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For more than 100 years the Society of Professional Journalists has been dedicated to encouraging a climate in which journalism can be practiced more freely and fully, stimulating high standards and ethical behavior in the practice of journalism and perpetuating a free press.
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By Karen Grabowski
SPJ Communications Department
CONVENTION SCREENS ACCLAIMED JOURNALISM DOCUMENTARY. "The jet slammed into the Pentagon once, but for me, it never stopped crashing. I don't know how I'm going to be able to sleep tonight." Those are the words of veteran broadcast journalist Mike Walter, who reported the breaking news Sept. 11, 2001, overcome with emotion on camera. Inspired by how he was affected by witnessing and covering the terrorist attacks, Walter set out to document journalists' stories and how their lives are touched by news and trauma. The result is the documentary "Breaking News, Breaking Down," which Walter wrote, produced and directed. The film tells the story of journalists from around the world who came to New Orleans to help rebuild a broken city and the broken spirits of Crescent City journalists. SPJ is thrilled to screen this pivotal documentary at the 2009 SPJ Convention and National Journalism Conference Aug. 29, 3-5 p.m., in Indianapolis.
The film has received a great deal of praise and press coverage after it premiered in April at the Washington D.C. International Film Festival. It was also nominated for two awards at the Action on Film International Film Festival. To learn more about the documentary and our screening, visit our Convention site.
SAVE ON CONVENTION HOTEL RATES. While you're getting excited about the Convention highlights, like "Breaking News, Breaking Down," do not forget to book your hotel room at The Westin Indianapolis, which is hosting our event. Book by Aug. 5 and receive an exclusive discounted rate.
You can't afford to miss the Convention that will provide resources, sessions and experts that will stock you with invaluable information for your career.
SPJ HIT THE CAPITOL STEPS. This week, SPJ leaders met with key senators, representatives and their staffs to ensure that the proposed shield law (S. 448 and H.R. 985, both known as the Free Flow of Information Act) remained at the political forefront during the current legislative session. Although the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor have taken most of the Senate Judiciary Committee's attention in recent weeks, SPJ is hopeful the proposed shield law will be put before the committee in the coming weeks. Watch for a full account of the D.C. trip to be posted soon on our Web site.
HONORS GALORE! One of the highest honors SPJ bestows on an individual is to name him or her a Fellow of the Society. Three prestigious journalists were named Fellows last week: Stanley E. Hubbard, Austin Kiplinger and Nelson Poynter. The contributions of these journalism pioneers are monumental. To learn more about them, please read the related news release.
Another distinguished man in the industry was awarded this week. SPJ honored Southwestern College professor Max Branscomb with the 2009 Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award. Noted for his exceptional teaching and advisement, Branscomb is a recipient of multiple awards and praise from his students. Read our news release to learn more.
THE GAVEL'S FALLING. And your donation could join others in supporting the Terry Harper Memorial Fund. During the 2009 Convention, SPJ and the SDX Foundation will host an auction to raise money for a lasting tribute to Terry Harper. Terry served SPJ as executive director for seven years. He helped restore stability to SPJ headquarters operations and pushed the organization to enhance professional development training programs at the local level and train in partnership with other journalism groups. The lasting tribute will honor and continue the legacy he gave to SPJ. Donate your items by July 31. To do so, submit a donation form and your item(s) to Lauren Rochester at 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208. Questions? Contact Lauren at email@example.com or at 317-927-8000 ext. 215.
ANOTHER BENEFIT. Of all the benefits given to SPJ members — access to resources, professional development, discounted services and a hip magazine — have you ever considered identity protection? A member recently left her credit card at a gas station in Colorado. Fortunately, she also forgot her trusty SPJ membership card. The store owner, not knowing how to contact the member, called SPJ headquarters staffer Linda Hall using the contact information on the membership card. Linda quickly informed the member, who was already in Utah. The member then contacted the store owner, who agreed to return the credit card (and membership card) via registered mail. Just another reminder that there are still little pleasantries left in this fast-paced world ... and SPJ membership can always come in handy!
YOU CAN BET ON THIS. The 2009 Convention has a variety of exciting activities in the evening, including our version of Texas Hold'em: Ethics Hold'em. Eat and drink for free while you play our fun twist on the traditional poker game. We raise the ante in our version of Hold'em, because as you compete in the tournament, you also learn about the SPJ Code of Ethics! Don't miss this Convention event and many more — visit our Web site to sign up to play and to take tours of the Indianapolis Star, WTHR-TV Channel 13 and WISH-TV Channel 8. Register by Aug. 2 and save $100 off the regular price.
ETHICS CODE IS NOW AVAILABLE IN ARABIC. What seemed at first the easy task of translating SPJ's Code of Ethics into different languages appeared far more complex after a few readers of the Arabic version complained about the translation of wording in the code. As might be expected with a language spoken in many countries with different cultures, there were variations in the way various Arabic speakers interpreted passages in the code. The Ethics Committee approached a number of Arabic speakers, including those in the Arab American Journalists Association headed by Ray Hanania. Ray accepted the challenge and coordinated a collaboration of various Arabic-speaking journalists, some of whom translate regularly for U.S. news organizations. The AAJA has a previous loose affiliation with SPJ. The participants in the code translation project drew on an earlier draft and incorporated the people who had contacted the Ethics Committee to complain of the translation of ambiguous wording in that original translation. What emerged was a collective translation that SPJ can be confident in — and a group of collaborators who are eager to spread word of the translation to Arab journalists here and in other countries who had not previously been aware that they could read SPJ's Code of Ethics in Arabic. Download a PDF copy of the new translation here.
LAST WEEK'S QUIZ. We tested your President Obama knowledge last week with this:
Jared the Subway Guy may be from Indianapolis, but he famously made many trips to Subway while attending school at Indiana University in Bloomington. He's not the only famous person to have graced Bloomington's eating establishments. President Obama, then campaigning for the Democratic Party nomination, stopped in Bloomington during the University's famed Little 500 bicycle race. Which famous restaurant/bar did he visit? And if he'd stayed in town long enough, he might have caught a screening of what movie about the "largest collegiate bike race in the United States"?
Not surprisingly, an IU Bloomington student leapt at this question, earning her this week's winning spot! CONGRATULATIONS TO STEPHANIE DOCTROW, a very excited Hoosier, who answered both questions correctly: Obama visited Nick's English Hut and the film is "Breaking Away."
THIS WEEK'S QUIZ. President Obama has been the subject (repeatedly) of one Hoosier's late night show in New York. Whether it is passing around Obama's "new slogan: 'Yes we can... or maybe not, it's hard to say"' or poking fun at the Obama family's dog search, "Once the Obamas choose a dog, he must then be confirmed by the Senate," Indianapolis native David Letterman works hard for his laughs in his CBS studio. For this week's quiz, tell us this: At which store did Letterman work as a young man in Indianapolis, and — for major bonus points — in what trendy Indianapolis neighborhood was the store located? Hint: A Fresh Market stands there now.
Submit answers to Karen Grabowski.