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Home > Publications > SPJ Leads > Senate Stall, Top 10 Newspapers and More Olympic Censorship

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SPJ Leads | 7/31/2008
Senate Stall, Top 10 Newspapers and More Olympic Censorship


Alyson Ahrns
SPJ Communications Department

SHIELD LAW STALLS. The Free Flow of Information Act, commonly known as the federal shield law, was finally introduced to the Senate yesterday, but was stalled when it failed to pass cloture on the motion to proceed. But don't fret hope is not lost! The vote had more to do with "politics" than merit. Many who voted against the bill said they did so to keep the focus on energy legislation. The shield law bill can be brought up again when Congress reassembles in September, and there is still a very slim chance it could be brought up before this session closes tomorrow. Read more about the Senate's decision in the SPJ news release and in Thursday's Wall Street Journal article.

SPJ still needs your help in encouraging senators to vote in favor of the Free Flow of Information Act. Contact information can be found at

To see a list of those who voted against bringing the bill to the Senate floor for a vote, see the roll call.

IF YOU NEED SOME EXAMPLES.... Reporters around the country have written editorials supporting the federal shield law. Many of these were written before Wednesday's stall in the Senate, but they provide great information and a solid template for e-mails or letters you can send to your senators expressing the need for this important piece of legislation. Just a few of these editorials are listed below:

Nashville City Paper
Knoxville News
The Gainesville Sun

CONVENTION UPDATES. Have you checked out the newest updates to the SPJ convention Web site? Several additions have been made to the Professional Development Programs agenda. Also, the bios for the 2008 campaign candidates are now up. The Web site is updated frequently, so make it a daily stop to ensure you stay as up-to-date on this year's convention happenings as possible!

AIRLINE AID. If you've noticed the rapid economic decline of the airline industry lately, you're not alone. Rising fuel costs, economic slowdown and difficulty raising capital for operations have all led to a reduction in services in some areas, abandonment of services in others and industrywide layoffs at major airlines. And as a result, consumers are suffering with higher costs and fewer options. Due to this trend, The Foundation for American Communications (FACS) and SPJ decided to present a tele-seminar on airline industry issues Thursday, Aug. 7, at 2 p.m. EST. Featured speakers will include Daniel M. Kasper and Darin N. Lee, both of LECG, LLC, a company that provides expert analytical and advisory services to corporations and governments. Participation is free for working journalists, but advance registration is required. For further details or to register, visit the FACS Web site. To register, click on "Seminars," and then select "Registration" on the dropdown.

LIKE A BOY SCOUT, BE PREPARED. Worried you'll be on the next buyout/layoff list at your publication? That concern seems to be in the back of every journalist's mind these days. To ease your worry, the South Florida Pro Chapter will conduct a free panel discussion Aug. 7 to address the crippling affects of these buyouts and layoffs in the journalism industry. Topics to be addressed include: freelancing, employment law, financial planning and life after journalism. Please visit the South Florida Pro Web site or call Julie Kay at (954) 303-3384 for more information.

FOR FREELANCERS. The Society of American Business Editors and Writers will host a teleconference Tuesday at 11 a.m. EST to educate any journalists interested in trying their hand at freelancing. The teleconference will include suggestions for developing story ideas, where and how to offer those ideas, life as a journalistic entrepreneur and much more. Speakers include Marci Alboher, columnist and blogger for The New York Times; Greg Daughtery, full-time magazine editor and part-time freelancer for nearly 30 years; and Ann Marsh, former staff writer for Forbes magazine. To join in, call (218) 936-7999. You will be prompted for an access code (316748). Check out SPJ's freelancer blog, The Independent Journalist, for more details.

COLLEGE NEWSPAPER COMPETITOR. Like all newspapers, college newspapers have had to confront online competition and potential declines in ad revenue. Many college publications now have another competitor to add to the list the company that hosts their Web sites. Campus Daily Guides, a network of Web sites by MTV Networks' college channel mtvU, was introduced by mtvU representatives and is clearly targeted to the same audiences as college newspaper Web sites. Understandably, students at colleges affected by the announcement are concerned. Read their worries and more details about Campus Daily Guides in the Inside Higher Ed article.

CITIZEN JOURNALISTS' COMPETITION. A past edition of SPJ Leads mentioned the NBC contest calling for citizen journalists who wanted to cover either the Democratic or Republican National Convention for The winners are expected to be announced this week. Read what some of the 100-plus entrants said in their application videos, which involved techniques from simply listing credentials to rapping about playing hardball with Chris Matthews, here.

BEST OF THE BEST. Editor & Publisher announced its annual "10 That Do It Right" feature this week, which focuses on how newspapers are performing extremely well in one particular aspect, such as marketing or online video, that deserves recognition and can serve as a model for other newspapers. In its eighth year for this feature, E&P decided to allow newspapers to nominate their peers and "were delighted to find not the rambling 'we do everything right' boasts we kind of expected." Read E&Ps picks and all the nominations on the E&P Web site.

CHINA STILL CENSORING. Remember China's promise during its bid for the Olympics that it would give journalists complete freedom? Well...not so much. Journalists are still being given restrictions on what they can and cannot do or use to do their job. This week, China's rulers announced their decision to limit what Web sites journalists can access on the Internet while in the country covering the Olympics next month. Organizers said they would not back down on Internet censorship despite public outcry because it defied Chinese law. Want more details? Click here.

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