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Home > Publications > SPJ Leads > Open Government Progress, Call for UNITY and Convention Updates

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SPJ Leads | 7/10/2008
Open Government Progress, Call for UNITY and Convention Updates


Alyson Ahrns
SPJ Communications Department

HITTING THE HILL. SPJ leaders are on Capitol Hill today and Friday to lobby Congress for the passage of a federal shield law. The group's lobbying comes at a most opportune time as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced this week that the shield law legislation will come to the floor for a vote before the August recess.

"This trip to Washington is extremely important in accomplishing SPJ's mission of getting a federal shield law passed," SPJ President Clint Brewer said. "Being a physical presence on Capitol Hill sends a strong message to Congress that we believe America is not a place where journalists should be compelled to give up their confidential sources."

To voice your support for a federal shield law, contact your local lawmakers. To contact members of the U.S. House of Representatives, visit for a list of U.S. Senate members, visit To learn more about SPJ's efforts to pass a federal shield law, please visit SPJ's federal shield law page.

KEEPING IT OPEN! The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Electronic Message Preservation Act (H.R. 5811) today by a vote of 286 to 137, scoring a victory for openness in federal agency e-mails.

Earlier in the week, SPJ joined and other organizations in a letter of support for the legislation. The act preserves White House e-mails and requires systems to collect and maintain electronic communication in federal agencies. This legislation (which has the usual exemptions for e-mails that would harm national security, privacy, etc.) will help historians and journalists better understand what is happening and why.

SHIELD LAW SUCCESS. Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle signed the state's shield law bill into law last week, providing more protection to journalists who are asked to reveal the identities of their confidential sources. The law was passed unanimously by both houses in late April. Hawaii is now the 36th state to adopt a shield law for journalists. Read more details about Hawaii journalists' protections in specific scenarios in the full article.

GET THE WORM. Early-bird registration for the 2008 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference is almost over! Discounted rates run through July 28 and are only $185 for professional members and $135 for students, advisers and retirees. Room rates at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta are $160 through Aug. 6 or until the room block fills. The convention will take place Sept. 4-7 in Atlanta. Surf over to SPJ's Convention page to register or get information about programming, hotel and travel, a roommate request and other conference details. While you're there, you can also check out some of the A-list attractions Atlanta has to offer on the local attractions page. Hurry up, and register today!

STUDENTS: CASH FOR CONVENTION. Applications are being accepted for the Robert D.G. Lewis First Amendment Award. SPJ and the Lewis family present this award to a student member of SPJ who has demonstrated outstanding service to the First Amendment through the field of journalism. for complete details or contact Heather PorterPlease visit the awards page. The $500 cash award must be used toward attending the 2008 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference in Atlanta. The application deadline is July 14.

REGISTER TODAY FOR STORYTELLING AT ITS BEST. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tom Hallman Jr. will share the art of storytelling during a Narrative Writing Workshop on July 26 at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Va. The program is $40 for SPJ members and $60 for non-members. Lunch is included. Hurry up and register today; a $20 late fee will be charged for anyone registering after midnight, July 11. For complete details or to register, visit SPJ's Narrative Writing Workshops page or contact Programs Coordinator Heather Porter at (317) 927-8000, ext. 204.

OR TRY VISUAL JOURNALISM. Western Washington University is hosting a Visual Journalism Conference on Saturday, July 19 and Sunday, July 20 to bring students and professionals together to learn about the latest advancements in the journalism industry. The conference will feature discussions on photography, audio, video and graphic design from the best in the business! The cost is $50 for students and $105 for professionals lunch and snacks are included in the admission price! Want more info? Visit the Visual Journalism Conference page.

CALL FOR UNITY. Are you headed to Chicago for the UNITY '08 Convention July 23-27? SPJ will be there too! The Society will have a booth at the convention and we would love to have any of our members join us there. If you would like to volunteer to work the SPJ booth, please contact Chris Vachon. And don't forget to check out UNITY '08's Web site to learn more about the nation's largest gathering of journalists of color.

AND BEFORE UNITY '08. The Poynter Institute will host a Pre-UNITY Workshop at The Chicago Tribune offices July 22 and 23. "Diversity in the Digital Age" invites 40 journalists to discuss the reason why diversity in newsrooms is not a top priority even when a diverse staff helps reporters better connect with their audience and cover the news most accurately. Read the article on Poynter Online to get all the details about this thought-provoking workshop.

WHISTLEBLOWER WEB SITE. Wikileaks was launched just last year, but is already making an impact on jounalism. Wikileaks is a Web site that allows whistleblowers to publish government, industry and military secrets for the world to use, some of which have already led to takedown threats and caused the site to be briefly shut down in the United States. Read more about what some Wikileaks' secrets have helped uncover and how founder Julian Assange launched (and re-launched) the site in this WIRED article.

BLOG BONANZA. SPJ has added two great new blogs to'salready massive collection . SPJ Works allows for an even stronger connection between SPJ members and headquarters. This blog offers the staff members' perspectives on recent SPJ events. Check out the latest posts about the Scripps Leadership Institute and SPJ's Narrative Writing Workshops. While you're at SPJ Works, check out SPJ's other new blog, SPJ Varsity. This new spot offers sports writers a common place to post and discuss the latest happenings in the sports world. Check back for new additions to both SPJ Works and SPJ Varsity weekly!

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