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By Scott Leadingham
SPJ Communications Department
A DAY LATE, BUT NOT A DOLLAR SHORT. Due to technical difficulties beyond our control, SPJ Leads could not be sent Thursday afternoon. Don't you worry, though — the content is just as good now! After all, good things come to those who wait. And here are some really good things...
AND THEY'RE OFF... The Society's Centennial Celebration is officially underway with the conclusion of the first of several events in 2009 designed to celebrate 100 years of SPJ. It might have been cold in Milwaukee last weekend, but that didn't stop the SPJ faithful from turning out at the Milwaukee Press Club. SPJ President Dave Aeikens has a brief overview of the weekend and the Centennial year events on his blog. The next event will take place Friday, April 17 at DePauw University, where SPJ was founded in 1909. Details are forthcoming. Of course, it's not too early to start thinking about the upcoming SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference, Aug. 27-29 in beautiful Indianapolis.
CALLING ON OBAMA. SPJ President Dave Aeikens sent a letter Tuesday to President-elect Barack Obama urging him to continue his previously stated support for a federal Shield Law. The letter was in addition to Aeikens' calling on Obama in November — as a newly elected president — to uphold a campaign pledge to protect journalists by supporting the Free Flow of Information Act.
HELP JOURNALISTS IN TROUBLE. SPJ is gathering items to be auctioned off at the Legal Defense Fund auction, which takes place during the 2009 Convention & National Journalism Conference. We're particularly interested in editorial cartoons and front pages from both Wednesdays following Inauguration Day and Election Day. Hopefully these will be big ticket items at the auction. For those who don't know, the auction is the one and only fundraiser for the LDF, which does oh-so-important work of helping to defray legal costs of journalists who are forced to defend themselves in First Amendment cases. You also can donate a gift basket from your chapter — Kentucky, how about a bourbon basket? California, a wine and cheese basket? South Florida, for example, will be donating an orange-and-grapefruit basket. Send all items to SPJ Headquarters:
Attn: LDF Auction
Society of Professional Journalists
3909 N. Meridian St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208
Also, please notify LDF Chairwoman Julie Kay of your donations by sending a quick message to Julie.email@example.com
DEADLY PRIVACY CONCERNS. Open records laws exist for a reason, namely to ensure the public's right to know when it comes to the actions of government officials. Therefore, it's slightly mindboggling to think the privacy concerns of people who have been dead for at least 50 (and up to 100) years apparently trump such sunshine statutes — at least that's what one court in Nebraska thinks. SPJ joined an amicus brief authored by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press supporting the efforts of the Adams County Historical Society. The historical society was denied its request for the names of almost 1,000 people buried in unmarked graves on the grounds the Hastings Regional Center, a state mental hospital. A trial court upheld the denial of information based on its interpretation of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The case is on appeal before the Nebraska Supreme Court. A copy of the amicus brief is available here.
GET YOUR BLOG ON. The SPJ blogs have been active lately, and we want you to join the discussion. Any registered user can post comments on all SPJ-sponsored blogs. So what are you waiting for? Register now or simply sign in if already registered and be a part the exchange of ideas.
Some recent posts of note include:
Allowing cameras in the courtroom to cover the U.S. Senate recount in Minnesota
A potential Iraqi version of the long-defunct Fairness Doctrine
Getting a little help from others in an increasingly crowded freelance market
AIRLINE IRONY. This is no joke: Just as this issue of Leads was supposed to go into cyberspace, breaking news came over the wire announcing the downing of United Airways flight 1549 in New York's Hudson River. Oddly enough, the National Transportation Safety Board is seeking input from SPJ members — and has been for one week — 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.
SUCCESSFUL STATEMENTS. Last week's edition of Leads recounted the efforts of former Campus Representative At-Large Taylor Rausch and other members of the SPJ board to solicit support from college and university presidents for the campus media statement. If you don't remember, the statement designates student media as "public forums," thus protecting them from censorship and administrative control. This week we received the first signed copy from a president. Kudos to Western Kentucky University's Gary Ransdell, who wrote in a brief note: "Thank you. These principles are important at WKU." The campus media statement Web page at SPJ.org will be updated as more responses come in — and hopefully there will be many more!
DON'T FORGET: MOE AND SDX. The SPJ staff is busily preparing for the final wave of entries for the collegiate Mark of Excellence Awards and professional Sigma Delta Chi Awards. The deadline for the Mark of Excellence Awards is Jan. 21. For SDX Awards, submissions must be postmarked by Feb. 4. As you scurry around the newsroom preparing entries, don't forget we're always here to help. Contact Awards Coordinator Lauren Rochester at 317-927-8000, ext. 210, or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
IT'S GREEN EYESHADE TIME. Entries are now being accepted for the 59th Annual Green Eyeshade Awards. The awards are open to journalists working in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. All entries must have been published or broadcast in 2008. Categories are divided by print, online, television and radio. The postmark deadline is Feb. 18. For more information, visit the GES Web page. Direct any inquiries to Sarah Prickett at 501-960-0928 or email@example.com.
SHINING AWARDS. The South Florida Chapter is accepting entries for the 15th Annual Sunshine State Awards. Entry is open to all published and broadcast stories in Florida from 2008. With nearly 70 categories — encompassing print, broadcast, online and student work — there's bound to be something for every Floridian journalist. Submissions must be received by Feb. 20. See the chapter Web site for details, pricing and entry forms.
LOG ON LONG ISLAND. The Press Club of Long Island — The Empire State's water-loving SPJ chapter — recently launched its new Web site. The site provides a more user-friendly way to stay informed about PCLI news and events, and features videos, including clips from the chapter's 2008 Holiday Show, photos, Twitter updates and much more. Of course, there's also plenty of information about the chapter's 2009 Media Awards and the High School Journalism Award.
EDUCATE YOURSELF. The Education Writers Association will sponsor "Higher Ed: Tightening the Belt, Expanding the Reach" Feb. 27-28 at the San Francisco Chronicle. Topics include higher education policy in tough economic times, the effects of declining state appropriations on access, challenges for Asian students as the "model minority," and the success and failure of transfers from community colleges to 4-year institutions. Scholarships are available to reporters and will cover one night in the hotel and up to $250 for airfare. This seminar is for reporters only and space is limited. See the EWA Web site for registration information. Contact Raven Hill at 202-452-9830 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.