By Abby Henkel
SPJ Communications Department
PRACTITIONER DATA BANK RESTORED. After advocacy and complaints from journalism groups, including SPJ, the Health Resources and Services Administration has restored a data file it previously removed from public view.
HRSA, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, removed the Public Use File of the National Practitioners Data Bank in September. The file was a resource for journalists and the public to gain information about medical practitioners, including doctors. Led by the Association of Health Care Journalists, a coalition of journalism organizations publicly objected to the removal.
But there is a heavy caveat to the data being brought back, a caveat not sitting well with AHCJ President Charles Ornstein. Users of the data set must agree not to repost or share the data on other websites, and cannot use it to identify an entity or individual (such as a doctor) by name.
"How can the government say data is public but then say it's only public with strings attached?" Ornstein said in a news release. "I am troubled that HRSA is overstepping its legal authority with these new rules and may be imposing unconstitutional prior restraints on reporters."
Read the full response from AHCJ.
SPJ and the other groups involved will watch the situation and continue to push for full, unrestricted access to this important public information.
VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH. Congratulations to T.C. Cameron of the Maryland Pro chapter. Cameron, previously an SPJ member in Michigan, has been instrumental in helping revive the Maryland chapter.
"T.C. is exactly the kind of member I had in mind when we started this honor," SPJ President John Ensslin said. "He's one of those folks who work tirelessly on SPJ's behalf and without whom our Society could not thrive and flourish."
Among Cameron's recent SPJ activities, he has:
helped lead a group of members in public opposition to a flawed public records bill
recruited new chapter leaders and members
spoken about journalism careers at Baltimore-area colleges
promoted the SPJ High School Essay Contest
"He has done all that despite a recent job change, participating in the activities of his two little girls, and being a highly rated football official," said Region 2 Director Brian Eckert, who nominated Cameron for the honor.
Do you know of an SPJ volunteer who is deserving of this national honor? Email nominations to John Ensslin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPJ SUPPORTS TEXAS OPEN MEETINGS ACT. SPJ has joined an amicus brief in support of upholding the Texas Open Meetings Act. The law is being challenged by several Texas city officials. They claim the law suppresses their free speech because the threat of being charged with criminal violations in connection with the issues discussed compels them not to speak out if meetings are open. But the law's only criminal provisions apply to officials who knowingly call, close, participate in or aid a closed meeting. It does not suppress content of public officials' speech, only the time, manner and place of that speech restrictions that are widely used and constitutionally sound.
When open meetings laws have been challenged across the country, they have always been upheld. Learn more about this case. You can also read the amicus brief, written by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
GEN J HANGOUT. The Generation J Committee invites you to join its first Google+ Hangout Sunday, Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. ET. The vision is to use the space for a "therapeutic" experience. The topics will change each month, but this one will focus on bosses who micromanage.
In order to participate, you'll need a Google+ account, which you can use to engage with the Google+ SPJ Generation J profile (you need to be logged into Google to see the page). Committee member Mike Brannen will moderate the first Hangout.
SPJ BLOGS NETWORK. Check out the latest postings on the SPJ blogs network:
In Herman Cain story, being flip about journalism ethics is not an appropriate response by Kevin Smith, past SPJ national president and current Ethics Committee chairman
Portfolio websites for journalists: Where to begin by Generation J Committee member Jennifer Nicole Sullivan
SPJ committees at work: The year ahead by SPJ President John Ensslin
Five tools to measure, maintain your influence on the web by Generation J Committee member Victoria Reitano
Maybe Cain's "code of conduct," but not ours by Irwin Gratz, past SPJ national president and current Ethics Committee member
Whyyourdomainnameisimportant.com by Generation J Committee member Claudia Amezcua
Journalists doubling as grant writers by Theresa Sullivan Barger
LinkedIn for freelance journalists by Freelance Committee member Michael Fitzgerald
PROGRAM IDEA OF THE WEEK. Need a chapter program? Consider this past one from the William O. Douglas Pro chapter:
"Technology and the Multi-Tasked Journalist": This one-hour session was offered as part of the Region 10 spring conference. To address the feeling that most journalists were doing more work than ever with less time to do it, the session was designed to show how journalists can use technology to get work done more effectively and efficiently. Speakers included Molly Kelleher of KEPR-TV and TJ Mullinax, Yakima Herald-Republic Web producer. Kelleher spoke about mobile apps and how she uses them in her daily reporting. Mullinax explained how to use electronic equipment for multiple purposes to produce content.
This program can easily be extended to a half-day workshop based on the speakers' backgrounds. As a distance-learning program, this session could be webcast, such as with Studio SPJ. Contact chapter president Paula Horton for more information at email@example.com.
LAST WEEK'S QUIZ. What major U.S. newspaper announced a name change this week, attributing it to growth in the paper's readership? (Give both names, old and new.)
Answer: The St. Petersburg Times will change its name to the Tampa Bay Times, effective Jan. 1, 2012. Read about it here.
And the winner is... Khalil Garriott, writer/editor for the NFL Players Association. Congratulations, Khalil. You beat out somewhere between 20 and 7 billion people in the SPJ Leads Quiz! We hope the fabulous prize you will soon receive sufficiently honors your achievement!
THIS WEEK'S QUIZ. An article making the rounds this week in the journalism-watching world questioned the wisdom of those whom the author called "news gurus." What deceased journalist did the article open with to set the stage for his argument? For that matter, what is the article in question?
Submit your answer to Abby Henkel.