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Home > Publications > SPJ Leads > Let there be light in Utah

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SPJ Leads | 3/30/2011
Let there be light in Utah


By Andrew M. Scott
SPJ Communications Department

BLACK HOLE NO MORE (WE HOPE). Less than three weeks after passing a controversial anti-transparency bill, HB477, the Utah Legislature voted March 25 to repeal the law that would have stripped the state's open records act of key provisions. Gov. Gary Herbert followed by signing the repeal measure today, March 30.

The unpopular HB477 was quickly passed at the end of the regular legislative session, leading journalists, open government advocates and regular Utahans to flood legislators and the governor's office with complaints. In response to HB477, SPJ's national Freedom of Information Committee, assisted by the state chapter, presented the inaugural Black Hole Award to the Legislature and governor.

But the issue is unlikely to fade anytime soon. A working group is being convened to further review the existing law, the Government Records Access and Management Act. After the working group completes its review, a special session could be called to again pass changes to GRAMA.

National and state SPJ freedom of information watchers will keep a close eye on the developments. After the way HB477 passed, it's clear they need to.

NEED ADVICE? CHECK SPJ's MENTOR MATCH-UP. Have a question about the industry? Maybe you would like advice on how to deal with a boss or colleague? SPJ and the Generation J Committee are pleased to announce the new SPJ Mentor Match-up program!

After months of discussion and brainstorming, the SPJ mentor program is back and better than ever! The program is for members who have graduated from college. Early career journalists are encouraged to join the program and receive feedback from experienced journalists.

Learn more about the program.

HAVE YOUR J-EDU EXPERIENCES FEATURED ON SPJ BLOGS. The Journalism Education Committee has initiated a call for best practices on its SPJ, Classrooms & Newsrooms. The committee will open the blog to educators from all over the country to share what has worked, and what hasn't, in their classrooms. Read more and tell them about your ideas and inspirations!

NARRATIVE WRITING IN MINN.. Join Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Tom Hallman Jr. on June 25for a day filled with tips for creating excitement in news stories. The workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Doubletree Guest Suites Minneapolis. SPJ members can register for $45, which includes breakfast and lunch.

Learn more about the event and register.

SPJ AND BASKETBALL: A SMART COMBINATION. Did you know SPJ members have fewer degrees of separation from NCAA men's basketball teams than they do from Kevin Bacon? Huh?

Saturday, April 2, Butler and Virginia Commonwealth will meet in a semi-final game in the men's Final Four tournament. SPJ Headquarters is only a few blocks from the Butler campus. Staff members have been known to see Butler coach Brad Stevens fetching coffee at the local Starbucks.

But there's an SPJ connection to Virginia Commonwealth, too. Coach Shaka Smart is married to freelance journalist Maya Payne-Smart, a member of the SPJ Freelance Committee.

Best wishes to both teams!

COVERING PUBLIC PENSIONS. Journalists are invited to learn how to cover the nationally contentious issue of public pensions at an all-expenses-paid, three-day seminar conducted by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in June through a grant from the McCormick Foundation. The seminar is June 1-3, 2011, at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

Up to 20 journalists will receive registration, hotel and travel expenses for this seminar. For more information, visit the SABEW website.

COVERING IMMIGRATION THROUGH DIGITAL MEDIA. This year, the Scripps Howard Immigration Program will bring together 12 leading journalists from U.S. media, both Spanish- and English-language outlets, for a week-long training program, July 11-15, in Washington, D.C. The focus is how to bolster immigration coverage and use of new digital reporting tools.

The program will help journalists understand immigration issues from legal, social, economic and political perspectives while building skills to cover this complex issue using the latest multimedia technology. Technical training will focus on strategies and hands-on skills to use digital media. Participants will receive Flip cams and will shoot and upload videos online.

Expenses will be paid by the program, funded by a grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation. The application deadline is May 2, 2011.

Learn more about the program and apply.

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: "Make a Profit AFTER Paying Yourself"
Freelancers are not just writers/editors: they are small business owners. Like any other business owner, freelancers invest in business expenses. They pay for work-related internet, phone service, envelopes, a fax machine, mileage... (Read more)

Journalism and the World: "What's the 'Middle East'? Depends on the style guide or textbook"
You'd be forgiven for admitting confusion upon hearing or reading the term "Middle East." And lately, that's an almost impossible term to avoid seeing or hearing in news media... (Read more)

Journalism and the World: "Harnessing computers to get better journalism"
The Hong Kong University Journalism and Media Center sponsored a talk by Rutgers University media researcher, Nick Diakopoulos late last month.The topic: Innovation and Computing in Journalism. (Read more)

Net Worked: "Streamlining your social media posting: How to update more than one site at a time"
Social media can help you in your reporting, help you get out the word about your stories and help you build own brand as a journalist. But there are so many social media and social networking sites these days, it's easy to feel overwhelmed like there are...(Read more)

First Draft: "Diversity in the News (Room)"
When I think of diversity in TV news, I have a go-to scene from the show Family Guy and their Quahog newscast... (Read more)

Freedom of the Prez: "Ten days in Japan"
I went to Japan on a journalists' exchange and ran into that nation's emotional equivalent of our 9/11. You remember the initial horror, the denial that what you were seeing really could be happening. Disbelief turned to numb acceptance with video replays that would no longer allow us... (Read more)

See the full blog network list here.

MAXIMIZING iPAD2 REPORTING WITH #SPJCHAT. Join us for this week's #SPJchat Twitter chatThursday, 8 p.m. ET on exploring how journalists can use the new iPad2 as a reporting and editing tool. We will discuss apps, the new front-facing camera, Garage Band and other tools and features. The discussion is a precursor to the SPJ Region 4-5 Super Regional iPad2 for Journalists presentation in Erlanger, Ky. on April 2.

SPJ DePaul University chapter adviser and Journalist's Toolbox editor Mike Reilley will moderate. For details on how to participate in the weekly chats and a schedule of upcoming topics, see

LIVE CHAT WITH PROPUBLICA EDITOR. Join The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at 2 p.m. ET on April 4 for a live chat with Paul Steiger, CEO and editor-in-chief of ProPublica. Previously, Steiger served as the managing editor of The Wall Street Journal from 1991 to 2007. During his tenure, members of the Journal's newsroom staff were awarded 16 Pulitzer Prizes.

The chat is an opportunity to have your questions answered by an industry professional on non-profit news organizations, business journalism and the Pulitzers.

LAST WEEK'S QUIZ. The New York Times asked Twitter to stop a feed designed to distribute links to the Times' online content. What was the stated reason the Times used to justify its request? What is speculated as another reason? (Hint: The name of the Twitter account in question is a clue.)

A. The Times asked Twitter to stop the feed for alleged "trademark infringement." The feed is called @FreeNYTimes. It is speculated the real reason for therequest is that the Times does not want its online content distributed free of charge to non-subscribers i.e. subscription sharing which cuts deeply into its revenue model.

And the winner is...

Barbara Sharp of Burbank, Calif. Congrats, Barbara!

THIS WEEK'S QUIZ. What dictator recently received a journalism award despite stifling press freedoms in his country? Hint: He is also a recipient of the Al-Gadhafi International Prize for Human Rights, an honor he shares with Fidel Castro. (Seriously, you can't make up this stuff.)

Submit your answer to Andrew M. Scott

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