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Home > Publications > SPJ Leads > Korean colleagues, California lawmakers, Ode to a chain gang

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SPJ Leads | 12/1/2006
Korean colleagues, California lawmakers, Ode to a chain gang


By Tom Henderson
President, SPJ’s Snake River Chapter
Editorial Writer, The Lewiston (Idaho) Morning Tribune
Christine Tatum
National President, SPJ
Assistant Business Editor, The Denver Post

KAMSAHAMNIDA! For four years, SPJ and Korean journalists have built a cultural and professional exchange. From Nov. 24-30, SPJ members Todd Gillman, Robert Leger, Neil Ralston, Kevin Smith and Pueng Vongs attended the Third Asia Journalists Association Forum in Incheon, Yongpyung and Seoul. Don’t miss the delegation’s travel diary, complete with photos of our Korean friends checking out SPJ’s Web site and of “the newspaper of the future” (interesting digital displays of the news easily accessed from city sidewalks).

WORKING IT, BABY. SPJ works hard to improve and protect journalism – and you make that possible. Check out highlights of our work in November. Consider waving this list around when you’re trying to recruit colleagues to join the Society. 

DIG DEEPER. Take a look at what’s happening in your region, and consider checking out some of the neat updates spinning out of chapters nationwide. Region 10 Director Nathan Isaacs is at the helm of “The X Factor” blog, and a recent post nicely summarizes what all chapters should be striving for. Region 9 Director Ron Sylvester delivers an amusing account of battles with overzealous police officers in Missouri and parents demanding censorship of high school students in Kansas. The First Amendment is alive and well in the Midwest, he writes.

FOR THE NEWSIE ON YOUR GIFT LIST. On her blog this week, National President Christine Tatum provides a list of gift ideas for collectors of cool journalism stuff and cool stuff made by journalists. Heck, you could also buy these neat things for yourself. Share links of your own, please.

Want to chat with Tatum? Then swing by Colorado State University at 5 p.m., Dec. 5, where she’ll be speaking with, well, anyone who shows up. Drop her a line at

FREE STUFF. "Democracy depends on journalism." That's the message of the Newspaper Guild and Communication Workers of America and their new site, Free bumper stickers, wristbands and lapel stickers with that message may be ordered from the Web site. The offer is good for orders up to 200 – so check prices on larger orders. The offer expires after Dec. 7.

GO GET ’EM, JOEL. SPJ was invited to testify at a California Assembly hearing held this week in Sacramento. Joel Campbell, SPJ’s National FOI Committee chairman, responded to draft media access polices proposed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations and shared a summary of “best practices” from policies collected as part of SPJ's Prison Access Project. In particular, SPJ opposes proposed restrictions that would keep journalists from talking to anyone with a felony conviction in California prisons. Read Joel’s testimony – and other entries posted on the committee’s lively FOI FYI blog.

YOU KNOW SOMEONE WORTHY. There are heroes among us – heroes whose efforts have kept state and local government records and meetings open and accessible to the public. The Open Government Hall of Fame honors those whose lifetime commitment to citizen access, open government and freedom of information has left a legacy at the state and local levels. The Hall of Fame is open to anyone who has made a substantial, sustained and lasting contribution to open government or FOI within one particular state. Nominees may come from government, the media, the nonprofit sector, the legal profession or any other area that involves citizen access to government records, meetings and procedures. Posthumous nominations are accepted. Send a cover letter identifying the nominee and the person or group making the nomination. Include all relevant support material to demonstrate the nominee’s worthiness of honor. Nomination packets should be sent to Charles Davis, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Center, University of Missouri, 133 Neff Hall, Columbia, MO 65211

TALKING FOIA. Michigan State University’s student chapter will present an interactive and wide-ranging discussion about the Freedom of Information Act led by Jane Briggs-Bunting, director of the School of Journalism. When: 1 p.m., Dec. 1. Where: Room 306 of the Communication Arts and Sciences Building. Cost: Free and open to the public. More info: Kristen Daum,

HELP US HELP YOU. SPJ is accepting program proposals for the 2007 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference to be held in Washington, D.C. Get cracking! Your brilliant ideas are due Dec. 11.

MARRIED WITH DEADLINES. Elisabeth Bumiller and Steve Weisman shared their lives as a married couple in a newsroom. The two work for The New York Times and recently discussed with members of SPJ’s Washington, D.C. Pro chapter and the National Press Club how they juggle their personal and professional lives. C-SPAN aired the discussion live (an unusual move for the network) and rebroadcast the talk a few times. You may purchase a copy of that program on DVD or VHS. Contact Bob Webb for more details at SPJ was prominent throughout the broadcast – thanks in large part to Bob, the chapter’s vice president and chairman of programs. He organized the event and served as its moderator.

ONE FOR THE KIPPER. SPJ’s D.C. Pro chapter holiday party is coming up 6-9 p.m., Dec. 5. The event is limited to the first 100 people to contact Bob Webb at by Nov. 30. Attendees will receive a tour of the seldom seen Kiplinger Washington Collection, a museum dedicated to the architectural history of the nation’s capital city. You’ll also want to congratulate the party’s host, Austin Kiplinger, son of the founder of the Kiplinger Washington Editors. He is celebrating his 70th – that’s right, his 70th – year as an SPJ member.

