Society of Professional Journalists logoOh, what a luxury it is to be learning.

This past Saturday through today (Monday), I am in Anaheim, Calif., to attend an annual conference of journalists. (The hosts are the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association.)

As I’ve said before, people learn in all kinds of ways. I’ve had great luck with the podcast and the webinar. But it is hard to beat the occasional face-to-face gathering, where you are not tempted to multitask as a national webinar streams into your office. Sure, it may be more challenging for busy folks to attend in-person conferences, but boyoboy they still have a place in professional education and development.

For example, I am always on the prowl for the best way to cover Arizona’s legal profession. How does a small staff analyze and share what’s important for a state full of attorneys? I am sure that lessons I learn in Anaheim will help me in that challenge.

EIJ13 Journalist conference app screenshot

#EIJ13 Journalist conference app screenshot

I plan to tweet some from the Excellence in Journalism conference (Find me here.). You can follow all the tweets at the dedicated hashtag: #EIJ13

And the conference website is here.

There is a telltale sign that this is a valuable conference: Using the terrific conference app, I started building my own schedule of preferred seminars. Much to my chagrin, in every single time period, there are competing seminars I want to attend. That, I assure you, does not happen at every event I attend!

Like all learning, the seminars run the gamut from skill-building I can use this week all the way up to aspirational tools that might improve Arizona Attorney Magazine next year. But it will be good have the mental gears turning.

(With my conference registration, I also receive two park-hopper passes to Disneyland, which is just across the street. Will I manage to get over to the Happiest Place on Earth? Time will tell.)

I will report back later with some things I learned (I reported on some previous SPJ learning here). But here (in no particular order) are a few seminars I may attend:

  • Working and thinking digital first
  • Digging deeper with social media
  • Data mining: Finding important demographic trends in Census data
  • Facebook usage survey
  • Geek out: The latest tech innovations
  • Best practices for journalists on Facebook
  • Journalism, coding and you
  • Storytelling with Instagram
  • Journalism, the Department of Justice and national security
  • Storytelling with Google Maps and Google Earth
  • Mobile newsgathering with your Smartphone
  • Immigration coverage beyond the fence
  • Effective use of social tools for reporting
  • The perfect interview: Improving your skills

When I return, I’ll give you a roundup of my takeaways (and whether I met with Mickey Mouse).

In early June, I received confirmation that being around legal matters for long enough makes you start seeing those matters everywhere—even at Disneyland!

The State Bar of Arizona Chief Communications Officer is Rick DeBruhl, and in early June he sent me a note about a Disney anniversary that involved—of all things—lawyers! Among his other skills, Rick has been an automotive journalist for many years (in fact, he still is), which explains his opening line to me:

“Disneyland’s California Adventure is having a sort of re-opening this weekend. They re-did the front entrance as well as create Cars Land (which will, of course, be my favorite).”

Rick then continued, revealing that the role of the lawyer in society has moved to be front-of-his-mind:

“I noticed a picture that got my attention and thought I’d pass it along. On the new Buena Vista Street section, there is a sign that says ‘Lessing, Kamen and James.’ I’m not sure about James, but Gunther Lessing and Kay Kamen worked for Walt Disney when the company was going through the big growth years. Lessing was the general counsel, and Kamen was the merchandising guru. Supposedly they were instrumental in going after copyright infringers.”

Ever the reporter, Rick attached a photo from the Disney stock.


He also provided some documentation, including a link describing the subject street, a biography of Lessing and a bio of Kamen.

In an upcoming issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, we will be publishing the results of a survey assessing lawyer satisfaction and happiness in Arizona. But in the meantime, connecting lawyers and the happiest place on Earth may be sheer genius.

By coincidence, my family and I are in Laguna Beach this week, no more than 25 miles from the Mouse Kingdom (alas, we were not able to visit Mickey and friends on this California trip). But on this Change of Venue Friday, I share the news that lawyers have transformed every area of American life—even in fantasy kingdoms! Or, as Rick put it, “I just think it’s interesting because how many attorneys get the chance to be immortalized at a major theme park!”

Have a great weekend.