SEJ's 21st Annual Conference Agenda — Sunday





Agenda Coverage Registration Lodging/Transportation Español About Miami



Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fairchild Garden Tours, Authors and Pitch Slam

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables

Buses will depart from the InterContinental Hotel’s front entrance at 7:30 a.m. to take attendees to Fairchild Garden. Buses will return to the InterContinental no later than 1:00 p.m. If you’re checking out of the hotel on Sunday, you can check luggage with the concierge. Attendees on the Cuba and The Keys post-conference tours should board your respective tour buses at the hotel and bring your luggage along.

Books and Books
9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Visit Books and Books, Miami’s independent, locally owned bookstore, on site at Fairchild Garden, where you will find a variety of books for sale, written by SEJ members, invited speakers and University of Miami professors.



Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is full of compelling stories for journalists. It’s one of the world’s premier gardens, internationally recognized for its headline-grabbing research, conservation, horticulture and education programs. Fairchild combines the beauty of its location with its role as a living museum, laboratory, center of learning and conservation research facility. Fairchild plays an important role in preserving biodiversity; the garden’s scientists and staff are contributors to an intense global effort to identify, understand and conserve plants and endangered plant species. Pre-registration and $25 fee required.


Breakfast, Welcome and Orientation

8:00 - 8:30 a.m.

We’ll have a sumptuous breakfast featuring fresh tropical fruit grown locally on the Fairchild Farm, along with assorted quiches and fancy pastries.

Welcome: Carl Lewis, Director, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Location: The Jean Ellen duPont Shehan Visitors Center Ballroom



Breakfast Plenary with the Authors

8:30 - 10:00 a.m.


South Florida is home to the most ambitious ecosystem restoration project on the planet in the Everglades. One of the largest of the nation’s marine sanctuaries envelops the Florida Keys. The state of Florida has purchased vast tracts of wetlands and forests over the last three decades. And yet the region’s selling-swampland history, its continuing destruction of wetlands and increasingly serious water shortages cast grave doubt on prospects that the place can ever be made sustainable for the long term. Hear from SEJers who have written books that explore this environmentally embattled corner of the planet, branching out from journalist to author, and get ideas on how you could pursue book projects. Coverage.

Moderator: Robert McClure, Reporter, InvestigateWest

Cynthia Barnett, Author, Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S. and the newly published Blue Revolution: Unmaking America's Water Crisis
Michael Grunwald, Author, The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida and the Politics of Paradise
David Helvarg, Author, Saved by the Sea: A Love Story with Fish, Blue Frontier: Dispatches from America's Ocean Wilderness, and several other books
Craig Pittman, Author, Paving Paradise, Manatee Insanity and the forthcoming The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid

Location: The Jean Ellen duPont Shehan Visitors Center Ballroom


Garden Tours

10:00 - 11:00 a.m.


Fairchild's historic 83-acre landscape includes some of the world's rarest plants, including threatened species of palms, cycads, and tropical fruit trees. These plants provide a glimpse of the world's vanishing tropical flora. Take a break from panel sessions and enjoy a guided stroll through different parts of the gardens to hear from Fairchild scientists about their work to collect, study, and conserve tropical plants in South Florida and worldwide.

Materials will be provided upon arrival to Fairchild Garden. Check these flyers for tour info, garden maps and more.



Book Author Pitch Slam


11:00 a.m. - Noon

Journalists will step up to the mike and have two minutes to pitch a book idea to a panel of seasoned publishing-house editors. The panelists will critique the idea as well as the pitch, and share some suggestions (and maybe a few business cards) with budding authors from the floor. This is an excellent session for journalists looking to make the leap from newspapers/magazines/broadcast/online to the book world. Attendees are strongly encouraged to craft their pitch in advance and remember, you have only two minutes.

Moderator: Bill Kovarik, Professor of Communication, Radford University

Amy Gorelick, Editor-in-Chief, University Press of Florida
David Miller, Senior Vice President and Publisher, Island Press
Alexis Rizzuto, Editor, Beacon Press
Kathy Sagan, Senior Editor, Simon & Schuster

Location: The Jean Ellen duPont Shehan Visitors Center Ballroom


Noon: Conference ends and buses return to the InterContinental or head out on the post-conference tours.

