SEJ's 22nd Annual Conference Agenda — Wednesday



All-Day Freelance Workshop
Meet and Greet
TTU Poster Session
Opening Reception
SEJ Awards
"Watershed" Screening


Agenda Coverage Lodging/Transportation Exhibits/Receptions Environmental News About Lubbock


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

SEJ’s 2012 annual conference officially begins Wednesday afternoon, October 17, 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 European and Latin American journalists. 

All sessions, as well as registration, exhibits and breaks, will be at the Overton Hotel
and Conference Center, 2322 Mac Davis Lane, Lubbock, unless otherwise indicated.


All-Day Workshop: The Craft and Commerce of Successful Freelancing

Join a team of veteran freelancers – contributors and editors of the forthcoming book The Science Writers' Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Pitch, Publish and Prosper in the Digital Age – for a day of in-depth training on the secrets of successful freelancing. We’ll cover business strategy, pitching, networking, online marketing, using multimedia reporting, and other ingredients of a sustainable and rewarding freelance career. You’ll have a chance to hone magazine pitches, and you’ll also hear legal advice from an experienced copyright and contract attorney. All the sessions will feature concrete, practical tips you can take home and apply to both the business and the craft of journalism. This workshop is appropriate for both new and experienced freelancers, as well as staff journalists interested in acquiring entrepreneurial skills. The full agenda will be posted here when available; please check back. Pre-registration and $60 fee required. Breakfast and lunch included.

Sharon Oosthoek, Freelance Journalist

Emily Gertz, Freelance Journalist and Editor
Thomas Hayden, Science and Environment Writer, and Lecturer, Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, School of Earth Sciences, Department of Communication, Stanford University
Hannah Hoag, Freelance Journalist and Editor
Susan Moran, Freelance Print Journalist, Co-host of "How on Earth," and former Adjunct Instructor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Colorado Boulder


7:30-8:00 a.m. Hot breakfast is served in Horizon Ballroom A (workshop attendees only)

8:00-8:30 a.m. Coffee, introductions and a quick, funny rundown of the pros and cons of freelancing

8:30-9:30 a.m. Business Strategy: Financial considerations in making the leap from staff to freelance; making a business plan for your first year and sticking to it; essential equipment for your “starter office”; handling basic contract, insurance and tax issues; diversifying your business for fun and satisfaction. 

9:30-9:45 a.m. Break

9:45-11:30 a.m. Pitching and Networking: Finding ideas as a freelancer, and how to find, please and not annoy editors. Anatomy of a basic pitch; anatomy of winning “big league” feature pitches to the New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, etc. This session will also include workshopping of sample and draft pitches, which participants will be invited to submit ahead of time or bring for consideration.

11:45 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. Lunch Break: Session on Contracts and Copyright (~90 minute talk)
Presenter: Sallie Randolph, Law Office of Sallie G. Randolph (Buffalo, NY)

1:30-2:15 p.m. Freelance Marketing: How to “sell yourself” without selling out; how to use social media without losing sleep; how to build a great website on the cheap; how to build and protect your reputation, online and off.

2:15-3:00 p.m. Multilancing: When, why, and how to acquire digital media skills, and when and how freelancers can use them to add quality and value to their work.

3:00-3:15 p.m. Break

3:15-4:00 p.m. Wrapup/Business Strategy for the Long Haul: A discussion with participants about setting financial and creative goals that will guide you through your freelance career; creating a satisfying, lucrative, and lasting mix of clients and projects, and avoiding ethical and practical conflicts among them.

Location: Horizon Ballroom B, 2nd Floor



2:00 - 8:00 p.m.

If you haven't already signed up for Thursday all-day tours, Friday dinner and premiere of Ken Burn's Dust Bowl documentary, Saturday party or Sunday brunch, check with registration personnel — there might still be room.

