By Tara Lynn Johnson
Member of SPJ Greater Philadelphia Pro Chapter
LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE BLOG. Jon Marshall's News Gems blog, which is sponsored by SPJ and calls attention to the best of American journalism, was named one of the 10 best of 2006 by David E. Kaplan, chief investigative correspondent at U.S. News & World Report. Marshall is an SPJ member, freelance writer and a lecturer at Northwestern University’s Medill School. Visit and bookmark News Gems.
PUSHING BACK. Freelance journalist Sarah Olson has objected to testifying for the prosecution of a U.S. Army officer who has publicly refused to fight in Iraq. SPJ National President Christine Tatum this week sent a letter to Defense Department and Army officials, urging them to drop their pursuit of Olson. The letter states it is "highly objectionable that any journalist be forced to become an agent of Army prosecutors. Even more repugnant is compelling a journalist to aid prosecutors who are challenging a military officer's right to free speech."
SPJ's National Freedom of Information Committee has generated an FOI Alert that examines the issue in greater depth.
WIN SOME, LOSE SOME. SPJ is one of 19 news organizations and journalism advocacy groups pressing for access to the upcoming federal criminal trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. So far, the news groups haven't been granted their requests in a recent court order. But the good news, according to Laurie Babinski, who works for SPJ's law firm, Baker Hostetler, is that "the procedure by which voir dire will be conducted basically follows what the media organizations were asking for." The order also doesn't address the use of jury questionnaires — likely because the presiding judge doesn't plan to use them ("as we understand is his custom," Babinski said). We'll continue to monitor this trial closely and will keep you informed.
DIGITAL REVOLUTION: As February nears, SPJ is excited to introduce the digital edition of Quill magazine. The same great content that you’ve come to expect in the print edition will still be included in the digital version. However, instead of manually flipping through each issue, you will be able to click through interactive pages as you read the stories online. To ensure you don’t miss out on the new digital Quill, please take the time to update your personal information, including your e-mail address, with SPJ’s headquarters. Check out a shortened sample of the new Quill and offer comments to Joe Skeel at email@example.com.
FREELANCERS, GET BUSY! SPJ is testing its new database, where freelancers can enter contact information, provide details about their professional specialties and link hiring editors to examples of their work. Only SPJ members can enter their information into this new database, which will be trumpeted to editors far and wide when we're ready to make a big public splash. So, have your user name and password handy — and enter your information today!
BLAH, BLAH, BLOG. SPJ's National Freelance Committee's blog, The Independent Journalist, is a treasure trove of job leads, business tips and interesting perspective. The blog is also sporting a new look. Check it out.
And while you're at it, see Region 3's new blog, Southern Drawl, which details SPJ happenings in the southeastern United States.
GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY. Given the news industry's rapidly changing economic dynamics, it is vitally important for journalists to learn new ways to gather and distribute information. Don't wait around for an employer to provide or pay for your tech training. You can pick up exciting new skills on the cheap by letting SPJ.org serve as a training ground. Find out how.
BE DIFFERENT. Add to a discussion about ways newsies and newsrooms should make changes in 2007. SPJ Prez Christine Tatum gets things rolling by making a few suggestions. Among them? Ways newsrooms should shake up their news-coverage planning meetings and a challenge to newsroom managers guilty of dismissing journalists for superficial and silly reasons.
LOOKING FOR LEADERSHIP. The Ted Scripps Leadership Institute is an SPJ program that offers student and professional chapter leaders a mix of sessions focused on interpersonal and organizational leadership skills and sound chapter management practices. This all-expense-paid, weekend retreat helps to promote strong leadership in the Society. More information is found at www.spj.org/scrippslt.asp. Applications for the 2007 Institute, held June 1-3, in Indianapolis, are now being accepted and are due March 16. We strongly encourage those who will be serving as chapter president during the 2007-08 year to apply. Questions? E-mail Chris Vachon.
A RAINBOW CONNECTION. The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association's Leroy F. Aarons Scholarship Award for the 2007-2008 academic year provides up to $5,000 in tuition to a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender student. The student must be planning a career in journalism and be committed to furthering NLGJA's mission of fair and accurate coverage of the LGBT community. Selections will be based on journalistic and scholastic ability; demonstrated awareness of the issues facing the LGBT community; and the importance of fair and accurate news coverage. Application postmark deadline: Feb. 1. For information and an application, visit nlgja.org.
DEADLINE REMINDER: The postmark deadlines for the Mark of Excellence and Sigma Delta Chi Awards are quickly approaching. Students, your Mark of Excellence Awards entries must be postmarked by Jan. 23. Professionals, please have your Sigma Delta Chi Award entries postmarked by Feb. 6. Find out the complete details on both contests, or e-mail Programs Coordinator Heather Porter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AND THE AWARD GOES TO. Since 1953 the Scripps Howard Foundation has recognized the best work in journalism through its National Journalism Awards, which offers awards totaling $195,000. The competition recognizes excellence in 17 categories, including radio and television journalism, service to the First Amendment, editorial writing, human interest writing, environmental and public service reporting, investigative reporting, business/economics reporting, commentary and photojournalism. Postmark deadline for pros and students is Jan. 31. Winners are announced March 9 and honored at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on April 20. Entry forms and contest details online at: foundation.scripps.com. Questions: Sue Porter, (513) 977-3030.
TIME’S A-WASTIN’. The deadline for entries to SPJ’s Green Eyeshade Awards, which honor work by journalists in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia, is creeping up! Entries, which must have been published between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2006, must be postmarked by Jan. 12. Visit spj.org or contact Erin Hornsby, contest administrator, at email@example.com.
GIDDYUP, LITTLE POLLSTERS. The 2006 Iowa Gallup Award for Excellent Journalism Using Polls will be selected in the spring of 2007 from among nominees provided by those in the fields of journalism and professional polling. Deadline: March 1. Entries must be original and published (including on the Internet) or broadcast between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2006. The award, with a $2,500 stipend, is co-sponsored by The University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication and The Gallup Organization. Information and entry forms at uiowa.edu.
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS. The Native American Journalists Association is looking for students to write six to eight stories during its convention week. Each year, Native American journalism majors are given the opportunity to get hands-on experience in producing a daily newspaper, radio or television newscasts, or a news Web site. Participants learn basic and advanced journalism and reporting skills from Native and non-Native media professionals employed at newspaper, radio and television organizations across the U.S. Application deadline: Feb. 23. For information, call (605) 677-5282 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
ROLLIN’ ON THE RIVER: The 2007 SPJ Region 4 spring conference will motor to Detroit’s riverfront April 13-14 and feature events, speakers and more. Registration rates and other information is available on the new spring conference Web site.
THE PRESSES STOPPED. The King County Journal newspaper in Western Washington will publish its final edition Jan. 21. To help displaced staffers, the Western Washington Pro Chapter invited them to a press club social Jan. 5 and planned a program to help the journalists refine their resumes, network and plan for life after the KCJ.
POP CULTURE QUOTE OF THE WEEK. Who said it? "Have some celebrity killed, or find a two-headed kitten. Anything to make those idiots in the media move on to the next shiny thing." Send your guesses to Tom Henderson at email@example.com.