"PRNDI? What's that? Our station has never sent anyone before. Why should we spend the money now?"
“Is PRNDI just like every other conference I’ve been to where people are still trying to figure out diversity and millennials?”
"My boss says I'm not the news director...why should they send me to PRNDI?"
As a PRNDI board member, I hear questions like this every year. News directors who've never been to PRNDI wonder...why go this year? And frustrated reporters and editors wonder what, if anything, they can say to convince their bosses to send them to the annual PRNDI conference.
Well, I'm here to tell you, if you or your staff is asking these questions, that's a sure sign you should come to PRNDI this year.
Who Should Go To PRNDI?
First off, let's dispel the most common misconception folks have about PRNDI and its conference: It's only for news directors. Nope, this just ain't true! PRNDI is the premier professional association for ALL public media journalists, regardless of their current rank in newsroom hierarchy.
PRNDI's goal and mission is to strengthen all aspects of public media newsrooms, from the cub radio or digital reporter all the way up to those Vice President of content types. We try to create conferences that are forward-thinking, inclusive, and, most of all, useful.
The takeaway: If you care about public service journalism and crafting great stories, then the PRNDI conference is for you! Come to the conference, or have your station pay to send a reporter or two.
YOU Should, That’s Who
Having worked at small, medium and large stations, I can testify to PRNDI being a valuable experience for all types of public media journalists. I started my career at Marfa Public Radio, a then fledgling station in rural Far West Texas. We were learning how to do everything from what seemed like scratch. I remember how isolating it could feel, working in a small shop without a network of colleagues.
Years later, I got a job as news director at WBHM in Birmingham and attended my first PRNDI conference. There, I knew I'd finally found my people. And boy, was it a relief!
I learned more in those three days than I had in years on the job. That's because PRNDI's annual gathering brings together some of the smartest and most generous minds in public media, all ready to share their secrets, success stories, and deep-dark tales of humiliating (yet educational!) failure.
As one recent conference participant put it, "I never went to journalism school. PRNDI has been my grad program."
I believe in PRNDI's mission, and I want as many people as possible to experience all the organization and its conference has to offer. That's why I originally ran for the board, why I'm writing this here, and why I annually offer up my services to call up your reluctant boss and explain to them why YOU should come to our conference (Seriously. I will do this. Email me at email@example.com.).
Hear What The Critics Are Saying
But don't just take my word for it! Here's what other recent conference attendees had to say about their PRNDI experience.
“As someone experienced in my work but new to working in public radio, I need to understand the latest thinking and best practices in the industry. Attending PRNDI gave me both—from the need for diverse coverage and staff to writing clear newscast spots—all thanks to fantastic people across our system. I’d recommend PRNDI to anyone in public media, whatever your role and experience!” — Veronica Erb, Researcher and Information Architect at NPR
"I'm glad I went to PRNDI mostly because of the invaluable pre-conference trainings. PRNDI’s breakout sessions were more honed to my day-to-day work than most other journalism conferences." — Michelle Faust, Health Care Reporter at KPCC Southern California Public Radio
"After the 2016 PRNDI conference in St. Louis, I returned to my newsroom full of ideas and energy. The management workshop before the full conference made me better at filling in for my news director when she's gone. Panels on diversity and ethics broadened my perspective and helped me keep the bigger picture in mind, so that I can better serve our entire community. Any newsroom employee makes a thousand tiny editorial judgments every single day. PRNDI is a worthwhile experience for anyone who lays a finger on the news." — Ed Ronco, ATC host and reporter at KNKX Seattle/Tacoma
"I gained a lot from my first experience at PRNDI. As someone relatively new to the field of public radio, I appreciated the wide swath of subjects covered by panelists from all corners of the public radio world (even those I don't work in). I also gained a lot from meeting others I admire in the field. Conference participants were friendly, accessible and really wanted to understand the challenges and excitements of my work. I came out of the conference energized and with a greater understanding of how my work fits into the whole. I keep that feeling with me to this day." — Kelly Moffitt, Online Producer at St. Louis Public Media