Location: South End Prefunction Space, Main Floor (near the stairs as you approach the Sunset Ballroom from the hotel)


SEJ Information Table

2:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Sign up here for Saturday mini-tours, read up on candidates for the board election, find membership applications, copies of SEJournal and other SEJ information.

Location: Sunset Ballroom Foyer, near the main outside entrance of the Conference Center


Afternoon Meet-and-Greet: Nuclear Icebreaker

3:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Mingle with European and Latin American journalists and catch a quick briefing from the European contingent on the latest German plans for phasing out nuclear power and new French techniques for handling nuclear waste. Start a chain reaction by socializing with the foreign journalists, many of whom will just have ended their own international conference in Lubbock. Refreshments for this event sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Emcee: Reggie Dale, Director, Transatlantic Media Network, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Location: Canyon Room, 2nd Floor


Texas Tech University Poster Session

4:00 - 9:00 p.m.
At Texas Tech University, the world is our laboratory. Whether our research starts in our own back yard, solves a national problem or takes on a challenge in another country, we feel it's our duty to find solutions that matter. Our academics and research impact the state, the nation and the rest of the planet. When it comes to teaching, we believe that the best way to learn is to do essential science next to some of the preeminent researchers in the country. Student research is foundational as we become the next National Research University. Funded research opportunities exist for students in our multidisciplinary centers, laboratories and industry-sponsored programs. During Wednesday's events, we proudly will present some of the best environmental research performed by our students. Be on the lookout for tomorrow's quotable sources today.

Location: Sunset Ballroom, 1st Floor


Opening Reception and Dinner at the Overton

5:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Photo: © Lindsey Hoshaw,

Can’t promise a haboob, but we can promise a helluva good time hanging with friends and meeting new ones.

From famed dispatches filed on deadline during the Dust Bowl, to the ballads of Woody Guthrie, to the best of the year's journalism, and through to the leading edge of new filmmaking, we'll be celebrating the power of great stories to heal people and the Earth.

Producer James Redford will help to welcome SEJ and share clips from "Watershed," a new film on the Colorado River from the non-profit Redford Center and Kontent Films, narrated and executive produced by his father, Robert Redford, introducing a climate-changed West.

We'll also recognize the efforts of average citizens to restore vital watersheds in the wake of human activities otherwise bound for disaster. Septuagenarian Arizona rancher Valer Austin, a transplant from New York City and poster child for the transboundary private lands conservation movement in the U.S.-Mexico border bioregion, will regale us with stories of tragedy and triumph from the heart of the habitat restoration effort in the arid sky islands of the Southwest. The co-founder of Cuenca Los Ojos Foundation, Austin was featured in High Country News, Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine, and Melóncoyote this year.

Spinning away from Mexico to Indonesia, we’ll then connect via satellite with Prigi Arisandi (pictured left) founder of Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation, who initiated a movement to protect the water resources and wetlands ecosystems of Indonesia. His tales of the successful struggle to stop industrial pollution from flowing into a river providing drinking water to three million people will explain how he earned a Goldman Environmental Prize in 2011 for heroism in protecting the natural world.

Texas Tech will be on hand with a jazzed-up science poster session.

"Watershed" will be screened in full after the Wednesday evening program concludes with the SEJ Awards for Reporting on the Environment.


Location: Sunset Ballroom, 1st Floor



SEJ Awards for Reporting on the Environment

8:00 - 9:00 p.m.

They are the most important stories on the planet, and we’ll unveil the best of the best. Join us for the SEJ Awards for Reporting on the Environment, to hear from the reporters themselves, to discover the story behind the story, and to be inspired by simply great work that changes the world, bit by bit, one story at a time.

Location: Sunset Ballroom, 1st Floor


Screening of "Watershed: Exploring a New Water Ethic for the New West"

9:00 p.m.

Location: Sunset Ballroom, 1st Floor


Waterhole. Copyright © 2012 Watershed Movie.


Thursday, October 18
Friday, October 19
Saturday, October 20
Sunday, October 21