By Gena Asher
Indiana University School of Journalism
HEAR YE, HEAR YE: PROGRAMS WANTED. Be a part of the 2009 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference by submitting your great idea for a professional development program. SPJ, celebrating its 100th anniversary next year, is seeking proposals that contain leading-edge information; emphasize training, learning and performance; are "how to" and hands-on; focus on skill-building; provide personal development strategies; and comprise no more than two presenters. Hurry! The deadline is Dec. 19. Check out the details and submit your proposal online.
BE A MENTOR. SPJ hopes to re-launch the Mentor Match-up program later this month! We are currently looking for working professionals and journalism educators who are interested in mentoring other journalists. Interested in serving as a mentor? Contact Professional Development Coordinator, Heather Porter for more details.
PASSING OF THE PRESIDENT. On a more somber note, a former president of SPJ, Robert White II, passed away Nov. 20. White led SPJ between 1966 and 1967 and received the prestigious Wells Memorial Key in 1970. Throughout his career, which included being editor and publisher of the Mexico (Mo.) Ledger, among numerous other positions, he was a consummate advocate for press freedoms. An in-depth obituary will appear in the Jan/Feb issue of Quill. Here's what the AP had to say.
THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL. It's that time of year: Chrismahanukwanzakah. Whatever your December holiday tradition, don't forget to spread a little cheer this year. And what better way than to purchase a gift membership in SPJ 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 Membership Coordinator Linda Hall or call 317-927-8000 ext. 203 to make the magic happen.
SPEAKING OF GIFTS... Need more gift ideas? Here are a few for the journalist on your list:
— Go shopping at SPJ's Web site, where you can outfit your coworkers in SPJ-logoed clothing or mementoes. Perfect for the holidays: The French terry hoodie (size large, if Santa is reading) or a snappy polo shirt suitable for casual Friday.
— If it's a book worm you're shopping for, consider the recently published autobiography of Jean Otto, first female president of SPJ and founder of the First Amendment Congress. Otto read from her book, "First Love: Memoirs of a First Amendment Freedom Fighter," and signed copies at an Oct. 27 event in Milwaukee, where she retired after being a top editor at the Milwaukee Journal and Rocky Mountain News. She entered journalism at the age of 35 at the Appleton (Wis.) Post-Crescent. One of her first articles was about a little-known politician named John F. Kennedy. The publisher is Marion Street Press, Inc. Copies of the book are available for $18.85 plus sales tax (8.75 percent in Illinois) and shipping, $5 for the first copy and $2 for additional copies delivered to the same address.
DON'T FORGET: MOE. It's Mark of Excellence time! SPJ will soon award outstanding collegiate journalism in 39 categories across print, broadcast and the Web. See the MOE Awards page for details. Postmark deadline is Jan. 21. Contact Awards Coordinator Lauren Rochester for more information.
AND SDX, TOO. The Sigma Delta Chi Awards recognize the best in professional journalism in 53 categories, covering print, radio, television, newsletters, photography, online and research. Get complete details on the SDX Awards page. Entry postmark deadline is Feb. 4. As always, contact Awards Coordinator Lauren Rochester for more information.
THE TICKER. The economic news just gets more dismal, and we don't see a line forming to bail out media companies. Print and online newspaper advertising revenue plunged 18.11 percent in the third quarter of this year, the worst decline in the nearly four decades the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) has been tracking quarterly performance.
(NOT SO) HAPPY HOLIDAYS. Gannett launched its promised mass layoff Monday, cutting 655 jobs so far. It announced in October that it would reduce the workforce by 10 percent, starting this week.
Other cuts this week include Cox's entire Washington bureau.
Broadcasters are taking a hit, too, as veteran local anchors are shown the door, taking with them decades of local news knowledge and experience. Among them: Denver's Ernie Bjorkman, Chicago's Diann Burns, Boston's Bob Lobel, Houston's Carolyn Campbell and LA's John Beard.
INTERESTING PARTNERS. As media companies reposition, watch for new partnerships to form. Politico's content sharing network now has more than 100 clients, including 67 newspapers, just three months after its launch.
The South Florida News Service will tap into the talents of Florida International University journalism students beginning in January. The Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post already publish one another's print and online material. Students will supply print and digital articles, produce online packages and will work closely with their professional counterparts at the three papers.
One of the more interesting trends is that of local, investigative news organizations cropping up online to offer original, in-depth reporting by professional journalists (many of whom are fleeing newspaper downsizing). Readers in cities from Seattle to Chicago to St. Louis have been checking out online newspapers for as long as three years, and now site owners are considering forming an association to create a base for national advertising or, borrowing from public broadcasting, foundation grants and memberships.
BIG MAN ON CAMPUS: OMBUDSMAN. A Stamford, Conn., high school senior is probably one of the first high school newspaper ombudsman, a readers' advocate who also acts as an ethics watchdog. Westhill High School's Craig Swidler reviews staff writers' and columnists' work for "inappropriate" language or tone as well as keeps an ear to the ground about what fellow students want and need to know.