Raise your game with Narrative Storytelling for All Media and Beats: 10 Writing Tips I Wish I'd Learned 10 Years Sooner or one of the other workshops we're offering on day one of Excellence in Journalism 2014, which takes place Sept. 4-6 in Nashville. Find out more here.

Society of Professional Journalists
Improving and protecting journalism since 1909


— ADVERTISEMENT —
Advertise with SPJ
1


News and More
Click to Expand Instantly

SPJ News
Events and Deadlines
SPJ Blogs
Quill Online
SPJ on Tumblr
Journalist's Toolbox

Stay in Touch
Twitter Tumblr Facebook Google Plus
RSS Pinterest Pinterest Storify


More SPJ News
Press Notes
Publications
SPJ Blogs
Quill
SPJ Leads
The EIJ News
Press Notes
SPJ News
Open Doors
Geneva Conventions
Annual FOI Reports

Home > SPJ News > 2005 SPJ National Convention Resolutions

SPJ News
Latest SPJ News | RSS


2005 SPJ National Convention Resolutions

SPJ News
11/11/2005


RESOLUTIONS


Approved by the Delegates at the Main Business Session of the National Convention of the Society of Professional Journalists, Oct. 18, 2005


The need for a federal shield law


Whereas, the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees freedom of the press; and

Whereas, the constitutional promise of an independent news media cannot be fulfilled unless journalists are able to protect confidentiality of news sources; and

Whereas, 49 of the 50 states recognize, by statute or case law, a journalists’ privilege to protect sources; and

Whereas, no such law exists at the federal level, where judges and prosecutors have become increasingly unfriendly to journalists’ assertion of this privilege;

Therefore, be it resolved by the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, that Congress should pass a law recognizing journalists’ privilege; and

Be it further resolved that copies of this resolution be sent to the majority leader and whip and the minority leader of the U.S. Senate, and to the speaker, acting majority leader and minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.


Judith Miller and the protection of sources


Whereas, the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees freedom of the press; and

Whereas, the constitutional promise of an independent news media cannot be fulfilled unless journalists are able to protect confidentiality of news sources; and

Whereas, federal courts of the United States failed to recognize this fundamental reality by incarcerating Judith Miller, a reporter for The New York Times; and

Whereas, Judith Miller stood for the freedom and independence of the American press by refusing to reveal a confidential source until she heard personally from that source that he was releasing her from her promise of confidentiality; and

Whereas, Judith Miller spent almost three months in jail standing for these principles that are vital to American journalism;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, salutes Judith Miller for her personal and professional commitment to the freedom and independence of American journalists; and

Be it further resolved that the convention urges Congress to consider Judith Miller’s case as the latest compelling reason that a federal law is needed to give all American journalists the right to protect their confidential sources.


Journalists and anonymous sources


Whereas, the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists calls upon journalists to “be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable” and to “keep promises;” and

Whereas, the Code says “The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability” and urges journalists to “Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity” and to “Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information;” and

Whereas, the Code urges journalists to “Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct;” and

Therefore, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists urges journalists and their news organizations to grant anonymity with reluctance and caution, and to keep in mind their primary purpose of giving readers, viewers and listeners as much information as possible to reasonably assess the motives and reliability of those whose words and influence they are conveying with the protection of anonymity; and

Therefore, be it resolved that the Society believes that the absolute right to confidential sources is concomitant with a professional obligation to use such sources responsibly; and

Be it finally resolved that the Society, in convention assembled, emphasizes the responsibility of journalists and their news organizations to abide by the same high standards to which they hold others, and to clarify and explain their news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct.


