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Home > Publications > SPJ Leads > Who uses FOIA? Job openings, Source development

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SPJ Leads | 7/8/2006
Who uses FOIA? Job openings, Source development


PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN. Journalists are not unpatriotic when they break stories about the workings of American government — which is only one reason why the U.S. House of Representatives entered “dangerous territory” when it recently passed a resolution condemning news organizations that exposed the Bush administration’s surveillance of international bank records. “Reporters and editors are Americans, too,” SPJ President David Carlson said. “We believe it is our duty to inform Americans of how the government is using its power, and how that use affects the people’s rights. Reporters and editors are not always going to agree with the government on what information is vital for Americans to know. Americans are not always going to agree on what’s good for the nation. That’s the beauty of our form of government. Having divergent opinions and being able to express them is at the root of democracy.”

An Associated Press story about the controversy included Carlson’s remarks and has been picked up by several news outlets.

BE OF SERVICE. How do you develop sources on your beat? Share your tips, tricks and helpful suggestions with other SPJ members. We’ll compile the best of your bright ideas for a new series of “tip sheets” that will be distributed via Leads and made available at Please send submissions to

SNAP! CRACKLE! POP! We’ve got a sizzling national conference coming up in Chicago you don’t want to miss. This year, you can count on:

• Less discussion and more hands-on instruction. SPJ’s half-day workshops will explore business reporting, online journalism and economic challenges facing the news industry. You’ll also have a chance to attend a special seminar for journalists presented by Underwriters Laboratories, the world’s leading, nonprofit product safety testing and certification organization.

• Lively entertainment and a rousing “Celebration of the First Amendment” featuring stand-up comedians, musicians and some of Chicago’s most talented performance poets.

• Field trips that will take you out of the convention hotel and into one of the nation’s most exciting news markets. We’ve lined up tours of Bloomberg News’ Chicago bureau, The Chicago Tribune and ABC7. Explore the city itself aboard the Nitty-Gritty City Bus Tour, a trek through Chicago that will give you plenty of story ideas to take home.

Plan to join us for the 2006 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference! Register online now to receive the conference’s early-bird rate. Make hotel reservations online or by calling (888) 421-1442 now through July 31. Rooms are available for $165 per night for single/double occupancy ($175 triple/quad) at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Be sure to reference SPJ. Need a roommate? Make your request today.

LOWERING THE BOOM. The Coalition of Journalists for Open Government recently released a study examining just who uses FOIA. Guess who tops the list? Sadly, journalists don’t – not by a long shot.

Check out 10 tips that will help you deal with stealthy government.

WAVE YOUR FLAG! Do more to publicize your chapter’s events and good deeds by adding to your e-mail distribution list.

FREEDOM OF (VIRTUAL) ASSEMBLY. Y’all should make time to check out the Louisville Pro chapter’s newly redesigned Web site. The smart, new look is the work of SPJ member Amanda Webb and her husband, Brian.

STELLAR WORK. The Sigma Delta Chi Awards Banquet, honoring work published or broadcast in 2005, will be held on Friday, July 14 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Individual tickets are $60 each or a table of eight may be purchased for $450. Please contact Programs Coordinator, Heather Porter,, at 317-927-8000 ext. 204 for reservations. Tickets will be available until noon Eastern time on July 12.

STAR-SPANGLED. Jon Marshall’s News Gems blog recognizes the best of American journalism. See who scored a mention this week.

A REAL PATRIOT. Celebrate with SPJ President David Carlson, who, thanks to all of his SPJ travels, now has visited all 50 states. You can track his travels online.

THE FRUITED PLAINS? They’re looking to hire business and courts reporters in Florida. There’s an opening for a “communications associate” in Washington, D.C. Search SPJ’s online Job Bank for your next gig. Only SPJ members have access to this valuable information but anyone can post a job for free. Log on today. And if you aren’t a member, please join.

SPARKLING COPY. The last of SPJ’s Narrative Writing Workshops will be July 29 in Missoula, Mont. These day-long workshops, led by Pulitzer Prize-winner Tom Hallman Jr., are designed to encourage the transformation from inverted pyramid-style writing to the art of storytelling.

Are you an SPJ member in Montana willing to help pull together one SPJ meeting or event a year? If so, please contact SPJ Chapter Doctor Molly McDonough at

BE A DANDY EDITOR. Writing coach Dick Weiss will lead a daylong workshop designed to help line editors boil down wordy stories and help reporters do the same; show writers how to craft compelling and analytical stories; find great story ideas and sell them to those who will get them done; manage relationships with reporters and top executives and collaborate effectively with photographers and page designers. When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., July 22. Where: The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Gregory Hall. Fee: $90 for professionals. For more details and reservations, visit

DO YOUR DUTY. You have the power to be a better journalist. Take charge of your career by taking advantage of professional development opportunities near you. Search, a site maintained by SPJ, by ZIP code if you want!

BAND OF BROTHERS (AND SISTERS). See who is running for SPJ’s various national offices, and tell your chapter leaders where you think they should direct the chapter’s delegate votes.

HEE-HAW! A car accident backed up traffic on a neighborhood street. A large crowd gathered. A reporter, anxious to get a story, could not get near the car. Being a clever sort, he shouted loudly, "Let me through! Let me through! I am the son of the victim." The crowd made way for the reporter. Lying in front of the car was a donkey.

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