D.C. Conference Line-up

Here is a handy list of the speakers and topics for the 2014 conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, June 26-29, in Washington, D.C.

The following speakers are confirmed, but sometimes life happens. This schedule [Update on 5/15/2014 with times, on 5/31 with minor time and title changes] will be updated as needed — and revisions marked — as our big weekend approaches. Unless otherwise noted, programs are at the Washington Plaza Hotel. Other aspects of the conference can be found in the archive of conference posts. Specifically, registration and hotel details are at this link.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • 4 – 6 p.m. — Registration (hotel check-in time is 3 p.m.)
  • 3 – 5 — NSNC board meeting
  • 6 – 9 — optional group dinner*, meet in lobby at 6, details emailed to conferees and not part of registration fee … or on your own
  • 9 – midnight — John Kanaley* Hospitality Suite open
Washington Plaza Hotel

Washington Plaza Hotel

Friday, June 27

  • 8 – 10:30 a.m. — Registration
  • 8 – 9 — Continental breakfast, included in registration fee
  • 8:30 – 8:45 — Welcome from NSNC President Eric Heyl
  • 8:45 – 9:30 — “Industry Changes and Strategies for Success” — Connie Schultz (brief bios of speakers are below this schedule)
  • 9:30 – 10:15 — “As Current As Current Affairs Get” — Dana Milbank
  • 10:15 – 10:30 — Break
  • 10:30 – 11:15 — “The Unique Joy of Being a Columnist” — Llewellyn King
  • 11:15 – noon — “Easy Social Media Branding for Columnists” — Nikki Schwab and Michele Wojciechowski
  • Noon – 1:15 p.m. — Lunch – included in fee. Traditional “Roll Call of the States.” Presentation of 2014 Jeff Zaslow College Columnist Award. [6/3/14 update] “Syndication isn’t Dead. It’s Just Taking a Nap” — Tracy Beckerman
  • 1:15 – 5 — “Explore Washington Already” — Who goes to D.C. for a weekend and spends the entire time in a hotel? Certainly not you. Get out and see some attractions. The Plaza is located 1.5 miles or less from the White House, the Smithsonian, the Holocaust Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the International Spy Museum. Getting where you want to go is easy, as the hotel is within easy walking distance of the McPherson Square metro station.
  • 5 — Board buses to the U.S. Capitol
  • 5:30 – 9 — Dinner at the Capitol — included in fee. Presentation of Will Rogers Humanitarian Award to Michael Paul Williams. Introducing him will be Jennifer Rogers-Etcheverry, a great-granddaughter of Rogers. Also, Marguerite Kelly, speaking about “Life on Capitol Hill.”
  • 9 — Board buses to hotel
  • 9:30 – midnight — John Kanaley Hospitality Suite open

Howard U logo 965x965Saturday, June 28

  • 8 – 8:45 a.m. — Continental breakfast, included in fee
  • 8:45 – 9:30 — “Politics, Prose and Career Longevity” — Suzette Martinez Standring
  • 9:30 – 10:15 — “Writing a Column: The Agony and the Ecstasy” — Craig Wilson
  • 10:15 – 10:30 — Break
  • 10:30 – 11:15 — “How to Have a Totally Novel and Unique Opinion About Breaking News on Demand While Cultivating Rock-Hard Abs With This One Weird Punditry Trick. …” — Alexandra Petri
  • 11:15 – noon — “How to Succeed as a Columnist in a Social Media World” — John Avlon
  • Noon – 1:15 — Lunch — included in fee
  • 1:15 – 2:30 — “How to Write Convincingly About Race” with 21st century technology — Richard Prince, Mary Curtis, Rhonda Graham
  • 2:30 – 4:30 — Free time
  • 4:30 — Board buses to Howard University
  • 5 – 5:45: Tour of Howard journalism facilities
  • 6 – 9 — Reception and dinner at Howard. Dinner included in fee (though cash bar). 2014 Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award presentation to Gene Weingarten, by Gina Barreca, his co-author of I’m With Stupid: One Man, One Woman and 10,000 Years of Misunderstanding Between the Sexes Cleared Right Up. Presentation of NSNC Column Contest Awards
  • 9 — Board buses to hotel
  • 9:30 – midnight — John Kanaley Hospitality Suite open

