News from Central Ohio SPJ

POSTPONED – SPJ Region 4 Conference April 3-4, 2020

NOTE: Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and order from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine limiting mass gatherings of over 100 individuals, the Region 4 Conference has been postponed. We hope to reschedule in fall 2020 and will update everyone as soon as possible with additional details.

The Society of Professional Journalists Region 4 Conference will take place in Columbus on April 3-4, 2020.

The theme for this year’s conference – bringing together student and professional journalists across four states for workshops, panels and continuing education on issues vital to our industry – is “A 2020 Vision for the Future of Journalism.”

This theme reflects our need to be forever looking ahead, keeping our skills current and making use of the best new opportunities to deliver information to the public – without losing sight of the crucial issues of today and the significant challenges facing our profession. Among the key topics covered by this year’s educational programming are coverage of active shooter events, resume writing and the important role of purported “swing states” in the 2020 election.


Friday, April 3

5 p.m. – Registration
– Marriott Columbus University Area, 3100 Olentangy River Rd.
7-10 p.m.: Opening night reception and networking
– Mikey’s Late Night Slice, 268 S. Fourth St.

If you are not planning on staying at the Marriott, join the reception at Mikey’s where registration will also be available!

Saturday, April 4

All events will take place at the Marriott Columbus University Area, 3100 Olentangy River Rd.

8-9- a.m.: Breakfast
8-8:45 a.m.: Chapter leadership breakfast meeting
9 a.m.-12:45 p.m.: Super session & breakout sessions
12:45-2:15 p.m.: Keynote address & Mark of Excellence Awards
2:30-5 p.m.: Breakout sessions

Breakout sessions for this year’s event include:

  • Coverage of mass and active shooting events
  • How swing states affect the 2020 election
  • Establishing and building on your freelance career
  • Resume writing and polish
  • New digital tools in the journalism world
  • Tips for developing a podcast
  • Coverage of diversity and LGBTQ issues
  • Challenges faced by female journalists
  • Tips for salary negotiation

Note: The schedule is subject to change. Check back for more information on breakout sessions and a finalized schedule.

Mark Curnutte Author Talk – Thursday, January 9

Join Miami University journalism instructor and former Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Mark Curnutte to discuss his new book, Across the Color Line: Reporting 25 Years in Black Cincinnati, at a program brought to you by the Central Ohio Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Join your local SPJ chapter at COhatch Upper Arlington (The Overlook), 1733 W. Lane Ave., from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 9, for a discussion and book signing featuring Curnutte. Enjoy complimentary beer, wine and appetizers provided by the Chapter at this FREE event.

Across the Color Line presents Curnutte’s stories published in the Cincinnati Enquirer over a 25-year period beginning in 1993. With hard-won insights gained from years of community reporting, Curnutte describes experiences of African-Americans living in Cincinnati through individual and neighborhood profiles, explorations of community institutions, historical perspectives, and issue stories. The anthology tells a sweeping narrative of a city suffering and maturing through turn-of-the-century racial growing pains and increased racial sophistication and diversity. These stories are complemented by excerpts from Curnutte’s personal journal, providing his reflection on his role as a white man and reporter making the intentional decision to work and live across the color line.

Curnutte is a former race and social justice reporter at the Enquirer. He is an adjunct professor at Miami University in journalism and sociology and the author of A Promise in Haiti: A Reporter’s Notes on Families and Daily Lives.

Register now!

Join SPJ for a Holiday Happy Hour December 4

Cheers to the holiday season with Central Ohio SPJ!

Join Central Ohio SPJ for a Holiday Happy Hour Mix and Mingle at The Boat House at Confluence Park on Wednesday, December 4! Nosh on light appetizers provided by the chapter. A cash-bar will be available for those who wish to imbibe. SPJ members and non-members are welcome! Click here to register on Eventbrite.

What: Holiday Happy Hour

Where: The Boat House at Confluence Park
679 W. Spring St.
Columbus, OH 43215

When: Thursday, December 6 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

See longtime Boston Globe reporter Tom Palmer During the Fredericktown Tomato Show

Join Central Ohio SPJ at the Free Press Museum in Fredericktown!