Honoring Ursula Dubin


WHEREAS, those who serve on the boards of SPJ and the SDX Foundation commit much time, energy and financial contributions, and

WHEREAS, the time, energy and moral support provided by those board members’ spouses and relatives is less widely known, and

WHEREAS, a great example of this support is Ursula Dubin, who has been a stalwart for all of the 24 years of her husband Howard’s service as a regional director, treasurer and Foundation Board member and officer, and

WHEREAS, Ursula has joined with Howard in making significant financial contributions to SPJ and the Foundation, and

WHEREAS, Ursula has attended many Conventions, regional conferences and other meetings throughout the years, and

WHEREAS, she has provided hospitality at the Dubins’ home in Evanston, Ill., and been supportive on both public and private occasions, and

WHEREAS, while not a journalist herself, Ursula has taken on the important causes of journalism and the Society, making them her own, and

WHEREAS, Ursula has shown great patience and fortitude with Howard’s commitment of time and energy to SPJ and the Foundation, now

THEREFORE, be it resolved that the boards of SPJ and the SDX Foundation and the Convention delegates express their great gratitude and thanks to Ursula Dubin for all that she has done in behalf of the organizations.

Visas for foreign journalists in the U.S.


Whereas, the U.S. Department of State’s visa procedures for journalists working in the United States generally do not allow for the visas to be renewed while in the U.S., forcing working journalists to travel to other countries and seek scheduled interviews with visa offices in U.S. embassies or consulates, often at great inconvenience and personal expense, and

Whereas, while the agency has relaxed these requirements for foreign journalists affected by the Gulf Coast hurricanes, its refusal to further waive this rule makes it difficult for those foreign journalists in the United States to continue covering the U.S. government and society;

Whereas, such treatment of foreign journalists by the U.S. invites similar treatment of American journalists by other governments;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, calls on the State Department and other federal agencies to ease restrictions on the renewal of visas that allow foreign journalists to work in the United States, and

Be it further resolved that copies of this resolution be sent to the U.S. Department of State’s visa and consular offices and its Office of Public Diplomacy.

Censorship and lack of communication in Iraq


Whereas, 15 Iraqi and foreign journalists and 16 media workers (such as translators and drivers) were deliberately killed by terrorists last year in Iraq, and

Whereas, U.S.-led Coalition forces killed three other journalists at checkpoints because of mistaken identities, and

Whereas, three journalists were killed while covering combat action in Iraq, bringing to 66 the total of media workers killed in the Iraq war as of Aug. 28; and

Whereas, many of these tragedies could have been avoided if there was better communication between Coalition forces and the news media, and

Whereas, 22 journalists were abducted by insurgency groups or for ransom by kidnappers, and

Whereas, the interim Iraqi government has given to itself wide-ranging powers that include the authority to censor or close media outlets, including the Arabic-language satellite news services, Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, and

Whereas, the interim government has banned Al-Jazeera from Iraq, with the approval of the U.S. government;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, calls on the Iraqi government to honor Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and refrain from censoring or intimidating journalists, and

Be it further resolved that SPJ calls on journalists in Iraq and the U.S. military to make a concerted effort to avoid misunderstandings and thus prevent accidental shootings of journalists by Coalition forces; and

Be it further resolved that SPJ calls on news organizations to do their best to prepare their journalists and other employees for the rigors of such dangerous assignments, and

Be it finally resolved that SPJ expresses its gratitude to those journalists who risk their lives each day to bring to the world news from this strife-torn country.

Recognition of journalists killed in action


Whereas, we are sadly reminded that 38 journalists have died while reporting the news in 2005, as of Oct. 10, and

Whereas, in many cases the journalists were killed because they angered governments, political or religious organizations, or criminal elements;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, expresses its sympathies to the families and friends of those journalists killed while doing their jobs, and

Be it further resolved, the Society renews its call for an end to violence against reporters by all transgressors, and

Be it finally resolved that this convention observe a moment of silence in honor of our fallen comrades.



In memoriam: Warren Agee, SPJ leader


Whereas, Warren K. Agee, dean emeritus of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Georgia and former reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, died June 14, 2005, at the age of 88; and

Whereas, Agee selflessly interrupted his long and distinguished academic career to serve as the National Executive Officer of the Society and associate editor of The Quill from 1960 to 1962; and

Whereas, this service came at a critical time for the survival of the Society; and

Whereas, Agee’s able leadership was crucial in setting the Society on its current successful path; and

Whereas, Agee maintained his commitment to the Society by later serving as national vice president for campus chapter affairs, and was honored in 1978 with the Society’s highest award, the Wells Key, and in 1987 with its Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, expresses its gratitude for the able and generous leadership provided by Warren K. Agee at a crucial time in its history and for his long commitment to the Society and its ideals.

