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Home > Publications > SPJ Leads > Ethics Committee denounces “checkbook journalism”

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SPJ Leads | 3/24/2010
Ethics Committee denounces “checkbook journalism”


By Karen Grabowski
SPJ Communications Department

SPJ ETHICS COMMITTEE CONDEMNS "CHECKBOOK JOURNALISM". On Tuesday, the SPJ Ethics Committee released a statement condemning major broadcast networks' practice of "checkbook journalism." SPJ believes it is unethical to buy news or to provide in-kind enumerations for exclusive coverage. Doing so compromises the credibility of the news and the intentions of the reporters. The statement was in direct response to recent information concerning ABC News' payment of $200,000 to the family of Casey Anthony, accused murderer in Orlando, Fla. The Committee also criticized the actions of NBC, CBS and CNN, which have engaged in the practice of "checkbook journalism." Read the entire statement online.

CUILLIER TESTIFIES BEFORE CONGRESS. The SPJ FOI Committee Chairman, David Cuillier, has been very busy. In addition to educating young journalists and being an active member of SPJ, Cuillier took time March 18 to testify at the hearing held by the Information Policy, Census and National Archives Subcommittee. The hearing was entitled Administration of the Freedom of Information Act: Current Trends.

WORK FOR SPJ. SPJ is now accepting applications for its yearlong, paid internship: the SPJ Communications Post-Graduate Internship. The ideal candidate for this position should be a recent college graduate (bachelor's or master's) with prior internship experience in communications. We're looking for someone to help put SPJ in the media spotlight and assist in growing the organization and serving Society members. Learn how to apply online. The deadline to submit an application is 5 p.m. Eastern, April 26.

SPRING IS HERE. March 20 was the first day of spring — have you registered for your SPJ Spring Conference? Each region has one! Regions 8 and 3 had successful weekends earlier this month, and Regions 2 and 5 will have events this Friday and Saturday. If you haven't registered yet, join your fellow journalists and come to a conference!

CENSUS RESOURCES. Covering the 2010 Census? . Resources include the Pew Research Center, the Census Director's Blog, various toolkits and C-SPAN. If you see something missing, let us knowCheck out the Census resources for journalists compiled here and we'll add it.

SUCCESSFUL PROGRAMS FROM FLORIDA. Last week, the SPJ South Florida chapter sent three board members to the University of Florida, where they helped the 2009 Student Chapter of the Year host its second annual First Amendment Free Food Festival. Afterward, they immediately drove to the Region 3 conference. At the conference, they promoted fun and creative SPJ programs, like the Food Festival, Ethics Hold'em and Will Write for Food. SPJ board member (and Floridian) Michael Koretzky encourages all SPJ chapters to consider these program ideas as a way to attract new members and retain current ones. Contact Koretzky for more information.

SPJ MEMBERS WIN ASJA AWARDS. We congratulate the following SPJ members who were honored with writing awards from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. The annual awards recognize the outstanding nonfiction work produced on a freelance basis during the past calendar year.

Winners of 2010 ASJA Writing Awards — ARTICLES:

June Roth Award for Medical Journalism
Winner: "What's Wrong with Cancer Tests?" by Shannon Brownlee (Reader's Digest)

Honorable Mention: "How Facebook and Twitter are Changing Data Privacy" by Michael Fitzgerald (CIO Insight)

Business/Technology Article
Honorable Mention: "How Innovations from Developing Countries Trickle Up" by Michael Fitzgerald (Fast Company)

NEW GRANT PROGRAM. The Fund for Investigative Journalism has a new grant program. Over the next year the organization will award grants averaging $5,000 to investigative reporters working in ethnic media and on local and regional issues. The first deadline for applications is Monday, April 5. Find the application form here.

CALL IN FOR PROPUBLICA TIPS MARCH 25. ProPublica reporters Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber will discuss their investigations of nursing boards and other state regulatory and licensing agencies on a conference call. They'll share some of their reporting tips and give advice on where to find information. The call is Thursday, March 25 at 2 p.m. Eastern. Sign up here to get the call-in information.

THE STATE OF THE MEDIA. Last week the Project for Excellence in Journalism released its annual "State of the News Media" report. If you haven't read it yet, consider taking some time to do so. This is the seventh edition of the report on the health and status of American journalism.

DONATE TO CUBAN JOURNALISTS. The non-profit Caimán Journalism Training was formed to design and implement training and capacity-building programs for independent journalists in Cuba, and it is requesting your help. CJT's program "Cuba Connected" involves the collection of any and all new or used electronic devices that would be useful to independent Cuban journalists in the field, e.g. cameras, external hard drives, SD cards, blank CDs, MP3 players, netbooks, notebook computers and USB flash drives. To donate, you may send devices to Caimán Journalism Training, Inc., Cuba Connected, 13450 S.W. 126 St., Miami, FL 33186. Contact Nicolás A. Jiménez, CJT Chairman, for more information via e-mail or at 305.929.3258.

LAST WEEK'S QUIZ. Please note this correction: Last week, the quiz included a name in the memorial montage that did not belong. Did you catch it? Dena Bisnette sure did! SPJ member Dena was mistakenly included in the list of stars who died last year. Dena would like her friends to know that she is safe and well in Kansas. We sincerely apologize for this mistake and appreciated Dena's great sense of humor about the error! Dena wrote to us and said, "At least if you had me dead for a little while, I was in good company, wasn't I?"

Let's try again...

Last week, we asked you the following question:
Sunshine Week is a nonpartisan initiative that has been celebrated every March since 2005. But the idea began in 2002 with "Sunshine Sunday," which was a group's response to efforts by their state legislators to create new exemptions to the state's public records law. In what state did "Sunshine Sunday" occur eight years ago?

Answer: Florida

Congratulations go out to Susan Schwartz from Bloomsburg, Pa.! Susan, keep an eye on your mailbox for a package of SPJ goodies coming your way.

Thank you to everyone who submitted an answer. If you didn't win, read below for another chance.

THIS WEEK'S QUIZ. Q. Google recently redirected its traffic to its Google Hong Kong service in response to the Chinese government's censorship mandate. Name the Chinese-language search engine that, based in Beijing, was once Google's rival in the country but is now dominating the market.

Submit your answer to Karen Grabowski for a chance to win a prize.

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