By Christine Tatum
National President, SPJ
Assistant Business Editor, The Denver Post
PRIVILEGED FIGHT: SPJ has committed $1,000 from its Legal Defense Fund to support an amicus brief that champions the legal fight for journalists' privilege waged by the San Francisco Chronicle and two of its reporters. The newspaper and staff writers Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada have refused to divulge the source of leaked grand jury testimony about professional athletes' steroid use.The reporters and newspaper were held in contempt, the reporters received prison sentences of up to 18 months, and the newspaper was fined $1,000 per day. The penalties were stayed for the duration of one round of appeal. The case now stands before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The brief is due in December, and oral arguments are expected in March 2007.
REPORTS THAT ROCK. To give you a better idea of what all the Society has accomplished and is planning, our national board of directors will file monthly updates on spj.org. The first reports were posted this week and are filled with interesting tidbits about members and with spectacular program ideas (some of which might even make money for chapters). Among the highlights:
• In Region 3 (That’s Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina): SPJ’s South Florida pro chapter is celebrating its 60th anniversary … George Daniels, a professor at the University of Alabama and one of the 2006 Diversity Fellows, says he’s on an “SPJ campaign.” He returned from SPJ’s national conference in Chicago determined to help rebuild and establish chapters in Alabama. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to help.
• In Region 5 (Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky): Director Richard Roth, senior associate dean at Northwestern University’s journalism school, is happy to check his schedule and to consider making presentations on an array of issues facing journalism and journalism education. Consider dropping him a line at email@example.com.
• In Region 9 (Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming): Colorado Pro chapter President John Ensslin of the Rocky Mountain News has launched a blog detailing the chapter’s impressive lineup of programs, developed in partnership with the historic Denver Press Club … The Colorado Pro chapter recently hosted New Yorker Cartoon Editor Robert Mankoff. Listen to Mankoff discuss 80 years of the sassy magazine’s funnies as detailed in the new book, The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker.
• In Region 10 (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington): This fall, SPJ’s Western Washington Pro Chapter is offering continuing education classes that include the basics of Excel, PhotoShop and database construction … The William O. Douglas chapter is looking to incorporate discussion about the environment and the First Amendment by taking folks on a special hike.
• In Region 12 (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee): We extend hearty congratulations to Channel 24/30 News Director Jim Turpin, who helped revive SPJ’s MidSouth Pro Chapter this year. Turpin has been promoted to director of news and content for all of Clear Channel Television.
THE THRILL OF VICTORY. Congratulations to the Viking News, the student newspaper at Ocean County College in Toms River, N.J. The student newspaper’s staff has won the College Press Freedom Award for battling to prevent school administrators from firing their faculty adviser. The award is presented by the Student Press Law Center and the Associated Collegiate Press. SPJ conducted an exhaustive inquiry into the adviser’s removal and recommended earlier this year that she be reinstated. The Society’s report provides valuable insight that could be of big help to journalism advisers and student journalists.
ROUND 3? SPJ’s national convention of delegates this year voted down by a narrow margin a proposal to allow a one-person-one-vote system that would have let all members in good standing to cast their own ballots for national leaders. The same issue was discussed and tabled two years ago. Will it be brought back to the convention floor next year in Washington, D.C.? Member Carole McNall certainly hopes so. After reading a recap of the issue in the most recent edition of Quill, she’s raising concerns about the matter on Christine Tatum’s blog, Freedom of the Prez.
TIRELESS SOLDIER. Every now and then, the folks at SPJ’s headquarters marvel at the unfailing support some people have shown for this organization. This week, while processing member payments, we couldn’t help but notice that Robert Estabrook of Lakeville, Conn., joined the Society on May 1, 1939. He has remained a loyal member for 67 years. Top that!
YOU BE THE JUDGE. SPJ needs judges for local, regional and national contests. Interested in helping? Send an e-mail providing your full name, complete contact information and a short bio detailing your professional work experience to Programs Coordinator Heather Porter firstname.lastname@example.org. Sending that message won’t commit you to anything. SPJ will contact potential judges later this month.
TAKING YOU TO YOUR LEADERS. Who the heck leads SPJ? This week, we posted brief bios for each of the organization’s national board members. Be among the first three people to correctly answer the following questions, and you’ll win a VERY cool “Honor the First” rubber bracelet from National President Christine Tatum:
• Who prays for the day all newsrooms go Mac?
• Who was raised on a sugarcane plantation?
• Who is most likely to know his or her way around a restaurant?
• Who is the author of News in a New America?
• Who is most likely to know how to pronounce “Natchitoches” correctly?
• Who joined SPJ after his or her employer would not help fight a subpoena?
• Who served in the U.S. Navy on a submarine?
• Who spent the most time covering the BTK case?
• Who really digs the symphony?
• Who could most easily tell the differences among a Flat Tire, Flying Dog and Hop Wallop?