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Home > Publications > SPJ Leads > Shield Law on our minds and in the news

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SPJ Leads | 7/21/2010
Shield Law on our minds and in the news


By Scott Leadingham
SPJ Communications Department

DOUBLE SHIELD. SPJ has been a leading voice in the fight to pass a federal shield law, having worked with a coalition of media organizations and associations since 2005. The potential for S. 448, the Free Flow of Information Act, to pass is looking better than ever. But one final push is needed. It has already passed the House of Representatives and currently awaits a vote in the Senate after months of debate (and gridlock) in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Recognizing the need to "get the ball moving," SPJ President Kevin Smith has been actively pushing for action on the bill. He visited Capitol Hill July 13, dropping off letters to senators whose support is crucial. Read the letter here. Smith then penned an editorial that has been sent to nationwide media. It addresses the need for a federal shield law not only to protect journalists and sources, but to maintain the flow of information to everyone. Read the editorial (open to reprinting and publication) here.

For more on the federal shield law, and SPJ's efforts to have it enacted, click here.

THEY'RE JOLLY GOOD (AND DIVERSE) FELLOWS. SPJ is pleased to present the Diversity Leadership Fellows program, which seeks to increase the diversity participation of SPJ members within national committees and on the national board of directors. One way to reach this goal is to bring SPJ members of color to the convention and involve the Fellows in many aspects of the conference. This program is funded by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.

These SPJ members were selected to receive Diversity Leadership Grants to attend the 2010 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference in Las Vegas:

Jigsha Desai (Knoxville, Tenn.)
Rummana Hussain (Chicago)
Nicole Livas (Norfolk, Va.)
Paula Pant (Atlanta)
Reginald Ragland (Washington, D.C.)
Amber Stearns (Indianapolis)

Read more about each fellow here. Congratulations, everyone!

CONVENTION PREP. The Diversity Leadership Fellows (see above) will need some company at the SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference. As you consider coming to Las Vegas Oct. 3-5, remember a few things:

We're on Twitter talking about the convention and meeting people ahead of the event. You can even search for a roommate. Use hashtag #SPJ10 for all things related to the 2010 Convention.

Registration prices before Sept. 8 are low compared to other journalism conferences and a steal for SPJ members: $185 (professional); $135 (students/post-grad/adviser/retired).

Half-day workshops offer a great way to learn a new skill in a few hours. Topics range from freelancing to multi-platform story production to gathering and using government data. See the full list here.

Professional developments sessions offer something for everyone, with training and sessions on multimedia, ethics, entrepreneurial skills and career development, among many others. See the full list here, updated as programs are added.

Of course, there's plenty to do in Las Vegas that doesn't involve sitting in a conference. Some of that may include activities on the Vegas Strip, but it doesn't have to. And you don't need to be 21 years or older to have a good time. Here are some suggestions for things to do that won't break the bank no matter your age.

Keep up with new additions to the program and get a taste for what's in store by following the convention blog.

Convinced yet? Remember to register before September 8 to get the early bird prices. And don't overlook the most important lesson: The career skills you learn in Vegas WON'T stay in Vegas.

REMEMBER THE RESOURCES. SPJ has numerous resources available for members and all journalists. Make sure you keep up with everything at your disposal. Like:

The Freelancer Directory, where all members can post their information and clips for editors to review. It's used frequently by those looking for freelancers.

The Journalist's Toolbox, a collection of thousands of links organized by nearly every topic you can imagine (with more added all the time).

FOI for YOU: Freedom of information resources and advocacy is one of SPJ's central missions. There is a wealth of FOI-related resources available to you, including open government contacts for each state and instruction on conducting audits. Find it all (and more) here.

Diverse sourcing means better coverage, and that's possible through the Rainbow Diversity Sourcebook. Use it often to find source experts on numerous topics from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Ethical resources are another cornerstone, and SPJ's Code of Ethics is used throughout the industry as a model of sound decision making. See all the ethics help here, including how to contact the Ethics Hotline if you're struggling with a dilemma on deadline.

The SPJ Blogs Network, with blogs on a myriad of topics, from FOI to international journalism to issues for young journalists.

IN DEFENSE OF JOURNALISTS. The Legal Defense Fund is one of many resources SPJ maintains to help journalists and news outlets in need. It's integral to the Society's mission of "improving and protecting journalism."

To raise money for the fund, SPJ will hold the Legal Defense Fund Auction during the 2010 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference in Las Vegas. Of course, an auction requires items to auction off. Now is your chance to help fellow journalists (or yourself) by donating an item or service to the auction, which has silent and live components. Be sure to fill out and submit this form when sending items to SPJ Headquarters. The deadline to submit is Sept. 1. E-mail Lauren Rochester or call 317-927-8000 ext. 210 with questions.

Thank you in advance for helping SPJ protect journalists like you!

LAST WEEK'S QUIZ. Q. National Public Radio officially changed its name to NPR recently, causing thousands of tote bags and coffee tumblers to become instant collectables. But it isn't the only notable non-profit going through a rebranding. What Chicago-based non-profit (hint: it's not news related) officially announced a name change this week? For extra credit: What similar organization did this non-profit in question help when the organization was in its infancy? And why is this year significant for that organization?

A. The YMCA changed to "the Y," reflecting the way many people already refer to the 166-year-old organization. But local clubs will still be referred to, for example, "The YMCA of Greater Seattle." And the updated logo will still incorporate "YMCA" in small letters. For the time being, at least, the Web domain of the national umbrella organization is still So, it wasn't as much a name change as the launch of a "new brand strategy," according the Y (or is it YMCA?). See the full announcement here.

For the extra credit, we received a variety of answers, many of which seemed entirely plausible. However, the organization we were most closely thinking of is the Boy Scouts of America. When the fledgling BSA was forming, the YMCA assisted by chartering scout troops to its already existing club system, giving the BSA much-needed members in its early years. That began in 1910, and 100 years later the BSA is preparing for its centennial-year national jamboree at Fort A.P Hill, Va., July 26-Aug. 4.

And the winner is...

Steve Taylor of Arlington, Va. Congrats, Steve. He was one of several to get the correct extra credit. We're not sure what he's won because of it, but we are sure it's a just an honor to win.

THIS WEEK'S QUIZ. One popular industry story this week (at least on Twitter) focused on newsroom burnout beginning earlier in journalists' careers. A New York Times article on the subject mentioned two news outlets that pay writers partially on the number of clicks their online articles receive. What are those two outlets?

Submit your answer to Scott Leadingham.

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