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Home > Publications > SPJ Leads > Police Obstruction, Presidential Records, Great Gigs

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SPJ Leads | 12/13/2007
Police Obstruction, Presidential Records, Great Gigs


By Tom Henderson
Immediate Past President, Snake River SPJ, Region 10 Director

POLICE OBSTRUCTION? The St. Paul Police Department's administrative subpoena of KMSP-TV reporter Tom Lyden's phone records, and the phone records of a Ramsey County sheriff's department employee, was an abuse of power and an affront to First Amendment rights, SPJ leaders said. According to published reports, Lyden went to the police department to research an arrest of a woman who was a witness to an undercover police officer shooting last June. Under Minnesota's public records law, Lyden should have been entitled to view a copy of the record. However, he was denied, but later obtained the document from a county official who acknowledged it was public information. Lyden reported his story without naming the woman. After the story aired, the police department issued the administrative subpoena, citing concerns over data privacy. Read SPJ's statement and coverage from the Minneapolis Star Tribune. SPJ will be monitoring this situation.

OPENING PRESIDENTIAL RECORDS. In another step toward ensuring government transparency, SPJ leaders signed onto a letter with 31 open-government groups, asking for Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Joseph Biden (D-Del.), Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) to co-sponsor the Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007. This bill would re-establish procedures to provide for the timely release of presidential records that the Presidential Records Act of 1978 was designed to ensure. Currently, the only presidential candidate to co-sponsor the legislation is Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Additional co-sponsors include Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.). Read more about SPJ's position.

FURTHER EXPLANATION. SPJ Freedom of Information Committee Member and National Freedom of Information Coalition Executive Director Charles Davis wrote an op-ed about why the Presidential Act Amendments of 2007 are necessary to our future. Look for it to run in a newspaper near you.

TAKE ACTION! To ensure the book on American history remains open, SPJ is encouraging members to contact their state senators to ask them to support measures that would keep presidential records open.

CONVENTION '08 PROGRAMMING. SPJ is seeking program proposals for the 2008 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference, which takes place Sept. 4-7 in Atlanta. If you have an idea for a convention session and are interested in participating, visit the Call For Programs Web site and get the details you need to submit your idea. Deadline: Dec. 14. That's tomorrow, folks.

FOIA BILL UPDATE. Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced a revised version of the FOIA reform bill, the OPEN Government Act of 2007, in the Senate on Dec. 6. Get a quick summary of where we stand on FOIA reform.

PAKISTAN'S DEEPENING MEDIA CRISIS. On Nov. 20, more than 100 journalists in Pakistan who protested against President Pervez Musharraf's ban on television and radio news stations were arrested, according to recent eyewitness reports to the BBC. SPJ International Journalism Committee Member Gwendolyn Mariano reports.

CLASSROOMS AND NEWSROOMS. The cross-over from journalism classrooms to the professional newsroom is often eye-opening and uplifting. SPJ's Journalism Education Committee blog presents a forum that eloquently captures the heart of the journalism educator.

GREEN EYESHADE AWARDS. The directors of the Southeast's oldest journalism awards program are pleased to announce that entries are now being accepted for the 58th annual Green Eyeshade Awards. The competition recognizes outstanding journalism in 11 southeastern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. More information is available at or by calling awards administrator Sarah Prickett at (501) 399-3638.

STUDENT HONORS. It's Mark of Excellence time! Soon, SPJ will award outstanding collegiate journalism and journalists in 39 categories across print, broadcast and the Web. Details: Visit SPJ's Awards page. Postmark deadline is Jan. 23.

SUMMER IN THE CITIES. SPJ is accepting applications for summer internships in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C. Two students will be selected for the Pulliam-Kilgore Freedom of Information internships. One will be stationed in Washington, D.C., and the other will spend 10 weeks in Indianapolis. Both interns will research and write about access issues. Or, how about trying your hand at communications and public relations work for SPJ? A third student will be selected for SPJ's Archibald Communications internship. Applications for all three internship opportunities are due Jan. 5. Complete details and applications: Visit SPJ's Web site.

HELP WANTED. NorthSouth Productions is seeking a few young, hungry and talented journalists who can chase stories to star in a new documentary TV series for a major cable network about emergency rescue operations. Must be between ages 25 to 45, and be outgoing, charismatic, engaging and passionate. Experience with or interest in rescue stories is a plus, as are education, experience or interest in science/engineering. Interested? Send a bio, resume and photo Friday, Dec. 14 to: NorthSouth Productions, 1140 Broadway, Ste 1201, New York, NY 10001, Attn: Rescue. Be sure to include some footage of yourself in action or have someone film you getting a story. Broadcast journalism style is not necessary. The tone should be a more immersive and conversational.

DIGITAL MAVEN WANTED. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is seeking an Online Community Manager to create a vibrant online discussion community focused on journalism excellence, communities and issues of systemic change. The Online Community Manager will serve with others as Knight's eyes, ears and voice in the blogosphere. He or she will attract, facilitate and moderate user-generated content on Knight's Web sites, and increase online visibility of a foundation that is dedicated to shaping how the digital revolution will impact the future of journalism and communities. A track record in creating lively and engaged online audiences and community is key. While this position requires communications more than technical skills, proficiency in creating and managing user-generated Web content is vital. Get more information off of the Foundation's YouTube video. Want to apply? Send your package to

COMIC BOOK QUOTE. Rebecca Baker was the only member to guess the identity behind the last comic book quote: "If you want to correct my language, get a job on the copy desk, and please don't tell me how to run my newsroom." Rebecca knew the answer was Brenda Starr. Other guesses included Lois Lane, Clark Kent, J. Jonah Jameson and Perry White.

Want to try again? Identify the comic character behind this quote:

"It's a cruel rule of the biz: Until you've written for a paycheck on a deadline, you don't qualify as a writer."

Send your answer to Tom Henderson at

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