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Home > Publications > SPJ Leads > Shield Law compromise brings us a step closer

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SPJ Leads | 11/5/2009
Shield Law compromise brings us a step closer


By Karen Grabowski
SPJ Communications Department

SPJ SUPPORTS SHIELD LAW. Yesterday, SPJ released a statement supporting a compromise the White House, senators and news organizations reached on a federal shield law bill, S. 448. While SPJ does not believe the bill is perfect, the Society's leaders meticulously examined the new language of the bill and its impact on journalism and decided to support the protections that it grants to journalists including freelancers and students. Read the release here and find the full text of the bill here.

SPJ encourages all of its members who support a shield law to continue voicing support to local senators and the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. With the Obama administration backing the bill, we are very close to sending the bill to the full Senate for a vote. Please help us continue the fight!

AND THE AWARD GOES TO... Here is a chance for YOU to be part of recognizing exceptional journalism. Volunteer to judge the Mark of Excellence or Sigma Delta Chi Awards, two contests that recognize the best work published or broadcast in 2009. The MOE Awards honor the best collegiate journalists and the SDX Awards honor outstanding work by professionals.

Potential judges for the collegiate MOE Awards must have three to five years professional experience. Potential SDX Awards judges must have at least 10 years professional experience. For both awards, judges are still needed in the following categories: newspaper/online writing, magazine writing, editorial cartooning, radio reporting, photography. Judges for television reporting are still needed for the MOE Awards.

If interested, e-mail a bio detailing your professional experience and area of interest (print, television, radio, photography, editorial cartooning or online) to awards coordinator Lauren Rochester.

Don't forget: New this year is the online submission format. Most entries will be submitted, viewed and judged online. This new process will help judges easily review submitted materials. For more information on the contests, please visit the SPJ awards page.

FORWARD THINKING. When it comes to discussions about the future of journalism, SPJ plans to take its rightful seat at the table. That's why we're attending key events in November and December that will put us in better position to talk about where we're heading and how to get there.

On Nov. 13-14, President Kevin Z. Smith will take part in a two-day conference at Yale University discussing the future of journalism. The event is sponsored by Yale Law School and plans to "bring together scholars, media leaders, journalists, faculty members and students to share their insights and explore new ways to support the work of the 'Fourth Estate.' "

On Dec. 2-3, Smith will attend the Federal Trade Commission two-day workshop on "From Town Crier to Bloggers: How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age?" A comment period preceded the event and SPJ submitted comments addressing legal issues, government policies, technology and economic challenges. YOU can weigh in, too. You have until tomorrow to submit your comments. Registration for the December workshop is still open and members can join by emailing with your name, address and phone number.

HONORING MIKE MCQUEEN. Mike McQueen was an extremely dedicated SPJ supporter whose efforts specifically with the Diversity Committee did not go unnoticed by numerous journalists and colleagues. To honor McQueen's memory and his contributions to SPJ and journalism diversity, donations may be made to help fund scholarship programs and diversity leader fellowships. To learn how you can donate, please contact Executive Director Joe Skeel at or at 317-927-8000 ext. 216.

BEST FOOT FORWARD. Hilary Fosdal knows many words as a journalist. But perhaps the most engrained in her psyche are "left foot, right foot." The SPJ member and Digital Media Committee chairwoman completed the New York City Marathon on Nov. 1, finishing in 4 hours, 36 minutes. Training for 21 weeks running three to four days per week with additional days of strength training it was her first marathon, though she calls herself a casual runner for 13 years. "The experience of running through the streets of New York City will be with me forever," she said.

PRINT MAN TURNED TECHIE MAKES HEADLINES. SPJ member and multimedia guru Ron Sylvester is blazing a media trail straight from Kansas courthouses and into audiences' lives via his blog "What the Judge Ate for Breakfast." Previously gaining notoriety as one of the first reporters to use Twitter in a federal criminal trial, Sylvester's blog takes inside peaks at justice to a new level. His blog showcases two-minute videos on snippets of what it's like in court. Sylvester captures everything from the behavior of defendants to what it's like as a prosecutor or judge. Read the Nieman Journalism Lab's feature on Sylvester here and start reading his blog. And, of course, he's on Twitter.

BIZ ADVICE ON YOUTUBE. The South Florida Pro chapter's Oct. 29 panel discussion, "Launching Your Own News Organization," drew nearly 50 attendees interested in hearing veteran journalists talk about how they have become publishers. Due to widespread interest, the session was videotaped and is now posted on YouTube. The chapter hopes you will watch the session and share your comments.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, WORKSHOP. Have you been searching for video training in the northwest? You're in luck! The William O. Douglas chapter of SPJ is hosting a video workshop November 7-8 at the Yakima Herald-Republic.

The chapter received an SPJ chapter grant toward sponsoring the Northwest Video Workshop. The chapter joins the Yakima-Herald and the National Press Photographers Association to host two workshop tracks. One track is a two-day boot camp for those who want to learn techniques for everyday video interviews, field equipment handling and potential ethical pitfalls during the video production schedule. The second track caters to advanced users who will work to hone existing interview, shooting, audio and editing skills. For more information, check out the Web site or contact chapter president Mai Hoang.

Click here for a list of all chapters awarded with a 2009-10 Chapter Grant.

JOURNALIST'S TOOLBOX. We hope you are continuing to use the invaluable Journalist's Toolbox! The site has helpful sections that include Public Records, Environment, Public Safety, Crime, Photojournalism, Copy Editing, News Industry/Blogging Resources, Medical/Health and Global Reporting Tools. Stay up-to-date by following the Twitter feed @journtoolbox.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SPLC. The Student Press Law Center celebrates its 35th birthday this year. What was once a small program in a Georgetown row house is now a reliable source of information for student journalists, fighting to protect students and their educators from harassment and retaliation for what they say and write. SPJ congratulates SPLC on its 35 years of hard work and dedication to student journalists everywhere, and looks forward to working together in the future. For more, see the SPJ headquarters blog.

LAST WEEK'S QUIZ. Here again is last week's quiz:

What are the historical origins of Trick or Treating?

Congratulations to this week's winner: Martha Steger from Midlothian, Va.

Martha provided the following information in her answer: The tradition of going from door to door receiving food started in England and Ireland, in the form of souling, in which children and poor people would sing and say prayers for the dead in return for cakes.

For her prize, Martha will receive an intriguing book that details the story of the bloody birth of the San Francisco Chronicle. Simon Read's "War of Words: A True Tale of Newsprint and Murder" is a "sensational tale of sex, murder, and muckraking." We hope you'll enjoy the story, Martha!

THIS WEEK'S QUIZ. Instead of answering a trivia question, we would like you to tell us for this week's quiz why you love SPJ. Why are you a member?

Submit your answer to Karen Grabowski.

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