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Home > Publications > SPJ Leads > Writing letters, Accidental input, Review the news

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SPJ Leads | 1/8/2009
Writing letters, Accidental input, Review the news


By Scott Leadingham
SPJ Communications Department

DIFFERENT YEAR, SAME NEWSLETTER. After an entirely too long holiday hiatus, SPJ Leads, your favorite weekly e-newsletter, is back! As always, SPJ invites you to submit items to Is your chapter planning an event that needs some extra publicity? Are you interested in a judging swap for your awards contest? Do you need to know how many home runs Sammy Sosa hit in 1997? If it's one of the first two, send your information our way. For the latter, try Google or ChaCha.

(By the way it was 36.)

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETING IN MILWAUKEE. SPJ's Executive Committee will be meeting on Saturday, Jan. 10, in Milwaukee. If you are interested to know what issues they will be tackling, you can view and download the agenda and meeting materials here.

"SO LET IT BE WRITTEN, SO LET IT BE DONE". No, that's not just the decree of Yul Brynner's pharaoh character in "The Ten Commandments," but also the hopeful rallying cry of SPJ leaders. President Dave Aeikens, with the guidance of the Freedom of Information Committee, recently sent a letter to congressional committee leaders in the House and Senate asking them to consider hearings on restrictive rule changes recently put in place by the Department of Education. The rules augment the Federal Education Rights Privacy Act to restrict journalists' and parents' access to information about acts of violence in schools. "It may be necessary for Congress to pass additional legislation to clarify this issue," wrote Aeikens. "We stand ready to assist you in any way we can."

CENSORED NO MORE. On Jan. 20, 2005, the life of the college newspaper changed drastically. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against student journalists critical of the administration at Governors State University in Illinois in Hosty v. Carter. School administrators could now censor a campus publication if it had not been declared a "designated public forum." SPJ is offering campuses the opportunity to guard against such campus censorship. Recently, SPJ sent university presidents a letter and contract that would declare the university publications and other student media designated public forums. SPJ also sent each SPJ adviser a lobbying packet so that student chapters can be part of the process. The packets include copies of the president letters and background materials. SPJ encourages student chapters to get involved. Go lobby and guard against censorship on your campus! Contact Taylor Rausch with questions.

TO THE RESCUE! Photojournalist Mike Anzaldi is likely breathing a sigh of relief since a Chicago judge dismissed the charges against him, as noted by Dave Cuillier on the Freedom of Information Committee blog. Anzaldi was arrested in October for allegedly obstructing a police officer and resisting arrest while documenting a crime scene. It's nice to have a little help from your friends, and SPJ provided that help when the Chicago Headline Club the local SPJ chapter and the Legal Defense Fund came to his aid.

DON'T MISS THESE DEADLINES... Journalists are deadline oriented by nature, so you should have no trouble making some very important upcoming deadlines for awards.
Entries for the collegiate Mark of Excellence Awards are due Jan. 21. Sigma Delta Chi Awards and New America Award entries are due Feb. 4. Also due on Feb. 4 are nominations for the Heroes of the 50 States: The State Government Hall of Fame, which honors an advocate of open government at the state-level. Contact Lauren Rochester at (317) 927-8000, ext. 210, or with any questions.

WESTERN AWARDS. Journalists in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska are encouraged to enter their work from 2008 in SPJ's Northwest Excellence in Journalism Awards. The competition is sponsored by the professional SPJ chapters in the five-state region. Fees are just $15 per entry. Deadlines are Feb. 3, 2009, and Feb. 10, 2009. For details, including rules, eligibility and categories, go to the Region 10 blog.

WHADDYA THINK? Have you ever reported from the scene of an accident investigation and wondered what it's like to be one of the investigators? As it happens, the investigators are wondering the same thing about you kind of. The National Transportation Safety Board is seeking input from SPJ members regarding media pool practices at accident scenes and other NTSB media events. Do you have any thoughts, opinions, experiences or best practices to share regarding the handling and organization of media pools by NTSB (or similar organizations)? If so, e-mail your ideas to Scott Leadingham, Communications Coordinator, and SPJ will compile and pass on to NTSB. The NTSB can contact you for more information, if you'd like, or you can specify to keep your comments anonymous.

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND. We're happy to report that construction on the member search at is over. Are you itching to know the contact info of that cool journalist you met at the last convention? If he or she is a member, and they've chosen to make their information public, you can find the important info (e-mail, mailing address) in the membership directory. Log in with your username and password and click the "Search the Membership Directory" link.

SCRIPPS-TED SUCCESS. It's a new year, and that means a fresh start. One thing that's always fresh is the innovative programming offered by SPJ. 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.

BRONSTEIN GETS BRAWNY. Phil Bronstein, editor-at-large of the San Francisco Chronicle, recently appeared on CNN's "Reliable Sources" to discuss the newspaper industry and the rise of Web-inspired news sites such as Huffington Post and Politico. Accompanying Bronstein were former Chicago Tribune managing editor James Warren and former Washington Post editor Len Downie. Bronstein recounts the experience on his blog, "Bronstein at Large," and questions Downie's indication that older media companies such as the Washington Post will stay ahead of Huffington and Politico (and others) in Web traffic. Bronstein also laments Downie's rather famous revelation that he does not vote or form opinions about candidates in order to remain undeniably objective.

QUIZZICAL 2008. "The hegemony of the dollar must end." Do you know who said that? No, it wasn't Stalin or even Chairman Mao. The person who said that is alive and well, and did so in 2008. You can take a guess at who said that and a number of other quotes by taking the New York Times' 2008 news quiz. The mind-boggling questions about newsmakers ensure you won't get too bored, which is possible considering it weighs in at a whopping 118 questions. Don't worry: analogies or algebra aren't required, so it won't be as frightening as the SAT or GRE.

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