A reporter’s field notes from the Logan Symposium for investigative journalists — day one

I flew into San Francisco this morning, our plane dipping low over the southern end of San Francisco Bay and the salt evaporation ponds down below glowing red and pink. I wonder if anyone ever gets used to landing here, where it seems until the last second that your plane is going to plow into the Bay rather than land with a rumble and thump on a runway.

Aerial view of salt evaporation ponds, in red,  on San Francisco Bay


Aerial view of salt evaporation ponds, in red, on San Francisco Bay. Algae turn the salt ponds red.

It’s always a challenge leaving Maine and going to a large urban area — when I pulled my rental car onto US 101 to head over to the East Bay, I had to jockey with more cars in five minutes than I see in a week in central Maine. Didn’t help that a lot of those cars were BMWs, Porsches and even a few Teslas — I just yielded politely and let the thugs cut in front of me.

The Logan Symposium is being held at the Graduate School of Journalism at U.C. Berkeley, which I attended. I lived with my family for five years in Berkeley, and it’s wonderful to be back in this lovely, hilly city filled with roses and palm trees and terra cotta-roofed houses overlooking the Bay and the Golden Gate in the distance.

I'm in Berkeley, can you tell?

I'm in Berkeley, can you tell?

The symposium, whose theme this year is “Under Attack: Reporters and their sources,” begins tomorrow with a panel that includes NPR’s Arun Rath, ProPublica’s Jeff Gerth, the Sun-Sentinel’s Megan O’Matz, Lisa Song from InsideClimate News, Sarah Stillman of The New Yorker and Megan Twohey from the Reuters news service. Over the course of the next few days, we’ll also hear from James Risen, the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times national security reporter who’s fighting the government’s demand that he turn over a confidential source, as well as a panel discussing “Getting and Protecting Sources.”

Tonight, though, the conference attendees aren’t going to work, unless networking counts as work. We’ve all been invited to a “Preposium” at the home of Jonathan Logan, who runs the foundation that sponsors the symposium. In Ancient Greece, a symposium was a gathering of aristocratic men who drank together through the night. Is a “Preposium” where we’ll all just get together and think about going for a drink?

I’ll let you know tomorrow.




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