SEJ's 24th Annual Conference Agenda — Friday



Covering Disasters Plenary
Concurrent Sessions
Network Lunch
Beat Dinners



Agenda Coverage Lodging/ Travel Advertise/ Exhibit Environmental News About New Orleans


As a journalism organization that believes in an open society, SEJ each year welcomes a diverse group of attendees to our annual conference. Attendees include representatives of business, government and environmental groups, as well as working journalists, academics and students.

Because non-journalists are here, you may see or hear presentations or responses to presentations that you might not expect from mainstream journalists. The presentations and any responses do not necessarily reflect the views of SEJ or any of its members.

As our guest, please respect our interest in open discussions of environmental issues by not disrupting presentations of views you disagree with.

Finally, please respect our rule that SEJ members are given preference during question-and-answer sessions.

All sessions, as well as registration, exhibits and breaks, will be at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside,
Two Poydras Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130, (504) 561-0500, unless otherwise indicated.

Breakfast on your own in the Big Easy. The River Blends Café, located in the Hilton, opens at 6:00 a.m. Le Croissant, also in the Hilton, opens at 6:30 a.m. Numerous other options are within walking distance of the Hilton. Check your registration packet for a list of restaurants and breakfast suggestions.


Friday, September 5, 2014



8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Location: 1st Floor Registration Counters (across from escalators in the conference area)

If you didn't sign up ahead of time for the Saturday night party or Sunday breakfast at the Audubon Zoo, there may still be room — please check with registration.


SEJ Information Table

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Location: Chemin Royale Foyer, near registration

Sign up here for Mini-tours and Beat Dinners. Read up on SEJ Board candidates, and find information about SEJ Award winners, membership and services. Pick up copies of SEJournal and other SEJ information.


SEJ Exhibits

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Location: Grand Salon, 1st Floor

Don't miss the wealth of information offered by the 2014 exhibitors. Learn about environmental issues and innovations, educational opportunities, see some great displays and add to your source list. Sign up to test-drive new auto technology.



10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Location: Chemin Royale Foyer

New Orleans' own Octavia Books is on site to sell SEJ members' and speakers' books, as well as offering environmental books handpicked for the SEJ conference.


Vehicle Technology Demo

Sign up in Chemin Royale foyer to test-drive new technology in the auto industry and to talk with experts.


Opening Plenary

Covering Disasters: Getting the Story and Staying Alive

9:00 - 10:30 a.m.
Location: Grand Ballroom

The Lake Borgne storm surge barrier floodwall, post-Katrina, viewed from space. Photo courtesy Army Corps of Engineers.

From parachuting in and leaving, to living there and staying, we’ll explore the full spectrum of news coverage of major disasters and consider ways reporters can better cooperate to both deliver the news and stay safe. This panel of journalists will share their stories from past disasters and emergencies, both domestic and international, and their thoughts on how we can all do a better job. Coverage.

Moderator: John Snell, Anchor, Fox 8 WVUE-TV, New Orleans

Jim Amoss, Editor, | The Times-Picayune
Suzanne Goldenberg, U.S. Environment Correspondent, The Guardian
Jennifer Loren, Anchor and Investigative Reporter, News on 6, KOTV-TV (Tulsa, Oklahoma)
Bryan Norcross, Senior Executive Director of Weather Content and Presentation, and Senior Hurricane Specialist, The Weather Channel


Beverage Break with Exhibitors

10:30 - 11:00 a.m.
Location: Grand Salon


Concurrent Sessions 1

11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.

FOIA Clinic: Ask the Gumshoes
Location: Grand Salon, Room 4

Got a pending FOIA request? A question about how to manage a new one? A problem with your FOIA strategy? Want to file your first FOIA? Experienced journalists will offer advice tailored to your individual needs. What methods help agencies be less recalcitrant? We can address your issues privately or confidentially. We will offer tips, discuss strategies, share model letters, and more. This will be a back-and-forth conversation, not a lecture. Bring your laptop. Coverage.

Moderator: Joseph A. Davis, Freelance Journalist and WatchDog Project Director/TipSheet Editor, Society of Environmental Journalists

Robert McClure, Executive Director, InvestigateWest
2nd speaker TBA

Who’s Covering the Environment Today? From Al Jazeera’s Rise to Newspapers’ Demise
Location: Grand Salon, Room 10

Television, print and online journalism is in upheaval, and it’s all affecting who covers the environment. We look at the ups — Al Jazeera — and the downs — onlining of newsrooms — to see what the future holds. A veteran whose accomplished career stretches back to pre-cable news and two-newspaper towns will compare notes with a young rising star in environmental journalism.