Longtime Boston Globe reporter and editor Tom Palmer tells of “A Life’s Journey in Daily Journalism” and introduces his significant gift to the Free Press Museum: The Tom Palmer Collection featuring hundreds of U.S. and foreign newspapers he curated during his career, papers that recorded the first draft of a generation of the history of our nation and the world.

When: 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019
Where: First Baptist Church, Fredericktown, Ohio

Tom Palmer

Boston Globe veteran Tom Palmer will share highlights of his 32 years as a reporter and editor at the Globe and a few from earlier at the Topeka Capital-Journal, Orange Coast Daily Pilot and Los Angeles Times. He was in Berlin when The Wall fell, covered the Iran-Contra Hearings and the aftermath of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster, hid from men with guns in Africa and Haiti, and wielded the power of the First Amendment with an emphasis on fairness and telling the whole story. Join him, in words and pictures, on his journey.

Check out other activities at the Free Press Museum! Take Museum tours and see letterpress printing demonstrations Sept. 4-9. 2019, during the Fredericktown Tomato Show street fair.

The Museum will be open for tours and printing demonstrations from 6 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4, Thursday, Sept. 5 (except during the program) and Friday, Sept. 6, and from 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept.7, 2019.

The full schedule of events includes:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 4: Museum tours, 6-10 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 5: Museum tours and letterpress printing demonstrations, 6-7 p.m. & 8:30-10 p.m. Annual Museum program, 7:15-8:15 p.m., at First Baptist Church, “A Life’s Journey in Journalism,” with Boston Globe veteran Tom Palmer
  • Friday, Sept. 6: Museum tours & letterpress printing demonstrations, 6-10 p.m.
  • Saturday, Sept. 7: Museum tours & letterpress printing demonstrations, 2-10 p.m.


For more information on the program and the Free Press Museum, visit

Celebrate the Ohio SPJ Awards Contest on August 17

Make your reservations now for the Ohio SPJ Contest event of the year – the 2019 Ohio SPJ Awards Contest celebration on Saturday, August 17 at BrewDog’s beer museum, brewery and taproom, billed as the “first U.S. outpost of a renowned U.K. bar and brewery offering craft brews!

The Columbus Pro Chapter is hosting the annual event, in association with pro chapters in Cincinnati and Cleveland, to honor the best journalism from throughout the buckeye state in 2018. Over three hundred awards will be presented honoring the best in large circulation print (75,000 or greater), small circulation print (fewer than 75,000), radio, television, digital media, trade organizations, freelance and college.

Join Columbus’ craft brewery craze by heading to BrewDog’s 42-acre museum, brewery, taproom and event center at 96 Gender Rd. in Canal Winchester, just southeast of Columbus from 11 a.m-2 p.m.

We will begin our celebration in the brewery’s museum with a social hour where you’ll be able to network, visit with friends, sample craft beers and learn about the history of beer. Lunch and awards presentation will follow.

The cost is $55 per person and includes a taco bar. Craft beers are available at a full cash bar.

Find a full list of this year’s winners at

Getting it Right: Writing and Communicating To, About and With the LGBTQ Community

Join PRSA for a free discussion on Thursday, June 20:
Getting it Right: Writing and Communicating To, About and With the LGBTQ Community

Increasingly, people are coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) and, when portrayed in the news media, corporate and nonprofit communications, and advertising, want to see their stories reflected in a fair and accurate way. In this informal coffee chat, journalists, public relations practitioners, and marketing and communications professionals will hear concrete steps to incorporate inclusiveness in their writing and speaking, as well as in critical business functions of their work as they improve their own career competencies. 

In a focused conversation between Carol Zimmer Clark, publisher, PRIZM Magazine and director of Community Affairs for Equitas Health, and Jaron Terry, PRSA Fellow and president of Jaron Terry Communications, along with other writers from Equitas Health, discussion attendees will understand appropriate terminology and demographics and they explore the current cultural climate. Clark and Terry will discuss what it looks like when journalists and communicators “get it right” in talking to, with and about the LGBTQ community.