In memoriam: Gary Webb, reporter


Whereas, Gary Webb spent almost two decades as a respected investigative reporter for the Kentucky Post, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer and the San Jose Mercury News, and,

Whereas, Webb's passion for unfettered journalism, his hard work and his uncommon skill and perseverance in obtaining obscure public records enabled him to break dozens of important stories exposing injustice, government abuses and wrongdoing, and,

Whereas, Webb's investigative work was recognized with state and national journalism honors, including an H.L. Mencken Award in 1994, and,

Whereas, Webb's 1996 series in the Mercury News, “Dark Alliance,” explored links between the CIA, the Nicaraguan Contras and drug dealers involved in the beginning of the crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles, and,

Whereas, Webb found himself ostracized from daily journalism after some media outlets soon published stories that contradicted the idea given by Webb’s stories and their presentation that the CIA knowingly encouraged the epidemic, and,

Whereas, Webb persisted by writing a book that added evidence and raised new questions about the CIA's role in protecting drug dealers involved with the Contras, and,

Whereas, important aspects of Webb's work were substantiated two years later in reports and congressional testimony by the CIA's own inspector general, and,

Whereas, though Webb's work was criticized by some for not fully supporting its conclusions, his sincerity and courageous dedication to following a difficult but important story wherever it took him was never questioned, and,

Whereas, Webb, despondent about his inability to return to his career in daily journalism, killed himself on Dec. 9, 2004, at the age of 49, writing in his suicide note: “All I want to do is write, and if I can't do what I love, then what's the use of going on?”

Therefore, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, expresses its regret and sadness at the death of Gary Webb and honors the journalistic spirit and courage that motivated him in life.

Reversal of press freedoms in Russia


Whereas, journalists and other lovers of freedom once rejoiced at the democratic steps taken in Russia during the past 10 years, including the establishment of independent news outlets, and

Whereas, we are now dismayed at the recent actions taken by the Russian government that are rolling back these gains, and

Whereas, these retrogressive steps have included:
* Kremlin misuse of official advertising budgets for news outlets,
* Interference in the management and editorial control of print and electronic media to the point of removing all critics of government policy from state-owned broadcast outlets,
* Pressure on private news organizations to stop or otherwise silence critical reporting of government,
* Harassment and imprisonment of local and foreign journalists who challenge the official government position,
* A ban on journalists from ABC speaking with government officials and the refusal to renew their accreditations because the U.S. network aired an interview with leaders of the Chechen resistance;
* Failure to renew the accreditation of Swedish journalist Bert Sundström because of his critical reporting from Moscow, and

Whereas, the Russian government has shown its continued disdain for a dialog with press freedom advocates, most recently by refusing to attend a conference organized by the World Association of Newspapers, and

Whereas, the increased impunity in which the ever-growing Russian crime syndicates operate has made life dangerous for journalists seeking stories of rampant corruption and malfeasance, and

Whereas, in cases where journalists were apparently killed by members of these crime syndicates, investigation and prosecution has been sorely lacking to such a point that the European Court of Human Rights has stepped in to review charges the government grossly mishandled the case of the 1994 murder of Moscow reporter Dmitry Kholodon;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, stands with the brave journalists in Russia who seek independence from government control, as well as with those who stand up against the growing criminal element that want to see a tame media, and

Be it further resolved that SPJ calls on the Russian government to respect the rights of all journalists operating in its country and to cease its campaigns of intimidation and harassment, and

Be it finally resolved that copies of this statement be sent to the Russian Embassy to the United States, the U.S. Department of State and the appropriate international journalism organizations.