Moderator: Peter Dykstra, Publisher, Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate

Randy Lee Loftis, Environmental Writer, The Dallas Morning News
Kate Sheppard, Senior Reporter and Environment and Energy Editor, The Huffington Post

Continuing Education for Journalists: All You Ever Wanted To Know About Fellowships, Mentoring, MOOCs and Computer-Based Journalism Training But Were Afraid To Ask
Location: Grand Salon, Room 13

In the uncertain financial times of journalism in the 21st Century, we'll learn all the ins and outs of low-cost and no-cost journalism training available. We'll hear about the SEJ mentorship program. We'll talk to the program leaders about short-term and long-term fellowship opportunities. We'll also delve into computer-based training. Coverage.


Moderator: Lana Straub, Freelance Journalist/Radio Producer, KXWT

Jane Braxton Little, Environment & Science Writer/Photographer, and Co-Coordinator, SEJ Mentor Program
Lauren Klinger, Interactive Learning Producer, The Poynter Institute
Michael Kodas, Associate Director, Center for Environmental Journalism, University of Colorado Boulder
Lise Olsen, Investigative Reporter, Houston Chronicle
Dave Spratt, Chief Executive Officer, Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources

Extreme Weather and Hurricane Science: Improving Forecasts
Location: Grand Salon, Room 7

Explore the frontier of hurricane science. With satellites, aircraft and computer models, we’ve achieved a remarkable level of warning time compared to the days when hurricanes would loom over coastal towns without notice. But forecasters still blow it when predicting their intensity. Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina showed the public what experts already knew: The big killer is the storm surge. A new storm surge warning system debuts this year. And how could global warming change the hurricane threat? Coverage.

Moderator: David Fleshler, Environment Reporter, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Jesse Feyen, Manager, Storm Surge Roadmap, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Sharan Majumdar, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director, Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami
Ben Strauss, Vice President for Climate Impacts and Director of the Program on Sea Level Rise, Climate Central

Endangered Species: If We Can’t Save Charismatic Big Cats, What Can We Save?
Location: Grand Salon, Room 12

According to a recent Animal Planet poll, tigers are the world’s most popular animal, yet just 3,200 wild tigers remain and numbers continue to dwindle. Likewise, snow leopards, lions, jaguars, Florida panthers — as well as other charismatic predator species — are also declining. We’ll explore the confluence of threats facing these animals, including conflict with burgeoning human populations, shrinking habitat, poaching for black market trade, the growing luxury market for endangered species products, and more — and we’ll discuss the types of bold initiatives needed to save them. Coverage.

Moderator: Sharon Guynup, Freelance Journalist and Author, "Tigers Forever: Saving the World’s Most Endangered Big Cat"

Laurie Macdonald, Director of Florida Programs, Defenders of Wildlife
Judy Mills, Author, "Blood of the Tiger: A Story of Conspiracy, Greed, and the Battle to Save a Magnificent Species"
Kristin Nowell, CAT and Red List Coordinator, Cat Specialist Group, International Union for Conservation of Nature

Dead Zones, Hypoxia and Nutrient Loading: Is Pollution Trading the Answer?
Location: Grand Salon, Room 6

With nutrient pollution forming massive "dead zones" in the Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay and coastal waters practically everywhere, fish and shellfish populations are depleted and once-productive fisheries crippled. The sources are legion — farm fertilizer, sewage plants, urban and suburban runoff. Federally led efforts are under way to reverse the tide of decline, but face political and legal challenges. Can our waters be cleaned up more efficiently at a lower cost by unleashing the marketplace rather than impose stricter regulations? Or will buying and selling pollution "credits" simply enrich some while leaving the waters starved of life? Coverage.

