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Home > Publications > SPJ Leads > Speaker-elect, Speakers Bureau, The Senate wants to do What?!

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SPJ Leads | 12/14/2006
Speaker-elect, Speakers Bureau, The Senate wants to do What?!


By Tom Henderson, editorial writer and columnist, Lewiston Morning Tribune, President, Snake River Pro Chapter
Beth King, Communications Manager, SPJ

SPEAKER-ELECT. Representing SPJ, President-elect and Nashville City Paper Executive Editor Clint Brewer offered public comment and a formal statement at a Federal Communications Commission hearing in Nashville, Tenn. on Monday. The commission hosted the hearing to discuss media ownership before it decides how to rewrite media ownership laws that dictate how much media organizations can grow. Read Brewer’s comments and then voice your own opinion on the media ownership debate.

JOURNALISM EDUCATION. SPJ has launched a Journalism Education Series, a first-of-its-kind initiative under the auspices of the Society’s new Speakers Bureau. The series, which will begin in 2007, focuses on SPJ’s core missions — including the free flow of public information, journalism ethics and the importance of diversity in the news-gathering process. The bureau’s first client is Market Wire, a company that distributes corporate press releases and companies’ government-required financial filings. Read news coverage about the initiative from Editor & Publisher. Also take a look at a column published in today's Chicago Reader. When you do, just take note of a couple clarifications National President Christine Tatum has posted on her blog.

Have comments about this new series or the Speakers Bureau? Want to support the projects? Contact Tatum at or Executive Director Terry Harper,

THEY WANT TO DO WHAT?! The Associated Press has reported that Democrats and Republicans are planning secret "bipartisan caucuses" aimed at breaking Senate gridlock and speeding up business. These caucuses would expand the scope of reasons lawmakers could give to call for "executive sessions" (a fancy way of saying "secret meetings"). According to the AP, incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., deserves the credit. Reid's plans have been endorsed by his "Republican opposite," Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Learn why President Tatum believes this is a bad idea, and then read Tatum's letter to Reid and McConnell explaining her position.

DON’T BE SILENT. Government accountability matters and those we vote into office should not be above it. Voice your opinion on bipartisan caucuses by writing your Senator and telling them to lead by example.

HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE. The Coalition of Journalists for Open Government reports that the 109th Congress has called it quits, having spent fewer hours on the people’s business than any Congress since the 1948 “do nothing” session. Among the so-called “accomplishments”:

• It failed to pass Freedom of Information Act reform but its attention did spur a Presidential Executive Order that could prompt better agency service.

• It also failed to move Reporter’s Shield legislation.

But, despite failures, there were some positive outcomes:

• A number of bills didn’t pass that would further restrict access to information and they declined to move along proposals aimed at leakers and, indirectly, the reporters who receive the information that is leaked.

• It also tightened the application of the overly-broad Sensitive Security Information law.

Learn what’s in store for January from CJOG’s Executive Director Pete Weitzel.

AND SPEAKING OF CJOG. National Freedom of Information Co-chairman Joel Campbell highlights CJOG’s work on FOI FYI. Visit the blog often for a round-up of FOI news across the nation.

DOCUMENT-DRIVEN NEWSROOMS. Want your newsroom incorporating more documents into its reporting? Take a look at these PowerPoint presentations, all of which have been weaved into SPJ's FOI newsroom training programs. The presentations, developed by SPJ trainers, provide examples of good document-driven stories, a summary of state public records laws and strategies for accessing government information.

COVER YOURSELF. The lengths to which tech behemoth Hewlett-Packard appeared willing to go to spy on reporters and the news organizations for which they work prompted many journalists to ask how to protect their privacy. SPJ member Scott Cohn, a founder of and senior correspondent for CNBC, consulted with his news organization's legal counsel to compile suggestions for newsies wanting to protect themselves from the entirely too nosey. Help yourself while protecting your best interests.

