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Home > Publications > SPJ Leads > Federal protection, certifying journalists

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SPJ Leads | 8/2/2007
Federal protection, certifying journalists


FEDERAL SHIELD LAW MOVES FORWARD. SPJ commends the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee for voting in favor of an amended federal shield law on Wednesday. The Free Flow of Information Act of 2007, or Federal Media Shield Bill, would protect the public's right to speak out and promote the public's right to know. It would also make it easier for journalists to protect the identities of their confidential sources. The current bill applies to newsgatherers who derive "financial gain or livelihood" from journalistic activity, including freelancers and advertising-supported bloggers. The bill is headed to the full House next, but not before lawmakers plan to tweak the language again. Read more about the federal shield law.

BAR NONE. On Aug. 13 and 14, the American Bar Association's policy-making body will vote on proposals that would severely limit access to criminal records. "The effect of these policy recommendations would roll back 40 years of First Amendment jurisprudence creating a presumption of openness in criminal proceedings, violate state open records laws and eliminate the ability of the public and press to act as watchdogs of the criminal justice system," Joel Campbell wrote on the "FOI FYI" blog.

FIRST AMENDMENT EXPIRATION DATE? An appeals court ruled last week that two former student newspaper editors at Kansas State University may not sue the school on a First Amendment claim because they no longer are students. Katie Lane and Sarah Rice said school administrators violated their rights when they removed Ron Johnson as adviser of the Collegian in 2004 after university officials conducted a content analysis of the Collegian and determined that it did not meet their expectations.

TO CERTIFY OR NOT TO CERTIFY? That is the question SPJ President Christine Tatum has put forth on her blog, "Freedom of the Prez." Journalism is for everyone, not just those who make their primary living from it, Tatum says. So, the better question for those of us fighting to improve and protect responsible and ethical journalism to ask is, "Who is a 'professional' journalist?" Join the conversation.

MONEY FOR STUDENTS. The Population Institute has announced the call for entries for the first Don Gentry Award for Population Journalism. If you've published or broadcast a story focusing on personal responsibility for family planning and size, population issues and their relationship to resources and the environment, maternal health security or HIV/AIDS between Sept. 30, 2006, and Sept. 30, 2007, apply today! Winners could rake in $5,000. Entries are due by Oct. 5. For more information call (202) 544-3300 or e-mail

JOB HUNTING CAN BE A LOT OF WORK. Got advice for journalists combing the want ads? The Generation J Committee Blog seeks input to help young journalists hoping to find a full-time paying position. Post a comment or send an e-mail to Elysse James.

MEET AND GREET AT CONVENTION '07. Learn from professional journalists, get hands-on training and further your career at the 2007 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference, Oct. 4-7, in Washington D.C. Among the array of development opportunities, meet with recruiters at the Journalism Expo who are looking for outstanding journalists to join their newsrooms, such as The Wall Street Journal, The Examiner, and more! Within the Journalism Expo, convention-attendees also can register for workshops, purchase books at the Bookmart or get a connection to the outside world with an on-site Internet Café. For more details, including travel and hotel information and program descriptions, visit SPJ's Web site.

SPEND LABOR DAY IN CALIFORNIA. The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Convention will take place Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 in San Diego. Schmooze with journalists from all walks of media, network and self-promote, and learn while you're at it.

SUN, SAND AND WRITING. Need some inspiration? Take part in the 2007 National Writers' Workshop in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Sept 29-30, at the four-star Hyatt Pier 66 Hotel and Resort. Questions? E-mail Gail Bulfin.

MEMBERSHIP MADNESS! Former East Tennessee SPJ membership chairman John Huotari is pleased to announce the chapter has seen an increase of 40 percent in membership since June 1 of last year. Membership has reached 61, up from 47 last fall. The success stems from the variety of events hosted during the past year and new and returning SPJ members. Great work East Tennessee.

VOLUNTEERS WANTED.Volunteers from Colorado SPJ will answer phone calls during the upcoming KRMA-Channel 6 pledge drive, taking place from 5-7 p.m., Aug. 16 at the KRMA/Rocky Mountain PBS studios at 1089 Bannock St. in Denver. To volunteer, contact John Ensslin.

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