International War Crimes Tribunal


Whereas, the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague has been instrumental in bringing to justice numerous government officials and individuals who were responsible for the torture and death of hundreds of people following the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, and

Whereas, a number of witnesses to these atrocities were granted protection by the Tribunal in order to protect the lives of these witnesses and their families, and

Whereas, a number of Croatian journalists obtained the name of a protected witness and published that information, and

Whereas, the Tribunal is now seeking to prosecute these journalists and to stop the publication of further protected transcripts, and

Whereas, according to the journalists, the Tribunal itself identified the witness by name on its Web page, and

Whereas, the Committee to Protect Journalists has questioned the Tribunal’s action, saying it is “puzzling why the Tribunal would take legal action against journalists for revealing information that the Tribunal itself has made publicly available;”

Therefore, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, criticizes the Tribunal for seeking to punish journalists for publishing information that the Tribunal has already made publicly available, and

Be it further resolved that SPJ joins with others in hoping for the safety of those witnesses who bravely stepped forward to testify against the atrocities committed in their country, and

Be it finally resolved that SPJ continue to monitor the situation to ensure that the internationally recognized rights of the journalists in question are being respected.

China’s repression and abuse of journalists


Whereas, despite an increasing openness in economic matters, the government of the People’s Republic of China remains firmly committed to controlling all forms of media and intimidating foreign journalists who work in that country, and

Whereas, New York Times researcher Zhao Yan has now spent more than a year in a Chinese prison on non-specific charges of “revealing state secrets;” and

Whereas, Singapore Straits Times correspondent Ching Cheong was secretly seized by Chinese security agents and after several months was formally charged with spying for a foreign power; and at least 30 other journalists are being held in Chinese jails for violating the nebulous and vague state security laws, and

Whereas, the practice of firing or relocating editors who stray too far from the official Chinese Communist Party line is still going strong, and

Whereas, the only real “crime” any of these journalists committed is a shared belief that it is the role of the media to report news and not to serve as propaganda mouthpieces for any government or political entity, and

Whereas, China recently published a new set of directives that more severely restrict freedom of access to the Internet and international news sources;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, condemns the arrests of Zhao Yan, Ching Cheong and 30 other journalists, calls for their earliest possible release, and condemns Chinese government censorship of all forms of media, including the Internet; and

Be it further resolved that SPJ calls on the U.S. government to raise the issue of media freedom in China at every possible opportunity, and have its representatives regularly inquire into the well-being of all journalists, regardless of nationality, who are being persecuted because of their support of independent media, and

Be it further resolved that the Society calls on all SPJ chapters to help make their members aware of the situation in China and that these chapters join the convention in expressing their disgust at the situation to the Chinese Embassy to the United States and to the U.S. Department of State.

Taiwan journalists and news organizations


Whereas, journalists with Taiwan (Republic of China) passports are regularly denied press credentials to any United Nations-related organization, based on a policy that grants credentials to anyone holding a passport from a state recognized by the United Nations, and Taiwan’s lack of recognition by the United Nations, and

Whereas, according to the Taiwan Journalists Association, that ban recently was extended to any news organization based in Taiwan, regardless of the nationality of the individual journalist, and

Whereas, Taiwan has a free and independent media and the only democratically elected government in a Chinese-speaking territory;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, condemns any United Nations action that denies Taiwanese journalists or those working for Taiwan media the right to cover United Nations events, as a violation of Article 19 of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, and

Be it further resolved that SPJ renews its call for the United Nations to change its policy so that Taiwan journalists and Taiwanese news organizations will be allowed to report on the United Nations and its subsidiary bodies, and

Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution be delivered to the United Nations and the U.S. Department of State, and that members of the Society extend hands of friendship and support to our Taiwanese colleagues.

Dictatorship and repression in Nepal


Whereas, the government in Nepal has engaged in numerous acts against freedom of expression, including arbitrary detention and arrest, and

Whereas, at least 150 Nepalese journalists and more than 20 foreign journalists have been swept up by these repressive measures, and members of their families have been threatened and tortured;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, condemns the dictatorship that rules Nepal and its brutal actions against freedom of expression in that country, and

Be it further resolved that the Society calls for the release of journalists being held by the government whose only “crime” is a belief in independent media, and

Be it finally resolved that copies of this resolution be sent to the Nepalese Embassy to the United States and to the U.S. Department of State.