Moderator: Tim Wheeler, Reporter, The Baltimore Sun

Ellen Gilinsky, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Water, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Patrick Parenteau, Professor of Law and Senior Counsel, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, Vermont Law School
Michelle Perez, Senior Associate, Water Quality, World Resources Institute
Nancy Rabalais, Professor and Executive Director, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium

Oil Truckin’ and Pipin’: What’s Happening in Your Backyard?
Location: Grand Salon, Room 9

The boom in oil production in the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota and the tar sands of Canada's Alberta province has raised the stakes for public safety and environmental protection throughout much of North America. Getting crude oil to refineries means delivery by rail networks or pipelines that go through the communities you cover. This panel will look at the big picture of balancing the benefits of domestic oil production against the risks to the public and environment, as well as the local perspective of communities in the path of pipelines and unit trains loaded with crude oil. Coverage.

Moderator: Michael Martz, Staff Writer, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Lois Epstein, Engineer and Arctic Program Director, The Wilderness Society and Vice President of the Board, Pipeline Safety Trust
Bob Greco, Group Director, Downstream and Industry Operations, American Petroleum Institute
Jessica McDiarmid, Reporter, Toronto Star

Feeding Eight Billion People in a Warming World
Location: Grand Salon, Room 3

With 842 million undernourished people worldwide today, providing food for the world’s rapidly growing population is already a major challenge without the impacts of climate change. As drought, desertification, and floods threaten yields of key crops from the Midwest to the Middle East, new methods will be necessary to avert a severe, global food crisis. The challenge is only growing more pressing as the global population soars past eight billion by 2025. This panel will explore emerging stories at the intersection of food, agriculture, and climate. We’ll identify which areas and populations are most at risk, and discuss what scientists, policymakers and businesses are doing to address this serious issue.

Moderator: Tim McDonnell, Associate Producer, Climate Desk

Christine Chemnitz, Department Head, International Agricultural Policy, Heinrich Böll Foundation North America
Barbara Ekwall, Senior Liaison Officer, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
David Fischhoff, Chief Scientist, The Climate Corporation
Rebecca Shaw, Associate Vice President of Ecosystems and Senior Lead Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund


Network Lunch

12:15 - 1:45 p.m.
Location: Grand Ballroom

Choose a discussion table on a wide range of timely topics and reporting tips listed below, or join one of three nearby breakout sessions. Consult your Network Lunch flyer in your conference packet for details. Additional flyers will also be available at the Registration Desk.

Concurrent with the table discussions are the following three breakout sessions:

1. In-Depth Stories of Our Troubled Seas
Location: Grand Salon, Room 15

The only resource not fully exploited in our ocean may be good under-reported stories about its vast problems and some of the innovative solutions now emerging. There’s been some excellent reporting on the world’s cascading marine disasters resulting from industrial overfishing, pollution, coastal sprawl and fossil-fuel-fired climate change. Our panelists are both top experts on these problems and world-class innovators in providing solutions. This panel will be a story-rich habitat.

Moderator: David Helvarg, Author, Founder and Executive Director, Blue Frontier and Co-Founder, Peter Benchley Ocean Awards

Marcus Eriksen, Co-Founder and Director of Research, 5 Gyres Institute
Jeremy Jackson, Marine Ecologist and Paleontologist; former Ritter Professor of Oceanography and Founder and Director, Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Scripps; and former Senior Scientist, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Nancy Rabalais, Professor and Executive Director, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium

2. Academic Members' Business Session
Location: Grand Salon, Room 16

Academic members will discuss how they can best advance SEJ by setting goals for this membership category for the coming year. Want to revive the student story contest? Coordinate a multi-institutional investigation? Create a critical mass of student-produced work? Coordinate research proposals and exchange? Facilitate the sharing of teaching strategies. Bring ideas for this goal-setting session to produce a plan that raises our profile within SEJ and enhances our influence on the frontiers of environmental journalism.

Moderator: David Poulson, Associate Director, Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, Michigan State University

3. Dust-Up Over Ditches and Other Water Issues
Location: Grand Salon, Room 18

Are EPA's new water regulations a "power grab" over farmers' drainage ditches and ponds, or just a clarification of the government's existing authority to protect streams and wetlands? Ellen Gilinsky, senior policy advisor to EPA's Office of Water, will talk about the rules and the pushback. Here's your chance to quiz a real live EPA official, on the record, on this and other water-related issues. Coverage.

Moderator: Tim Wheeler, Reporter, The Baltimore Sun

Small-Group Discussions

Looking for a more casual conversation? Select a topic and join a table (numbered below) in the Grand Ballroom for an informal lunch.

