NSNC Loves Philly – Conference Highlights
By Sheila Moss, Web Editor
The City of Brotherly Love opened its arms to the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the Newspaper Columnists fell in love with Philly. The NSNC annual convention opened June 21st and was greeted by both the Mayor, John F. Street, and the Governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell.
Many attendees arrived early and were already exploring the numerous sites of the city, such as the fountains, sculptures, parks, shops, and elaborate architecture of buildings like the historic City Hall, even before the convention started.
The first evening was spent getting acquainted in the elbow to ebow atmosphere of the quaint old Pen & Pencil Club, where we were greeted by Ben Franklin who loved the lightning of our flash photography.
of FOX News Channel was the keynote speaker on Friday morning and was in fine Bill O’Reilly form, managing to ruffle a few feathers, as previously anticipated.
Dave Barry enlightened us on how to write humor, the number one rule being “Humor should be funny.” The attendees were rolling in the aisles with laughter by the time he finished.
Robin Givhan, fashion editor at the Washington Post, gave her presentation regarding fashion and its importance, relevance, and political and social impact.
We then rushed off to catch buses to tour the Battleship New Jersey and learn some of the facts about this historic old ship while we enjoyed the waterfront and Philadelphia skyline. A highlight of the day was Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell where we were nearly overwhelmed with the greatness of our country’s historic past.
The evening found us at the beautiful National Constitution Center, a new jewel of Philadelphia, where we were wined, dined, and entertained by a panel of experts who discussed First Amendment issues.
Even the bus ride back to the hotel was fun on a double-decker bus where NO flowers were thrown off the top deck, in spite of rumors to the contrary.
For Saturday, we were treated to a number of panels on such timely topics as publishing books, ethics in journalism, research techniques, and video columns. The topics were all relevant to attending columnists, and the videos received rave reviews.
We feasted on hot wings, crab fries and pizza at Chickie’s & Pete’s where the award to the student scholarship winner was presented to Cynthia Waite, University of Nebraska – Lincoln.
At our evening dinner, the Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the gracious and humorous Clarence Page. “We were colored, then Negro, then black, then African-American, and are now people of color,” he quipped. “See how far we’ve come?” He captivated the audience with his wit and intellect and made us acutely aware of why he was chosen to be honored. The Will Rogers Humanitarian Award went to Mike Harden.
Each evening was spent in late night revelry after the convention officially closed for the day — but “What happens in the hospitality suite stays in the hospitality suite,” to quote our Director of Fun.
We are looking forward with excitement to next year’s convention which will be held in New Orleans and hosted by Smiley Anders, June 19-22, 2008. We are anxious to see NOLA four years after our last visit there and since hurricane Katrina. More details will follow later.
A big NSNC thank you to host Stu Bykofsky for the work and preparation of our best attended convention ever and to the City of Philadelphia for it’s friendly and wonderful welcome to us.
Photo by Ben Pollock