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SPJ conference participants mingle during opening night reception

By eijnews

Ryan Murphy
The Working Press

SPJ convention participants mingle during the opening night reception held on the Oceanview Terrace Thursday evening.
Colin Frank/The Working Press

The breeze rustled the palms and the sound of steel drums and reggae guitar riffs filled the air as hundreds of journalists gathered to mingle and take a load off at the opening reception of the Excellence in Journalism convention.
Hawaiian shirts abounded and wine flowed at the event, sponsored by CNN Newsource and held on an outdoor terrace overlooking the ocean at the Harbor Beach Marriott.
It was a balmy Florida evening when conference attendees took to the terrace to unwind, some after stepping off a long flight, others after a long day of educational sessions.
“You’ve got the beach, you’ve got hundreds of journalists, you just walked out of an inspiring talk on the future of media. What’s not to like?” said Alycin Dektesh, a news director for WFHB Community Radio in Bloomington, Ind. She noted that the conference is great for networking, and opening receptions are often the best place to do that.
“Everyone’s just gotten here, you get to socialize and make friends you’ll see around for the rest of the conference,” Dektesh said.

SDX President Steve Geimann chats with convention participants during the opening night reception held on the Oceanview Terrace.
Colin Frank/The Working Press

While some used the reception as an active event to network, others used it to cap off a day full of reflection about the journalism industry.
“There’s 1,000 of us sitting around rejoicing in a profession that we love,” said Kevin Kinder, an entertainment reporter with Northwest Arkansas Newspapers and president of the Northwest Arkansas Pro Chapter. “It’s a reminder that my profession isn’t dying.”
Many treat the conference as a working vacation.
Kinder was working on a front-page story for his paper’s Sunday edition and was glad for the chance to slow the pace.
“It’s after hours and I get to take a breath and enjoy the waves,” he said, gesturing toward the resort’s private beach.
SPJ Executive Director Joe Skeel was happy with the response to the reception.
“I think it’s good to start any conference with a social event … it’ll lead to a more interactive, open environment,” he said. “And I didn’t hear anyone complain about the view.”