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By Scott Leadingham
SPJ Communications Department
IT'S A WRAP. "WHEW!" That's the collective sigh of relief from SPJ members and staff after a very successful and eventful Centennial Celebration last weekend. More than 100 dedicated past and present SPJ'ers were on hand for the events, which included a panel discussion on the future of journalism, mock SPJ induction ceremony and a keynote address from 30-year member Jane Pauley. If you couldn't attend or watch the live Webcast (or even if you did and you want to watch again), use these links to view:
— Panel discussion
— Induction ceremony
— Speech from President Dave Aeikens (audio only)
— Jane Pauley keynote
If your chapter held an event to commemorate SPJ's 100th anniversary, let headquarters know by submitting chapter news briefs and photos to Scott Leadingham.
REMEMBER THE MEMBERS. The day after celebrating 100 years of improving and protecting journalism (complete with birthday cake), the SPJ board met to take care of some very important business. Perhaps the most pertinent item was recognition of how to help SPJ's most valuable resource: members. Knowing that many journalists are victims of budget cutbacks and a changing industry, SPJ is now offering relief for laid-off members. Current members who have been laid-off can now receive a six-month membership extension at no charge. As members are the lifeblood of SPJ, your continued involved and input is our priority. Quill will be sent digitally to members who apply for this option, and SPJ asks for five hours of volunteer service in exchange. Current members requesting the benefit must fill out and submit this form.
ALL A BOARD. The extension of membership benefits wasn't the only item of importance on the board agenda. Other actions taken by the board included:
New chapters: The board admitted five new chapters. Please welcome Angelo State, Butler University, Harding University, Northern Kentucky University and Western Michigan University campus chapters.
2010 Convention: The 2010 Convention will be in Las Vegas, likely in early October. The board also considered New Orleans. Hotel rates are expected to be under $150 a night for Las Vegas. The conference was originally schedule for New York in 2010, but the board rescinded that when it became clear travel and hotel costs would be too expensive for members.
2011 Convention: SPJ plans to pursue the concept of a joint convention with the Radio Television News Directors Association in 2011. Both organizations have a goal of creating a giant professional development conference that might one day include additional partners. The partnership provides the opportunity for more participants and better room/meal rates. It also ends the need to compete for speakers, fundraising and attendance with another large organization. It is important to note that both organizations will keep any traditions they have in this new setup. SPJ would still have the President's Installation Dinner, the LDF auction and the Mark of Excellence Awards. Our business meetings would still be conducted. The board rescinded its plan to have the convention in San Francisco in 2011 so it could work on a location that is suitable for both SPJ and RTNDA.
Fairness Doctrine: The board took a position in opposition to the Fairness Doctrine. No bill exists but there has been discussion. The organization opposes any government intervention in speech and journalism ethics. A statement about SPJ's opposition, released Tuesday, is here.
Want all of the details, read President Dave Aeikens' recap.
HELP FOR ROXANA. The same day SPJ's board met to take important actions, American freelance journalist Roxana Saberi learned her fate: Eight years in an Iranian prison for the laughable and suspicious charge of espionage. SPJ immediately denounced the sentence and called on Iran to release her. Read the statement here. This marks the third time SPJ has intervened since learning of her arrest in late February. The Committee to Protect Journalists has a list of ways you can help, including writing a letter to the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations. On a more personal and uplifting note, the Saberi family welcomes you to e-mail birthday wishes to Roxana, whose birthday is April 26.
ETHICAL PROGRAMMING. 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 and encouraged to participate — citizens and journalists alike. Dates and locations are listed on the SPJ Web site. Help spread the word to the members of your community about these important programs. And help restore media credibility.
A PLETHORA OF AWARDS. The recent announcement of SPJ's Sigma Delta Chi Awards and those other awards — what're they called? — oh yeah, the Pulitzers — reminds us of how truly exceptional journalism deserves recognition. In fact, four SDX Awards winners also won Pulitzers for the same work. Coincidence? Doubtful.
While the SDX Awards and Pulitzer Prizes are certainly prestigious, they aren't the only recognitions for hard-working journalists. Consider some of these contests of note:
— The Mimi Award from the Dart Society in recognition of an outstanding editor. More information.
— Student and professional awards for state government reporting from Capitolbeat, the association of state capital reporters and editors. More information.
— Journalism award for reporting on compliance and ethics issues from the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics. More information.
GLOBAL SENTIMENTS. First it was the cessation of print for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and questionable future of its trademark globe. Now the much-publicized uncertainty at the Boston Globe — caused by inklings that the New York Times Company may close the paper — is causing a stir in New England. The Boston Newspaper guild has launched an online petition drive to save the 137-year-old paper.