Thursday, August 1, 2013

NABJ 2013, some good -- and some not so much.

I attended #NABJ13 today, and left with mixed feelings about the conference, as usual.

This year's conference is hosted at the Gaylord Palms resort here in Orlando, so I didn't have much of an excuse for skipping the event entirely.

Some general impressions, not well-formed:

1. It's always a pleasure to catch up with old friends and meet new people at NABJ. It's something of a cliché at this point to say that the annual conference feels like a family reunion writ large, but you know what? It really, really is.

2. The first session I peeked in on was about the verdict in the George Zimmerman case. My employer's top editor, Mark Russell, was one of the speakers on the panel, along with a couple of straight-news reporters and a few more opinion journalists. I think, at this point, that I've had to deal with so much about the case that my brain wants something of a break from it for a little bit, so I wasn't as engaged in the panel as I might have been.

3. I left that one to pop into a meeting of the digital journalism task force, which was a good experience. I may or may not have volunteered to be on the board next year.

4. The session on data visualization was the highlight of the day for me. A reporter and editor from American Public Media's 'Marketplace' led that session, which taught me some new ways to think about data -- and gave me some new tools I hope to implement soon.

5. If you're actually planning to attend as many sessions as possible, there wasn't enough time on the schedule for lunch. I was lucky that my darling husband, who is working with college students on the NABJ Monitor, had thought to save a plate for me.

6. I actually left in the middle of another forum about education reform -- mostly because I was dismayed by the way moderator Roland Martin kept bringing the subject back to himself and his own thoughts on education. He did quite a bit less moderating of the discussion than I would've liked to have seen. Of course, I left halfway through, so maybe it got better. Somehow, I doubt that, though.

7. The parking rate for day visitors at the Gaylord Palms resort is beyond obscene. I guess NABJ neglected to negotiate the same parking rate ($10) that the other conventions had. The charge to park for NABJ is $19.26, which is absolutely ridiculous, especially since that's the price to park in a hot parking lot. It's not even as though the Gaylord has a parking garage to keep cars cool in the hot Florida summer sun. I am Not Pleased.

I'll go back tomorrow.

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