For Immediate Release
Lauren Rochester, SPJ Awards Coordinator, (317) 927-8000 ext. 210,
Abby Henkel, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 927-8000 ext. 215,
INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists is pleased to honor Linda Petersen and Rebecca Baker with the Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Member Award, which salutes professional members who have made significant contributions to their SPJ chapter.
The award is named for Howard S. Dubin, a longtime SPJ member who remains active with the national organization, local chapters and the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, the educational arm of SPJ. Annually, one award is given to someone from a chapter with fewer than 75 members, and one to a member from a chapter with more than 75 members.
Peterson and Baker will be recognized Sept. 27 during the President’s Installation Banquet at the Excellence in Journalism 2011 conference in New Orleans, hosted by SPJ and the Radio Television Digital News Association. Click here for a list of previous honorees.
A dedicated member and former president of the Utah chapter of SPJ (Utah Headliners), Petersen is well known for her tireless efforts promoting open government, a central concern of SPJ members. In addition to serving as the chapter’s FOIA chairperson, she is the president of the Utah Foundation of Open Government, a post she has held for more than six years.
As a journalist and activist, Petersen has organized annual Sunshine events in Utah, administered Utah’s Sunshine/Black Hole Awards, coordinated the release of the Utah Attorney General’s Utah Open Government Guide, presented on FOIA at national conventions, and developed statewide open and online records audits.
Earlier this year, when Utah’s open-record law, GRAMA, came under attack from the Utah legislature, Petersen helped lead the charge to repeal a new law that would have turned GRAMA on its head. Thanks to Petersen’s leadership, the legislature repealed the bill, HB477; Petersen now volunteers on a task force to discuss GRAMA and make policy recommendations.
Rebecca Baker has been covering local beats since 1996, reporting on issues from schools to city hall. Today she is the Westchester County courts and criminal justice reporter for the Journal News in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley.
Baker is also a committed SPJ member. Currently she is president of the Deadline Club, her local SPJ chapter in New York with more than 300 members. She has helped increased the membership of what was already one of the nation’s largest SPJ chapters, and put together a Freedom of Information panel, an annual event that won an SPJ award in 2010 and has become a staple of the Deadline Club’s annual programming.
In the past, she chaired the sold-out 2010 regional conference and has also served on the boards of the Deadline Club and the Connecticut Pro chapter.
Fellow Deadline Club member John Long explains that, “regardless of the challenge, Rebecca is always her cheerful, enthusiastic, optimistic, upbeat self, leading the charge that the rest of us just can’t resist following.” Colleagues note Baker’s willingness to take on unexpected responsibility, such as when the chapter’s previous president left to take a job overseas and Baker found herself president of the Deadline Club a year earlier than expected.
When asked about her feelings on receiving the award, Baker stated, “It’s an honor. Howard Dubin has given selflessly of himself to the Society for many years, and to be in the same company as him is a privilege.”
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information on SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.