PMJA 2021 Virtual Conference Registration and Tentative Agenda

Mar 30, 2021

The 2021 PMJA Conference will be held virtually through our own PMJA 2021 Conference app.  The app will be available on your smart device and on your desktop.  We've got a lot of great sessions planned, and hope you'll make plans now. 

We've designed the pricing for the virtual conference to encourage stations to take advantage of the opportunity for everyone on staff.   Check out the tentative schedule below.


Tuesday, June 22

8:30 a.m. PT/11:30 a.m. ET MAIN SESSION - Covering White Supremacy

White supremacy, the mere systems of control over people of other races and the thought that the white race is superior to others, is not a new concept in America. Yet, many newsrooms are just now thinking seriously and strategically about covering this topic and the people who hold this ideology. In 2020, FBI director Christopher Wray stated racially motivated violent extremists over recent years have been responsible for the most lethal activity in the U.S. What are the lessons journalists need to learn about covering white supremacy? How can public media newsrooms cover this very sensitive and dangerous subject? We’ll start our conference with a Black journalist well known in public media who has traveled and engaged with white nationalists directly.

Presenter:  Farai Chideya


  • Building A Voter Guide

Online Voter guides for each election have become a staple digital product at local stations. Looking for ways to move beyond a list of polling places and candidates, and create an online experience that's engaging for audiences? This session will feature the teams behind some voter guides with outstanding online performance and engagement. You'll leave with some tips and tricks to take your own voter guides to the next level.

  • Reporters in the Editing Pipeline

In small newsrooms (and, increasingly, in large ones), every staffer should be able to edit for digital at any stage of the process, from finding deep structural issues to catching one last little typo. Peers can help out when editors are busy, absent or non-existent. Having an editor's skill set also means you can edit yourself, if necessary. This session aims to train anyone who wants to pitch in on edits, become a stronger self-editor or get a quick editing refresher.

Presenter: Holly Morris

  • The Craft of Audio

There’s nothing like a finely crafted audio story to capture a listener’s attention and imagination. We’ll talk with experts in the craft of audio about how to use sound creatively to draw listeners in and keep them until the end of the story. We’ll hear from audio craftspeople working in daily news and specialized podcasts.

11:00 a.m. PT/2:00 p.m. ET MAIN SESSION - Building Investigative Capacity Through Collaboration

We know that investigative work is intensive and resource-hungry. This group will talk about how we can maximize our investigative impact by relying on collaboration with other outlets, from NPR to Reveal and sister stations. We will hear about challenges and the best practices to help deal with them.

Panelists: Marisa Lagos, KQED; Aaron Glantz, NPR's CA Newsroom; Cheryl Thompson, NPR.

12:15 p.m. PT/3:15 p.m. ET CONCURRENT SESSIONS

  • Level Up Training

Are you a journalist thinking about your next move and wondering how to make it happen? If so, this session is for you. Sometimes the path forward isn't always clear. Reporter to news director, producer to host. Do you have aspirations of becoming a narrative storyteller or a general manager? Whatever that next move is for you, this session will not only provide practical tips on how to get strategic about your career, but you’ll learn how others have done so.

Panelists:  Erika Aguilar, KQED and Karen Rouse, WNYC

  • Project Management with Collaborations

Collaborations between journalists and newsrooms are becoming more popular. When planning a project, several questions may arise. How do you make the collaboration work? How do you know that you are not duplicating resources and work on the project? Project Management is the key. In addressing how to make collaborations work successfully, join this session for practical tips for your next project.

Panelists:  Ruby George and Gene Sonn from Resolve Philly

  • Teaching Public Media to the "new to public media"

Public radio newsrooms continue to hire people who are new to audio, and teaching people how the industry works is fundamental to your new hire's success and experience. We will focus on the nuts and bolts of onboarding people who aren't experienced in audio, and discuss how to keep that process as inclusive and welcoming as possible.

