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By Tom Henderson
President, SPJ’s Snake River Chapter
Editorial Writer, The Lewiston (Idaho) Morning Tribune
National President, SPJ
Assistant Business Editor, The Denver Post
WE NEED A PLAN. SPJ leaders are beginning to develop a strategic plan aimed at steering the Society deftly into what is an exciting — and uncertain — time for American journalism. Don’t just grumble about what the Society doesn’t do, or should do. Take a few minutes to learn more about this fledgling plan, and contribute to an online discussion that promises to strengthen SPJ for years to come.
DENVER OR BUST. SPJ’s executive committee will meet in the Mile High City on Nov. 17-19. Have an issue you’d like your national leaders to address? Speak up quickly. Drop a line to Executive Director Terry Harper at email@example.com.
REACHING OUT TO SAN DIEGO. Chat about the ups and downs and ins and outs of SPJ over a casual lunch — on SPJ’s dime — with National President Christine Tatum. She’ll be at The San Diego Union-Tribune from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Friday. This discussion will focus on the kinds of support services and professional instruction journalists want SPJ to deliver. Because seats are limited and building security is an issue, RSVPs are required. If you’d like to attend, contact Chapter President Jennifer Croshaw Balanky at Jennifer.Crowshaw@uniontrib.com.
HAVE REACHED OUT TO SEATTLE. Wow! Are there some cool things happening because of SPJ’s devoted Western Washington Pro chapter. Christine hung out with members there last weekend (and just had to visit the very first Starbucks) and thinks all of you should know:
• The chapter has a recently redesigned Web site. For ideas about how to improve your own chapter’s site, give this one a good look. The site includes information about the chapter’s clever and very recently updated handbook, Access: A Guide to Government Information. Your chapter should consider generating a similar resource.
• The chapter has won new members by delivering tech training. Local reaction to a series of workshops about tech tips, tricks and tools that help with the gathering and presentation of news has surprised even local chapter leaders. See the chapter’s workshop schedule. If you’re in the area, sign up for a class today. And if you’re not, connect with your SPJ buddies and coordinate a few in your neck of the woods.
• The chapter is thriving – and appears to be having a lot of fun – in large part because of its crackerjack board of directors. Of special note is the diversity of specialties these journalists represent. The board is composed of a healthy mix of newsies working in broadcasting, online and print media. Directors represent news organizations large and small and a wide range of ages.
• Region 10 has launched a cool, new blog. It’s called The X Factor. Get it?
RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER. Hankering for a beer? The first round will be on SPJ’s William O. Douglas Pro Chapter. Unwind after a hectic week of election news coverage. When: 7:30 p.m., Nov. 10. Where: The Pub, 7001 W. Clearwater Ave., Kennewick, Wash. More info: Kristin Kraemer, (509) 947-9307.
FREEING THE CAMPUS PRESS. SPJ’s New Jersey Pro Chapter and the Journalism Resources Institute at Rutgers University co-sponsored the College Press Freedom Summit, where attendees discussed — among other things — SPJ’s “Take the Pledge” campaign. The initiative urges administrators at public colleges and universities to honor SPJ’s Campus Media Statement, a declaration that student media are designated public forums. Student media formally recognized in such a way have added protections against attempts at censorship. Thanks to SPJ members Guy Baehr and Barbara Reed for coordinating this event — and to SPJ Campus Adviser Neil Ralston for making the trip to speak. Want more information about the Campus Media Statement? Contact Ralston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HACKS AND FLACKS. SPJ’s New Jersey Pro chapter will present its second ethics forum, which will examine the relationship between reporters and public relations professionals from the viewpoint of people who have been both. When: 8-9:30 p.m., Nov. 14. Where: Cook Campus Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J. More info: email@example.com.
COVERING SCHOOL TRAGEDIES. The newly revived Atlanta Pro chapter will discuss how breaking news coverage of the Pennsylvania Amish school murders and other tragedies has impacted school children, their families and their communities. Where should reporters draw the line between covering news and sensitivity to the victims and informing the public with news of the day? These issues will be examined in a panel discussion, "School Tragedy and Media Coverage," moderated by Region 3 Director Holly Fisher. When: 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 16. Where: Lucerne Suite in the Student Center of Georgia State University. More info: Rogers Harrison,(404) 572-1989 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT’S IN A NAME? SPJ’s National Diversity Committee offers a new guide to reporting on the same-sex marriage debate. Also, check out the committee’s expanding trove of online resources aimed at enhancing your work.
WHO’S NEWS? In its vibrant blog, the Diversity Committee explains why it’s so important for journalists to be aware — and informed about — “Universal Design and Visitability.”
MUST-SEE TV. In May 2005, residents of Spokane, Wash., awoke to a startling headline in The Spokesman-Review: “West Tied to Sex Abuse in ’70s, Using Office to Lure Young Men.” The newspaper detailed the actions of the city’s conservative, Republican mayor, Jim West. As strange as those revelations were, so, too, were the newspaper’s methods for reporting the story. The paper had hired a “forensic computer specialist” to pose as an 18-year-old male online to engage the mayor in a relationship. Longtime SPJ member and Spokesman-Review Managing Editor Steve Smith will discuss the newspaper’s work on an upcoming edition of PBS’ “Frontline.” The program is scheduled to air Thursday, Nov. 14 (Check local listings).
FIRST SEX, NOW POLITICS. Carolyn Greer, a member of SPJ’s Louisville, Ky., chapter writes: “How cool is this? John Yarmuth, a member of the Louisville chapter’s board, defeated five-time Republican incumbent Anne Northrup in a race for the U.S. House of Representatives. John founded an alternative weekly newspaper in Louisville and remained as a columnist with the paper after it sold. He resigned that post when he announced his run for the House.”
That’s VERY cool, indeed (And it is likely also history-making. We’re checking … We don’t THINK an SPJ member ever has been elected to the U.S. House). Let’s hope Rep. Yarmuth will help with SPJ’s continuing fight for a federal shield law.
ANOTHER FRIEND ON THE HILL? Jim Webb has been declared the winner of an incredibly tight race in Virginia for the U.S. Senate. We can’t help but note Webb’s respected work in journalism.
THE DAY THE NEWS DIED.The Springfield (Ore.) News shuttered Oct. 20. Tom Henderson paid tribute to this valiant community newspaper in a recent column appearing in the Lewiston (Idaho) Morning Tribune.
DIRECTORS UNMASKED. SPJ members who correctly answered last week’s quiz riffing off the bios of SPJ’s national board members will receive a cool “Honor the First” bracelet. The winners are: Rebecca Allen, James Baetke, Caroline Cardwell, Judy Johnson and Don Meyers.
POP QUOTE OF THE WEEK. “You know what my editor used to do to me when I brought him coffee that was too cold? He’d throw it in my face to wake me up. They call it office abuse now. But back in the glory days, we called it paying dues.” Who said it? Send your answers to Tom Henderson at email@example.com.