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Home > Publications > SPJ Leads > FOI alert, membership drive winners, training and more!

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SPJ Leads | 3/9/2011
FOI alert, membership drive winners, training and more!


By Andrew M. Scott
SPJ Communications Department

SPJ FIGHTS BACK FOR UTAH FOI. As we noted in a tweet, yesterday (and today) was a sad day in freedom of information. Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed into law HB477. The measure restricts access to communication records of public officials and puts a heavy burden on requesters of public records to prove the information should be open.

The bill was pushed through almost in secret and quickly passed and signed into law. SPJ's Freedom of Information Committee quickly condemned the bill and the process by which it was passed.

Utah chapter president Tom Haraldsen joined the FOI Committee in denouncing the bill, saying "SPJ members and like-minded citizens in Utah will not allow this new law and its perceived secretive intentions to go unchallenged."

MEMBERSHIP DRIVE WINNERS. The results of the 2010 membership drive campaign are in! Congratulations go out to the top three finishers in each category:

Large Chapter:

1st place Chicago Headline Club
2nd place Washington D.C. Pro Chapter
3rd place New York Pro Chapter

Small Chapter:

1st place Rio Grande Chapter
2nd place Utah Pro Chapter
3rd place St. Louis Pro Chapter

Campus Chapter:

1st place University of Florida
2nd place University of Missouri
3rd place California State University Fullerton

The first-place finisher in each category receives three registrations to the Excellence in Journalism 2011 conference, taking place Sept. 25-27 in New Orleans. The second-place finisher receives two registrations, and the third-place chapter receives one.

TRAINING IN CHICAGO. Join fellow journalists for an SPJ training session April 2 from 1-3 p.m. The topic is Writing that Works Online, and we're happy to have Pueng Vongs as the speaker. The cost to attend is $25. Space is limited so register today by visiting the training page on the SPJ website. E-mail Heather Dunn at with questions.

SPJ CONFERENCES: SPRING INTO ACTION. Registration deadlines for SPJ's Spring Conferences will be here soon! Be sure to register soon for the conference in your area. Training and professional development sessions abound. Enhance yourself and your journalism career!

Find a Spring Conference near you. Not sure of the region in which you live or work? Click here for a map.

ON THE BLOGS. The SPJ Blogs Network features trends and advice to help today's journalists. From freelancing tips, industry news from around the world, digital media help and more written by SPJ committee members and staff, the network has you covered. Here is a look at some recent posts:

The Independent Journalist: "The Retirement Files, Part Two: How to Stash Your Cash"
In my last post (December 2010), I discussed how freelancers can save for retirement detailing the different types of retirement accounts a freelancer can open. Today's topic is what to do once you have cash in your... (Read more)

Journalism and the World: "Al Jazeera d.g. speaks at TED about historic changes in the Arab world"
TED has always been a gathering of thinkers and innovators. Its invitation to Wadah Khanfar, director general of Al Jazeera fits right in. Despite the animosity showed toward Al Jazeera by way too many... (Read more)

Net Worked: "Tools that help you get more from Twitter"
All of us who relish the social aspect of the Web can be thankful to the great gods of social media that a website such as Twitter came along. The short-messaging-service knockoff has retooled the way we interact, 140 characters at a time, so that now Twitter is among the top-10 websites worldwide and has... (Read more)

See the full blog network list here.

SPJ LEADERSHIP DEADLINE NEXT WEEK. Professional and student SPJ chapter leaders from around the country will meet in Indianapolis June 4-6 to participate in the Ted Scripps Leadership Institute. Funded by the Scripps Howard Foundation, the weekend is a chance for incoming chapter leaders to meet and develop their leadership skills.

Learn more about the program by reviewing last year's highlights and read what participants said about how SPJ has helped them. Applications for the program are due March 16.

MEMBER WINS AWARD FOR COURAGE. Congratulations to SPJ member Samantha Swindler, winner of the 2010 Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, integrity and tenacity in rural journalism. Swindler is the publisher and editor of the weekly Headlight Herald in Tillamook, Ore.

The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky, gives the award in honor of the couple who published The Mountain Eagle in Whitesburg, Ky., for more than 50 years. Sigma Delta Chi Foundation board member and past SPJ national president Al Cross directs the Institute

Swindler will receive her award April 1 at the spring symposium of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association in Albany, Ore.

CELEBRATE THE BEST. Time is running out to nominate outstanding journalists for SPJ's National Honors, celebrating a variety of accomplishments in the journalism field, including commitment to ethics and open government and to excellence in journalism education. The deadline for applications is next week, March 18. Nominate someone today for one of the following honors:

Fellow of the Society: An honor bestowed upon journalists for extraordinary contributions to the profession.

Historic Site in Journalism: Honors individuals, news organizations and places of national historic journalism interest.

Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award: Honors an outstanding journalism educator who has made a significant contribution to the profession and/or journalism education, and to maintaining the highest standards of the profession.

First Amendment Award: Recognizes extraordinarily strong efforts to preserve and strengthen the First Amendment.

Sunshine Award: Recognizes those making important contributions in the area of open government.

Ethics in Journalism Award: Honors reporters, editors or news organizations that distinguish themselves by performing in an outstanding ethical manner as defined by the SPJ Code of Ethics.

JOURNALISM LAW SCHOOL FELLOWSHIP. Loyola Law School in Los Angeles is accepting applications until March 22 for its sixth annual Journalist Law School fellowship, a four-day crash course on constitutional, civil and criminal law taught by law professors, jurists and attorneys. Fellowships will be competitively awarded to 35 journalists and will cover instruction, lodging, meals and one-half of travel expenses for the June 15-18 workshop. More than 175 reporters, editors and producers have completed the program since 2006. Learn more by visiting their website or by contacting Brian Costello, deputy director of communications, at or 213-736-1444.

LAST WEEK'S QUIZ. Who is the InvestigateWest intern recently confronted by ConocoPhillips security while reporting on a hydrofluoric acid story at a refinery near Bellingham, Wash.?

A. Will Graff.

And the winner is...

Joan Alford of Wake Forest, N.C. Congrats, Joan!

THIS WEEK'S QUIZ. What online mogul recently started a website devoted to highlighting non-profit organizations making a difference? Among the areas of support is a focus on journalism integrity.

Submit your answer to Andrew M. Scott

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