In addition, this broad-ranging conversation will explore results-oriented best practices for inclusive communications, including audience identification, media advocacy, and framing, messaging and storytelling, and attendees will learn more about how to hone their own core career competencies such as ethics, collaboration and leadership as they challenge themselves to better understand communities that may differ from their own. Session participants will enter the conversation through Q&A.

PRSA’s Diversity & Inclusion committee presents this event. SPJ members can attend for free! Enter code SPJcoffeechat when registering!

When: June 20, 2019, 7:30 – 8:30 a.m.
Where: Equitas Health, 7575 Huntington Park Drive, Columbus, OH 43235
Parking: Free
Coffee: Provided
Free Attendance CODE: SPJcoffeechat


Free Active Shooter Training for News Media

According to the FBI, 250 active shooter incidents have occurred between 2000-2017, several of which involved the news media. In an environment of increased tension and hostility toward news media, how prepared are you if you find yourself in an active shooting event? And how do you recognize signs of potential violence around you?

This free workshop on Tuesday, June 18 provides journalists and those in the newsroom with insights and tools to respond in case of an active shooter situation.

The three-hour workshop features presentations by the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit and SWAT Teams:

Part 1: Pre-Attack Behaviors of Active Shooters – Presented by FBI Special Agent Kristin Cadieux, this segment focuses on specific behaviors that may precede an attack and that might be useful in identifying, assessing and managing those who may be on a pathway to violence.

Part 2: Run, Hide, Fight – Active Shooter Safety Protocol – This segment, presented by Special Agents from the FBI’s SWAT Team, details a suggested protocol to follow if you hear shots fired in your newsroom, or if you witness an armed person shooting or threatening people.

This free workshop is presented by The Kiplinger Program for Public Affairs in Journalism, the Ohio Association of Broadcasters, the Ohio News Media Association and the Society for Professional Journalists. Additional workshops are being held in Cincinnati on Thursday, June 13 and Cleveland on Wednesday, June 19.

The workshop is free but registration is required. Registration and a continental breakfast begin at 8:30 a.m., followed by programming from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. The Columbus workshop will be held at Quest Conference Center, 8405 Pulsar Place, Columbus, OH 43240.

What: Free Active Shooter Training for News Media
When: Tuesday, June 18 – 9a.m. – 12 p.m.
Where: Quest Conference Center, 8405 Pulsar Place, Columbus, OH 43240


Award Winners Announced for 70th Annual Founders’ Day

Central Ohio SPJ celebrates its 70th annual Founders’ Day on Wednesday, April 17 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Join us for an evening of professional camaraderie and the celebration of good journalism at the Amelito Mirolo Barn in Upper Arlington.

We will celebrate the best of central Ohio journalism by awarding our First Amendment Award along with Appreciation, Distinguished Service and Lifetime Achievement Awards. We will also hand out the dubious Brick Wall Award for obstruction of public access to information.

This Year’s honorees include:

First Amendment Award

  • Columbus Dispatch Pharmacy Benefit Manager Series

Distinguished Service Award

  • Joe Meyer – Owner, Meyer Media
  • Kevin Z. Smith – Director, Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism, Ohio University
  • Doug Buchanan – Editor in Chief, Columbus Business First

Appreciation Award

  • Eugene C. “Gene” D’Angelo – WBNS-10TV
  • Dennis Hetzel – Ohio News Media Association

Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Richard W. Carson – The Columbus Dispatch
  • Tim May – The Columbus Dispatch
  • Mary Beth Lane – The Columbus Dispatch
  • Barbara James – The Columbus Dispatch
  • Gary Kiefer – The Columbus Dispatch
  • Eric Lyttle – Columbus Monthly
  • Chris Bradley – WBNS-10TV

The Brick Wall Award

  • The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT)

Social hour beings at 5:30 p.m. with an open bar and hor d’oeuvres. Programming begins at 6:30 p.m. A silent auction will also be held with proceeds to benefit the chapter’s numerous scholarships. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.

Celebrate Local Journalism at 70th Annual Founders’ Day

70th Annual Founders’ Day – April 17

Central Ohio SPJ celebrates its 70th annual Founders’ Day on Wednesday, April 17 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Join us for an evening of professional camaraderie and the celebration of good journalism at the Amelito Mirolo Barn in Upper Arlington.

