By Scott Leadingham
SPJ Communications Department
MUCH-DESERVED VACATION. Leads will be on vacation for the rest of the year as staff at headquarters scurry about the country in search of grandma's fruitcake and encounters with Ryan Seacrest in Times Square. Headquarters will be closed Dec. 25-26 and Jan. 1-2. Don't despair — your favorite weekly e-newsletter will return on Jan. 8, 2009.
DRINK PLENTY OF EGG BLOG. Being the dedicated, hardworking journalist that you are, we hope you will have a chance to relax at some point during the holidays. While resting at home, put on your favorite record ...er...MP3, kick-off your shoes and plant yourself in front of the computer. The SPJ Blogroll has some interesting and poignant posts covering a number of issues in the industry, ranging from freelancing to freedom of information. Any user can create a profile and leave comments. So log on now and join the discussion. Some recent posts of note:
— President Dave Aeikens speaks out against the infamous "shoe incident" and the implications for the reputations of journalists.
— Associate Executive Director Joe Skeel reflects on an SPJ program in Fargo, N.D.
— Freedom of Information Committee Chairman Dave Cuillier reviews an access-stifling new rule from the Department of Education.
FOR THE LAST TIME. It might be grim in these recessionary times — mixed with job losses in the industry — but there's one bit of good news: This is the last edition of Leads in which you'll see a call to propose programs for the 2009 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference. Submit your innovative program ideas now, and by that we mean RIGHT NOW. The deadline is Friday, Dec. 19! 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.
GET THE MENTOR MENTALITY. SPJ's Mentor Match-Up program is back and ready to serve! We are now accepting applications for potential mentors and mentees. The program pairs veteran journalists with their young and eager counterparts to develop a networking opportunity. Both mentors and mentees are welcome to apply. Interested? Visit SPJ's Web site for details and information on the application process. Contact Heather Porter with questions.
SCRIPPS-TED SUCCESS. 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 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 Institute is funded by a generous grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation.
BE JUDGMENTAL. 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) 361-6028.
LENDING A HAND. SPJ's Minnesota Pro Chapter is offering to lend its expertise in a case of administrative censorship at a high school paper. The Fairbault High School Echo published a story about a teacher on administrative leave. That didn't sit too well with superintendant Bob Stepaniak, who responded by censoring the student journalists and their adviser.
NOT WITHOUT A FIGHT! If rumors were circulating about your news operation's impending doom, would you sit idly by or try to do something about it? After all, when a boat is sinking, the crew will reach for the buckets. In the case of the Rocky Mountain News, loose lips are not sinking the ship. Rather, the staff is trying to keep the paper afloat, and they've turned to the Internet to make their case. The staff, which includes SPJ Region 9 Director John Ensslin, started the Web site IWantMyRocky.com to show how important the paper is to the Denver area.
SOME GOOD NEWS, IN THEORY. Apparently college students haven't gotten the memo that the journalism job market is not exactly booming at the moment. Despite news of industry layoffs, the number of journalism and mass communications undergraduate majors increased to 200,000 in 2007, up from 130,000 in 1995. But, according to reporter Marc Parry, this doesn't necessarily mean all these students are seeking jobs as reporters at the local newspaper or TV station. Journalism can be used as a well-rounded major akin to English, or as a springboard to law school.
LEAVE THE CORPORATE JET AT HOME. 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.
QUOTE THIS. 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.