INBA Fall Convention 2021 panels announced

Photo by George Milton from Pexels

ROCKFORD (INBA) – The INBA is thrilled to host its first in-person convention since the pandemic. This fall’s event will be held at the Embassy Suites in Rockford, from Sept. 24-26. Below is a summary of our sessions. These are on top of Saturday night’s dinner and INBA Crystal Mic Award ceremonies. Our keynote speaker will be Cherie Grzech, VP of News for NewsNation in Chicago. To register for the convention, CLICK HERE.

Citizens Police Data Project

10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Saturday


Andrew Fan is the chief operating officer at the Invisible Institute, where he helps coordinate work across the organization’s teams. Andrew has a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, where he was the editor-in-chief of the Asian American Policy Review. Andrew is also a data reporter and was part of the team that produced the series “Mauled: When Police Dogs are Weapons,” a year-long investigation into police K-9 units which won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting. His work has appeared in the Chicago Reader, WBEZ, and USA Today.

Chaclyn Hunt is a civil rights attorney. She works with both the Youth / Police Project and the Citizens Police Data Project.

Sam Stecklow is a journalist, researcher and editor with the Invisible Institute. He has previously worked at the Salt Lake Tribune and South Side Weekly.

The Citizens Police Data Project ( is a tool for holding police accountable to the public they serve. Citizens Police Data Project (CPDP) takes records of police interactions with the public – records that would otherwise be buried in internal databases – and opens them up to make the data useful to the public, creating a permanent record for every CPD police officer. Originally intended to serve as a national model for transparency, the Citizens Police Data Project emerged from a decade-long collaboration with the University of Chicago Law School’s Mandel Legal Aid Clinic. CPDP is now the hub of several inter-woven projects and partnerships that share the common goal of making police data more useful to the public through transparency, investigation, and accountability.

Making Sense of the Census

9:15-10:30 a.m. Saturday

Presenters: Sherrie Taylor, Senior Research Specialist, NIU Center for Governmental Studies, Bob Evans, Rockford University

After pandemic-related delays, the latest census numbers have finally been released. Researchers anticipated population losses in Illinois for the past decade, particularly in rural areas of the state. This session will address research on where residents are going and the economic impact of the communities they leave behind. It will also include tools for reporters on visualizing these demographic changes.

Pandemic and Beyond: What have we learned?

1:30-2:45 p.m. Saturday

Panelists: Maggie Hradecky, News Director WIFR, Shaun Newell, News Director, WMBD, Yvonne Boose, Report for America Reporter, WNIJ

Description: The past year and a half has been a year of pivoting, adapting, and learning new ways to reach audiences with life-saving information. It hasn’t been easy, but our industry has been forever changed. In this session, panelists and convention participants swap successes and lessons learned. We’ll share practical tips and tools for broadcasters.

Ryan Denham

“I recently attended my first INBA conference—and it won’t be my last. The combination of professional and student journalists learning together is electric. Everyone learns from each other and walks away with new friends (and LinkedIn connections). I know I did.”

Nora Baldner

The support INBA gives to student journalists is vitally important as we all discover how technology is changing news dissemination, INBA monitors and actively encourages truth, transparency and accountability from students and their universities.

Alexis McAdams

INBA played a huge part in preparing me for my broadcasting career. The INBA conventions connect students with on-air talent and news directors who give feedback on now to improve your work. Through relationships I made at those conventions, I was able to obtain my first on air reporting job.

Brian O'Keefe

One of the greatest benefits for me has been getting to see and know other parts of the state. I’m not from Illinois and traveling to spring and fall conventions over the years has transformed dots on a map to memories of places that enhance my story telling process.

Michelle Eccles McLaughlin

INBA is an organization that really caters to continuing education for professionals. It offers a relatively inexpensive way to learn new things, reinforce best practices and network.

Mike Miletich

Joining the INBA was one of my best life decisions. I met some of the best broadcast journalists while I was still a college student. Plus, I ended up getting a job through the connections I made!

Molly Jirasek

One of my top goals in my career was to get to Chicago. Thanks to INBA I met Margaret Larkin. She remembered our great conversations about Chicago and first alerted me to a job opening in the city I might be interested in. Lo and behold, I got that job! INBA helped me reach my dream.

Jennifer Fuller

INBA is not only a great networking tool, it also provides advocacy and support for journalists in an ever-changing world.

Andrew Tanielian

INBA taught me how to network in a meaningful way. The scholarship process taught me how to endure a hard job interview and thrive.

Bob Roberts

INBA is as much about friendship and as it is about achieving common goals. It provides two things individual newsrooms cannot: in-service training, and the ability to speak out on issues affecting the profession. But most of all, it brings newspeople together.

Aaron Eades

As a student, it's often difficult to picture what working in the real world will be like. For me, the INBA bridged that gap by giving me the chance to talk to professionals who used to be in the same shoes I'm in now.

Jeff Bossert

When I was working in radio for the first time, I had no idea whether I could truly handle the demands. But INBA made me curious and want to improve. Even now, when I’ve maybe worked a lot of hours or planned some stories that didn’t come together for one reason or another, what I learn from an INBA conference gets me re-invigorated about the business.

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