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

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SPJ Leads | 7/17/2008
Open Government Progress, Call for UNITY and Convention Updates


Alyson Ahrns
SPJ Communications Department

COVERAGE FROM THE HILL. SPJ leaders were on Capitol Hill last week to lobby Congress for the passage of a federal shield law. The group's lobbying came at a most opportune time as Sen. 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.

Different congressional publications in the D.C. area covered our leaders' lobbying trip. Take some time to read the detailed Politico article or The Hill's summarized brief.

To voice your support for a federal shield law, contact your local lawmakers. Reach members of the U.S. House of Representatives at 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.

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!

BLOG UPDATES. SPJ has added two great new blogs to's already 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 most recent posts about the latest issue of Quill magazine 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!

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 audiences and cover the news most accurately. Read the article on Poynter Online to get all the details about this thought-provoking workshop.

KEEP IT OPEN! SPJ joined and other organizations to submit a letter of support for H.R. 5811 (a.k.a the Electronic Communications Preservation Act). This act would require the U.S. Archivist to establish standards for the capture, management and preservation of White House e-mails, and to issue regulations requiring federal agencies to preserve e-mails in electronic form. The U.S. House of Representatives passed this act last week by a vote of 286 to 137, scoring a victory for openness in federal agency e-mails. For more information, visit SPJ's FOI blog.

LAST CHANCE FOR STORYTELLING. 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 now applies. 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.

OFFICIAL OLYMPIC FREEDOM. Despite China's promise to allow foreign journalists to report on the country freely, specifically for next month's Olympic Games, journalists' lives and work were still being threatened in the country until last week. Last Friday, Li Changchun, China's fifth-ranked official and member of the powerful Politburo, announced journalists should officially be able to report freely in the country. Read more about Changchun's official announcement in the TIME article.

SPEAKING OF JOURNALISM OVERSEAS. Several of America's most popular magazines are finding equal fame in India. Indian versions of American hits like Vogue, OK!, Reader's Digest and Rolling Stone are flying off the shelves, making the country one of the world's brightest spots for magazine publishing. Check out the full New York Times article to learn what makes the medium such a hit out East.

CAN JOURNALISM BE FUNNY? We've all heard and read the outcry against The New Yorker's Obama cover cartoon this past week. No matter what your personal feelings on it are, it's important to view this action and the subsequent reactions as a question for the journalism industry: Does satire have a place in journalism? PoynterOnline's Kelly McBride sure hopes so. Read her answer to this question and post your own at PoynterOnline's Everyday Ethics page.

RELIGION MATTERS. Have you noticed that religion has been a major topic of interest in this year's general election? The Pew Research Center has. From January 2007 to April 2008, the Center analyzed the coverage of religion in the campaign through the majority of the primary season, and the results will be helpful to journalists if asked to cover the issue of religion between now and November. View Pew's full findings here.

GIRL POWER. The McCormick Foundation New Media Women Entrepreneurs have chosen the most fresh and intriguing ideas women have for the future of news. The winners of the group's competition were chosen from a collection of 190 proposals received in just nine weeks. The top proposals included ideas for public storytelling installations, a networking site for Puget Sound's military community and a news site for and by Latinas. Each winner will receive $10,000 to launch their innovative project, and group leaders will be blogging about their experience on the New Media Women's Web site.

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