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Talk of the town. Top buzz from SFJ’s 2016 conference

About 60 features and entertainment writers and editors gathered Aug. 10-12 in Austin, Texas, for the annual Society for Features Journalism conference. 

Speakers included experts in restorative narrative, podcasting, events and mobile journalism. One theme connected the sessions: storytelling.

GateHouse Media was a sponsor of the conference and a participant — Senior Director of Content Jean Hodges presented on mobile best practices and More Content Now‘s Director Lisa Glowinski served as SFJ’s president for the 2015-16 term.

We asked Lisa for her three most exciting conference takeaways.

Fluff is the enemy

  1. Constant reports of tragedy — or worse, the fluffy follow-ups where everyone’s OK! — do a disservice to our readers

Christa Hillstrom, a Restorative Narrative fellow at Images and Voices of Hope, showed us the psychological toll of one “bad news” story after the next and the importance of showing people as they are after tragedy — broken, raw, healing, but not “back to normal.” “Anecdotally, we’re finding that this approach to storytelling can build trust,” Hillstrom wrote in a session handout.

Teamwork makes the dream work

  1. Journalism is a team sport

Former colleagues Maria Carrillo, senior editor at the Houston Chronicle, and Jim Haag, retired features editor of the Virginian-Pilot, reminded the crowd that we’re all in this together. Their tips helped form the vision of a newsroom or department as a safety net — where risks can be taken and learned from, fun can be had and great journalism can be produced, according to the team’s terms.

Journalists still rock!

  1. OMG, we still do good work

Between the ideas shared at our “Show & Steal” sessions, and the award-winning stories we broke down to learn from, the group seemed emboldened by the act of taking a step back and looking at what talented journalists across the country (and Canada) were doing. Creativity and innovation are alive and well.

More takeaways can be found on SFJ’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and here:

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