WHERE’S THE LOVE? SPJ is asking college administrators to take a vow in the name of a free press. Part of that vow includes embracing three magic words: “designated public forum.” Those words are the key part of SPJ’s College Media Statement Program, an effort to get college administrators to agree that their college will not control the content of student media. The statement also makes it clear that colleges and universities cannot punish faculty advisers for the content of student media. Learn more about the program and encourage college administrators everywhere to give you some love.

A FAMILY JOURNALISM AFFAIR. The Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families invites you to get a jump-start on generating short- and long-term enterprise stories around five critical topics: education; child welfare and foster care; economics and working families; juveniles and crime; and emerging science in child and adolescent development at Impact Journalism: Boosting Enterprise Coverage of Children and Families. CJC will select 30 journalists as fellows to attend the conference. Fellowships are open to print, broadcast and online journalists and include one night's lodging, meals, materials and a $200 travel subsidy. When: March 6-7, University of Maryland. Deadline: Jan. 17. Application and more info: Visit CJC’s Web site.

FREE MONEY. Who will create community through new media? The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation believes this question is worth exploring. That’s why they’re giving away $5 million. The News Challenge seeks ideas for using new media combined with the best news values to bind and build communities. Anybody, anywhere around the world can enter. The requirement? An innovative idea that uses the digital world to connect people in the real world. Deadline is Dec. 31.

HELP TOMORROW´S JOURNALISTS. The Western Washington Pro chapter is seeking donations for its 2007 Silent Auction and Scholarship Fund. The auction will be held during a cocktail hour at the 2007 SPJ Awards banquet June 2. Got an item to donate? Contact Jenny Zappala at Then, mark your calendar for the June 2 event and bring your checkbook.

GO GREEN. Entries are currently being accepted for SPJ’s Green Eyeshade Awards honoring work by journalists in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and West

Virginia. All entries must have been published or broadcast between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2006. Postmark Deadline: Jan. 12. More info: Visit or contact Erin Hornsby, contest administrator, at

THE EMMY GOES HIGH TECH. Nancy Black is the program coordinator for the Advanced Media Awards, the Lone Star state’s version of the Emmy Awards. She’s looking for entries that exemplify the best in editorial content and video production creativity from anyone, anywhere in the world, but material must be produced for distribution, primarily in Texas. Awards will be given for outstanding work created primarily for consumption on non-traditional viewing platforms such as iPods, computers, mobile phones, PDA's and similar devices. Entries will be judged by a blue ribbon panel of media professionals to be named by the Academy. Each winner will receive an Emmy Award statue. Deadline: Jan. 13 by 5 p.m. Winners will be announced in May. More info: Visit the Lone Star Emmy Web site.

FREEDOM FIGHTERS SOUGHT. The Valley of the Sun Chapter is seeking entries and nominations for its 2007 Arizona Freedom of Information Awards. The awards honor print, broadcast and online journalists for outstanding commitments to the First Amendment and Freedom of Information issues. Deadline: Friday, Jan. 26. More info and an entry form: Visit the chapter’s Web site or call Awards Chairwoman Sarah Boggan at (480) 898-6574.

PRINCETON’S GOT SPIRIT. Princeton University is offering a summer journalism program for low-income students. The program is a 10-day, all-expenses-paid event in August where participants will hear from writers at leading news organizations and have an opportunity to meet with the University’s president and dean of admissions. More info: Visit Princeton’s Web site.

EXTREME MAKEOVER. The Oregon Pro chapter has a new Web site with all sorts
of tools and links for journalists. It was designed by Lee van der Voo of the Lake Oswego Review. Check it out at

POP CULTURE QUOTE OF THE WEEK. Our last quote, "Twenty bucks says not only will he talk to me, he’ll send a car to pick me up" was from Lois Lane in Superman Confidential No. 1. No one got it, but Dena Bisnette gave it the ol’ college try. She guessed James Cagney.

Maybe there are more movie fans out there than comic book geeks. So we’ll go with a movie quote this week. Who said it?

“General, haven’t you ever heard of freedom of the press?”

Send your answers to Tom Henderson at

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