By Scott Leadingham
SPJ Communications Department
RECOVERING MELON. Forty-seven hours after checking in to Indiana University Hospital for his second brain surgery in 15 months to remove a recurrent, malignant glioma, SPJ and SDX Foundation Executive Director Terry Harper strolled out of the hospital on his way home to recuperate before starting the next round of chemotherapy. Terry reports that his neurosurgeon feels confident that he was able to remove everything bad that was visible to the naked eye, as well as what showed up on the stealth-guided MRI. Before closing Terry up, the neurosurgeon inserted four low-dose chemotherapy wafers that will dissolve over the next two to three weeks, and, hopefully, attack and kill any microscopic cancer cells that might remain. Terry is periodically updating his blog, Thumping My Melon, and welcomes e-mail at TerryHarper@yahoo.com. Terry tells us he is already starting to feel restless at home!
Any SPJ or SDX Foundation e-mail sent to Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org is being automatically forwarded to Associate Executive Director Joe Skeel, who is holding down the fort during Terry's absence. Terry is expected to return to his duties in mid- to late November. The SPJ staff hopes Terry will return ASAP, as Joe has let the power go to his head and frequently imposes arbitrary fitness tests such as push-ups and laps around the building.
INTO THE BLOGOSPHERE. It seems as if many journalists have blogs these days, and SPJ is no exception. The SPJ blogroll has updates from numerous SPJ committees. Some recent posts include:
Tips on covering gay marriage on the diversity blog, "Who's News?"
Clarifying the difference between Arab and Muslim on the blog for Arab-American journalism issues, "ah-Sahafiyeen (the Journalists)."
Motivating bored newsroom staffers to explore new and social media on "Technolo-j," the blog that explores the intersection of journalism and technology.
John Marshall highlighting the best in American journalism on the "News Gems" blog.
Chicago police confiscate the camera and erase digital files of a freelance reporter on "FOI FYI," the blog of the Freedom of Information Committee.
PRESIDENTIAL THOUGHTS. And speaking of blogging, SPJ President Dave Aeikens takes a few minutes out of his day to record his thoughts and experiences as our humble leader. Aside from numerous media interviews, preparing for the upcoming SPJ Centennial celebration and doing his full-time job (Minnesota newspaper reporter), he recently took a trip to Ft. Worth, Texas to visit the local SPJ chapter. Dave explains how going to Fort Worth has become a tradition for whomever serves as SPJ president.
PAY-PER-VIEW, BUT IN PERSON. It's nothing new for media outlets to pay for amenities such as travel, food, lodging and Internet service while covering campaigns. In fact, a campaign providing such things for free presents an ethical no-no that journalists should avoid. But is there a line between paying for amenities and paying for premium access? And, if so, is the Obama campaign in murky waters by making such a request? The campaign is charging media outlets between $410 and $1,870 for access to certain viewing and seating areas during the outdoor election night rally in Chicago. This has some, including former SPJ President and current Ethics Committee member Fred Brown, a little concerned. It should be noted that a free press area with limited services will be available during the rally, however.
THANKS, GOOGLE. Google is more than a major company, it's a verb. And if one of the things you're "Googling" (or "Yahooing" or "MSNing," to be fair) is newspaper endorsements of presidential candidates, you no longer have to search for one at a time. A journalism-technology blog called "10,000 Words.net" is using Google Maps to make an interactive map of major newspaper endorsements of McCain and Obama. The site even provides links to the actual endorsements.
WHO NEEDS VIDEOGRAPHERS? NOT WSJ. Remember the not-too-distant past when newspapers were just that papers? The shift to online content has brought newspapers into the video business. Many newspapers have been using video to compliment their online reporting for several years. But The Wall Street Journal is particularly pleased to point out that their reporters are trained as jacks-of-all-trades. Whereas some papers hire separate videographers, WSJ Deputy Managing Editor Alan Murray is happy to say (in a video... ) that the paper's reporters are responsible for shooting video.
REAL LIFE WEDDING CRASHERS. With as much negative heat journalists take for myriad reasons, it's hard to believe some people actually want to pretend to be members of the fourth estate. Marleene Naanes of amNewYork, a city news and culture publication, writes of the increase in people posing as reporters in an attempt to sneak into swanky charity events. Although imposters are a normal occurrence with such events, PR firms have noticed more in recent months. The explanation? One PR professional believes it could be partially due to the weakening economy and people seeking free food and drink.
IT'S A BIRD, IT'S A PLANE, IT'S... BAT BOY? Bread, milk, butter... fake news tabloid? If your weekly shopping routine used to include the out-of-print Weekly World News famous for such wacky content as alien/celebrity weddings and ominous pictures of the devil's face in smoke plumes you might have reason to celebrate. WWN stopped printing in 2007 after circulation fell from a high of 1.2 million to below 90,000. A new owner, Bat Boy L.L.C., recently bought the publication and plans to revive it on both the Web and in print. There's even talk of licensing notable recurring headline-grabbing characters, such as the half-breed Bat Boy, for toy figures and movie deals.
CRUSIN' AND YOU'RE INVITED. The International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association invites all SPJ members to join its annual conference at sea! The event takes place Jan. 3-10, 2009, on the Holland America MS Oosterdam. The cruise departs San Diego and tours the western ports of Mexico. Pricing and registration details are available at the IFWTWA Web site, or contact SPJ member and IFWTWA board member Michelle Winner.