director who spearheaded the planning of the convention, said the two organizations didn’t plan to hold their events at the same time and place.
“We pick the dates for our annual conventions based on availability. We hold it in the fall, either September or October,” she said.
Since SPJ and APME events coincide this year, similar programs abound. SPJ and APME have comparable half-day training workshops, with Citizen Media playing host to these events on the opening day of each convention. Panels titled “Filling in the Gaps” and “Mainstream Media” are some of the Citizen Media programs at both conventions.
“For us, it was possible to do two workshops. We would not have been able to do it if both conventions were in different cities,” Jan Schaffer, J-Lab executive director, said. “It is also easier to get speakers who are based in Washington.”
Journalists should not be stressed. Having both groups hold their events at the same time and place is more of a convenience. It’s cheaper to attend two conventions at the same time and place.
“We have similar speakers, and some are even attending both conventions. There’s no competition; they just complement each other,” Vachon said.
Hank Klibanoff, a director on the APME board, agrees. “I don’t think there’s much overlap. … It’s easier because I just have to hop in a taxi and go to SPJ,” he said. “More and more journalism organizations are actually meeting at the same time.”
Indeed, APME and the Society for News Design are both meeting at the same time next September in Las Vegas.