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Springfield, IL, NewsTrain, April 29-30

NewsTrain will be in Springfield, IL, on April 29-30, for a two-day workshop on watchdog journalism, government coverage, social media skills, working with data, covering diverse communities, and more. NewsTrain is sponsored by APME and this workshop is hosted by the State Journal-Register; Rockford Register Star, Peoria Journal Star; Quad City Times (Iowa); Illinois Press Association; the Associated Press and the AP editors board in Illinois. Other members of the planning committee include the AP editors boards in Indiana and Wisconsin; Belleville (Ill.) News Democrat, St. Louis Post Dispatch; Indianapolis Star; Chicago Tribune; and the Mid-American Press Institute.

Location: Prairie Capital Convention Center, Springfield, IL.

Schedule: Download the workshop schedule here.

Registration: Cost is $75 for the workshop and food service. Register here: REGISTER.  If you experience any problems with the registration process, or would like to register a group of people at once, contact NewsTrain Program Assistant Teresa Cooper,

AccommodationsThe President Abraham Lincoln Hotel.and the Hilton Springfield are two hotel options at the conference site in downtown Springfield. Contact: Abraham Lincoln Hotel, 217 544-8800; Springfield, 217 789-1530;  

Diversity Scholarships Available: The Associated Press Media Editors Foundation is offering diversity scholarships to APME NewsTrain events in 2013 for print and broadcast journalists and students who are pursuing careers in journalism. CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE.

Getting there: Springfield is served by Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport, with direct flights from Chicago, St. Louis, and Dallas. Nearby airports in Peoria and Bloomington offer more options. There is also access via Amtrak on the Chicago-St. Louis route.

Questions: Contact Michael Roberts, NewsTrain Project Director, Bob Heisse, State-Journal Register,, 217-788-1505.

Special Event: In conjunction with the 10th anniversary year of NewsTrain, those attending the workshop are invited to a free reception and performance of Freedom Sings, a musical program from the First Amendment Center, on the evening of April 29. The event will be held at the Old State Capitol and is sponsored by the Associated Press Media Editors Foundation, the Illinois Press Association & Foundation, and the Old State Capitol Foundation. Other attractions include the Abraham Lincoln Home and the Presidential Library and Museum. 


Covering Government:  Now, more than ever, the most important thing journalism does is cover government. This especially true for state and local government in an era of crumbling infrastructure, political polarization, and scarcer resources. This session is an overview on how to sustain strong government coverage AND connect with readers when journalism itself is in crisis, with dwindling personnel and financial resources, and a bewildering array of new multimedia tools. (Lessenberry)

Making the Significant Sexy & Relevant: Viewers of Downton Abbey know the most important things in the world are money, power, and people. Coverage of government and politics should be among the most sexy and relevant lines of coverage for your paper. Strong local government coverage goes beyond meetings to focus on money, power and people, and how they interact and impact each other. This session explores how to deliver much more than meeting reports, how to show how government works and affects the community. The result can be fascinating and important stories that enable a local zoning story to compete with the Kardashians for readers’ interest. (Lessenberry)

Maximize Your Social Media: So you're a journalist on social media, but not so sure you're taking the right approach? This session offers tactics and tips to improve your comfort on social media, establish your brand, encourage audience engagement, and measure how well your social media efforts are working over time. (Jenkins)

Crowdsourcing: Tap Into the Crowd: How reporters and editors can use social media as a reporting tool when faced with breaking news or enterprise projects. Includes how to use social media and onsite tools to locate expert and "real people" sources, for "crowdsourcing” using advanced search features on major social media sites, and how to curate social media content to augment your own content. (Jenkins)


The Data Mindset: How to see data and treat it as a source to be interviewed, like people. When to create data, to adapt someone else’s or to analyze existing public data. Tips to make data the inspiration and foundation of great news and enterprise stories. (Overberg)

Revealing Government by Data: Data and documents help reporters covering local government shift the balance of power. How? Consider: Data and documents enable a reporter to test government's claims and contest its priorities; reshape the focus of an issue with a paragraph of key statistical background; and provide facts that stand outside local debates and allow comparisons to the broader world. Good use of data also shows readers the reporter can think and act independently and will do so on their behalf. This session explains how to grow a data-and-document mindset in government coverage. Included is a starter kit: five story clusters every local newsroom can use. Each cluster will include sources for data and documents on that topic; samples; schedules; and story examples. (Overberg) 

