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For more than 100 years the Society of Professional Journalists has been dedicated to encouraging a climate in which journalism can be practiced more freely and fully, stimulating high standards and ethical behavior in the practice of journalism and perpetuating a free press.
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Since its founding in 1961, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation has promoted excellence and ethics in journalism. The SDX Foundation is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization that supports the educational programs of the Society of Professional Journalists and serves the professional needs of journalists and students pursuing careers in journalism.
Excellence in Journalism is the national journalism conference of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association. Join us in September in Nashville for training, networking, workshops and more!
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By Scott Leadingham
SPJ Communications Department
A RATHER IMPORTANT CALL. Over the past several weeks, SPJ has pushed you — perhaps to the point of exhaustion — to submit program proposals for the 2009 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference. Here's one final push, as if you didn't see it coming: Submit your innovative program ideas now. The deadline is Dec. 19 . . . just a few short days away! Programs should contain leading-edge information; emphasize training, learning and performance; be "how-to" and hands-on; focus on skill-building; provide personal development strategies; and comprise no more than two presenters. Check out the details and submit your proposal online.
CALLING 'EM OUT. Keeping in line with the SPJ's goal of maintaining high ethical standards for the industry, the ethics committee recently released a statement that called NBC News into check for an ethical oversight involving a military analyst appearing in news broadcasts. Notable media critic, author and Columbia Journalism Review columnist Charles Kaiser picked up on the story, granting the distinction "winner" to president Dave Aeikens and SPJ.
DON'T FORGET TO JUDGE. Judges are still needed in certain categories for the Mark of Excellence and Sigma Delta Chi Awards. Vacancies remain for the photo illustration and radio sports categories in the MOE contest, and judges are needed for the documentary categories for the SDX Awards. Judges for MOE must have three to five years of professional experience. SDX judges must have at least 10 years of professional experience. If interested, e-mail a bio detailing your professional experience and category of interest to Awards Coordinator Lauren Rochester. For more information, please visit the SPJ awards page.
SPEAKING OF JUDGES. Does your chapter or region have an upcoming awards contest? Take a page from "Joe the Plumber's" book of rallying calls and spread the wealth.The Pittsburgh Pro Chapter would like to hear from other chapters interested in arranging contest judging swaps. E-mail Ginny Frizzi or call (412) 392-3987.
THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL. No, it's not fruitcake, not even tickets to the presidential inauguration. During everyone's favorite time of year, Chrismahanukwanzakah, give the gift of membership in SPJ. There's no better way than to purchase a gift membership for your friends and colleagues. But don't forget to treat yourself. If you are finding the times a bit tough — and who isn't in this economy? — put an SPJ membership renewal on your wish list. It's always good to get a little help from your friends and family. E-mail Langela Walker or call (317) 927-8000, ext. 200, to make the magic happen.
LEADERSHIP LADDER. Who's next in line to lead your chapter? It's never too early to begin preparing your incoming president for a successful term. The Ted Scripps Leadership Institute is an SPJ program that offers student and professional chapter leaders a mix of sessions focused on interpersonal and organizational leadership skills, as well as sound chapter management practices. The all-expenses paid weekend retreat takes place in Indianapolis on June 5-7. It's designed to promote strong leadership in the Society. Applications are due March 16. Those who will be serving as a chapter president during 2009-10 are encouraged to apply. Questions? E-mail Professional Development Coordinator Heather Porter. The Ted Scripps Leadership Training Institute is funded by a generous grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation.
FACS-INATING SEMINAR. The Foundation for American Communications (FACS) is teaming with SPJ to present "What Drives Detroit — V" on Saturday, Jan. 10, at the Detroit Free Press. Presented on the eve of the Detroit Auto Show press preview week, this daylong seminar has become a first stop for journalists who cover the auto industry. With the U.S. auto industry in distress and the nation's economy in recession, the fifth annual "What Drives Detroit" seminar takes a hard look at how the financial crisis affects automakers and auto dealers. The program includes breakfast and lunch. It's free for journalists, but participants must register in advance. Space is limited. For details or to register, see the FACS Web site.
QUOTABLE MEMBERS. Author and journalism professor Mark Grabowski is seeking sources for an upcoming book on becoming a journalist in the Internet age. The target audience for the book is students and entry-level job seekers. Grabowski would like to interview SPJ members with perspectives on how to obtain jobs out of college and how the market is demanding new skills of journalists. Such information may also be used for the professor's Web site, cubreporters.org. E-mail Professor Grabowski if interested in contributing.
OPINIONATED OUTSOURCING. Jobs in the United States being outsourced to other countries is not a new trend. For years business leaders in U.S. manufacturing and industrial sectors have sought to reduce labor costs by filling jobs overseas. However, it's a little odd to think about the local cub reporter actually being on another continent, say, Asia. A recent opinion column by Indiana Daily Student writer Mitchell Blatt laments the practice. "India offers cheap labor, but this is not the future of journalism," writes Blatt.
CONTROVERSY SANS COFFEE. Although the rest of the country might be arguing whether Seattle-based Starbuck's Pike Place Blend is worthy of consumption, the real debate in Seattle recently was over decidedly more pertinent social issues, i.e. the First Amendment. Students at the University of Washington took their freedom to assemble to the ultimate as they protested the campus newspaper, which published an opinion column and associated illustration that opposed gay marriage. The Seattle Times tracked the stir and has a brief video of the reaction on its Web site.
DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200. If you're itching to become a journalism martyr (i.e. be arrested in another country for doing your job), the best medium in which to publish is online. According to a recent study by the Committee to Protect Journalists, more online journalists are imprisoned than those working in any other medium. According to CPJ's census, 56 online journalists are currently in prison around the world, which for the first time is greater than the number of print journalists. There is some good news, however. The number of imprisoned journalists has declined from 139 to 125 since 2002.
FRIENDLY RIVALRY? The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times are arguably two of the most recognized and well-established papers in the United States. It's a battle between the papers' editors to determine which Big Apple-based publication is the crown of the city. Indeed, the distinction is a subjective measure, at least depending on which paper (if either) one prefers. Over the course of two broadcasts, National Public Radio's Steve Inskeep visited WSJ Managing Editor Robert Thompson and NYT Executive Editor Bill Keller and explored the rivalry between the two papers and how each is reshaping content. The NYT story, which was broadcast first, is here. The WSJ story, which aired the following day, is here.