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Your Space or Mine?

By Billy O'Keefe

MELANIE HICKEN / The Working Press
This isn’t your average blind date.
Journalists will be able to get to know a variety of experts in a convention event modeled after a popular dating scene.
On Friday, the SPJ convention will test a new kind of expert presentation for the first time with its “Speed Dating” session.
“We didn’t have enough time for all the topics that should be discussed in a normal format,” said former SPJ national president Reginald Stuart, who organized the event. “So we decided to improvise with a new format.”
From 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Valley Forge Room, representatives from various interest groups will have a half-hour to talk about their group, its major issues or trends and how to report on the issues.
During “Speed Dating,” convention attendees can quickly learn about many topics to help with everyday reporting, Stuart said.
People are welcome to drop in and listen at any time to any of 11 speakers. The presenters, all experts in niche areas, represent groups such as the Center for Auto Safety, Arab American Institute and the U.S. Weather Service.
For example, “Speed dater” Mark Savitt, president-elect of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, wants to provide convention attendees with the broker’s perspective, especially in light of the current mortgage crisis. Savitt’s presentation will focus on the role of the mortgage broker in the home-buying process.
“These people are going to be covering this, but before you can actually write about it, it’s a good idea to understand the technical aspects of it,” Savitt said.
All of the speakers are eager to inform journalists, young and old, Stuart said.
“They’re taking it pretty seriously. They’ve been asking how to make a good impression,” he said laughing. “It really is a lot like dating.”