CAMP 2017: First set of conference programming, featuring reporter’s toolkit and career building

By Lindsey Anderson, CAMP co-chair

Registration for CAMP 2017 is in full swing – and a slate of engaging and enlightening sessions is already lined up.

Sessions this year are organized around three themes:

Going Deep: Focused on specific reporting topics to build your expertise
Your Path: How to navigate career hurdles and find opportunities to advance
Reporter’s Toolkit: Concrete tips and tools to help you hone your trade

Here is a preview of some sessions. Speakers and sessions may change, so stay tuned for updates.


Going Deep: Covering state legislatures in the age of Trump

The number of full-time statehouse reporters has dwindled in the last two decades, but local legislatures remain full of important stories. In this sessions, statehouse reporters from around the country share their tips on juggling multiple big issues, telling stories that get beyond the vote tallies and navigating the intersection of state and national politics.

About the organizer: Meg Heckman is a journalism professor who spent several years covering the New Hampshire Legislature. More panelists to be announced.

Going Deep: Covering the working class

Close to half of all Americans are considered low income; most of them are working poor. From the opioid epidemic to Black Lives Matter to the Trump electorate, this panel will explore how to gain a better understanding of the social, political and economic upheaval of this fast-growing American demographic; which regions are most affected; and the best strategies for reporting on ordinary workers who are living paycheck-to-paycheck with an ever-more porous safety net.

About the panelists: Lottie Joiner, an award-winning journalist whose work focuses on race, social justice, civil rights and underserved communities; and Mary Meehan, a reporter with the Ohio Valley ReSource whose recent work includes a series following a drug addict’s struggle to get clean in Kentucky. More panelists to be announced.

Going Deep: Responsible reporting on issues in public health

Public health outbreaks extend beyond bacteria and viruses. Issues including violence and addiction are considered epidemics in their own right, and many experts have called for them too to be treated as public health emergencies. Journalists are faced with the challenge of clearly communicating the scope of the problem often at the same moment experts are analyzing the data and responding. So what are key questions to ask at each stage of outbreak detection and response? What should you consider when reporting on early research findings? This panel will discuss best practices for covering public health outbreaks.

About the organizer: Lara Salahi has been a health journalist for more than a decades and is wrapping up a book on the 2014 Ebola outbreak.


Reporter’s Toolkit: The art of the difficult interview

The interview often is at the heart of our storytelling as journalists. But how do you convince someone who doesn’t want to talk to a reporter to agree to an interview? When you finally sit down, how do you start the interview and keep it going? What are the keys to getting unscripted and revealing quotes? This session aims to provide practical tips for getting and conducting difficult interviews.

About the organizer: Linda Kramer Jenning taught interviewing in the graduate program at Georgetown University and has interviewed quite a few ornery subjects throughout her career.

Reporter’s Toolkit: Writing clean and clear on deadline

This popular session is back with hands-on but painless advice on how to make your writing cleaner and clearer, even when the clock is ticking. Taking less than five minutes before hitting the button can save you the agony (and time) of correcting post-publication, not to mention saving your reputation from overly critical readers waiting to pounce on any mistake. We’ll discuss some ways to see your work from an outsider’s viewpoint, explain where mistakes hide, and give you some quick tips to make your copy smoother and more accessible to your audience.

About the organizer: Merrill Perlman is a consultant and adjunct journalism professor who spent 25 years at The New York Times, including as a copy editor and director of copy desks, overseeing all 150-plus copy editors at the paper.

Reporter’s Toolkit: Big scoops on a small budget in investigative reporting

Tips and tricks on how to find, analyze, and report information with limited resources.

About the organizer: Lucia Walinchus is a reporter at Professional News Services LLC and a practicing attorney.

Reporter’s Toolkit: Fact-checking and digital verification

How do you know this Twitter account is real? That the image you’re using hasn’t been doctored? Or the website you’re looking at is a legit source? This session will give you quick, easy and free tools you can use to verify digital content

About the organizer: Teresa Schmedding is the managing editor of Rotary International and president of the American Copy Editors Society.


Your Path: Doing more with less in journalism

This interactive workshop, which uses a “show and tell” approach, is designed for community and regional reporters or freelancers who are faced with the reality of a shrinking newsroom or being a one-man band. The bottom line is journalists need to do more with less and do it even better. Looking at The Salinas Californian (the oldest paper in California), the city desk was reduced from four to two. How did the newsroom survive and thrive in these fast-changing times? We’ll step-by-step approach and share tips and strategies with attendees so they can replicate this.

About the organizer: Amy Wu is a government reporter at The Salinas Californian, which shrunk from eight reporters to two.

Your Path: Balancing journalistic freelance work with other gigs

Making a living as a freelancer is tough. How can you run a profitable freelance business while also balancing journalistic work?

About the panelists: Jennie Phipps owns, a subscription newsletter and online community that helps freelancers run their businesses and market themselves

Your Path: So you want to write a book?

Back again, this popular session is for writers who have a germ of a book idea, a passion for a subject or a story they have read or covered that might make a book. Veteran editor and author Jane Isay and expert literary agent and lawyer Gail Ross hold a lively conversation about what it takes to come up with good idea for a book, how to research and present it to an agent, tips about the writing process, and advice about marketing. All this in one session, with time for interaction with the audience.

About the panelists: Jane Isay is an editor and author of nearly four books and a literary agent. Gail Ross is an lawyer.


Tech: Intro to Google Tools

Attend this workshop to get an overview of how Google’s tools can help you research stories, fact-check figures, find what’s trending, and locate and visualize useful data sets for media and publishing. The workshop will highlight: advanced Google Search techniques and refinements, Google Trends, Google Public Data Explorer, Google Maps and more to ensure you’re fully covered on how to fully uncover things.


Other panels lined up:

  • Going Deep: Covering oppressive regimes
  • Going Deep: Covering trauma
  • Your Path: The realities of being a woman in the newsroom
  • Your Path: Work pauses and finding a work-life balance
  • Tech trainings on photojournalism, video, social media and Google News Lab

CAMP is Oct. 27-29 at The Arlington Hotel Resort and Spa in Hot Springs, Ark. Early bird registration is open and ends June 30, so register now. Find out more details at