By Pierce Pressley
SPJ Member, Underemployed Journalist
APPLY MORE PRESSURE! Now that we’ve unmasked Senator Secrecy, also known as Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), let’s help ensure the OPEN Government Act of 2007 (S.B. 849) has a fighting chance for Senate approval.
SPJ urges all OPEN Government Act supporters to call Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to request that this proposed legislation be brought to the Senate floor for a vote this month.
The OPEN Government Act has bipartisan support. The bill won unanimous approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee. A similar bill was passed by a strong majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill’s supporters include more than 100 civic organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
WHAT YOU CAN DO. Your effort will make a difference. Call and voice your support today! Sen. Reid may be reached at (202) 224-5556, and Sen. McConnell may be reached at (202) 224-3135.
SENATOR SECRECY EXPOSED — NATIONWIDE. In light of last week’s news concerning Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) admitting that he placed the secret hold on the OPEN Government Act (S 849), Charles Davis, an SPJ member and executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition at the University of Missouri School of Journalism wrote an op-ed.
Over 180 publications picked up Davis’ column! To read an additional editorial about secret holds and its impact on journalists and the public, visit The Missoulian.
STICKING UP FOR STUDENTS. Senate Bill 729, the Illinois College Campus Press Act, has passed both houses of the Illinois general assembly. Gov. Rod Blagojevich has 60 days to decide what to do with the bill. Please call, write or e-mail the governor and help support collegiate press freedom. It is especially important to let the governor and his staff know that this bill has wide support — among students, professionals and collegiate faculty and staff, as well as groups from Illinois and nationally.
HOORAY FOR AHNOLD. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) has joined the chorus of supporters who are championing the Free Flow of Information Act of 2007. In a May 14 letter to Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), Schwarzenegger stated in part:
“Without the ability to ensure the anonymity of their sources, journalists cannot tell the stories that must be told, public access to a free flow of information is restricted and the health of our democracy suffers. Although many states already have laws or precedent-setting court decisions that provide similar protection at the state and local level, the lack of a federal standard is having a sweeping impact on reporters across the nation.”
JOIN THE GOOD FIGHT. You, too, can help! Learn more about why we need a federal shield law; a law to protect reporters from revealing their confidential sources in federal courts.
Then consider doing the following:
• Write letters, send e-mails and make phone calls to your state representatives. Let them know that you support a federal shield law and expect them to as well. Visit house.gov to locate your representative.
• Write stories about the need and importance of a federal shield law. Also, encourage your news team to draw attention to the pending legislation.
• Host discussions and educate your newsroom about the federal shield law and its impact on journalism.
• Contribute to SPJ’s Federal Shield Law Campaign by calling SPJ at (317) 927-8000, ext. 200.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD? June is a popular month for chapter elections. Please be sure to update SPJHQ with your list of leaders and their contact information. You can do it simply by logging in and visiting the New Leader Information Page. Questions? Contact Wendy Hoke at email@example.com.
DIVERSITY LEADERSHIP. The deadline for the Diversity Leadership Fellows program is June 29. The fellowship includes the cost of hotel, travel and registration for the 2007 SPJ Convention and National Journalism Conference, Oct. 4-7 in Washington, D.C. More info and to submit applications: Visit spj.org.
USING FOIA FOR BROADCAST AND ONLINE CONTENT? If so, please let us know! Examples of how state and federal Freedom of Information laws are used to spice up everyday stories will be spotlighted in a session at the 2007 SPJ Convention and Journalism Conference in Washington, D.C. We have useful examples from print media, but if you have quality examples from broadcast, online and student media that deserve recognition, please contact D.C. Pro Chapter program producer Hazel Becker, firstname.lastname@example.org or past FOI Committee chair Ian Marquand, email@example.com.
TO NAME OR NOT TO NAME? When reporting on sensitive subjects such as missing children and sexual assault, SPJ’s National Ethics Committee offers an online discussion about the best way to report what happened.
AN INTERNATIONAL FRIEND, COLLEAGUE. Journalism educator and International Journalism Committee member Lee Anne Peck writes about Dorde Obradovic, a Croatian journalist and professor she met while teaching at the University of Dubrovnik. Read her story in SPJ’s online Reading Room.
INTERVIEWING 101. Now that graduation has passed, young journalists are conducting intense job searches. SPJ member Mark Grabowski offers tips and considerations for interviewing and hopefully landing the perfect gig.
EAST MEETS WEST. The East-West Center is accepting applications for the fall 2007 Jefferson Fellowships. Open to U.S., Asian and Pacific Islander journalists with five years’ experience, the three-week travel and dialogue program starts Sept. 30 in Honolulu and will travel through Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Deadline: June 20. More information: See The East-West Center Web site for more details.
THE MINORITY MAJORITY IMPACT. The Foundation for American Communications and SPJ will join the South Florida Sun-Sentinel for a one-day seminar, focused on the explosive impact of immigration on South Florida, including changes to politics, social services, gangs and crime. When: 8:30 a.m., June 22. Cost: Free, but you must pre-register. A continental breakfast and lunch will be included. More information: Visit the FACS Web site.
BEST BASTIAT PRIZE. Applications for the $15,000 2007 Bastiat Prize for Journalism are due June 30. The prizes recognize writers who “eloquently and wittily elucidate the institutions of a free society.” More information: Visit The Bastiat Prize Web Site.
WORLD AFFAIRS FELLOWS. SPJ membersCraig Gima, a reporter/assistant editor at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Bob Moser, a business reporter at The (Lafayette, La.) Daily Advertiser, Matt O’Brien, a reporter at The (Hayward, Calif.) Daily Review, and Julian Pecquet, a staff writer at the Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat are among 13 World Affairs Journalism Fellows. Fellows will report from 15 countries for up to three weeks on issues that are vital to their local communities. The program is administered by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and sponsored by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, with additional funding from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
IN MEMORY. Dave Adams, a journalism professor, IU SPJ campus chapter adviser and adviser to the Indiana Daily Student, accidentally drowned Saturday in a pond at his home in Bloomington, Ind. “There will be a big hole that will be hard to replace,” IU student and incoming Indiana Daily Student editor-in-chief Trevor Brown told the Indianapolis Star. Adams also was board chair of the Student Press Law Center board from 2003 – 2006.
OOPS! We goofed in mentioning the new chapter in Scioto County, Ohio and surrounding area of southern Ohio, northern Kentucky and northern West Virginia: it’s a professional chapter. But organizer Ryan Ottney says he hopes the chapter will be able to host area students as well as professionals. SPJ Leads regrets the error.
POP CULTURE ICONS RETURN. The Snake River SPJ chapter has a myriad of cool items, including shirts, bags, mugs, magnets, mouse pads, hats, buttons, postcards and barbeque aprons! Some items even feature pop culture journalism icons like Brenda Starr, Paula Peril, Carl Kolchak, the Snake River SPJ logo and actress Jenna Mattison, soon to be “Brenda Starr, Reporter” on a TV near you. Go shopping now. All proceeds benefit SPJ. More information: Contact Tom Henderson at (208) 743-9600, ext. 225, or firstname.lastname@example.org.