HomeAbout/Meet the Staff
SPJ 23 Website

Classy Kickoff

By Billy O'Keefe

JENNA SPINELLE / The Working Press
Sipping glasses of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, more than 350 SPJ members got to know each other a little better Thursday night at the convention’s opening reception.

Bob Scheiffer of CBS News plays auctioneer. (Photo by Dave Stone/The Working Press)

Bob Scheiffer of CBS News plays auctioneer. (Photo by Dave Stone/The Working Press)

As jazz piano music played lightly in the background and contributed to the relaxed mood, members discussed the first day of the convention and talked about what they were looking forward to throughout the weekend.
J. Alex Tarquino, a member of the Deadline Club – New York City’s SPJ chapter – said she was eager to attend Saturday’s computer-assisted reporting class, despite its early start.
“I’m that much of a tech geek that I am excited to get up at 8:30 in the morning to hear about essential spreadsheet skills for journalists,” said Tarquino, a freelance writer based in Manhattan.
A $65 ticket got patrons an open bar and a menu that included penne with sun-dried tomato sauce and beef with Asian peanut sauce. They also had the opportunity to bid on dozens of items for the silent auction.
Chartered buses ferried journalists to the reception at the National Music Center, which opened last year to promote music in the city. Its high ceilings and marble floors provided a fitting setting for the evening’s semi-formal dress.
SPJ Associate Executive Director Chris Vachon said 915 people had registered for the convention as of Thursday evening. More were expected to sign up Friday and Saturday.
Vachon said that number was up from previous SPJ conventions, likely because of the location in the nation’s capital and the Associated Press Managing Editors convention, also taking place this weekend at the JW Marriott Hotel.
“I think a lot of people are attending both conferences,” Vachon said. “Our speakers may be attending their convention and vice versa.”