Macon Conference Opens

President Ben Pollock welcomed NSNC conferees, guests, speakers, honorees, newcomers and returnees to the 36th annual NSNC conference.

President Pollock said, “…this is our first visit to the Deep South. As a third-and-fourth generation Arkansan, I proudly say, ‘It’s high cotton.'”

A wide range of activities have been planned by host, Ed Grisamore — too few people realize what a blast we have while learning to improve our words and how to promote them in today’s outlets.

You are invited to visit NSNC at Facebook or @NSNCgroup  to view live comments from attendees during Friday’s first day of events. Numerous pictures are available in the columnists’ Facebook photo section.

Today’s highlights included a panel from Mercer University moderated by Beverly Blake of the Knight Foundation, and The (Macon) Telegraph who told about an exciting new plan to move the newspaper to the university where journalism students will be able to participate in the actual production of a newspaper. Students will benefit from experience in their chosen field and the newspaper will benefit from a more affordable location and the enthusiasm of students who will bring a fresh perspective to the news.

The Mayor of Macon, the Honorable Robert Reichert, welcomed the columnists to the city with a Proclimation, as well as a representative from the Georgia Governor’s Office, whose humorous comments were well received.

Other interesting panels included a panel on political column writing who speculated that the outcome of the Presidential election depends on economic trends, i.e. whether the economy improves or declines. They also theorized that neither party actually knows how to fix the economy. Employment is a big problem that columnists have an opportunity to explain and social security is a problem that no will yet deal with.

The widow of Lewis Grizzard, Dedra Grizzard, spoke briefly about her late husband and his contributions to American newspaper column-writing. The attendees viewed a video about Grizzard in tribute to the life of the great southern humorist based at the Atlanta Constitution in Georgia.

Jesse Rifkin, a sophomore at the University of Connecticut, where he serves as a weekly commentary columnist and Editorial Board member at the student newspaper, the Daily Campus, was presented with the First Place Award as winner of the 2012 Jeff Zaslow College Columnist Award.  Jim Castro, President of the NSNC Education Foundation, presented the award. Other winners were Allena Berry, Vanderbilt University, Second Place, and Chris Grillot, Louisiana State University, Third Place.

Durwood Fincher, Mr Doubletalk, entertained during lunch with humorous comments and video of attendees who were punked by him earlier that morning.

The afternoon brought an interesting discussion of e-Books and their influence on publishing, a discussion of digital media, and a session on guided imagery as a means to enhance creativity in writing.

In the evening, attendees visited the Big House and Allman Brothers Museum where they muched on southern fried chicken and other southern food and were entertained by the Soulshine Band with the Allman Brother’s style of music.

All Photography by Larry Largion Najera, Macon GA


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