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Home > About SPJ > Documentation > Resolutions

Documentation
Resolutions

Submitted to the Excellence in Journalism Conference in New Orleans, La., for passage on Sept. 27, 2011

1. Thanking SPJ President Hagit Limor for her service
2. Thanking SPJ Headquarters Staff for its service
3. Thanking sponsors, donors and contributors for their support of the 2011 Excellence in Journalism national conference hosted by SPJ-RTDNA
4. Calling for SPJ to maintain its membership in AEJMC
5. Opposing checkbook journalism
6. Minority hiring gap
7. The use of “illegal alien” and “illegal immigrant” in news stories
8. Passage of a federal shield law
9. Reinstating the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award
10. Reinstating the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award [2]
11. SPJ membership dues increase


Resolution No. 1 | Submitted by SPJ Resolutions Committee

Thanking SPJ President Hagit Limor for her service

Resolution Action: Approved

WHEREAS, the Society of Professional Journalists needs bright, articulate and hard working leaders — with cool names and the ability to survive devastating earthquakes and;

WHEREAS, during the past year President Hagit Limor (now that’s a cool name) has worked tirelessly to serve SPJ and its members, and to lead the organization in all areas of its mission and;

WHEREAS, President Limor has tackled challenges facing SPJ and the news media with enthusiasm, vigor and high levels of professionalism and;

WHEREAS, President Limor has served as a beacon for all members of SPJ but particularly for the broadcast members of SPJ and;

WHEREAS, under the leadership of President Limor and the SPJ staff, the 2011 Excellence in Journalism national conference in New Orleans, La., brought two major media organizations together — SPJ and the Radio-Television Digital News Association — to offer journalists throughout the country an array of training and education and;

WHEREAS, although small in stature President Limor has stood tall through her term in the face of significant challenges to SPJ and to the news industry;

THEREFORE, be it resolved that the SPJ convention of delegates thanks Hagit Limor for her dedicated service to the Society during her term as president.

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Resolution No. 2 | Submitted by the SPJ Resolutions Committee

Thanking SPJ Headquarters Staff for its service

Resolution Action: Approved

WHEREAS, the Society of Professional Journalists dominates the media organization landscape through its ongoing work in the areas of professional development, public access, ethics, diversity and First Amendment advocacy and;

WHEREAS, significant contributors to that effort are members of the SPJ headquarters staff and;

WHEREAS, no more important display of “talent, truth and energy” exists than the work done by the staff during the SPJ annual national journalism conference and;

WHEREAS, no one at the 2011 Excellence in Journalism national conference asks, “Who dat?” when referring to SPJ staff because staff members quickly achieve celebrity status wherever they go and;

WHEREAS, during the 2011 Excellence in Journalism national conference the SPJ staff again demonstrated high levels of professionalism, skill, ingenuity, nimbleness (when not on crutches) and a “can do” attitude and;

WHEREAS, SPJ relies heavily on the staff’s vast knowledge, high levels of patience, high thresholds for pain and friends in low places;

THEREFORE, be it resolved that the SPJ convention of delegates thanks the SPJ staff for all its work and gives the staff a hearty “well done” for its work on the 2011 Excellence in Journalism conference in New Orleans, La.

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Resolution No. 3 | Submitted by the SPJ Resolutions Committee

Thanking sponsors, donors and contributors for their support of the 2011 Excellence in Journalism national conference hosted by SPJ-RTDNA

Resolution Action: Approved

WHEREAS, ethical professional journalism that produces high quality and meaningful news on a diverse range of subjects and people cannot be achieved without ongoing professional development activities and;

WHEREAS, the 2011 Excellence in Journalism national conference hosted by the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio-Television Digital News Association has brought together an array of journalists from multiple mediums to attend sessions on all aspects of journalism and the media industry in order for them to become better equipped to provide quality news and;

WHEREAS, providing the kind of broad, high quality and effective training offered at the
2011 Excellence in Journalism national conference is almost impossible without strong financial support;

THEREFORE, be it resolved that the SPJ convention of delegates offers its hearty thanks to all donors and in-kind supporters of the 2011 Excellence in Journalism national conference and;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the SPJ convention of delegates thanks the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation for its significant financial contributions to the SPJ national conference’s educational efforts in New Orleans, La., and during the past decade.