  1. The Other Green Resource: The Intersection of Political Dollars and Environmental Issues
    Moderator: Laura Paskus, High Country News
    Edwin Bender and Denise Roth Barber with the National Institute on Money in State Politics will discuss why it's important — and both easier and more difficult than ever — to track money in politics. What are the natural resource stories that can benefit from this type of information?
  2. Hot & Hungry: Farming to Feed 9 Billion
    Moderator: Lisa Palmer, Freelance Reporter/Editor
    Will a growing world necessarily be a hungrier world? Join Rosalia Omungo, Environmental Journalist/Editor, Kenyan Broadcasting Company/TV. With population of more than 9 billion projected by 2050, and weather and climate becoming less predictable each year, feeding the world's hungry poses mounting challenges. We'll discuss innovative solutions to closing the coming food gap between population growth and food supplies.
  3. Difference between Sustainability and Resilience
    Moderator: Erik Assadourian, Senior Fellow, Worldwatch Institute
    The term "sustainable" has been so freely used and misused that it has essentially become "sustainababble." Resilience is now at risk of the same fate. And worse, these two terms — even when sincere — are often being confused with each other. How do we talk about sustainability and resilience and ensure that these two terms aren't conflated? And perhaps most importantly how do we ensure that the pursuit of sustainability isn't sacrificed as we pursue resilience in face of accelerating environmental changes?
  4. Stop Calling It Crowdfunding: How To Sustainably Fund Your Independent Journalism Project
    Moderator: Amy Westervelt, Freelance Reporter
    New platforms for reader-supported journalism abound — but how do you pick the right one? How do you know what people will pay for and what they won't, how to entice them to pay, and how to find subscribers who aren't related to you? You're a journalist, not a salesperson — how do you balance the two if you're starting your own publication? Once you actually launch, how do you keep the thing going? The moderator and speaker Susan Moran, a freelance journalist, have worked on various reader-funded journalism projects over the years, most recently two successful Beacon projects — Climate Confidential and Bracing for Impact.
  5. Crikey! Multimedia Reporting on Global Environmental Issues
    Moderator: Kristopher Wilson, University of Texas-Austin
    This discussion with Paepin Goff of the University of Texas-Austin will focus on international multimedia reporting on how climate change is affecting Australia's Great Barrier Reef, Outback and Rainforests.
  6. Coal Trains Coming Round the Bend?
    Moderator: Ashley Ahearn, Environment Reporter, NPR-KUOW
    The coal industry is ramping up exports in response to new pollution standards for U.S. power plants. Communities across the country are banding together in opposition to new and expanding coal export terminals and coal trains passing through their backyards. Join Grace Morris, Senior Organizer, Gulf Restoration Network, for an update on this emerging issue.
  7. The Bees Have It: The Latest on Colony Collapse Disorder
    Moderator: Christine Heinrichs, Freelance Journalist
    Zack Lemann, the "nutty bug chef in New Orleans," is an entomologist, working as manager of New Orleans' Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectariums' animal and visitor programs. He's garnered the latest information on Colony Collapse Disorder from his colleagues at the USDA APHIS to share with SEJ members over lunch. Don't miss him.
  8. SEJ 2015
    Moderators: SEJ's 2015 conference co-chairs Nancy Gaarder, Reporter, Omaha World-Herald, and Sarah Terry-Cobo, Energy Reporter, The Journal Record, Oklahoma City
    Always wanted to help plan an SEJ annual conference? Want to make sure your ideas are a part of SEJ's 2015 event? Then this is your lunch. Find out what's on tap for next year's conference, and learn how you can be a part of the planning.
  9. Ask an Everglades Expert
    Moderator: David Fleshler, Staff Writer, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
    Join Nicholas Aumen, USGS's regional science advisor who oversees the Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystem Sciences program. This program, involving USGS and other scientists from across the country, provides high-quality science in support of Everglades restoration.


Concurrent Sessions 2

1:45 - 3:00 p.m.

Freelance Pitch Slam
Location: Grand Salon, Room 4

Tired of waiting for editors to reply to your pitches? Wish the story-selling process could be more informative? Wondering how to break in? Join seasoned freelancers and newcomers alike at SEJ's annual pitch slam, where journalists put their best one-minute queries to a panel of editors. Benefit from the editors' critiques, explaining why — or why not — the story could work for their publication. They also offer tips for improving the pitch and information about which sections of their publication are open to freelancers and what they pay. Present your own pitch and you might just walk away with an assignment.

