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March/April 2015
Volume 103 | Number 2
View as PDF: Click to download


From the President
You know the sad saga of now-suspended "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams, but it’s worth re-telling and remembering to drive home the lesson. In February, Williams was caught in a lie — a very public one resulting in a six-month suspension without pay. According to a Feb. 4 Stars and Stripes ...

On the Edge of Ethics
As vice chair of the SPJ Ethics Committee, I get a lot of questions from journalism students who want feedback for their assignments. "How would you define 'ethical journalism'?" "Have you ever been in an ethical situation?" I recently got this one: "How can journalists avoid running into ...

Verily, Verily, it’s Time to Verify
Note: This article is partly adapted from the author’s research report, “Lies, Damn Lies and Viral Content: How News Websites Spread (and Debunk) Online Rumors, Unverified Claims and Misinformation.” Download it for free
Dori Maynard: A legacy of fierce love
Note: This remembrance, by longtime friend and fellow SPJ member Sally Lehrman, first appeared on the website of The Maynard Institute. Dori Maynard was a board member of SPJ’s associated Sigma Delta Chi Foundation and was ...

Ten with Jose Antonio Vargas
Jose Antonio Vargas is a busy guy. Look at his Twitter bio and you’ll see that, along with all the accounts representing different projects in which he’s involved. He’s also hard to pin down for a phone or even email interview. That’s ...

Member Profile: Chris Vaccaro
Take advantage of opportunities around you. That’s what Chris Vaccaro has done, time after time, in his Long Island community of Sachem. That’s what he tries to instill in his journalism students at Hofstra University. That’s the living example he has displayed since age 15 at Sachem High School, where ...

Digital Media Toolbox
Technology and journalism are becoming more than just intertwined; they are informing one another's development at an exponential rate. As journalism experiences one of its most transformative stages in history, reliable newsgathering and comprehensive storytelling require more than just observant ...

Diversity Toolbox
Racism is a hard truth in American society. It is our inheritance, built into America’s history of slavery, lynching, and unequal treatment in law enforcement. And it is our present, through the unspoken, unacknowledged biases we may abhor but unconsciously still carry with us. With such words, ...

Education Toolbox
When Colorado and Washington state began legal retail sales of marijuana in 2014, student newsrooms, like the one I advise at Colorado State University-Pueblo, were undoubtedly home to animated discussions about the implications legal pot have on advertising. Now that voters in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, ...

Ethics Toolbox
As a car show was getting underway in Northeastern Pennsylvania in 2009, one of the cars turning into the parking lot burst into flames after it was hit from behind by another vehicle. Trapped inside, the car’s only occupant — a 64-year-old man — died. A journalist from one of the local stations happened ...

FOI Toolbox
A county council in Maryland made an announcement in October that grabbed my attention: It was launching a new digital tool to track and share the results of state public information requests. My first reaction: Pretty cool; it’s about time; more organizations should do this. But, after ...

Freelance Toolbox
Once we start digging into freelancing, it doesn’t take long before we find out that editors receive all kinds of queries every week. Even editors of publications with modest circulations receive lots of emails. So getting noticed can be tough, especially when one is just starting out. As a freelancer, ...

Generation J Toolbox
Broadcast news, particularly in local television, is going through major changes with technological advances. That’s nothing new. Unfortunately, along with those changes, early career journalists trying or thinking of entering the field are changing too, and sometimes not for the better. I’d suggest ...

Narrative Writing Toolbox
When you think about where your story starts, I bet many of you believe it’s when you’re at the computer crafting that perfect opening. In truth, the story starts with the interview. And if you can’t get the interview, you can’t write the story. Obviously, I’m not talking about press conferences, ...

Words & Language Toolbox
A common punctuation problem in media writing is the unnecessary comma between multiple adjectives preceding a noun. Whether or not we should separate adjectives with commas is a simple matter — there are even some grade-school tricks to help. Yet that mistake litters otherwise polished media writing: “She ...

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