SEJ's 24th Annual Conference Agenda — Wednesday



All-Day Workshop
Opening Reception
SEJ Awards



Agenda Registration Lodging/Travel Advertise/Exhibit Environmental News About New Orleans


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

SEJ’s 2014 annual conference officially begins Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 3, with our opening reception, followed by dinner, special welcomes and surprise guests, and SEJ’s awards program.

Before the official beginning, we offer the all-day workshop below, as well as an afternoon meet-and-greet session with environmental reporters from across the globe.

All sessions, as well as registration, exhibits and breaks, will be at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside,
Two Poydras Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130 (504) 561-0500, unless otherwise indicated.

Note: All information is subject to change. Please check back often for updates and information on event times, speakers, etc.


All-Day Workshop 1

Disasters and Extreme Weather: Gathering the News and Keeping Safe

7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Seawater surges over the Industrial Canal floodwall during Hurricane Gustav in 2008.
© Photo courtesy | The Times-Picayune















Disasters challenge even the best reporters. Events are chaotic, answers are hard to come by, and sources are obscured by bureaucracies. Still, the demand for news is insatiable. How can we hit the ground running? Veteran reporters and freelancers share their experience and advice, while first responders explain how and why government functions the way it does. Sessions will cover industrial infrastructure; sourcing; protecting our own psyche; and the common classes of contaminants. We’ll examine industrial disasters and extreme weather at home and overseas, with help from international journalists. SEJ members only. Pre-registration and $70 fee required. Breakfast and lunch included.

Draft Agenda:

7:30 a.m. Breakfast Served

8:00 a.m. Introductions and General Overview

8:30 - 10:00 a.m.
Disasters: The Science — Contaminants in the Environment

What are the general classes of contaminants, how do they behave in the environment, how are they contained/cleaned up? Learn how to find independent sources of scientific information.

Moderator: Bill Kovarik, Professor of Communication, Unity College

Ken Graham, Meteorologist-in-Charge, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Charlie Henry, Director, Disaster Response Center (Mobile, AL), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Lead Scientific Support Coordinator, Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
Wilma Subra, Environmental Scientist; President, Subra Company (New Iberia, LA); Vice-Chair, National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Member, U.S. EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council; and Recipient, MacArthur Fellowship Genius Award

10:15 - 11:45 a.m.
Disasters: The Craft — Getting the Story

How does a reporter quickly & accurately get information, esp. when official sources aren't helpful? Defining one's own niche. How do industry and government structure their response and how does that govern the flow of information?

Moderator: Randy Lee Loftis, Environmental Writer, The Dallas Morning News

Speakers: TBA

11:45 a.m - 1:15 p.m. Lunch
Aftershocks: Trauma, Climate Change and Environmental Journalism

From its earliest roots in the reporting of Rachel Carson and other pioneers, environmental journalism has shed light on the overlooked victims of ecological catastrophe. What do today's environmental reporters need to know about the new science of trauma, psychological injury and resilience — how the individuals, families and communities we cover are changed in enduring ways by overwhelming events? Are environmental journalists in all media vulnerable to psychological injury from covering today's most urgent environmental crises, and what do we know about trauma and resilience in news professionals? Join us for a discussion linking trauma and environmental science, journalism craft and strategies for practical self-care.

Moderator: Mike Casey, Reporter, Fortune and former Reporter, Asia and the Middle East, The Associated Press

Speaker: Bruce Shapiro, Executive Director, Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, Columbia University; Contributing Editor, The Nation; U.S. Correspondent for Late Night Live, Radio National, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

1:30 - 3:00 p.m.
The Essential Toolkit for Reporters and Freelancers

What do you need to know ahead of time to make your life easier? What would you put in your disaster coverage kit? Learn how to develop contact lists and prepare credentials (letters of recommendations, ID, etc.). Know where you'll market your stories, how to set pay rates, choose insurance, and more.