Moderator: Peter Fairley, Freelance Energy/Environment Journalist

Scott Dodd, Editor,
Brian Howard, Editor & Producer,
April Reese, Associate Editor, Discover Magazine
Peter Thomson, Environment Editor, The World–PRI/BBC (invited)

Better Reporting Through SmartPhones
Location: Grand Salon, Room 10

Find yourself in the field with this new gadget and wondering how to make it work for your reporting agenda? Join your fellow SEJ'ers as we talk techie and geek out with gearheads to learn some tips for better audio, video and social media reporting via smartphone. Coverage.

Moderator: Ashley Ahearn, Environment Reporter, KUOW - NPR (Seattle)

Andrew Boyd, Photo/Video Manager, | The Times-Picayune
Adam Glenn, Educator, Graduate School of Journalism, City University of New York; Digital Media Consultant, a2g Media; Editor, SEJournal, Society of Environmental Journalists; Editor, AdaptNY

Collaboration: Marrying Environmental Research with Environmental Journalism
Location: Grand Salon, Room 13

Learn how journalism and mass communication faculty members and researchers can assist investigations into environmental problems and policies. The panel will explore strategies for environmental journalism faculty to collaborate with non-journalism faculty in the sciences and environmental studies on mutually beneficial research, grant proposals, projects, curriculum, professional development and instruction. Coverage.

Moderator: Eric Freedman, Director, Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, Michigan State University

Sharon Friedman, Professor and Director, Science and Environmental Writing Program, Department of Journalism and Communication, Lehigh University
Michael Kodas, Associate Director, Center for Environmental Journalism, University of Colorado Boulder
Juliet Pinto, Associate Professor, School of Journalism & Mass Communication, Florida International University

The BP Spill’s Untold Ecological Toll
Location: Grand Salon, Room 7

What environmental harm really came of the millions of barrels of crude leaked from BP's runaway well into the Gulf of Mexico? Four years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, a robust research effort is under way to answer that important question. Scientists will discuss what we know and don’t know about one of the nation’s largest oil spills. Coverage.

Moderator: Ken Weiss, Grantee, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and former Reporter, Los Angeles Times

Lucinda Jacobs, President and Principal Aquatic Scientist (BP consultant), Integral Consulting Inc.
Natalie Peyronnin, Director of Science Policy, Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign, Environmental Defense Fund
Lori Schwacke, Chief, Oceans and Human Health Branch, Hollings Marine Laboratory, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Levee Safety and Flood Risk: New Rules for New Floods
Location: Grand Salon, Room 12

Levees aren't what they used to be. The Army Corps and FEMA are working together as never before to manage the risk to communities behind levees, and to better explain those risks to the public. This could increase costs for flood protection and bring new land development restrictions. But is it enough? This panel explains new developments in floodplain management and flood insurance and looks at what's ahead. Coverage.

Moderator: Matt Weiser, Senior Writer, The Sacramento Bee

Tammy Conforti, Levee Safety Program Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Windell Curole, General Manager, South Lafourche Levee District
David Rogers, Karl F. Hasselmann Chair in Geological Engineering, Department of Geological Sciences & Engineering, Missouri University of Science & Technology

What We Don't Know About Chemicals May Hurt Us
Location: Grand Salon, Room 6

When the water supply of 300,000 West Virginians was contaminated by a spill this year, scientists and government officials knew little about the potential health effects of the chemical. How can we as journalists make sense of this for our audience? Where can we go for information on health effects? Why is there so little data on many chemicals? What are industries and government agencies doing to give the public the information they need? We'll include some background and an update on the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Moderator: Marla Cone, Editor-in-Chief, Environmental Health News

Wendy Cleland-Hamnett, Director, Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Richard Denison, Lead Senior Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund
Scott Masten, Director, Office of Nominations and Selection, National Toxicology Program Division, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (invited)
Andrew Whelton, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering and Environmental and Ecological Engineering, Purdue University

Nuclear Power in Fukushima’s Wake
Location: Grand Salon, Room 9

Seen by proponents as a promise and opponents as a peril, nuclear power and its global prospects have fundamentally changed after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Or have they? Nations like Germany and Italy have decided to give up on the atom altogether, while others such as the U.S. and Japan and developing economies like China and Vietnam have decided to stick with their nuclear energy programs. Amid tightening safety rules, increasing competition from currently cheaper natural gas and elevated concerns over greenhouse gases, the panelists will discuss the outlook and issues for nuclear power in the U.S. and abroad. Coverage.