Afternoon: While the SEJ conference officially closes at noon, Fairchild Garden is offering SEJ conference-goers free admission to its popular Edible Garden Festival, which attracts thousands of visitors to sample food, see cooking demonstrations, attend lectures and gardening lessons, and visit with plant vendors. (SEJ-sponsored transportation back to the conference hotel will be leaving at noon so plan ahead if you’d like to stay longer.)

Cab service back to the InterContinental is available for ~$25 - $30: Coral Gables Taxi, (305) 444-2828.


Post-Conference Tour 1: Unlocking the Florida Keys: Development, Coral Reefs and Marine Research in Paradise

Sunday, October 23 - Wednesday, October 26

The 120-mile ribbon of islands known as the Florida Keys offers something nothing else in the continental United States can: a subtropical paradise without leaving the country. The Keys boast some of the world’s best fishing, diving and snorkeling, the 2,900-square-mile Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the third largest barrier reef system in the world, and endangered species not found anywhere else – including the diminutive Key deer, Lower Keys marsh rabbit and Key Largo woodrat. Yet it’s all listed as an Area of Critical State Concern. We’ll learn how residents, local and state officials, and scientists are trying to strike a balance between development and protecting natural resources, like the rare hardwood hammock and endangered sea turtles. We’ll snorkel amid the region’s colorful coral reefs, kayak over emerald waters, watch unmatched sunsets under waving palm trees, experience the joy of locally caught seafood and learn why these islands are the most laid-back place in the country. This tour departs Miami following the Sunday authors program and returns to Miami by 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26. The $400 fee covers transportation, Sunday breakfast  and sessions at Fairchild Garden, lodging and some meals and equipment rentals. Deadline to cancel with refund (less $25 processing fee) is September 19.

Tour Leaders:
Larry Kahn, Editor, The Florida Keys Keynoter
Bruce Ritchie, Editor,; and Senior Writer, The Florida Tribune

Chris Bergh, Coastal and Marine Resilience Program Director, The Nature Conservancy
Billy Causey, Southeast Regional Director, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Eric Kiefer, Manager, Bahia Honda State Park
Doug Mader, Veterinarian, The Turtle Hospital
Richie Moretti, Founder and Owner, The Turtle Hospital
Anne Morkill, Manager, Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges
Bruce Popham, Chairman, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council; and Owner, Marathon Boat Yard


Post-Conference Tour 2: Visit Paradise Before It’s Paved: Cuba Opens Its Doors... to What?

In this rare opportunity to visit communist Cuba, journalists will gain access to a host of fascinating and timely stories. From the Zapata Swamp to the Guanahacabibes UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and from the world’s tiniest bird and smallest frog to large crocodiles, Cuba is home to amazingly intact tropical ecosystems and a pile of rare and endemic species. In addition, the Jardines de la Reina reefs are reputed to be “just as Columbus saw them.” But, how long can this last? We’ll start our visit at Varadero, where Cuba’s existing tourism business is heaviest, and then head into some of the relatively pristine areas. We’ll visit Cuba ahead of the touristy resorts, and meet with journalists, top scientists and political leaders to learn what lies ahead. This tour, organized in partnership with The Ocean Foundation, includes Sunday breakfast and sessions at Fairchild Garden.



NOTE: This tour was cancelled October 14, 2011 because of consular issues.


Tour Leaders:
Cornelia Dean, Senior Science Writer, The New York Times
Robert Thomas, Professor and Director, Center for Environmental Communication, Loyola University New Orleans

Fernando Bretos, Research Associate, The Ocean Foundation; and 2010 Audubon Together Green Fellow
David Guggenheim, the "Ocean Doctor;" Senior Fellow, The Ocean Foundation; and Director, Cuba Marine Research & Conservation Program
More speakers TBA


Wednesday, October 19
Thursday, October 20
Friday, October 21
Saturday, October 22