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Home > Publications > SPJ Leads > FOIA Reform, Tragic Year

Latest SPJ Leads | RSS

SPJ Leads | 1/3/2008
FOIA Reform, Tragic Year

By Stephanie M. Kanowitz
Web Editor, Federal Computer Week Magazine

NEW YEAR, NEW FOIA. President Bush signed into law Dec. 31 the OPEN Government Act of 2007, which creates a federal ombudsman for mediating Freedom of Information Act disputes, requires agencies to meet a 20-day deadline to respond to FOIA requests, and "restores a presumption of a standard that orders government agencies to release information on request unless there is a finding that disclosure could do harm," according to this Associated Press story. Read SPJ's statement.

IN THE LINE OF DUTY. Last year was the deadliest in more than 10 years for journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Sixty-five journalists were killed in direct relation to their work in 2007, the committee said in a year-end report. For the fifth straight year, Iraq was the world's deadliest country for the press. Read more about the journalists killed in the line of duty.

CHINA/U.S. MEDIA RELATIONS. Get a deeper understanding of a free press with SPJ's Journalism Education Series, presented by MarketWire. The program, "The China Juggernaut and U.S.-China news" will be hosted Jan. 17 in San Francisco. This program is for public relations professionals and journalists who want to learn about Asia, particularly China, and the news media. Experts will discuss the social, economic and political changes there; the media's role and influence; and how Chinese and U.S. immigrant Chinese media might cover the news differently than U.S. mainstream media. Cost: $10. Register here. Questions? Contact Chris Vachon at (317) 927-8000, ext. 207, or cvachon@spj.org.

GOT ETHICS? SPJ's ethics committee has awarded 13 grants totaling $11,125 for Ethics in Journalism Week, April 21-27. The Sigma Delta Chi Foundation donated the money. The winning chapters are studying topics such as blogging, accepting freebies, wartime journalism and more. Learn what chapters are doing.

A WORD ABOUT COMMENTS. The Ithaca Journal quotes Andy Schotz, SPJ's Ethics Committee chairman and SPJ Code Words ethics blog contributor, in an article about its Web site's decision to let readers post anonymous comments about stories. Read more.

TAKING SIDES. Journalists take the "middle" out of Middle East by often becoming "ugly vicious advocates for 'their side"' in that region's conflicts, wrote Ray Hanania on the al-Sahafiyeen blog. See who he thinks rose above bias and earned the title "journalist of the year."

EAST MEETS WEST IN '08. The East-West Center is accepting fellowship applications from Asian and American journalists who want to participate in the June 8-28 Senior Journalists Seminar, "Building Understanding between the United States and the Asian Muslim World." It includes meetings on the politics, economies, religions, cultures and media of the countries participants visit. American journalists will go to India and Malaysia. Asian journalists will travel to several U.S. cities. Apply by Jan. 31. Asian applicants must come from countries with significant Muslim populations. Roundtrip airfare, lodging and per diem provided. For more information, visit The East-West Center Web site or contact Susan Kreifels at kreifels@eastwestcenter.org or (808) 944-7176.

JUDGMENT CALL. SPJ Headquarters needs volunteer judges for the national Mark of Excellence and Sigma Delta Chi Awards competitions. Potential judges for the collegiate Mark of Excellence Awards should have three to five years' professional experience. Potential Sigma Delta Chi Awards judges should have at least 10 years' experience. Interested? E-mail a bio detailing your professional experience and area of interest (print, TV, radio, photography or online) to Heather Porter at hporter@spj.org.

FAIRNESS CAN PAY OFF. Need some dough to off-set that holiday shopping? The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University is accepting applications for the 2008 Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers. Winner gets $10,000. Nominations may be a story, photograph, editorial or commentary; a series of stories, photographs, editorials or commentaries; or a body of work by an individual journalist published in a U.S. daily newspaper in 2007. Send five copies of the work and a letter explaining its worthiness and how the work was developed, reported and presented to readers in the context of fairness. Entries must be postmarked no later than Jan. 18.

SPJ INTERNSHIPS AVAILABLE. 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.

HISTORY IN THE MAKING, PLUS FREE PANCAKES. SPJ's Colorado Pro chapter will unveil a bronze plaque commemorating the naming of the Denver Press Club as one of SPJ's historic sites in journalism at 11 a.m., Jan. 12 at the press club, 1330 Glenarm Place. The club will host two other events from 9 a.m. to noon that day: a free pancake breakfast and the annual DPC book sale, featuring hundreds of relatively new books at bargain prices.

LUNCH AND LEARN. SPJ's Colorado Pro chapter is co-sponsoring a Lunch on Deadline at noon on Jan. 9 with David Harsanyi, an editorial writer and former columnist at the Denver Post. Harsanyi will discuss his new book, "Nanny State: How Food Fascists, Teetotaling Do-Gooders, Priggish Moralists and Other Boneheaded Bureaucrats are Turning America Into a Nation of Children." Reserve your spot by noon, Jan. 8 by contacting (303) 571-5260 or denverpressclub@qwest.net.

BLUE ABOUT THE MICHIGAN PRIMARY. The SPJ Mid-Michigan chapter will host a lunch featuring political consultant Mark Grebner at Harper's Restaurant and Brewpub in downtown East Lansing at 12:15 p.m., Jan. 8. Grebner made headlines by challenging Michigan's new primary in court because of a provision that turns over lists of voters only to the Republican and Democratic parties. Cost: $10 for members and students; $12 for nonmembers. Lunch is included. RSVP to Dawn Parker at dlparker@gannett.com.

MEETING OF THE MINDS. To help journalists maintain a competitive edge in today's quickly changing industry, SPJ's Greater Los Angeles Chapter will host a dinner and panel discussion titled "Convergence Journalism: Multitasking in a Multimedia World." The event will be held Jan. 31 at the Golden Dragon Restaurant, 960 N. Broadway, Los Angeles. No-host cocktails begin at 6:30 p.m., dinner and panel discussion at 7 p.m. Cost: $18 for SPJ members and students; $23 for nonmembers. To reserve your spot, call (323) 259-3350.

LEADERSHIP LADDER. Who's next in line to lead your chapter? It's never too early to begin preparing your incoming president for a successful term. The Ted Scripps Leadership Institute is an SPJ program that offers student and professional chapter leaders a mix of sessions focused on interpersonal and organizational leadership skills, as well as sound chapter management practices. The all-expenses paid weekend retreat takes place in Indianapolis June 6-8. It's designed to promote strong leadership in the Society. Applications are due March 16. Those who will be serving as a chapter president during 2008-09 are encouraged to apply. Questions? E-mail Heather Porter at hporter@spj.org.

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