The fall convention runs Oct. 26-30.

See full schedule here!


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Wednesday, October 26

  • Pre-Convention Workshops, 2:00-5:00 p.m.
    • The Art and Business of Freelance Writing, Presented by the American Society of Journalists and Authors, $49
      Freelance writing can be an alluring career choice that involves glamour and glory, in additional to a lot of hard work, perseverance and determination. Independent writer and author Beverly Harzog will discuss the skills that you’ll need to be a success as a freelance journalist. In addition, you’ll learn how to kick off a freelance career by writing query letters to editors and networking your way to the top.Harzog, who has written for  dozens of publications ranging from The Wall Street Journal to Good Housekeeping, from Health to Forbes, will also provide a peek inside her life as a best-selling author. She’ll discuss how articles and blogs evolve into books and will reveal the behind-the-scenes effort it takes to produce a top-selling work. One of Beverly’s books, Confessions of a Credit Junkie, is an Amazon #1 Best Seller in three categories.
      Speaker: Beverly Harzog
    • Chicken Salad: Single Servings, $49
      If your front page bores you – both the design and the writing – let’s fix it together. And in minutes, not hours. This is the personalized version of the most popular convention session over the past decade. But instead of gutting other student newspapers in front of hundreds, we focus on yours in front of a couple dozen. Best of all, we’ll do it to your specs. You want a newsy feel? A featury vibe? Or a twisted mix? If you’re not sure, we’ll show you some practical options – and some really crazy stuff.
      Speaker: Michael Koretzky, SPJ national board member
    • So You Want to Lead People? Presented by Society of Professional Journalists, $74
    • Student Media Business for Beginners, $49
      Lessons on advertising strategies and revenue diversification, to creating more campus buy-in, changing a department’s culture and everything in-between … plus the things that don’t work.
      Speaker: Candace Baltz, Orange Media Network, Oregon State University
      Note: This session will be one hour longer.
    • Using Data to Tell the Economic Story, Presented by American Institute for Economic Research, $49


Thursday, October 27

  • Breakout sessions, 9:00 a.m.-4:20 p.m.
  • Keynote 11:00 a.m.: The Black Lives Matter Movement Continues: How Learning Our History Can Reshape our Future

ledayChris LeDay is a 34 year old Air Force Veteran residing in Atlanta. He is originally from Baton Rouge, La., site of the police killing of Alton Sterling. LeDay was the first to post video of the shooting, captured by an acquaintance, which re-ignited a national conversation on civil rights, police brutality and the relationship between minority communities and law enforcement. The next day, he was detained by military security while going through a routine checkpoint for his job at Dobbins Air Reserve Base. Told that that he met the description of someone wanted for assault and battery, he was taken in handcuffs and leg shackles to Dekalb County Jail by the Dunwoody Police Department, where he was detained for 24 hours. LeDay attempted to return to work, but was not allowed due to “security clearance issues.” Days later, he was fired. LeDay and his attorney, Tiffany Simmons, insist he was taken in on false charges.

The panel also features M. Alexis Scott, a regular panel member on FOX 5 Atlanta’s Georgia Gang, a political week-in-review program. She spent more than 16 years as publisher of the Atlanta Daily World, a newspaper founded by her grandfather in 1928. She is currently writing a memoir about the family business. She was part of the executive team that opened Atlanta’s Center for Civil and Human Rights in 2014 and served as its vice president of membership. Scott had a 22-year career with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Cox Enterprises, Inc., where she worked her way up from reporter to vice-president/community affairs at the AJC, and director of diversity at Cox. She serves on the board for the High Museum, (chair of) the Historic South-View Preservation Foundation, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, the (secretary) AIB (Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters) Network and the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. She is a member of three Halls of Fame: The Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University, The Atlanta Press Club and The Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau.

M. Alexis Scott and Hank Klibanoff

Panelist Hank Klibanoff serves as director of the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project at Emory University, for which undergraduates are examining Georgia history through the prism of unsolved or unpunished racially motivated murders that occurred in the state during the modern civil rights era. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for co-authoring The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle and the Awakening of a Nation about news coverage of the civil rights struggle in the South. Klibanoff serves on the John Chancellor Excellence in Journalism Award Committee at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism; and the advisory boards of the Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellowships, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights; and VOX Teen Communications, an Atlanta non-profit youth development organization. Klibanoff spent over 35 years reporting for newspapers in Boston, Philadelphia, and Atlanta among other cities. He was recently inducted into the Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Laurie A. Leonard, have three daughters.

CCIDEMO-33The panel will be moderated by Rohit Malhotra, founder and Executive Director of the Center for Civic Innovation in Atlanta. His background is in social entrepreneurship, digital communications, open data and community organizing. Most recently, he served as an Ash Innovation Fellow in the White House Office of Management and Budget, focused on the administration’s efforts around social impact bonds and pay for performance. In 2015, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, where he is the youngest serving member in recent history. Rohit was named as one of Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 30 Under 30 and in June 2015, he was awarded the prestigious Echoing Green Global Fellowship. Rohit earned his B.A. from Emory University and Master in Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Rohit is a self-appointed expert on pizza and hip hop.

  • Adviser Awards and CMA Hall of Fame Awards
  • Adviser Reception, sponsored by TownNews


Friday, October 28

  • Breakout sessions, 9:00 a.m.-4:20 p.m.
  • Keynote 11:00 a.m.: Lessons from Orlando: Staying Sane and Staying Yourself While Reporting Horror

Covering events like deadliest shooting spree in U.S. history in Orlando last June can’t help but leave a mark on reporters. How do media professionals face the horror of current events, tell the stories they witness, and cope with the aftermath? Furthermore, how do they respond to those that question their place at the journalism table if they are too closely identified with victims?

