AAJA 2014 Programming: Frequently Asked Questions

Help us make the 2014 AAJA convention in Washington, D.C. the best one yet! Pitch your best ideas for workshops, topics, and speakers through November 15, 2013. Want more information about our process? Read on:

> What makes a good session pitch?
A: Good session pitches are clear and focused: you know who your audience is (early-career print journalists, mid-career broadcast journalists, etc) and you’ve already touched base with potential speakers about their interest and availability. Special consideration will be given to sessions that have an innovative format or focus on skills-building. Include an idea of what you expect attendees to take away that they can use right away on Monday when they return to the office, and how you will present this information. Popular sessions in recent years included dynamic and diverse speakers who went beyond traditional panel Q&A formats.

For 2014, we are also giving members the opportunity to pitch topics and speakers separately. If you’re an industry leader in mobile video, broadcast interviewing, investigative reporting, etc., and just want to let us know you’re available, nominate yourself and colleagues. If you aren’t sure you want to speak or that you want to organize a session, just tell us what topics are on your mind.

> How are speakers and topics chosen?
A: After the call for proposals closes on November 15, 2013, a team of “track captains” will work with the programming co-chairs and National leadership to select topics in various disciplines of journalism. The captains are tasked with selecting the most innovative and relevant topics for journalists in their field. Speakers will be a mix of AAJA members, other diverse journalists and industry leaders. We will prioritize speakers who have a proven track record (either with AAJA or other journalism organizations), who have been identified as rising stars, and who have their finger on the pulse of the industry.

> I emailed my pitch to Paul Cheung and Kathy Chow / mentioned it to my chapter president and national board rep at our last meeting. Did you get it?
A: No. Please use the official call for proposals Google Form. We will not be reviewing submissions sent through unofficial avenues this year (including, but not limited to, emails, word of mouth, phone calls, Facebook messages, Tweets, carrier pigeons, smoke signals, etc). The anonymity of the Google Form helps ensure that ideas are chosen on their merit and not because of special favors.

> When will I hear whether I’ve been chosen as a speaker?
A: The programming committee is working on a rolling basis, with an end goal of having about 99% of the sessions firmed up by mid-spring. You may be invited to lead a session as early as December, or you may be invited to speak on a session as late as March. If you pitched a full session, you will receive a communication from AAJA whether you are selected or not.

> My pitch got rejected, can I still speak at AAJA 2014?
A: We are introducing Lightning Talks this year at AAJA. These fast-paced, 5-minute talks have found success elsewhere in journalism at NICAR and ONA conferences. We will open for Lightning Talk submissions next summer and they will be chosen by popular vote. If your session was rejected, we encourage you to re-tool your idea and try to condense it into a 5 minute talk.

> When will the 2014 programming lineup be announced?
A: We hope to be able to announce the full program in early summer, but watch for sneak peeks ahead of time.

> Do speakers get into the convention for free?
A: Speakers will get 1 day pass for the day he or she is speaking. Passes for the rest of the convention will be available mid-summer and coordinated by National Staff.

> I was selected as a speaker and I have a question, who do I contact?
A: You may start with your track captain (the person who sent you the official speaker invite), or email the co-chairs directly. You can also contact aajaprogrammmingcommittee@gmail.com at any time.

> I missed the deadline for the call for proposals, but I have a dynamite suggestion that is timely to something that occurred after the Nov. 15 deadline. Can I still pitch it?
A: Get in touch with the co-chairs directly. A small portion of the program is reserved to fill with timely topical sessions as we get closer to the convention. We may be interested in your pitch! We can’t promise a response to every email, but we will certainly read and consider them.

> I have thoughts about 2013 programming, what worked and what didn’t, or ideas that I picked up at other conventions. Can I still submit this feedback?
A: Yes! With a special emphasis on anytime before the end of the 2013 calendar year (beyond that, most of the sessions will have already been chosen). Send your feedback to aajaprogrammmingcommittee@gmail.com. We can’t promise a response to every email, but we will certainly read and consider them.