Moderator: James Simms II, Freelance Writer/Television and Radio Commentator; and 2013-2014 Scripps Journalism Fellow, Center for Environmental Journalism, Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Colorado at Boulder

Steven Kraft, Senior Technical Advisor, Nuclear Energy Institute
Dave Lochbaum, Director, Nuclear Safety Project, Union of Concerned Scientists
Hannah Northey, Energy Reporter, Greenwire
Cynthia Pedersen, Region III Administrator, Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Robin Rickman, Director, Small Modular Reactor Program, Westinghouse Electric Company

Skating on Thin Ice: Climate Change at the Poles
Location: Grand Salon, Room 3

Currently observed rates of environmental change are unprecedented. Though changing climates have historically changed social and economic structures, the current rates pose especially novel challenges in polar regions, where temperature increases have been three times greater than the global average. Melting ice will affect industry, trade, ecosystems, and Arctic communities. Speakers in this session will discuss local to global effects of polar warming, and identify some of the most important issues to be resolved.

Moderator: Sunshine Menezes, Executive Director, Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting, Office of Marine Programs, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island

Melanie Bahnke, President and Chief Executive Officer, Kawerak, Inc.
Marilyn Heiman, Director, U.S. Arctic Program, The Pew Charitable Trusts
Tatiana Rynearson, Associate Professor of Oceanography, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island


Beverage Break with Exhibitors

3:00 - 3:15 p.m.
Location: Grand Salon


Keynote Address: Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell

3:15 - 4:15 p.m.
Location: Grand Ballroom

Facilitator: Randy Loftis, Environmental Writer, The Dallas Morning News

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will join us in person this year. Secretary Jewell plans to speak about Interior's efforts to address climate change, and how the agency's stewardship of healthy lands, water and wildlife strengthens the nation's economy. Following her presentation, she'll take questions from the audience. Coverage.



SEJ Annual Membership Meeting

4:30-5:30 p.m.
Location: Grand Ballroom

All are welcome. Members of the Society of Environmental Journalists, please attend for brief reports, discussion and an election to fill open seats on the SEJ Board of Directors. Non-members are invited to browse exhibits in the Grand Salon.


Beat Dinners

7:00 -9:00 p.m.

Back to the scene of the crime... SEJ’s beat dinners began at the New Orleans conference in 2003 and they’ve remained popular ever since. Consult your Beat Dinner flyer in your conference packet, or below, for topics and restaurants. Check back often as dinner details are still being added as they become available.

This year, SEJ is instituting on-line registration for beat dinners. Rather than having to wait until you reach New Orleans only to find the dinners already full, on-line registration allows everyone to have an equal chance of getting to the meal they want.

But here's the difference: Signing up is pretty much the same as making a reservation -- you can't scratch your name off one list and add it to another. So before you click the button to submit the sign-up form, be certain you've chosen the beat dinner you really want. No going back! (If you find you must cancel, contact Randi Ross asap.)

Online sign-up opened at noon EDT on Monday, August 25 and ended at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, August 29. For dinners that still have openings, sign-up will continue on site in New Orleans at the SEJ Information Table.



  1. Can't Beat 'Em, Eat 'Em: Nutria, Purslane, Formosan Termites

    Have an extra helping of...... hey, how about nutria and other non-native species that may be multiplying faster than the ability of regulatory agencies to control them? This brain-expanding, but hopefully not waist-expanding, dinner looks at the growth and edibility of various invasive critters and plants.

    This dinner will feature a very special menu only for SEJ attendees that includes several invasive species. More traditional fare and beverages are available at additional cost, to accompany the "international" menu. Coverage.

    Moderator: Chuck Quirmbach, 
Environment Reporter/Producer, 
Wisconsin Public Radio

    Johnny Blancher, Chef/Owner, Ye Old College Inn
    Bradley McGehee, Executive Chef, Ye Old College Inn

    Restaurant: Ye Old College Inn, 3000 S Carrollton Avenue, 504-866-3683. Maximum group size: 40. Cost: $35 (includes taxes and tip).

  2. Gimme That Old Time Religion

    Can people of faith do what scientists and economists have failed to do: enlist the public in a crusade grounded in morality to stop climate change, pollution, and environmental injustice?