Sunday, June 29

  • 8:30 – 9 a.m. –Continental breakfast, included in fee
  • 9 – 10:30 — NSNC annual membership meeting and election of officers
  • 10:30 — Adjourn (hotel check-out time is noon)

Speakers, Programs

  • John Avlon — editor in chief of The Daily Beast and a co-editor of the two Deadline Artists column anthologies
  • Gina Barreca — syndicated columnist, prolific author, and professor of English and feminist theory at the University of Connecticut
  • Tracy Beckerman, author of the syndicated “Lost in Suburbia” column and the book of the same title [6/3/14 update]
  • Mary C. Curtis — award-winning multimedia journalist and contributor to The Washington Post — on “How to Write Convincingly About Race” panel
  • Rhonda Graham — columnist, editor and editorial writer for The News Journal in Wilmington, Del. — on “How to Write Convincingly About Race” panel
  • Eric Heyl — NSNC President — Welcome, introductions, mixologist. Columnist, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  • Marguerite Kelly — writer of the syndicated advice column “The Family Almanac,” which appears weekly in The Washington Post – speaking on “Life on Capitol Hill”
  • Lewellyn King — writer of a weekly syndicated column and executive producer and host of White House Chronicles on PBS — speaking on “The Unique Joy of Being a Columnist,” how a columnist can successfully resist being pigeonholed as conservative, liberal, funny or serious by occasionally being all of those things
  • Dana MilbankWashington Post columnist, author and frequent MSNBC and CNN commentator — will provide an up-to-the minute look at politics and journalism in the capital
  • Alexandra Petri — — “ComPost” blogger for The Washington Post — speaking on “How To Have A Totally Novel And Unique Opinion About Breaking News On Demand While Cultivating Rock-Hard Abs …”
  • Richard Prince — columnist on news media diversity issues for the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education — on “How to Write Convincingly About Race” panel
  • Jennifer Rogers-Etcheverry — Presenter, 2014 Will Rogers Humanitarian Award
  • Connie Schultz — Creators Syndicate columnist and winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for commentary — speaking on “Industry Changes and Strategies for Success”
  • Nicki Schwab — “Washington Whispers” columnist for U.S. News & World Report — on “Easy Social Media Branding For Columnists” panel
  • Suzette Martinez Standring — syndicated columnist, 2004-06 NSNC president and author of the recently published The Art of Opinion Writing — speaking on “Politics, Prose and Career Longevity”
  • Gene WeingartenWashington Post columnist. Recipient, 2014 Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Michael Paul Williams — Recipient, 2014 Will Rogers Humanitarian Award, columnist and reporter for the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch
  • Craig Wilson — writer of the popular “The Final Word” column for USA Today until spring 2013
  • Michele “Wojo” Wojciechowski — author and standup comedienne who writes a weekly column for Parade.com and the syndicated “Wojo’s World” column — on “Easy Social Media Branding For Columnists” panel


* The Thursday night dinner is a recent tradition, to give conferees and especially first-timers a place to meet one another after a day of travel. It has no speakers or other programming. Attendance is optional. Location and cost once set will be emailed to registrants.

* John Kanaley — “John wasn’t a columnist; he was a groupie of sorts who graced us with his jovial presence and tireless spirit of volunteerism year after year. He was always ready and cheerful to run out for batteries, track down another corkscrew, fetch more books, scare up extra ice — whatever we needed, along with a hearty greeting, a sympathetic ear, a hug, a roar of laughter. ” — 2008-10 NSNC President Samantha Bennett, 2009


This column originally was published in the May 2014 edition of The Columnist, the members’ newsletter of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

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