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By Scott Leadingham
SPJ Communications Department
THE 100-YEAR ITCH. By now you know about the SPJ Centennial Celebration April 17 in Greencastle, Ind. But do you have plans to participate? If not, you're missing out on what will truly be the event of the year. The day will be packed to the brim with events to celebrate the past and examine the future of the Society and the journalism industry. Journalism greats such as radio host Bob Edwards, former USA Today editor Ken Paulson and TV anchor Jane Pauley (among other outstanding guests) will speak. Information on all the events, speakers and registration is at the SPJ Web site.
If you can't attend, don't despair. We're encouraging chapters to hold local events that day to commemorate 100 years of SPJ. A live Webcast will make some of the events available to those with Internet access. And journalism's up-and-coming tool of choice, Twitter, will be used to keep followers up to speed as the events unfold. Follow along with Scott Leadingham (@scottleadingham).
THE SHIELD (LAW). SPJ has been one of several journalism industry groups leading the charge to pass the Free Flow of Information Act, better known as the proposed federal Shield Law. After stalling in the Senate in July 2008, House members reintroduced the bill last month. The measure, H.R. 985, cleared one legislative hurdle this week when the House Judiciary Committee approved it. Now the bill goes before the full House. As the legislation moves through Congress, SPJ will continue to engage members and fight for passage of this vitally important legislation.
GRADUATING SOON? NEED A JOB? It's almost April and that means panic time for any soon-to-graduate college student still unsure of what to do after leaving school. Plus, with almost daily news about newspaper layoffs and newsroom cutbacks, the stress levels journalism students are understandably high. If you're interested in writing, communications, marketing and even a little public policy work, SPJ has a job for you. Applications are now being accepted for the Post-Graduate Communications Internship at SPJ Headquarters. The full-time, year-long position includes competitive pay, excellent benefits and paid vacation. See the SPJ Web site for application instructions and a full position description. The approximate term of employment is Aug. 1, 2009 — July 31, 2010. Hurry — the application deadline is May 1.
LIKIN' AEIK'. Sure, you've heard of SPJ President Dave Aeikens. Perhaps you've even met him at a past convention or SPJ program. But do you really know him? Have you been to his childhood home? Did you know he modeled his presidential candidacy off of a President Eisenhower slogan? Get a window into the man who leads the largest journalism association in the country with this recent profile written for Aeikens' hometown newspaper, the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune.
REAL (ESTATE) EARNINGS. SPJ will soon announce details of a partnership with Helium.com, a community-based Web writing and publishing platform. Right now, though, Helium is running a writing contest that SPJ members may find interesting — and potentially profitable. The contest consists of 48 titles based on real estate issues (such as foreclosures, first-time buyers' tips and the recession's impact on real estate) with the focus on your local town or city. Each of the titles is paying $200 to the contest winner for a 500-word piece. To participate, simply register for free at Helium.com using the e-mail address where you receive SPJ Leads. Then look for the titles here. The contest, sponsored by Real Estate Experts, closes Monday, March 30 at midnight, GMT. Questions? E-mail Janice Brand, Helium VP of Content & Community.
CALLING THE BEST OF THE BEST. Student journalists — now's your chance to get an incredible internship and real press experience by covering the SPJ Convention, Aug. 27-30. Twelve positions are available for hard-working student journalists to staff The Working Press, a daily tabloid newspaper that covers the convention activities. Writers, photographers and designers are invited to apply for these select positions. The application deadline is April 17. By completing the internship, students will get a convention registration and free lodging at the convention hotel, the Indianapolis Westin. Click here for more information and application instructions. E-mail Heather Porter with questions.
SPEAKING OF CONVENTION... It's not too early to reserve your spot for the 2009 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference, August 27-30 in Indianapolis. And when you do, you'll be guaranteeing your spot in history, as SPJ uses the time to further commemorate the monumental occasion of this centennial year. Review the list of outstanding professional development programs now. And check the Convention Web site often for updates.
DONATION STATION (WHAT'S YOUR LOCATION?). One of the highlights of the SPJ Convention is the annual Legal Defense Fund Auction, which raises money to assist journalists in need of legal counsel. Every year a silent and live auction opens the Convention. Of course, the more attractive the items in the auction, the more money goes to the LDF. Every chapter is encouraged to donate an item. Examples may be a wine and cheese gift basket for a California chapter or a coffee and Starbucks gift card basket from a Washington chapter. All donations must be received by July 31, 2009. See the LDF Web page for more information and donation submission instructions.
HEAR YE, HEAR YE. In celebration of Ethics Week, April 26 — May 2, SPJ headquarters is teaming up with chapters around the country to present town hall meetings on journalism ethics. The goal of the programs is to engage local communities in dialogue about the press and the vital role it plays in democracy. All are welcome encouraged to participate — citizens and journalists alike. Dates and locations are listed on the SPJ Web site, with more locations and information available soon. Help us spread the word to the members of your community about these important programs. And help us restore media credibility.
SHOW THE EDITORS SOME LOVE. Do you know a truly great editor, one who inspires thoughtful investigations and is an advocate for his or her reporters? Consider a nominating a distinguished editor for the 2009 Mimi Award from the Dart Society. The award, which carries a $1,000 cash prize, is named for Mimi Burkhardt, an editor for The Providence Journal who died in 2004. Nominations are due June 1. The award presentation will take place Aug. 28 at the Dart Society Reunion and Symposium in Indianapolis, held in tandem with the SPJ Convention. Get the award criteria and nomination forms at the Dart Society Web site.
TEACHING AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS. Facebook and Twitter (among other social media) are recalibrating the way journalists (and all users) talk to sources and distribute information. It's often thought, however, that older ... er ... more experienced professionals won't necessarily accept the technology as quickly as their younger colleagues. Certainly that's not true for many SPJ members of all ages who use Facebook and Twitter the way Ernie Pyle and Edward R. Murrow used typewriters and trans-Atlantic cable. Until recently, MarketWatch writer John Friedman was an online social networking skeptic. "Then, on a whim, I took the plunge and joined Facebook. Eureka!" he wrote in a March 20 column. Now he says Facebook and Twitter are transforming journalism — for the better.