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Home > Publications > SPJ Leads > Shield Law update, convention roundup

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SPJ Leads | 10/11/2007
Shield Law update, convention roundup


By Stephanie M. Kanowitz
Web Editor, Federal Computer Week magazine
Beth King
SPJ Communications Manager

Shield Law Update. Members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Free Flow of Information Act of 2007, or the federal shield bill, Oct. 4. The bill, which was passed by a 14-3 vote, now heads to the Senate floor for a full vote. Using momentum from the Senate vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will bring the House version of the federal shield bill, H.R. 2102, to the floor for a full House vote Tuesday, Oct. 16. The bill currently has 71 co-sponsors - 45 Democrats and 26 Republicans - with strong bipartisan support. We need 218 votes in the House to pass the bill. The bill would help journalists protect the identities of their confidential sources. The bill calls for a qualified privilege and would aim to defend the public's right to speak out and to promote the public's right to know. Get the full details from Baker Hostetler, SPJ's legal counsel.

Before The Vote. Reps. Mike Pence, R-Ind., and Rick Boucher, D-Va., will offer a Manager's Amendment to echo some of the changes the Senate Judiciary Committee made to the bill in last week's Senate Judiciary Committee mark-up. The Manager's Amendment will change the definition of "journalist" to include those who regularly, and for substantial financial gain or livelihood, engage in journalism.

The Newspaper Association of America and the National Association of Broadcasters will be paying for an ad to run in Roll Call, Congress Daily and CQ Today on Monday and Tuesday that will specifically reference H.R. 2102 and the vote in the House. Supporting organizations, including SPJ, will be listed in the advertisement.

What You Can Do. Contact your state Representative and ask him or her to vote "yes" to the bill and "no" to any amendments that would weaken the bill. Representatives can be reached by calling the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

SPJ Efforts. In the past year, SPJ leaders have helped to raise more than $30,000 to support a campaign for the passage of a federal shield law. Visit SPJ's Shield Law page to learn more about the proposed legislation and SPJ's involvement.

Convention Roundup. If you attended the 2007 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference in Washington, D.C., you know about the star-studded line-up of super sessions, professional development workshops and events that took place last week. If you missed the weekend extravaganza, be sure to check out the Working Press coverage. The student-produced newspaper did a fabulous job. Our hats are off to the staff of interns and volunteers. In the coming weeks, audio and video of selected sessions will be posted at

Problems At Home. Learn what issues matter most for families and vulnerable communities through "Reporting From the Home Front: Families, Work and Money," a one-day workshop hosted by the Casey Journalism Center on Nov. 12 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. It's open to 25 print, broadcast and online journalists, with priority given to those in the mid-Atlantic region. Apply by Oct. 15. Send a resume, two clips and a brief statement of how you - and your newsroom - will benefit from this fellowship to Questions? Call (301) 699-5133.

All Aboard. Are you a front-line editor looking to get on the fast track to improving your skills? Sign up for the APME NewsTrain at The Record in Bergen County, N.J., Nov. 14-15. Michael Roberts, deputy managing editor staff development at The Arizona Republic, and Bob Steele, Nelson Poynter Scholar for Journalism Values and Senior Faculty, Ethics, at the Poynter Institute, will lead the program. Topics include "News Ethics and Values in a Digital Age," "Media Business Insider," and "Leading in a Time of Change." Cost: $50, including lunch both days. Register online. More information: Contact Doug Clancy at (201) 646-4481 or Elaine Kramer at (412) 805-0812.

Are You Democracy-Wise?. SPJ member Charlotte Grimes has created an experiment in online coverage of politics and elections that is designed to help local voters keep abreast of political news and to encourage civic engagement. Grimes is the Knight Chair in Political Reporting at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Journalists Of Faith Head To Big Apple. Rafael Olmeda, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and Mizell Stewart, editor of the Evansville (Ind.) Courier & Press, will speak at the annual World Journalism Institute conference for minority Christian journalists in New York City, Nov. 2-3. The conference includes media tours, networking and sessions by journalists such as Herbert Lowe, past president of the National Association of Black Journalists; Mira Lowe of Ebony; Kenneth Irby of the Poynter Institute; Deswood Tome of Navajo Nation; Gary Fong, formerly of the San Francisco Chronicle; Judith Howard of The Denver Post; Leema Thomas of Newsday; Joe Torres of WABC-TV; blogger La Shawn Barber; and Josue Sierra of Register online and get more details.

Due Credit. The Greater Los Angeles Pro chapter is seeking nominations for the 2007 Distinguished Journalists Awards. Honorees are journalists who demonstrate good news judgment, a strong sense of ethics and a passion for getting the story right. SPJ-LA is also accepting nominations for the Freedom of Information Award. The award is typically presented to a non-journalist who has worked to further the free flow of information and freedom of the press. Nominations are due Oct. 26. E-mail them to SPJ-LA President Lauren Bartlett or fax them to Roberta Wax at (818) 993-5971.

Diversified Coverage. SPJ member Ray Hanania launched The National Arab American Times in September. He has published two Chicago-regional Arab American newspapers in the past. After reviewing data compiled by the National Arab American Journalists Association showing that there are about 80 Arab/Muslim American newspapers (including 11 magazines) in the United States, he saw that even in the best scenarios, the Arab ethnic press was only reaching 22 states. Ray's paper has hit newsstands in 47 contiguous states. He's shooting for 48: "We're not in Wyoming yet, and I'm looking for anything Arab there." Got any ideas? Drop him a line.

At A Newsstand Near You. The Journalist, SPJ's annual exploration of journalism - past, present and future - is available on a newsstand near you for a cover price of $9.95. Although SPJ members received a complementary copy with the October/November issue of Quill, additional copies for friends, family and colleagues can be picked up at area Borders, Barnes & Noble and Hastings. The Journalist features stories by Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, NBC News Anchor Ann Curry, Rob Curley of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive and Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., just to name a few.

Get Hired. The Indianapolis Star and The Arizona Republic are seeking college students and new graduates with a talent for reporting, news design and graphics, or photojournalism for an exciting and demanding fellowship program this summer. College juniors, seniors and graduate students enrolled in a related degree program as of Nov. 15, 2007, are eligible. Previous newspaper internships and/or experience on a college newspaper are preferred. More information, requirements and deadlines: Visit The Indianapolis Star's Web site.

Chauncey Bailey's Legacy. More than two dozen Bay Area journalists, educators and students are launching the Chauncey Bailey Project, an investigative unit that will continue and expand on the reporting Bailey was pursuing when he was gunned down in August. The team effort promises to be the largest collective journalistic endeavor since the Arizona Project was formed 31 years ago in the aftermath of the murder of Arizona Republic investigative reporter Don Bolles.

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