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By Gena Asher
Adjunct Lecturer, J-School Web Editor — Indiana University
BLOWING THE WHISTLE! SPJ, along with 112 other organizations, signed a letter to federal legislators in support of increased protections for whistleblowers. The letter calls upon Congress to complete legislation to restore a credible Whistleblower Protection Act, which would grant employees the right to a jury trial in federal court, would protect federal scientists who report efforts to alter or suppress research and would extend protections to FBI and intelligence agency whistleblowers, among other protections. Read SPJ's statement.
FURTHER SUPPORT THE BRAVE. Without whistleblowers, the public might never know the truth about government dealings. As journalists, it's our responsibility to keep a balanced check on government. To help in our responsibilities, consider the following:
— Take time to get educated: Brown bag forums can be a great way to learn about the issues. Over lunch, consider hosting a discussion about whistleblowing. To learn more about the Government Accountability Project, visit Whistleblower.org.
— Write stories: Consider writing op-eds or talk to your editor or news director about writing or producing an informative piece about whistleblowing that caters to readers or viewers.
— Let your voice be heard: When citizens write, Congress listens. Take a few minutes to write a letter in support of H.R. 985 and S. 274. Find your Congressman at House.gov or Senate.gov. A sample letter can be found on the Whistleblower Action Web site.
CAMPAIGN 2008. SPJ is seeking qualified individuals to serve as officers and directors for 2008-2009. The board of directors provides vision, direction and leadership to SPJ, the nation's largest journalism organization.
Elections will be held on Saturday, Sept. 6 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, in conjunction with the 2008 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference. The following officers and directors will be elected:
— President-elect (1-year term)
— Secretary-Treasurer (1-year term)
— Campus Chapter Adviser at Large
— Director at Large (2-year term)
— Campus Representatives (two for a 1-year terms each)
— Region 1 Director (2-year term)
— Region 4 Director (2-year term)
— Region 5 Director (2-year term)
— Region 7 Director (2-year term)
— Region 8 Director (2-year term)
— Region 9 Director (2-year term)
— Region 10 Director (1-year unexpired term)
Please review Articles VI and VII of the SPJ bylaws for descriptions and qualifications.
Interested candidates should contact Immediate Past-President Christine Tatum at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. Although there is no deadline to throw one's hat into the ring, any candidate wishing to have his/her candidacy announced in Quill must meet a June 18 copy deadline.
AND SPEAKING OF CONVENTION.... Registration is now open for the 2008 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference in Atlanta. This year's conference is sure to have something for everyone. Check out the growing list of professional development programs where you can find everything from photojournalism for reporters to tips for covering ethnic communities. And don't forget SPJ's Half-Day Training Workshops. More information on these educational opportunities is coming soon.
WANTED: PAGE DESIGNER, PHOTOGRAPHER. The Society is looking for two student journalists to round out this year's Working Press staff. The Working Press is a daily tabloid newspaper that covers the national convention, Sept. 4-6, in Atlanta. If you, or someone you know, are interested in this great internship opportunity, please contact Joe Skeel at as soon as possible. In your e-mail please provide a cover letter, résumé, list of references and three samples of your work (which will not be returned, by the way). Don't delay. We will fill these two spots as soon as possible.
NATIONAL HONORS. Throughout the year, the Society seeks nominations for its highest national honors. As a member, you have the opportunity to leave feedback about the candidates so that the SPJ executive committee is better informed when selecting honorees. Please visit the Awards Candidates page to view the nominees and comment form. To leave feedback, you must be logged into the "For Members" section of the SPJ Web site and provide your SPJ membership number on the feedback form. Anonymous feedback will not be accepted or reviewed. The identities of those offering comments will not be disclosed beyond the executive committee and staff. Questions? Contact Heather Porter at email@example.com.