    Moderator: Christy George, Independent TV Producer

    Rose Jackson, Board Member, Louisiana Environmental Action Network
    Dani Levine, New Orleans Director, AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps

    Restaurant: Tujague's, 823 Decatur Street, 504-525-8676. Maximum group size: 12. Cost: $45 average.

  3. Is Sustainable Seafood an Oxymoron? From Shrimp Farming to Jellyfish Harvesting

    With an estimated 90% of the large fish already removed from the sea, will people have to start eating lower on the marine food chain? And can we provide protein to millions of people around the world without emptying the ocean?

    Moderator: Brian Howard, Editor & Producer,

    Sarah Curry, Associate Producer, Fish Navy Films
    William (Monty) Graham, Professor and Chair, Department of Marine Science, The University of Southern Mississippi
    Susan Spicer, Chef/Owner, Bayona and Mondo restaurants and Wild Flour Breads

    Restaurant: Bayona, 430 Rue Dauphine, 504-525-4455. Maximum group size: 25. Cost: $50 (includes taxes and tip).

  4. Music As a Form of Communicating Environmental Issues

    Take a cab and go Uptown to a reasonably priced neighborhood restaurant with a lot of authentic New Orleans character for great food, drink and a lively discussion about how music has been a form of communication for environmental issues over the years, from Marvin Gaye's classic "Mercy, Mercy Me" (The Ecology) to protest songs inspired by Hurricane Katrina and the BP's historic 2010 spill into the Gulf of Mexico. Trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis leads the talk, with other musicians possibly joining him. We may have a few other guests with strong NOLA music credentials, too, such as Jan Ramsey, the publisher of OffBeat, one of the nation's top regional music magazines, and Mark Samuels, president of Basin Street Records. Finish off the night with some live music in nearby Uptown clubs when we're done.

    Moderator: Tom Henry, Environmental Writer/Columnist, The (Toledo) Blade

    Delfeayo Marsalis, Trombonist
    Jan Ramsey, Publisher, OffBeat Magazine

    Restaurant: Frankie & Johnny's (F&J Facebook), 321 Arabella Street, 504-243-1234. Maximum group size: 40. Cost: $30 and under.

  5. Post Disaster Recovery and Hazard Mitigation

    What does it take to build a stronger community in the face of disaster? The American Planning Association has been developing resources to answer precisely this question. Learn how to access what many planners already know about creating resilient communities through sound hazard mitigation and planning in advance for managing recovery from disasters. Also, learn about new publications from the APA.

    Moderator: James Schwab, Manager, Hazards Planning Research Center, American Planning Association, and Senior Research Associate and Co-Editor, Zoning Practice, American Planning Association

    Speaker: Alexandra Norton, Director, Organizational Effectiveness, City of New Orleans

    Restaurant: Oxalis, 3162 Dauphine Street, 504-267-4776. Maximum group size: 20. Cost: $31-50.

  6. Let's Play! The Role of Games in Helping To Communicate Environmental Change

    What is the role of environmentally-themed games and gamification in educating on environmental change and sustainable resource management? Can games help players grasp complex issues and change behaviors and views on politically charged issues? Discussion will be followed by a friendly game of Catan: Oil Springs, an eco-educational scenario for the popular board game The Settlers of Catan.

    Moderator: Erik Assadourian, Senior Fellow, Worldwatch Institute and Co-Designer, Catan: Oil Springs

    Restaurant: Olde NOLA Cookery, 205 Bourbon Street, 504-525-4577. Maximum group size: 14. Cost: $30 and under.

  7. Election 2014 and Beyond: Follow the Money

    With recent decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court has opened floodgates that are allowing a deluge of money to pour into politics in ways never before seen, and that;s trickling down from the federal level into state and local politics. Learn why it's important not to just track the campaign contributions during election years, but also during the shoulder season when legislation is being floated. What are the impacts of all those Independent Expenditures? Also, is there a shift in giving patterns — i.e., is the money flowing to lobbyists instead of politicians? What does that mean when it comes to natural resource reporting? Learn more in a free-flowing discussion with Edwin Bender and Denise Roth Barber of the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

    Moderator: Manuel Torres, | The Times-Picayune

    Restaurant: SoBou, 310 Chartres Street, 504-552-4095. Maximum group size: 20. Cost: $30-50 (special menu).