We will celebrate the best of central Ohio journalism by awarding our First Amendment Award along with Appreciation, Distinguished Service and Lifetime Achievement Awards. We will also hand out the dubious Brick Wall Award for obstruction of public access to information.

Speaking to a bright future for journalism, we are also handing out scholarships to a number of deserving college and high school students whose work has been deemed outstanding over the past year.

Social hour beings at 5:30 p.m. with an open bar and hor d’oeuvres. Programming begins at 6:30 p.m. A silent auction will also be held with proceeds to benefit the chapter’s numerous scholarships.

We look forward to celebrating with you!

What: Founders’ Day 2019
Where: Amelito Mirolo Barn, 4395 Carriage Hill Ln, Upper Arlington
When: Wednesday, April 17 – 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Speakers Announced for Freelance Journalism Workshop

Are you a freelance journalist? Have you considered becoming a freelancer? Do you wonder if freelancing is right for you? Learn more about the world of freelance journalism with an educational workshop brought to you by the Central Ohio Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Ohio University E.W. Scripps School of Journalism on Saturday, March 2.

Panel discussions featuring working professionals will cover everything from how to determine if freelancing is right for you, to the ins and outs of running your own business. Panel discussions include:

9 a.m. – Is Freelancing Right for You?

  • Kathy Lynn Gray, Freelance Journalist
  • Brock Schmaltz, Freelance Communications Professional
  • Jeffry Konczal, Freelance Photographer

10 a.m. – How to Market and Brand Yourself

  • Laura Petrecca, Freelance Writer, Editor, Strategist. Laura

11 a.m. – The Business of Being Self Employed: What You Need to Know to Establish & Run Your Business

  • Jack Gravelle, Attorney, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, LLP
  • Sarah Mills Bacha, SMB Communication, LTD
  • Ginny McCabe, Freelance Journalist and Author
  • Sue Schnitz, Accountant, Perfect Balance

The workshop will be held from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Ohio University Dublin Campus – Dublin Integrated Education Center, 6805 Bobcat Way, Dublin, Ohio. 

Networking begins at 8 a.m. with programming kicking off at 9 a.m. A continental breakfast and snacks will be provided. Tickets are $15 for SPJ members and students and $20 for non-members.


Is Freelancing Right For You?

Kathy Lynn Gray, Freelance Journalist

Kathy Lynn Gray worked as a journalist at the Columbus Dispatch for 35 years, reporting on everything from education, real estate and federal courts to the Columbus Zoo, the Ohio State Fair and shipwreck explorer Tommy Thompson. Her journalism career began in Cleveland with the Sun Newspaper chain and she landed in Columbus with a job as a legislative intern in the Ohio House of Representatives. From there she nabbed a spot on The Dispatch Action Line before becoming a general assignment reporter covering murders, weather, and everything in between. She gave up reporting for seven years to work as a part-time Dispatch copy editor while her children were young, and took off a year to get her master’s degree in journalism as a Kiplinger Fellow at Ohio State University. Her freelance career took off in 2015 when she took a buyout from The Dispatch and began writing for publications such as Columbus Monthly, Columbus Business First, several college magazines and The National Psychologist, as well as stringing for Reuters and the Washington Post. Kathy has been a Clintonville resident since 1980 and is married to former journalist Dennis Mahoney.

Brock Schmaltz, Freelance Communications Professional

During a 20-year public relations career, Brock Schmaltz has earned a reputation as a trusted advisor across a multitude of communications disciplines. The son of a journalist, he learned the power of the press and public opinion at a young age and that background has served him well as he partners with media members on behalf of his clients. The early part of Brock’s career in both Washington, DC and Columbus, OH focused exclusively on public affairs at the local, state and federal levels. Working on behalf of private sector companies like Wal-Mart and Kidde Fire Safety as well as advocacy groups like the American Horse Council, he successfully navigated numerous legislative and regulatory opportunities in a variety of jurisdictions. More recently Brock has focused on traditional media and community relations endeavors across primarily the retail and development sectors. Past clients include outdoor lifestyle center pioneer Easton Town Center, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Columbus Downtown Development Corporation and Campus Partners (the development arm of The Ohio State University). In January 2017, Brock opened High Stakes Public Relations where he works on behalf of a variety of clients including regional grocery leader Giant Eagle and is currently ghost writing several books. A graduate of Wittenberg University, Brock resides in Sunbury, Ohio with his wife Allison and three daughters.