SUNSHINE AWARDS DAY. The South Florida Pro chapter awarded its Sunshine State Awards last Saturday, with top honors going to two reporters who investigated loopholes in the state's gun laws. Megan O'Matz and John Maines of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, won the James Batten Award for Public Service for their series on firearm regulations. Miami Times reporter Isaiah Thompson won the Gene Miller Award for Investigative Reporting for his series on sex offenders living under a bridge. See the complete list of winners and read what keynote speakers had to say about investigative journalism.
ETHNIC MEDIA TRAINING IN IDAHO. Join SPJ's Freedom of Information Chairman David Cuillier for a training program at the University of Idaho, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., June 21. The program aims to strengthen reporting and information gathering skills with training on the use of public records. Additionally, sessions will focus on covering tribal governments, including how to access public records on reservations and Native lands. Cost is $10 and the first 25 non-members to register will receive a complimentary six-month SPJ membership. The registration deadline is May 31. Act now. For more information, e-mail program coordinator Becky Tallent.
REACHING OUT TO CITIZENS. There's still time to register for the June 28 Citizen Journalism Academy in Los Angeles. This one-day workshop will explore ethics, media law, access to public meetings and records, best practices, smart writing and using technology. Cost is $25, which includes lunch and course materials. Visit SPJ's Citizen Journalism Academy page for more info and to register.
STORYTELLING AT ITS BEST. SPJ will host Narrative Writing Workshops on June 14 at the University of Florida and June 21 at the University of Houston. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tom Hallman Jr. will lead the workshops and share the art of storytelling. Programs will be from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and cost $40 for SPJ members and $60 for non-members. Lunch is included. Late fees apply for registrations received less than two weeks before each workshop. For complete details or to register, visit SPJ's Narrative Writing Workshops page or call Programs Coordinator Heather Porter at (317) 927-8000, ext. 204.
WITTY? ELOQUENT? APPLY FOR BASTIAT PRIZE. June 30 is the deadline for applications for the Bastiat Prize for Journalism, a $15,000 award for articles published in print or online that "wittily and eloquently explain, promote and defend the principles of the free society." Sponsored by the International Policy Network, the prize is in honor of 19th century French philosopher Frederic Bastiat. Get the scoop and download the application at IPN's Web site.
PRACTICE HEALTH JOURNALISM. Apply now for the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship, an all-expense-paid seminar series offered to print, broadcast and digital journalists from general circulation, specialty health care and ethnic media. The seminar has two sessions, both in Los Angeles. Session 1 is July 31 to Aug. 3 and the second is Oct. 23-26. USC's Annenberg School for Communications hosts the fellowships. But, hurry! The deadline to apply in June 27.
YOUNG READERS SUCCUMB TO "NEWS FATIGUE". Young people experience "news fatigue," feeling overloaded with facts and updates, and have trouble connecting to more in-depth stories, according to a study from AP and Context Based Research Group, an ethnographic research firm. Subjects yearned for quality and in-depth reporting, researchers found, but also relied on e-mail alerts for their news. As anyone who has worked with college students could guess, this generation consumes news while multitasking, very different from previous generations that would focus on reading newspapers or watching news broadcasts. Read the details and see AP's ideas for a new model to address these changes.
HIGH SCHOOL JOURNALISTS DO IT BETTER — NATCH! Journalists already know this one: High school students who study journalism earn better high school grades, perform at higher levels on college entrance exams and receive higher grades in college writing and grammar courses than students who lack that experience. Through experience in high school media, they also hone their critical thinking, leadership and self-management abilities, according to the High School Journalism Matters study released by the Newspaper Association of America in May.
The research was conducted by Jack Dvorak, Ph.D., director of the High School Journalism Institute and a professor at the School of Journalism at Indiana University.
WHY IS "MADRASSA" A SCARY WORD? Wonder why news of Barack Obama attending a "madrassa" as a child churned up images of an elementary terrorist training camp? Ray Hanania is wondering, too, and sets out to clarify words and phrases from the Arab world on his blog, al-Sahafiyeen or "The Journalists." In addition to his dictionary of words and phrases, he also links readers to the National Arab American Journalists Association. Check out al-Sahafiyeen's list of words. Note: According to Hanania, "madrassa" is "little more than the Arabic word for school."