Editorial Stream Preview

Sharing Story Ideas and Computer Assisted Reporting On Tap in Memphis.

A monster line-up of editorial stream seminars, workshops and panels is scheduled for the 22nd Annual AAN Convention in Memphis. This year’s event, to be held at The Peabody Hotel in Memphis, May 27-29, includes instructional sessions on subjects ranging from libel and invasion of privacy to innovative reporting techniques.

Among those leading the editorial sessions will be Washington City Paper Editor David Carr and Tom McGinty, training director of the Investigative Reporters and Editors [IRE] National Institute for Computer Assisted Reporting [NICAR].

On Friday, May 28, Carr will stroll the aisles with mike in hand to orchestrate a town-hall-type meeting called “Steal This Story: Seventy-Five Story Ideas in 75 Minutes.”

“All journalists are thieves by nature, appropriators who will grab whatever jeweled idea we come across and transform it into a moveable feast,” says Carr. “So why pretend? Why not gather with bald-faced larcenous intent? You steal mine and I’ll steal yours. We’ll all head back to the home office and parse the ideas out over a year of editorial meetings and look like geniuses in the process.

“It’s very important that [attendees] bring a single, pick-pocketable pitch that [can be summarized] in a single minute.”

McGinty’s Computer Assisted Reporting workshop will feature an introductory demonstration and a two-hour, hands-on labs that will be repeated throughout the first two days of the convention. Every attendee who signs up for a lab will be provided with the use of a laptop.

To all the self-trained reporters/surfers who think computer research means nothing more than using Yahoo!, McGinty says: “They’re wrong. For journalists, finding free valuable information on the Net is difficult. At the convention, we will show computer-assisted search [methods] that will help [attendees] find things they never thought existed — government databases, for instance.

“Using a computer in reporting is now almost as important as using a telephone,” McGinty adds. “It’s another important place to get information. It helps journalists add depth and precision to their stories.”

Here’s the entire editorial roster for the 1999 AAN Convention in Memphis:

Editorial Break-Outs – Experienced editors will steer various small-group discussions on topics such as the reporting process, fixing broken stories and music writing.

Journalism From Below: Innovative Reporting on Neighborhood, Workplace and Community Institutions – Presenter: Bruce Shapiro, The Nation columnist and Yale journalism professor

The Nuts and Bolts of Libel and Invasion of Privacy – Presenter: Veteran attorney, former reporter and First Amendment specialist Robert Lystad

The Intersection Between Editorial and Design – Two editor/art director teams will discuss their collaborative process.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Feature Writer – Presenter: Westword Staff Writer Robin Chotzinoff

You Write That and I’ll Sue Your Ass – A panel will look for solutions to sophisticated obstructionary tactics designed to make it more difficult for journalists to report stories.

Dealing With Growth – A panel of editors will discuss editorial staff growing pains.

Training New Editorial Staffers – AAN editors will talk about how to get new employees up-and-running the right way.

Reporting on Local Culture – How a paper can cover its city with maximum richness and dynamism.

AlterNet Town Hall Meeting – The traditional gathering of AlterNet staff, Independent Media Institute [IMI] board members and AlterNet users from AAN papers.