Joe Hight, veteran Oklahoma journalist, to address coverage of disasters and tragedies at SPJ conference Saturday

Joe Hight, a journalist acclaimed for his coverage of the Oklahoma City Murrah Bombing in 1995, will be the featured luncheon speaker Saturday (March 28) at the Region 8 Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) conference at the Gaylord College on the University of Oklahoma campus.

The SPJ Oklahoma Professional Chapter is hosting the Spring Conference, running 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. It will be held at OU’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

This year’s conference focuses on journalism’s “Best Practices” and will feature workshops on reporting, writing, social media, ethics and campaign-finance investigations by top-notch journalists and media professionals from across the U.S. Journalists, communications professionals and others interested in the latest on journalism’s best practices are welcome to attend.

At The Oklahoman, Hight was team leader of the Oklahoma City bombing coverage that won two national SPJ awards, a national Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Violence and many others.

Hight was editor when The Gazette in Colorado Springs in 2014 won the Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting for its multimedia series “Other Than Honorable.” 

He was named to the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in 2013.

Before joining The Gazette, he was director of information and development for The Oklahoman and 

Hight authored and co-authored print and online booklets and columns still utilized in training for journalists covering disasters, including “Tragedies & Journalists: A Guide for More Effective Coverage,” which has been translated into three different languages. 

He also co-founded the People and the Media Program at the University of Central Oklahoma, and is a past chairman of the Mid-America Press Institute. He was a featured character in Mark Masse’s latest book “Trauma Journalism: On Deadline in Harm’s Way.”

Joe and his wife, Nan, oldest daughter, Elena, now own Best of Books Inc. Joe continues to write a weekly column and consults on digital and media.

Kickoff-speaker at 9 a.m. Saturday is Kathleen McElroy, assistant professor in the School of Media and Strategic Communications at Oklahoma State University and a former editor at The New York Times. Her topic is “Welcome to the Jungle: The Culture of Newsrooms.”

Other speakers include Eve Byron of the National Institute on Money in State Politics, National SPJ President-elect Paul Fletcher on the “SPJ Code of Ethics,”

Oklahoma television journalists Alex Cameron and Phil Cross will discuss “Covering TV News in Today’s News & Budget World.” 

Veteran print and online journalist M.Scott Carter moderates a discussion of “Tribal Government Reporting Panel,” while OSU Professor Joe Senat examines the topic “First Amendment on College Campuses,” and Carol Cole-Frowe and Heide Brandes, two of the state’s best-known “free-lance” reporters discuss “Freelancing and How to Market Yourself.”

The “Covering Executions Panel” Saturday afternoon includes Cary Aspinwall, an enterprise writer for The Tulsa World; Graham Lee Brewer, a criminal justice reporter for The Oklahoman and Sean Murphy, capitol correspondent for the Associated Press. 

“The Professionalization of Information Panel” is to be moderated by Kevan Goff-Parker, a longtime award-winning journalist and PR pro for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services; Developmental Disabilities Services division. Her segment features Michael McNutt, a former longtime journalist/editor and now press secretary for Gov. Mary Fallin; Calley Herth, formerly of the Oklahoma Insurance Department and Jennie Melendez, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.

Pat McGuigan of CapitolBeatOK and The City Sentinel newspaper moderates a panel on “The Changing Models of Journalism” to include David Fritze, executive editor at Oklahoma Watch and The Oklahoma Observer Editor Arnold Hamilton.

The “Covering Live Events Panel” discussing the use of social media and online tools to report the news features Tiffany Gibson, an online editor of NewsOK and Adam Kemp, an enterprise reporter for the Oklahoman. Both have covered severe weather, court cases and other breaking news across the Oklahoma City metro.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. Saturday

The college is located 395 W. Lindsey Street in Norman. 

To register and for more information about the conference, please link to the event website

Registration for the luncheon must be received by 5 p.m. Thursday, March 26.