Jeffry Konczal, Freelance Photographer

Jeffry Konczal is a freelance photographer who works for journalism, education, and commercial clients, specializing in documentary and portrait work. He has been working as a freelance photographer since 2012, and prior to that as a staff photographer for 5 years.

How to Market and Brand Yourself

Laura Petrecca, Freelance Writer, Editor, Strategist. Laura

Image result for laura petrecca

Laura is an editorial adviser and content creator who helps companies keep pace with the rapidly evolving media landscape. She has a proven record of success within some of the nation’s top media organizations, including Gannett, Rodale and Crain Communications. Prior to launching her media consultancy and writing business. Laura held high-level roles such as USA Today’s New York City bureau chief, special projects editor and business section editor. She now provides sound editorial insights to companies ranging from small businesses to media conglomerates. An award-winning journalist, Laura also produces high-quality articles, blog items, social media posts, videos and infographics. Her work has appeared in USA Today, Real Simple, Men’s Health, Prevention, Crain’s New York Business, Advertising Age, the New York Post and AARP. She is an experienced public speaker who is adept at moderating panels, hosting livestream videos and providing TV and radio commentary. Her TV appearances include the Today show, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, Access Hollywood and CNN. Laura also coaches college students and early career journalists on how to land a job in the media industry, as well as provides strategic guidance to seasoned writers and editors who are planning for their post-newsroom lives.

The Business of Being Self Employed: What You Need to Know to Establish & Run Your Business

Jack Gravelle, Attorney, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, LLP

Jack is a partner in the firm’s Corporate Department practicing in the areas of securities, mergers and acquisitions, and business growth and operation. He represents buyers and sellers in various acquisition and divestiture transactions across a range of industries, including energy, manufacturing, technology, retail, banking and telecommunications. He assists public companies with corporate governance, securities laws compliance, mergers and acquisitions, securities offerings, executive compensation and the reporting obligations of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He also advises various business entities regarding formation, raising capital, securities offerings, contractual arrangements, and general corporate law. He is a graduate of Ohio University in political science and The Ohio State University College of Law.

Ginny McCabe, Freelance Journalist and Author

Ginny is an award winning journalist and author. She is a news, feature and entertainment writer/reporter who has penned thousands of diverse articles for daily and weekly newspapers, magazines and web sites for a variety of national and international audiences. She covers news, arts and entertainment, lifestyles, humanitarian aid, real estate, features, nonfiction, profiles, books and publishing, religion, non-profits, business. She is also an experienced author of five books. Her bestselling and award-winning title with Dr. Jill Hubbard is Secrets Young Women Keep. Other titles include: some Kind of Journey: On the Road with Audio Adrenaline, Living A Gold Medal Life: Inspirations from Female Athletes, and Changed: True Stories of Finding God Through Christian Music. She has also collaborated on four additional books. Ginny serves as the Society of Professional Journalists Freelance Community Officer.

Sarah Mills Bacha, President, SMB Communication, LTD

Sarah is a professional writer and communications/marketing consultant. As president of her own firm, SMB Communications Ltd., which she founded in 1994, she has assisted numerous national and central Ohio companies and organizations with their marketing and communications needs. Before becoming a consultant, she worked as a journalist at daily newspapers. Previous positions include business reporter at The Columbus Dispatch in Columbus, Ohio, comment page editor at The Journal-Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind., and stringer for Reuters. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University in journalism.

Sue Schnitz, Accountant, Perfect Balance

Susan is the owner of the Perfect Balance that acts as the in-house controller for your small business and individuals eliminating the stress of the financial side for businesses and individuals allowing them the time to do what they do best! Her business acts as in-house controller, manages cash flow, consults, helps clients get financing, prepares financial statements, provides accounts payable and receivable functions and helps with financial planning among other services. She was formerly employed by Deloitte & Touche and is a graduate of The Ohio State University.