Uncovering Diversity: How to improve coverage of diverse segments of your community.  Combining traditional reporting and research approaches, with new digital tools, can significantly expand the lens through which your newsroom views and covers your community. (Hsu)

Enterprise off a Beat: A program aimed at reporters and editors on how to spot and develop enterprise stories off a busy beat. This session offers different ways to measure the accountability of public and private institutions, and a variety of story forms that can be used to quickly develop a series of short to mid-range enterprise pieces. The goal is to build a sustained body of enterprise coverage while juggling the many demands of beat work. (Roberts)

Getting Things Done: At all levels of the newsroom, reduced resources, new technology, and changing expectations have made getting everything done harder than ever. This session offers a variety of tactics – for managers and staff – that can help reduce wasted effort, set priorities, and improve communication and use of resources to achieve better results. (Roberts)

Detailed two-day workshop schedule at this link.


Evelyn Hsu is senior director of programs and operations for the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. She began her journalism career at the San Francisco Chronicle, where she was a city hall reporter and a member of the investigative team. She spent eight years at The Washington Post as a metropolitan reporter covering politics and government and as an assistant editor for the paper's weeklies. From the Post, she joined the American Press Institute as an associate director responsible for designing and leading seminars on editing, management and writing. In 2000, she joined the faculty of the Poynter Institute, where she worked on programs for students and on midcareer programs on management and writing. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. Evelyn is a past national president of the Asian American Journalists Association and was a key organizer of the first UNITY conference.

Mandy Jenkins is Interactives Editor with Digital First Media's Project Thunderdome, where she oversees the national video and data journalism teams and works with local newspapers on special projects and social media strategy. Mandy was previously Social News Editor for politics at The Huffington Post, and coordinated the company's citizen journalism program, OfftheBus. She was formerly the social media editor for Washington, D.C. local news startup TBD and served in several roles involving social media and online news for the Cincinnati Enquirer and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She is a board member of the Online News Association and a journalism instructor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Jack Lessenberry is interim head of the journalism faculty at Wayne State University, Detroit, and Michigan Radio WUOM-FM’s senior political analyst, providing daily interviews and commentary on important Michigan issues. He also hosts the weekly public television show, "Deadline Now,” on WGTE-TV, Toledo. He is a contributing editor and columnist for the Metro Times (Detroit), the Traverse-City Record Eagle, Dome Magazine, and the Toledo Blade, and serves as The Blade's writing coach and ombudsman. He has been a writer for many national and regional publications, including Vanity Fair, Esquire, George, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Boston Globe. Lessenberry is a former foreign correspondent for and executive national editor of The Detroit News, during which time he reported from more than 40 countries.  He has also worked for other newspapers in Michigan, Tennessee and Ohio, and was Editor-in-Chief of both Detroit Monthly and Corporate Detroit magazines. Lessenberry was editorial vice-president of Hometown Communications Network, a group of 66 small newspapers in the Midwest, until that company was sold to Gannett in March 2005. He won a National Emmy award in 1995 for one of two Frontline documentaries he helped report and produce on Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

Paul Overberg is a database editor at USA Today and a member of its data team. He helps to shape its demographic trend coverage, but also analyzes data on subjects from war casualties to highway traffic. He also helps to produce data maps, graphics and interactive applications. He had earlier been a science and environmental reporter and editor at Gannett News Service in Washington and a reporter and editor at The Courier-News in Bridgewater, N.J.


Michael Roberts is a newsroom trainer and consultant and Project Director for NewsTrain. Previously, Michael was Deputy Managing Editor Staff Development at The Arizona Republic (2003-2010), responsible for all newsroom training, served as writing coach, and edited major projects. Outside his own newsrooms, Roberts helped create and launch NewsTrain, designed and taught the American Press Institute’s first online seminar for copy editors, and has presented programs for the Poynter Institute, American Press Institute, the Maynard Institute, Freedom Forum, and various National Writers Workshops. Before the Republic, Roberts was Features Editor, AME/Features-Business, and then for 10 years the Training Editor/Writing Coach at The Cincinnati Enquirer. He also worked as a writer and editor at the Midland (MI) Daily News, the Detroit Free Press, and as a senior editor at two magazines. He taught feature writing at the University of Cincinnati and regularly presented programs at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, Arizona State University. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and holds a masters degree in training and human resource development from Xavier University, Cincinnati.

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