Panelists: Traci Tong and Angelina Mosher Salazar

1:30 p.m. PT/4:30 p.m. ET MAIN SESSION – TBA

Wednesday, June 23

8:30 a.m. PT/11:30 a.m. ET MAIN SESSION - The Pandemic - What Next?

As we move into summer, the expectation is that many Americans will have been vaccinated against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. What’s next for the pandemic? What trends and themes should reporters be looking for? Will the pandemic story be “over”? Or, what stories can reporters be pursuing now?

Panelists:  Ashley Lopez, Senior Reporter for Health Care and Politics, KUT; Apoorva Mandavilli, Science and Global Health Reporter at The New York Times; and Eric Whitney, Rocky Mountains and Great Plains Bureau Chief at NPR.


  • Coverage: Beyond Protests to Issues

Last summer, across the country, people took to the streets after George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis Police Officer. However, communities have been speaking out for years about their everyday experiences as people of color in America. This session is designed to get you to move beyond covering just the protests and get to the real issues behind why people of color feel the way they do.

  • Fact Checking

"What the Fact?"  Someone tells you something, but how do you know it is true?  This session covers various types of fact-checking that will be useful for reporters and editors. 

Panelists:  Amy Tardif, regional manager of Story Corps and an Independent Fact Checker; Cristina Tardaguila, International Fact Checking Newtwork Associate Director; and D'Angelo Gore, Staff Writer with

  • News Podcasts with KQED's The Bay

The team that makes KQED's The Bay podcast likes to say that every good story starts local. And that's where the team focuses its attention, on the communities and people of the San Francisco Bay Area that get fewer headlines on the regular. Come talk podcasts, audience engagement, narrative news and craft.

Panelists:  Devin Katayama, Ericka Cruz Guevarra, and Alan Monticello

11:00 a.m. PT/2:00 p.m. ET MAIN SESSION - TBA

12:15 p.m. PT/3:15 p.m. ET CONCURRENT SESSIONS

  • Source Audits (what do you do with them?)

Many stations are starting to keep track of demographic information about their sources in order to understand which voices they are relying on and which voices they might be leaving out. Once you have the numbers, how do newsrooms set goals for source diversity? What actions can you take to change how inclusive you are in your sourcing? In this session you'll learn what the data can show, how to use the information to make better news and programming decisions, and hear strategies to reach out to new communities.

Moderator:  Jennifer Pemberton. 

Panelists:  Brenda Williams-Butts,WNYC and Sandra Clark, WHYY

  • Mobile & On-Demand - Getting to the Details

The future of journalism is undoubtedly in mobile and on-demand product consumption — but public radio outlets tend to be behind the curve in intentionally designing stories to be shared through mobile and on-demand mediums. From optimizing audio for on-demand listening, formatting web posts for mobile reading and building engagement through social media, this session will provide you with tips and tricks to meet new audiences where they are — on small screens.

  • All Trans Considered

What does it take to have a newsroom that is inclusive of trans and non-binary journalists? How do public media newsrooms cover these communities accurately and sensitively? Members of the Trans Journalists Association will join us to share candid perspectives about how to include trans sources in reporting; how to sensitively ask for pronouns even when in a hurry (and why it matters); plus, the common mistakes cis male and female journalists make and how to avoid them.

Moderator: Reginald Hardwick, He/Him/His, News & Public Affairs Director, Illinois Public Media

Panelists: Dawn Ennis, She/Her/Hers, Managing Editor of, Producer, Podcaster, Professor; and Christine Hatfield, She/Her/Hers, Graduate Student

1:30 p.m. PT/4:30 p.m. ET MAIN SESSION - NPR's Collaborations:  Working with Stations to Cover America

NPR’s Collaborative Journalism initiative has created new ways for stations and the network to team up to cover big stories – including the wide-ranging events of the pandemic year. We have a new investigations team that works exclusively with stations, four regional news hubs where stations plan coverage together and share content, and several topic teams that bring beat reporters from across the country together with an NPR editor. NPR’s new Managing Editor for Collaborative Journalism Kenya Young will moderate a panel of station and hub partners to examine how collaboration helped the whole network rise to the news challenges the past year presented.

