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Home > Publications > SPJ Leads > Sunshine week, Black Hole Award, new resources and more!

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SPJ Leads | 3/16/2011
Sunshine week, Black Hole Award, new resources and more!


By Andrew M. Scott
SPJ Communications Department

LEADERSHIP PROGRAM DEADLINE EXTENDED. Friday, March 18, is the extended deadline to apply for the Ted Scripps Leadership Institute in Indianapolis, June 3-5! You may have noticed that a previous edition of Leads indicated that the program dates as June 4-6, but it is in fact Friday-Sunday, June 3-5. We apologize for any confusion.

Professional and student SPJ chapter leaders from around the country will meet in Indianapolis to participate in the 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 are due March 18.

LET THE SUNSHINE IN! In case you've been missing out, it's National Sunshine Week! Sunshine Week is an initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public's right to know.

It's our duty as journalists, and a key mission for SPJ, to shine light into the dark recesses of government secrecy. To that end, the SPJ website provides ideas for chapters, newsrooms and instructors to promote and further freedom of information in their communities. Check out some of these great FOI and open government resources:

SPJ's Sunshine Week page
Chapter FOI program ideas
Campus FOI resources
Reporter's Guide to FERPA
FOI activities for newsrooms
Writing about FOI
Quotable expert sources
FOI studies and reports
Curriculum and classroom ideas for teachers
FOI resources


SPJ's Freedom of Information Committee launched the national Black Hole Award this year to highlight the most heinous violations of the public's right to know. By exposing examples of unnecessary and harmful secrecy, we hope to educate the public to their rights and hold government accountable.

The first award appropriately announced during Sunshine Week goes to the Utah Legislature and Gov. Gary Herbert for plunging their state into an abyss of secrecy through the most regressive piece of freedom of information legislation in recent history. Click here to read more about this year's winner and the five runners-up.

This national award was inspired by the Utah SPJ chapter, which has given its own state Black Hole Award for some time.

Today, FOI Committee Chairman David Cuillier presented a black wreath on the front steps of the state Capitol building.

Additionally, Cuillier has written a column on the topic, and it is available for re-publishing in print or online. The text is available here.

USF STUDENT RECOGNIZED. Speaking of sunshine, congratulations to "Sunshine State" student member Aubrey Clark, who was recently featured on Her Campus, an online magazine for college women that individualizes its content college-by-college by establishing My Campus branches at schools across the country.

Clark currently helps edit Women's Running Magazine in St. Petersburg and leads the University of South Florida SPJ chapter. Read the Her Campus feature about Clark.

A NEW EDGE FOR CHAPTER RESOURCES. SPJ has been at work to make chapter ideas and resources easier for its professional and student chapters. Take a look at our latest programs:

PROGRAMS IN A BOX. We understand that sometimes the clock just moves too fast and budgets are just too small when it comes to developing efficient chapter programming. To counter that, we've recently created Programs in a Box to help you implement a successful program with little planning and little cash.

DOWNLOADABLE RESOURCES. This new Downloadable Resources page is designed to give chapter leaders an easy way to obtain materials to assist in SPJ leadership. Resources include: high-resolution SPJ and other logos; printable Code of Ethics materials; membership brochure and application; and materials for chapter and national leaders, including training ideas, chapter leadership tips and more.

REMEMBERING DICK GOEHLER. Media law attorney, First Amendment advocate and SPJ member Dick Goehler died Tuesday, March 15. He represented multiple media and news outlets in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area as a partner in the Frost Brown Todd law firm. Goehler earned a law degree from the University of Notre Dame after undergraduate studies at Miami University. He spoke on various First Amendment and media law-related issues for SPJ chapter, regional and national programs.

"Anytime I asked anything, he came through, whether it was for advice, the use of his office for a session, or for money for sponsorships," SPJ Region 4 Director and past Cincinnati chapter president James Pilcher said. "And he was one of the nation's preeminent First Amendment lawyers. He will be missed. Ironic that he would pass during Sunshine Week."

SPJ President Hagit Limor called Goehler "a warrior for the First Amendment." Limor is a reporter for WCPO-TV, which Goehler represented. "Dick fought fiercely to protect journalists' rights with an understated yet sharp sense of humor as armor. He didn't speak of it much, but those who knew him well knew of his profound faith as a guidepost," Limor said.

An obituary from the Dayton Daily News is here.

FREE WEBINARS FROM THE REYNOLDS CENTER. The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism has been offering free business journalism webinars since 2003. The Center helps journalists cover business better and thereby improve the quality of American business journalism. Some of their upcoming webinars include:

COVERING NEW HEALTH CARE. President Obama has signed legislation that promises to bring about the most sweeping social change in decades with the overhaul of the nation's health care system. What are the stories you should be doing now that will help consumers and businesses understand what's in it for them? During this free Web chat on April 6, the Reynolds Center will offer ideas and links, and you'll be able to pose questions and get answers in real time. Learn more.

FOLLOWING THE GREEN MONEY. This session on April 19 will provide journalists with Information on how local and federal public policy shapes today's green energy industry and what it means for the growth or decline of the green businesses on your beat. Learn more.

NOMINATIONS DEADLINE THIS FRIDAY. The time is now to nominate outstanding journalists for SPJ's National Honors! The deadline for applications is Friday, 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.

DEADLINE NEAR FOR JOURNALISM LAW 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. 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.

A. Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist.

And the winner is...

Cecelia Martinezof Troy, N.Y. Congrats, Cecelia!

THIS WEEK'S QUIZ. What former TIME magazine editor said: "Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air."

Submit your answer to Andrew M. Scott.

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