Support for IAPA Web site Impunity No More


Whereas, each democracy in Latin America has signed the Declaration of Chapultepec, which guarantees the rights of freedom of expression and press and the safety of journalists, and

Whereas, each year dozens of journalists in Latin America are killed with little or no action taken by these governments against the perpetrators, and

Whereas, the Inter-American Press Association set up the Rapid Response Unit to investigate the deaths of these colleagues, and

Whereas, the Unit has expanded to include a Web site called Impunity No More (www.impunidad.com) to promote the discovery and prosecution of the murderers of journalists through the IAPA’s list of Unpunished Crimes Against Journalists;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, praises the work of the IAPA in publicizing the killings of our colleagues in Latin America and helping bring their murderers to justice, and offers its assistance whenever feasible to aid and support the IAPA.

Arrest and detention of journalists in Haiti


Whereas, the social and political situation in Haiti borders on chaos, with units of the Haitian armed police and militia arresting or detaining opponents of the provisional government, and

Whereas, many of those swept up by these raids were Haitian and foreign journalists who were attempting to report on the situation, including reporters who were merely doing their jobs or those have refused to follow the government’s line, and

Whereas, the international forces sent to Haiti to help secure peace and social stability have not stepped in to prevent this arbitrary seizing of working journalists;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, calls upon the multinational peacekeeping force in Haiti to ensure the safety of journalists working there; and

Be it further resolved that the Society calls for the Haitian provisional government to stop harassing independent journalists, and

Be it further resolved that copies of this resolution be sent to the Organization of American States and the U.S. Department of State.

Move 2005 International Information Summit


Whereas, the United Nations selected Tunisia as the site for the November 2005 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), and

Whereas, numerous international organizations consider Tunisia one of the world’s worst violators of free-speech and independent-media principles, often ranking the nation in the top 15 violators of freedom of expression, and

Whereas, the government of Tunisia regularly engages in harassment and arrests of journalists and free speech advocates who disagree with the government;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, condemns those actions and calls for the release of all free-speech advocates being held for no other reason than their opposition to the current government, and

Be it further resolved that the SPJ join other international journalism organizations in demanding that the United Nations change the site of the 2005 WSIS, and

Be it finally resolved that copies of this resolution be sent to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Tunisian Embassy to the United States, and the U.S. Undersecretary of State for African Affairs.

Thanks to President Irwin Gratz


Whereas, Irwin Gratz has set an example for all journalists through his leadership of the Society of Professional Journalists, and
Whereas, Irwin Gratz has worked tirelessly as a leader of the Society at both the local and national levels for many years, and
Whereas, Irwin Gratz has long been an advocate and a living example of the ethical practice of journalism, and
Whereas, Irwin Gratz has worked to assure the Society of Professional Journalists' pre-eminent position among journalism organizations, and
Whereas, Irwin Gratz has given selflessly of his time and his talents for the benefit of the Society and its members,
Therefore, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, commends Irwin Gratz for his dedication and sacrifice and express its gratitude for a job well done.

Thanks to SPJ Headquarters Staff


Whereas, the Society of Professional Journalists' headquarters staff has devoted years of planning to the staging of this annual convention in Las Vegas, and

Whereas, the annual effort culminates in packing up and moving virtually the entire headquarters across the country, and

Whereas, managing a convention such as this involves long hours and little sleep, and this one required a higher level of involvement than at previous conventions, which were hosted by a local chapter; and

Whereas, staff members have carried out their duties with great skill, good cheer and selfless dedication;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, express its sincere appreciation for the dedication of Executive Director Terry Harper and the SPJ headquarters staff.

Copyright © 1996-2014 Society of Professional Journalists. All Rights Reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center
3909 N. Meridian St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789

Contact SPJ Headquarters
Employment Opportunities
Advertise with SPJ