Thursday, June 24

  8:30 a.m. PT/11:30 a.m. ET MAIN SESSION - Mental Health of Reporters

With so many things to cover, being a journalist is exhausting and mentally taxing.  What if there was "emotional first aid" for newsrooms?  How do we make sure we are taking care of each other and ourselves in a highly stressful environment?  This interactive workshop will cover these important topics for individuals and newsrooms.

Panelists: Lee Gaines, Linnea Edmeier


  • Compassionate Reporting

One of the most challenging aspects of journalism is talking to people about one of the worst days of their lives. So how do we conduct interviews that don't re-traumatize our sources? We will provide tips and examples to ensure you tell their stories without causing harm.

Panelists:  Sydney Brownstone, Alice Wilder and DaLyah Jones

  • Everything That's Not On The Radio: Digital Strategy For Newsrooms Of Any Size

It’s not enough to have great content, what is your newsroom doing to get it to your audiences where they are? Even with tight budgets, distribution is as important as the quality of your work. And it’s everybody’s job – not just people with “digital” or “social media” in their titles. Whether you’re a news manager, a digital producer, a reporter, editor or host, learn the key strategies and tactics for stations of any size to bring your journalism to the audiences who need to hear, see and engage with it.

Panelists:  Kelsey Proud, WAMU; Lauren Chapman, WFYI; and Teresa Frontado, KUT

  • Connecting with Spanish Speakers

The coronavirus pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on Black, Latino and other historically marginalized communities. It’s become more vital than ever to build trust with our audiences.  In this breakout session, we’ll dig into a facet of that critical public service mission -- connecting with Spanish speakers. We’ll discuss strategic translation, newsroom collaborations and leadership buy-in. Folks attending this session will learn about some tools, approaches and dialogues that show why this matters for newsrooms of all sizes across the country.

Moderators: Emily Siner, WPLN (Nashville) News Director and Alexander Gonzalez, KQED (San Francisco) Local Features Editor

Panelists: Daniela Allee, New Hampshire Public Radio Reporter and Rachel Iacovone, WPLN (Nashville) Digital News Editor

11:00 a.m. PT/2:00 p.m. ET MAIN SESSION - A Day Late & A Dollar Short: Prioritizing Pay Equity In Public Media

Why aren't we openly talking about compensation within public media? Staff across the industry are growing justifiably dissatisfied with the lack of transparency and consistency surrounding job expectations and salaries. In response, many newsrooms have created pay equity reviews, standardized position structures and compensation systems. In this session, we'll bring together representatives from stations big and small, union and nonunion to discuss the pay equity work they've done and share goals, challenges, and outcomes.

Moderator:  Judith Smelser, Public Media Consultant

Panelists:  Joe Barr, CapRadio

12:15 p.m. PT/3:15 p.m. ET CONCURRENT SESSIONS

  • Unionization

Several public media newsrooms have unionized in recent years. We’ll talk about the pros and cons of unionizing and what it takes to do it. We’ll hear from both the management and employee perspectives.

Panelists:  Jennifer Strachan, Chief Content Officer at KUOW, Sara-Rose Brenner, Senior Newswriter at WBUR, Maggie Russel-Brown, National Organizing Director at SAG-AFTRA

  • Talk Shows Collaborating Statewide

Local issues don't often confine themselves to county lines. We talk to the people at the center of statewide shows in a few western states on how they collaborate across stations and use that collaborative network as a strength in their shows. And we find out how they're looking to serve the audiences of our future.

Panelists: Julie Sabatier, OPB's Think Out Loud; Ethan Toven-Lindsey, KQED

1:30 p.m. PT/4:30 p.m. ET MAIN SESSION – PMJA’s Virtual Awards Ceremony

Join us as we close our virtual conference by honoring this year's Leo C. Lee recipient Michel Martin and our Editor of the Year (still TBD).  We'll honor everyone who won awards in this year's awards competition, and meet the new members of the PMJA Board.