By Eric Heyl
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
Circle the dates.
Trust me, it’s OK. The calendar cops won’t appear at your door to arrest you for beginning to arrange next year’s schedule with a full two months of this year still to go. With the nation’s prisons being chronically overcrowded, they just don’t jail people for advance planning like they once did.
Circle the dates of June 27-30, 2013. Plan to be in Hartford, Conn., for the NSNC’s annual conference, an event certain to be as informative as it is will be entertaining. If you’ve never been to a conference, trust me on this. If you have attended past conferences, then there’s no need for me to reference the thought-provoking panel discussions interspersed with the occasional hospitality suite cartwheel contest.
I know what you’re probably thinking: “This guy is spending his first newsletter communique as NSNC president aggressively pitching an event that won’t occur until June? Doesn’t he realize he’s reducing the prestige and pageantry of the office by acting like a used car salesman?”
To which I respond: Wait until you see what we’ll have on the lot in Hartford.
We’re firming up plans and finalizing the agenda, but I can tell you this already: We stand a good chance of setting the world record for having the most Pulitzer Prize winners simultaneously gathered in a Hartford hotel.
Dave Barry, the man our late President Larry Cohen once described as “columnist, humorist, essayist (and) larger-than-life personality. Barry won the Pulitzer in 1988 for commentary. As most of you already know, he’ll be the recipient of the 2013 Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten, who was Barry’s editor when he won the Pulitzer while writing for The Miami Herald’s late, lamented Sunday magazine Tropic. Weingarten won the Pulitzer in 2008 and 2010, both times for feature writing. He has agreed to present the Pyle Award to Barry.
Joel Brinkley, the Hearst Professional in Residence for the journalism program at Stanford University and the NSNC’s education chairman. He won the Pulitzer for international reporting in 1980 for covering the fall of the Pol Pot regime for the Louisville Courier-Journal.
To further your professional development, another good reason to attend, we’re assembling an outstanding array of speakers. We’re planning a variety of thought-provoking sessions designed to improve your writing, public speaking and social media skills.
Plus, there’s always the possibility of another cartwheel contest.
Details will be forthcoming. For now, the most important ones for you to remember are the dates: June 27-30.
Circle them now. You’ll be glad you did.
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This column was first published in the November 2012 edition of The eColumnist, the monthly newsletter of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. The full newsletter is available only to NSNC members. For more information, please see our Join or Renew page.