Moderator: Emily Gertz, Journalist/Author/Editor, Environment, Technology and Science

Scott Dodd, Editorial Director, Natural Resources Defense Council
James Schwab, Manager, Hazards Planning Research Center, American Planning Association, and Senior Research Associate and Co-Editor, Zoning Practice, American Planning Association

3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Disasters Know No Borders

The devastation wrought by natural disasters in developing countries can be so overwhelming it defies description. But today we are immediately connected to faraway catastrophes, and the global conversation about them can change the political agenda. How can U.S. reporters accurately convey both the on-the-ground reality of these events and report the ripple effects in their own regions? How do reporters based in vulnerable countries approach disaster reporting, and what unique challenges do they face? A group of international journalists will join the conversation as speakers share lessons learned from covering last year's Typhoon Haiyan and tips for covering the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Moderator: Meaghan Parker, Writer/Editor, Environmental Change and Security Program, Wilson Center

Imelda Abano, President, Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists
Winifred Bird, Freelance Journalist
Mike Casey, Reporter, Fortune and former Reporter, Asia and the Middle East, The Associated Press

Location: TBA


All-Day Workshop 2

From Nairobi to New Orleans: Reporting on Resilience, Climate Change and Population Dynamics

9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

All conference attendees are welcome to attend this workshop sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Breakfast and lunch are included. RSVP is required: please respond directly to Meaghan Parker to attend.

Across the globe, from megacities to small coastal communities, people are confronting the coming challenges of climate change. These changes, both rapid and slow, are putting more people at risk than ever before as urban and coastal areas grow. From villages in the Philippines to UN forums, the calls for increasing the resilience for the most vulnerable people are deafening. But reporting on resilience requires pushing the boundaries of the traditional environmental beat and looking beyond national borders. This workshop of reporters and experts from Africa, Asia, and the United States will share story tips, demonstrate data tools, and compare cross-border approaches to reporting on resilience, climate, and population dynamics.

Draft Agenda:

9:00 a.m. Breakfast Served

9:15 a.m. Welcome and introductions

9:45 - 11:00 a.m.
Risky Cities and Resilient Communities

What makes a community resilient? We’ll discuss the complex connections between climate change and population dynamics, including urbanization, migration, gender, and health, and how to turn this complexity into compelling stories about cities around the world.

Moderator: TBA

Roger-Mark De Souza, Director of Population, Environmental Security, and Resilience, Woodrow Wilson Center
Ken Weiss, Grantee, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
International reporter TBA

11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Big Questions Need Big Data: Population and Climate

Experts will demonstrate new tools for understanding how population dynamics affect climate change predictions, and how to measure and model resilience at local, national, and international levels.

Moderator: Lisa Palmer, Freelance Reporter and Editor

William Butz, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
Joyce Coffee, Managing Director, Notre Dame Global Adaptation Institute
Lori Hunter, University of Colorado-Boulder (invited)
Kathleen Mogelgaard, KAM Consulting (invited)
ESRI speaker (invited)

12:15 - 1:30 p.m.
Lunch Discussion

1:30 - 3:00 p.m.
Storytelling in the Anthropocene: Picturing People and the Planet

Visual media — film, video, and photography — have proven especially powerful for conveying people’s lived experience and their capacity for resilience in the face of change. Videographers and photographers will share some clips from their work documenting the connections between climate, population, and human rights.

Moderator: Sam Eaton, Independent Producer (invited)

Sean Peoples, Multimedia Editor and Program Associate, Environmental Change and Security Program, Woodrow Wilson Center
Steve Sapienza, Senior Producer, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
International reporter TBA

3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Disasters Know No Borders

Join "Disasters and Extreme Weather" workshop's 3:00 p.m. session above.

Location: TBA



2:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Location: TBA


Opening Reception, Dinner and Awards

It’s New Orleans, folks, so the bar will open early, the music will be playing, and everyone will be able to share their “where y’at” stories, even with a celebrity or two. We hope to start off with a real live Cabinet secretary this year — U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has been invited and we are optimistic that she'll join us. And we’ll follow that up with visits from actors and musicians known for their ties to New Orleans and Louisiana, who will tell us their stories of how they survived Katrina or the BP oil spill, or how they’re helping New Orleans recover. And we’ll also get to view what our judges have decided is the best of the best reporting and photojournalism on the environment — great work that’s changing the world, one story, one photo, one book at a time.

Location: Napoleon Ballroom, 3rd Floor


Thursday, September 4
Friday, September 5
Saturday, September 6
Sunday, September 7