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Resolution No. 4 | Submitted by the SPJ Journalism Education Committee

Calling for SPJ to maintain its membership in AEJMC

Resolution Action: Approved

WHEREAS, the Society of Professional Journalists greatly values its relationship with journalism educators as evidenced by its establishment of the Journalism Education Committee and;

WHEREAS, in recent years, high turnover among SPJ campus chapter advisers has resulted in some campus chapters becoming inactive and;

WHEREAS, campus advisers, as members of the Society, play a critical role in the viability of SPJ’s success in accomplishing its mission and;

WHEREAS, SPJ recently renewed its affiliate membership with the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), the nation’s largest organization of journalism educators and;

WHEREAS, unlike SPJ, a number of professional journalism organizations because of tough economic times have ended their AEJMC membership, an entity which accredits more than 100 journalism and mass communication programs and;

WHEREAS, taking part in accreditation reviews of journalism and mass communication programs offers a way for working journalists to maintain a connection to the academy and to ensure that programs preparing the next generation of journalists remain relevant;

THEREFORE, be it resolved that that the SPJ convention of delegates encourages SPJ to continue to help prepare the next generation of journalists by maintaining its AEJMC membership and;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that SPJ continues to look for ways to make it easier and affordable for journalism and mass communication faculty to have active roles in SPJ at the local level as campus chapter advisers and nationally on SPJ mission committees and the SPJ National Board of Directors.

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Resolution No. 5 | Submitted by the SPJ Ethics Committee

Opposing checkbook journalism

Resolution Action: Approved

WHEREAS, part of the mission of The Society of Professional Journalists is to “stimulate high standards and ethical behavior in the practice of journalism” and;

WHEREAS, the “SPJ Code of Ethics” urges journalists to “act independently,” in part by being “wary of sources offering information for favors or money,” and “avoid bidding for news” and;

WHEREAS, instances “checkbook journalism” — paying sources for access to them — by the news media have continued and;

WHEREAS, ABC News acknowledged making such payments, described as “licensing deals,” most recently $215,000 paid to multiple sources in the Casey Anthony murder trial and;

WHEREAS, ABC spokesman Jeffrey Schneider told The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz such deals “had become a crutch and an unnecessary one”;

THEREFORE, be it resolved that the SPJ convention of delegates applauds ABC’s decision to shun checkbook journalism practices and;

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED, that the SPJ convention of delegates urges all news organizations to avoid payments to news sources, as recommended in the “SPJ Code of Ethics.”

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Resolution No. 6 | Submitted by the SPJ Diversity Committee

Minority hiring gap

Resolution Action: Approved

WHEREAS, data from the 2010 Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Enrollments showed that the 36.3 percent of students classified as members of a racial or ethnic minority made up a larger percentage of enrolled students in journalism and mass communication programs in fall 2010 than at any point in the history of the field and;

WHEREAS, results from 2010 Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Graduates showed racial or ethnic minorities continue to have much more difficulty finding work than do those not classified as racial or ethnic minorities and;

WHEREAS, the 17.1-percent hiring gap between minority and non-minority students in 2010 is the largest ever recorded in the history of the survey and;

WHEREAS, even as media outlets participating in the American Society of News Editors’ annual census showed a very slim increase in newsroom employees last year, the percentage of minorities in those newsrooms declined .47 percentage points to 12.79 percent and;
WHEREAS, this was the third consecutive year that the percentage of African-American, Asian, Latino and Native American journalists decreased and;

WHEREAS, data from the Radio-TV Digital News Association’s 2010 survey showed that the number of minorities at television news outlets decreased from 2009, thus ending the decade with no gains and;
WHEREAS, diversity is one of the core missions of the Society of Professional Journalists;

THEREFORE, be it resolved that the SPJ convention of delegates calls on news organizations to re-double their efforts to ensure staffs reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the increasingly diverse communities they serve and;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the SPJ convention of delegates encourages SPJ to call on journalism and mass communication programs to increase efforts through their placement offices and career services departments to help students from historically under-represented racial and ethnic groups find employment and;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the SPJ convention of delegates encourages SPJ through the SPJ Diversity Committee to work in conjunction with the National Association of Black Journalists and UNITY: Journalists of Color to develop programming during 2012 conferences to address ways to bridge the hiring gap that exists between minority and non-minority undergraduate students in journalism and mass communication and;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be sent to all members of the American Society of News Editors; those classified as news directors who are members of the Radio-Television Digital News Association; and journalism deans and directors who are members of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication (ASJMC) with a letter signed by the Society’s president and the SPJ Diversity Committee Chair.

