Register by Nov. 21 to hear from photogs at Missouri protests, other top-notch speakers

From learning which public records you can access to hearing first-hand experiences of covering the Ferguson, Mo., protests, this year’s Newsroom Seminar promises something for everyone.

Investigative reporters, photographers, feature writers and multimedia pros will find sessions appropriate for their niche Saturday, Dec. 6 at the Indianapolis Marriott North.

Click here to register online or download a brochure. The early bird rates end Nov. 14 with final registration due by Nov. 26.

“We tried to cover the bases in this year’s programming to offer a wide variety of opportunities to help attendees grow professionally,” said Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, chairwoman of the HSPA Foundation Newsroom Seminar Committee and editor of The Corydon Democrat.

The Better Newspaper Contest awards luncheon will follow the seminar.

Two photojournalists from St. Louis, Mo., will share their experiences while covering a sensitive event that quickly became national news. Unrest and protests in Ferguson, Mo., followed the fatal shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old black man by a white police officer in August.

Whitney Curtis, a freelance photographer who covered the situation primarily for The New York Times; and her husband, Jeff Roberson, a staff photographer for The Associated Press based in St. Louis, know it’s an important story that journalists want to hear – and agreed to come.

Two concurrent sessions will discuss access to public records.

In one session, watchdogs at The Chronicle-Tribune (Marion) will tell their story of trying to track down financial records of local government. In their quest, Karla Bowsher uncovered a city government unwilling or unable to make basic fiduciary public records available, according to her editor, David Penticuff. After months of asking, the journalists finally received significant documents. A series of stories that followed made the community aware of the city’s ducking accountability.

Former Steuben County auditor Pam Coleman, who now works for a government-consulting firm, will join Bowsher and Penticuff to help reporters know which financial records to request.

Indiana Public Access Counselor Luke Britt and HSPA Executive Director and General Counsel Steve Key will present a more general session on transparency in government. Always a popular session at the seminar, the two advocates for openness will allow time for audience questions.

Nancy Comiskey, a lecturer in The Media School at Indiana University – Bloomington, will add a new twist to another favorite session at the seminar. The accomplished feature writer and former editor at The Indianapolis Star and The Indianapolis News will discuss what journalists can learn from writers of fiction.

She calls the presentation Literature in a Hurry. Comiskey’s sessions repeatedly earned the highest marks on previous Newsroom Seminar evaluations.

Three journalists will discuss digital strategies they use successfully at their newspapers to attract local, regional – even national – readers of all ages to their sites.

Kara Hackett, social media writer and blogger at The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne); Sarah Morin, community engagement and digital editor at The Herald-Times (Bloomington); and Ryan Martin, digital content director at The Elkhart Truth; add content to provide the useful and credible information online readers crave.

And finally, due to almost perfect evaluations last year, photographers will again critique photos entered in the 2013 Better Newspaper Contest.

Denny Simmons, 2013 Better Newspaper Contest Photo of the Year award winner from the Evansville Courier & Press, will join two Newsroom Seminar Committee members in the session. Mike Fender, lead visual journalist with The Indianapolis Star, and Darron Cummings, staff photographer for The Associated Press, will lead the interactive session designed to offer photo ideas.

Back by popular demand, editors and photojournalists on the seminar committee will offer individual critique sessions for reporters and photographers who pre-register. These offer an opportunity to hear evaluations from someone on the outside who does not see your work every day.

A 15-minute session costs $10 with proceeds going toward seminar expenses. Those interested must send samples for review to sgoldsby@hspa.com.

The early bird rates end Nov. 14 with final registration due by Nov. 26.

All rooms must be re­­served by Nov. 21 to receive the HSPA Founda­tion discount of $109.

For more details and online registration, click here or call (317) 803-4772.