Jen ChristensenAward-winning CNN Producer/editor Jen Christensen leads a panel discussion on the Orlando shooting and its aftermath. These journalists covered the Pulse shootings up close. In addition to sharing their tales of tackling this difficult assignment, they’ll give advice on how to cope with the emotional weight of tragedy on assignment, even as it hits close to home.

Christensen is president of the National Association of LGBT Journalists (NLGJA); founded in 1990 to foster fair and accurate coverage of LGBT issues and is comprised of journalists, educators and students within the news industry. She is a producer/editor with CNN’s Health, Medical and Wellness Unit. In addition, she produces investigative stories and documentaries, primarily for CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. She has earned the highest awards in broadcasting — including the Peabody and the DuPont — as a producer for CNN’s chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour.

CNN Digital Rebranding 2013 John Sutter

John Sutter is an award-winning columnist for CNN and creator of the network’s “2 degrees” project, which aims to involve readers in climate change coverage. His online story and documentary on Mauritania, the last country to abolish slavery, won the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and received an Emmy nomination for new approaches to documentary film. His series on LGBT rights in Mississippi won the 2014 Al Neuharth Award for investigative reporting. Sutter is heavily involved in crowdsourced journalism, co-producing CNN iReport’s “Walk in our shoes” project and live-tweeting a walk down the 17-mile path of a deadly tornado in 2013.


MinshewCharles Minshew is a multimedia artist with the Orlando Sentinel. His work varies from investigative pieces – including an investigation of use of force by the Orlando Police Department – to interactive graphics. Minshew was on the 2012 Denver Post Staff that won a Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News for coverage of the Aurora Theater Shooting in 2012. Minshew earned his Master’s Degree from the Missouri School of Journalism in 2013 and is a 2011 graduate of Georgia Southern University. While there, he worked at The George-Anne for four years.


  • CMA Business Meeting
  • Meet in the Suite for Advisers, 8-10 p.m.


Saturday, October 29

  • Breakout sessions, 9:00 a.m.-2:50 p.m.
  • Keynote: An Industry Comes Alive with The Walking Dead: Georgia’s Thriving Film SceneOn Halloween six years ago, America watched Rick Grimes march to Atlanta on the first episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Georgia’s film industry was growing. It’s six years later and that growth hasn’t stopped.If you want to translate your involvement in student media into a career in film and video, Georgia is a state to circle as a destination. But where there is plenty of opportunity, there is plenty of competition. So you’ll need to do plenty of work to make yourself stand out.In the session, you’ll hear from people on the inside of the film and television industry. They’ll discuss their career paths, their views of the Georgia boom, and how they make their projects come to life. Most importantly, they’ll give advice on what you need to know to pursue a career on either side of the camera.filmluseTom Luse has been an Executive Producer for The Walking Dead during the show’s entire run. He has produced several feature films including Jeepers Creepers, Jeepers Creepers 2, The Joneses, Hachiko and The Collection. He has also produced TV pilots for The Client and Profiler. His honors include a Directors Guild of America Award (Paris Trout) and an Emmy® nomination (What the Deaf Man Heard). Originally an English major with writing aspirations, he switched programs and was the first Georgia State University student to do a film as his master’s thesis.filmhavensRandy Havens is an Atlanta-based actor best known for his breakthrough role as Mr. Clarke, the teacher/A.V. Club supervisor from Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things. He also has a recurring role as Stan on AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire. In the seventh season of Archer, he was the voice of Mr. Rompers. In addition to other television appearance such as The Vampire Diaries, Resurrection, Reckless, he has appeared in major films including Let’s Be Cops and Good Intentions. He has a role in the upcoming sci-fi action/thriller Geostorm set for a 2017 release.filmtigchelaarScott Tigchelaar is the president of Riverwood Studios, Inc. (operating as Raleigh Studios). He is also the president of Senoia Enterprises, Inc., the company responsible for the redevelopment of historic Senoia, GA. The Historic Senoia Project has won numerous awards, and complements the back lot infrastructure of Raleigh Studios for The Walking Dead and other productions. In 2013, Scott was appointed by the State of Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal to serve on the Georgia Tourism Foundation Board. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Scott received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Trinity Western University in Vancouver, British Columbia.

    Tom Luse, Executive Producer, Walking Dead (AMC), Randy Havens, actor (including Stranger Things, Halt and Catch Fire) & Scott Tigchelaar, President, Riverwood Studios Inc. and Senoia Enterprises Inc.

  • CMA Pinnacle Awards Ceremony, 4:30 p.m.


Sunday, October 30

  • Keynote 9:00 a.m.: Trading Press Cards for Passports
    Keynote speaker Moni Basu did keep her bags packed – and she was called overseas for an assignment. Her session has been replaced with this session. 
    The skills you learn in journalism could be your ticket to the world. Soyia Ellison and Teresa Weaver traded their press cards for passports and now travel the world in their work for global nonprofits. Ellison went from newspapers to the Carter Center (the nonprofit founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn) and Weaver went from newspapers to Habitat for Humanity to CARE USA. In this session, they’ll tell you how their skills as storytellers — writing clear and compelling prose — transfer to their nonprofit careers. Learn about a potential career path you may not have envisioned!
    Teresa Weaver, CARE USA and Soyia Ellison, Carter Center

CMA sponsors a Silent Auction to benefit the Student Press Law Center on Thursday and Friday. Members and students can donate and buy books, DVDs, jewelry, memorabilia, and other items. For more information, email