  8. Forming a Writing "Tribe": Building Communities To Support Environmental Journalists

    Success as a freelance journalist involves developing a whole new toolkit of entrepreneurial skills alongside those you need for quality reporting and writing. Miss the camaraderie of the water cooler? Concerned about making a living wage? We'll discuss strategies for building your own community outside the newsroom and boosting your own bottom line. Discussion moderator contributed to "The Science Writers' Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Pitch, Publish, and Prosper in the Digital Age."

    Moderator: Sarah Webb, Freelance Journalist

    Restaurant: Channing Tatum's Saints & Sinners, 627 Bourbon Street, 504-528-9307. Maximum group size: 15. Cost: $30 and under.

  9. International Reporting: Global Trends, Local Stories

    Even as environmental issues grow more global, travel budgets are getting smaller. But new opportunities for reporting overseas are emerging, and we are more connected than ever to reporters across the globe. How can SEJ best serve its members, both in the U.S. and abroad? Share stories and suggestions while breaking bread with journalists from Africa and Asia at a New American Brewery.

    Moderator: Steve Sapienza, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

    Restaurant: Gordon Biersch, 200 Poydras Street, 504-552-2739. Maximum group size: 20.  Cost: $30 and under.

  10. Dinner with One of the Nation's Most Senior Environmental Prosecutors

    You've heard of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, of course, but Jeremy Korzenik, senior trial attorney in the Environmental Crimes Section at the U.S. Department of Justice, had long before been prosecuting the day-in-day-out oil dumping that was going on from ships in waters around the country. With decades of experience, Korzenik can tell how he and his colleagues have prosecuted cases involving wetlands destruction, hazardous waste dumping, pesticide misuse, air and water pollution, sham recycling, bio-diesel fraud, ocean dumping, oil spills, and wildlife trafficking. Also learn about cutting-edge legal issues including the effect of the Supreme Court’s ruling throwing out the federal sentencing guidelines, and the Attorney General's new directive to reduce incarceration for non-violent offenses.

    Moderator: Robert McClure, Executive Director, InvestigateWest

    Speaker: Jeremy Korzenik, Senior Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice

    Restaurant: Dookey Chase's Restaurant, 2301 Orleans Avenue, 504-821-0600. Maximum group size: 30. Cost: $40 (special menu).

  11. Behind-the-Scenes Disaster Response

    What happens when an environmental accident occurs between the reporters seeking out information and the press spokespeople responsible for supplying the information? We know what happens in theory, but does it pan out when a Deepwater Horizon-type accident occurs? We have assembled a group of crises veterans for an informal discussion of the pressure points between the two sides.

    Moderator: Robert Wyss, Associate Professor, Department of Journalism, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Connecticut

    Greg Beuerman, Partner, Beuerman Miller Fitzgerald, Inc.
    David Hammer, Investigative Reporter, WWL-TV Channel 4 (CBS), New Orleans

    Restaurant: Oceana Grill, 739 Conti Street, New Orleans, 504-525-6002. Maximum group size: 12. Cost: $31-50.

  12. The Wilderness Act at 50: An Essential Part of America's Common Ground

    How is the Wilderness Act faring after 50 years? Congress has been slow to act, despite strong support for wilderness from conservationists, business owners, hunters and anglers, and mountain bikers. What is the path forward for wilderness, long considered the gold standard of land protection?

    Moderator: Jane Braxton Little, Environment & Science Writer/Photographer, and Co-Coordinator, SEJ Mentor Program

    Steve Barker, Founder, Eagle Creek Travel Gear and Board Member, Conservation Alliance
    John Gilroy, Director, U.S. Public Lands, The Pew Charitable Trusts

    Restaurant: Commander's Palace, 1403 Washington Avenue, 504-899-8221. Maximum group size: 30. Cost: $50 and over.

  13. IJNR: Reunion Dinner

    The IJNR Beat Dinner isn't so much about covering a topic as it is about reconnecting with the IJNR team and meeting up with folks who shared your IJNR field experience. If you haven't been on an IJNR expedition, the beat dinner is a great place to learn more about us!

    Moderator: Dave Spratt, Chief Executive Officer, Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources

    Speaker: Adam Hinterthuer, Director of Programs, Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources

    Restaurant: Ralph & Kacoo's, 519 Toulouse St., New Orleans, 504-522-5226. Maximum group size: 20. Cost: $30 and under.



Wednesday, September 3
Thursday, September 3
Saturday, September 6
Sunday, September 7