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Home > SPJ News > SDX Foundation funds upcoming “Watchdog” training programs for journalists

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SDX Foundation funds upcoming “Watchdog” training programs for journalists

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
11/8/2002


CONTACT:
Sue Porter, Sigma Delta Chi Foundation President, 513/977-3030 or sporter@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS -- A number of workshops to help working journalists prepare to act as a watchdog on government and business will be continued in 2002-03 by the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc. thanks to a grant from the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.

The Foundation also approved “seed” money for a Celebration of Diversity campaign, which includes newsroom and classroom diversity training, at a September meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, as part of the Society of Professional Journalists convention.

The Foundation approved $40,000 for a year’s period for the IRE-SPJ workshops and $18,800 for a six-month period to launch a new Rainbow Source Book, which is a database of diverse sources other than “traditional” ones often used by journalists. In addition, the board approved $51,200 for SPJ operations, for a total of $110,000 during this funding period.

The Foundation, established by SPJ to assist in educational and fund-raising efforts, makes awards twice a year. While funds assist SPJ, the Foundation has begun to support other organizations with campaigns for freedom of information, ethics, and the advancement of journalism, as its corpus has grown.

IRE has offered investigative reporting programs for years. Recognizing SPJ’s leadership role in freedom of information advocacy, it approached the organization about a partnership earlier this year. An initial SDX grant of $25,000 started the series of FOI programs.

“The partnership has already proven to be an effective and cost-efficient way to offer journalists the training and information they want and need,” said Sue Porter, president of SDX. “We are pleased to be able to bring these well-respected organizations together for the good of our profession.”

“Since the attacks of Sept. 11, freedom of information has been under siege in Washington and state capitals,” said SPJ President Robert Leger, editorial page editor of the Springfield (MO) News-Leader. “These programs give reporters the skills and knowledge they need to use freedom of information laws to keep Americans in the know about how their elected leaders are doing their jobs. Such stories are the best way to defend FOI laws.”

Two SPJ-IRE workshops have been held in Charleston, W. Va.., and Detroit, Mich.., this fall. Others scheduled:

2002Nov. 16, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Nov. 23, Wichita, Kan.

2003Feb. 8, Chicago, Ill.
Feb. 22, Tempe, Ariz.
March 8, Storrs, Conn.
March 22, St. Petersburg, Fla.
March 28, Minneapolis, Minn.
March 29, Columbia, Mo.
April 5, Cleveland, Ohio
April 5, Atlanta, Ga.
April 12, Spokane, Wash.
April 12, Long Island, N.Y.
Oct. 4, Eugene, Ore.
Oct. 25, Pennsylvania State University

The Rainbow Source Book has been developed by SPJ’s National Diversity Committee chaired by Sally Lehrman. The purpose of the Celebrate Diversity Campaign is to educate journalists across the country on ways to improve their work, she said.

Lehrman’s research has shown that most news media use the ideas, opinions and prominence of one particular group -- usually white, upper-class males. Yet nationally the population is 75 percent white and 51 percent female.

Lehrman has begun to introduce the Rainbow Source Book, most recently at the inauguration of the new Scripps School of Journalism and Communication at Hampton University in Virginia, a historically black institution of higher learning.

The Foundation will make its next round of grants at a spring meeting in April in Indianapolis, Ind. Guidelines for grants are on the SPJ Web site, spj.org, under SDX Foundation. The deadline is Feb. 25.

Founded in 1961, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that those who carry on the tradition of a free press are prepared for the challenge. The Society of Professional Journalists, which dates back to 1909, 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.

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