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Resolution No. 7 | Submitted by the SPJ Diversity Committee

The use of “illegal alien” and “illegal immigrant” in news stories

Resolution Action: Approved (voice vote)

WHEREAS, the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics urges all journalists to be "honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information" and;

WHEREAS, mainstream news reports are increasingly using the politically charged phrase “illegal immigrant” and the more offensive and bureaucratic “illegal alien” to describe undocumented immigrants, particularly Latinos and;

WHEREAS, a fundamental principle embedded in our U.S. Constitution is that everyone (including non-citizens) is considered innocent of any crime until proven guilty in a court of law and;

WHEREAS, this constitutional doctrine, often described as "innocent-until-proven-guilty," applies not just to U.S. Citizens but to everyone in the United States and;

WHEREAS, only the court system, not reporters and editors, can decide when a person has committed an “illegal” act and;

WHEREAS, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists is also concerned with the increasing use of pejorative and potentially inaccurate terms to describe the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the United States;

THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists convention of delegates: urges journalists and style guide editors to stop the use of illegal alien and encourage continuous discussion and re-evaluation of the use of illegal immigrant in news stories.

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Resolution No. 8 | Submitted by the SPJ Resolutions Committee

Passage of a federal shield law

Resolution Action: Approved

WHEREAS, the First Amendment’s promise of an independent news media cannot be fulfilled unless journalists can protect the confidentiality of news sources and;

WHEREAS, in 2005, the Society of Professional Journalists went on record supporting the passage of a federal shield law, titled “The Free Flow of Information Act” and;

WHEREAS, “The Free Flow of Information Act” received the support of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2007 and 2009, and gained the approval of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in 2007 and;

WHEREAS, “The Free Flow of Information Act” has yet to come to a vote in the Senate and;

WHEREAS, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., has reintroduced “The Free Flow of Information Act 2011”;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the SPJ convention of delegates urges speedy passage of legislation creating a federal shield law by the House and the Senate, and that the president of the United States sign it into law and;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be sent to the majority leader and whip, and the minority leader of the Senate, and to the speaker, majority leader and minority leader of the House, and to the president of the United States.

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Resolution No. 9 | Submitted by the SPJ Fort Worth Professional Chapter

Reinstating the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award

Resolution Action: Failed (voice vote)

WHEREAS, the Society of Professional Journalists supports First Amendment rights, including the freedom of speech, and recognizes that journalists may express controversial and unpopular views from time to time as part of the exercise of that right and;

WHEREAS, SPJ in 2000 created an award in the name of Helen Thomas, a living SPJ member, to recognize her and future journalists for lifetime achievements in journalism and commitment to First Amendment rights;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the SPJ convention of delegates, while not expressing agreement with certain remarks by Helen Thomas, direct the SPJ Board of Directors to reinstate the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award, effective immediately.

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Resolution No. 10 | Submitted by SPJ members Peter Y. Sussman, Clayton Woullard, Brandon Ballenger, Dorothy Bowles, Andy Schotz, Christine Tatum, Jane Kirtley, Paul LaRocque, James Craven, Lloyd H Weston, Ruth Ann Harnisch, Ian Williams, Richard Knee, Vicky Katz Whitaker, Brian H. Eckert, Steven D. Kalb, Elenora Edwards, Joel Campbell, Donald W. Meyers, Linda Jue, Meg Tebo, Frank Gibson, Bruce Brugmann, David Gordon and Karen Callaway

Reinstating the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award

Resolution Action: Failed (71 for; 85 opposed)

BE IT RESOLVED, that the SPJ convention of delegates direct national officers to restore the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award effective Dec. 1, 2011.

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Resolution No. 11 | Submitted by the SPJ Connecticut Pro Chapter

SPJ membership dues increase

Resolution Action: Failed (31 for; 99 opposed)

WHEREAS, SPJ's current annual dues can discourage membership by low- or moderate-income journalists as well as those who are out of work and;

WHEREAS, further increasing dues can safely be projected to worsen that pattern and;

WHEREAS, there is no projection for the national economic slump or the news industry's financial woes to improve in the near-term future and;

WHEREAS, SPJ's board has put forward no compelling case for how a dues increase would improve service to membership and;

WHEREAS, the pay and benefits, and working conditions for very many of SPJ’s dues-paying members continue to be stagnant or declining and;

WHEREAS, Article 9 Section One of the SPJ bylaws states: “The convention shall be the supreme legislative body of the organization.”

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the SPJ convention of delegates overrules the SPJ Board of Directors’ decision to increase dues, and forbid a dues increase prior to the 2012 convention of delegates.

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