SPEAKING OF D.C. Members are invited to watch the Washington Capitals play on Jan. 4. Skybox tickets are $100, with food and beverages included. All proceeds will go to the SDX-D.C. Scholarship Fund. To go, contact Bill McCloskey at

MORE HEARTY THANKS. While processing paperwork at SPJ’s headquarters, we frequently are reminded of the unfailing support given by many of our members. This week, we salute Paul Hirt of Northbrook, Ill., who joined SPJ 70 years ago; George Goodwin of Atlanta, who joined SPJ 68 years ago; and Harry Coulter of Pacific Palisades, Calif., who on Dec. 1 will have been a member for 69 years.

GO ON! SEND IT IN! SPJ is accepting entries for its Mark of Excellence Awards, honoring collegiate journalists. The postmark deadline is Jan. 23. Questions? Contact Programs Coordinator Heather Porter at Entries also are being accepted for The Sigma Delta Chi Awards, which recognizes the best in professional journalism. That postmark deadline is Feb. 6. Contact Porter with questions.

SPEAKING OF THE MOE. SPJ’s Regions 1 and 2 are working together to judge annual Mark of Excellence Awards entries. Both regions need volunteers to serve as judges. Contact Region 1 Director Carolyn James at if you can help.  

JUDGE ARIZONA. Amelia Riedler of the Arizona Republic is hoping some kind souls will help judge awards to be dished out by the Arizona Press Club. She’s hoping to hear from journalists specifically knowledgeable about religion, faith and values reporting; public safety reporting; news headlines and politics and government reporting. Feeling charitable? Contact her at (602) 444-4732.

THINK STANFORD. Mid-career journalists wanting to drill down into subject matters they never get to tackle because of daily deadline pressures should consider applying for a John S. Knight Fellowship for Professional Journalists. Each year, 12 U.S. journalists and eight journalists from other countries are selected for 10 months of study at Stanford University. Fellows receive a $55,000 stipend and Stanford tuition and supplements for housing, child care, health insurance and books. U.S. applicants must be working full time and have at least seven years of professional experience. For more information, see,

RADIO DAYS. Are you inspired by people such as Ira Glass or Anne Garrels? Have you wondered what it would take to produce a story for radio? Join SPJ’s William O. Douglas Chapter at 6:30 p.m., Dec. 7, at the Tri-City Herald in Kennewick, Wash., as the chapter takes an inside look at public radio. Members will talk about the differences between print and radio reporting, get an introduction to sound recording equipment and learn about voice and writing techniques. This is the workshop for you if you want to apply radio methods to your print stories (great for podcasts) or if you're considering a transition to public radio. Speakers include Cathy Duchamp, regional editor for KUOW-Seattle; and Snake River SPJ board member Mary Hawkins, program director for Northwest Public Radio in Pullman. Pizza will be provided. More information: Contact Nathan Isaacs at After the workshop (around 8:30 p.m.), join the chapter for a monthly meeting at The Sports Page, 6 S. Cascade. The first round of drinks is on the chapter.

HANG IN L.A. SPJ’s Greater Los Angeles Pro chapter will honor four local journalists at its 31st annual awards banquet this spring. The honorees are Larry Altman of The Daily Breeze, Dave Bryan of CBS 2-KCAL 9, Eric Leonard of KFI-AM (640) and George Skelton of the Los Angeles Times. Details about the date and location of the banquet will be announced soon and posted at

The L.A. chapter is co-hosting a holiday party with the California Chicano News Media Association. When: 6:30-9:30 p.m., Dec. 5. Where: The Orchid Karaoke Club, 607 S. Oxford Ave., Los Angeles. Cost: $10. More info: Contact Rachel Uranga at (818) 713-3741.

IT COULD BE VERSE. After SPJ member Ariel Hansen started her first job a few months ago, the folks in her newsroom handed her the latest useless press release from the sheriff's office. It listed the things found by prison workers during their most recent roadside cleanup. The news staff told Ariel it was a tradition that the newbie had to write something that included at least 10 items from the list. "I nodded and took them seriously," said Ariel, "which I really shouldn't have and soon learned not to."

But here's the result:

An ode to crap found by the side of the road
Dedicated to: the Clallam County Chain Gang

The day wasn't stormy, nor was it dark
As the chain gang trudged down the road called Deer Park
In jumpsuits of orange, they kept their eyes to the ground
Collecting up bits and pieces of crap that they found

One of the items was familiar, a creation of desire
A soda-can pot pipe, containing no pot, to their ire
On they went to the next bee in their bonnet
A four-by-four mudflap, no naked ladies upon it

Another item, missing from someone's workbench
Was a single ten-millimeter open-end wrench
Other things seemed to be missing from sets or from pairs
Including a work boot, a car tire and a hose for some air

But perhaps the best find, the oddest of all,
Was something not seen much in home, store or mall
An item traditional, like the darning of socks
The one, the only, the elusive bread box

And so the felons went back to incarceration, the cell,
But with empty pockets? Ha! Slim chance in hell.

ONLY THE WEAK NEED THE WEB. Ha! No one even dared to guess the source of a recent quote. Why? You can’t find it on the Internet. Go ahead, look. It’s not there. But c’mon, people. Show us that journalism spirit. Don’t give up just because you can’t find an answer through a Google search. Who said this? "Twenty bucks says he not only will talk to me, he'll send a car to pick me up."

It could be from a comic book, TV show or movie. Give it your best shot. Send your answers to Tom Henderson at — and soak up the glory in next week’s edition of Leads.

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