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By Pierce Presley
SPJ Member, Freelance Journalist and "Mr. Mom"
UTAH SHIELD RULE VICTORY! Just one day after the public comment period ended, the Utah Supreme Court yesterday adopted a reporter's shield rule. Acting with remarkable speed, the Court adopted Rule 509 of the Utah Rules of Evidence. The rule is effective immediately and creates a near-absolute privilege for confidential sources. The only exception: when disclosure is necessary to "prevent substantial injury or death." Read comments from SPJ President Clint Brewer, Utah Headliners Club President Ben Winslow, FOI Committee member Joel Campbell and others.
WAR SPIN. The Center for Public Integrity and the Fund for Independence in Journalism released a study finding 935 false statements by President Bush and other top officials in the two years following 9/11. On at least 532 occasions, President Bush and key members of his administration said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, links to Al Qaeda, or both. The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively ... led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."
STANDING TALL. Student reporters from the Indiana Daily Student took one for Open Government on Wednesday when they denied a request from former U.S. security advisor Meghan O'Sullivan, who asked for her speech to be off-the-record, despite the lecture being open to the public. O'Sullivan cited legal issues and said many journalists have respected this common practice. WHAT?! After learning that the request would not be honored, O'Sullivan said she fell ill, and the speech, which cost nearly $5,000, was cancelled. Get National FOI Committee Chairman David Cuillier's reaction. Journalism Education committee chairman Ernie Wiggins also chimed in.
GIVE BACK. BE A MENTOR. SPJ's new Mentor Match-up program has several eager journalists looking for someone with a little more experience to start mutually beneficial relationships. Give a little time and make a difference. Those seeking mentors may also still apply. More info and an application: Visit SPJ's Mentor Match-Up page.
TELL IT LIKE IT IS. SPJ invites early career reporters and front-line editors to forgo the inverted pyramid and take a leap into storytelling. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tom Hallman, Jr. will discuss the definition of narrative writing, reporting for narrative, long-form narrative storytelling, applying narrative techniques to daily reporting and strategies for your newsroom. Workshops will be April 26 in San Jose, Calif.; May 24 in Des Moines, Iowa; June 14 in Gainesville, Fla.; June 21 in Houston and July 26 in Richmond, Va. For more info and to register: Visit SPJ's Narrative Writing Workshops page.
SDX BLING. The deadline for the Sigma Delta Chi Awards is fast approaching. Get your submissions in by Feb. 6 for consideration in any of the 48 categories. Visit the SDX Awards page for complete details or contact Heather Porter at (317) 927-8000, ext. 204 or email@example.com.
COLLABORATION ROCKS. The deadline for SPJ's New America Award for public service journalism collaborations including ethnic media is March 3. To be eligible, the work must be a true collaboration of reporting, writing, editing and publication or broadcast. Visit The New America Web page for complete details and an entry form.
HELP WANTED. SPJ is seeking a member with leadership experience at either the national or local level, and substantial freelance experience, to chair the Freelance Committee. SPJ also is looking for members to serve on the committee. Interested? Contact Executive Director Terry Harper at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about the Freelance Committee by visiting The SPJ Freelance Committee page. And while you're at it, check out the SPJ Freelancer Directory.
STUDENTS! SPJ NEEDS YOU! The application deadline for SPJ's summer internships in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C., has been extended to Feb. 1. Two students will be selected for the Pulliam-Kilgore Freedom of Information internships. One intern - with a legal background - will be stationed in Washington, D.C., and the other - with a strong reporting background - 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. Complete details and applications: Visit SPJ's Web site.
PROS! SPJ LEADS NEEDS YOU! Want to reach thousands of members with short little blurbs like this one, while building a great portfolio of clips? If so the SPJ Leads team needs you! Give one Thursday a month to byline SPJ Leads and know that you're doing something great to help SPJ. For more information, contact Beth King at email@example.com.
EXPLORE SOCIAL MEDIA. The Louisville Pro chapter is presenting two discussions about online resources for journalists. News 2.0: Journalism and Social Networking Sites will lead journalists through the intricacies of social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. It is set for Jan. 31 at 6:30 p.m. Online Resource Reporting will take attendees beyond simple Google searches, and is set for Feb. 2 at 8:30 a.m. More info: E-mail Robyn Sekula at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (812) 981-8223. Both events are $20 for nonmembers, $10 for members or students and free for new members who join and pay at the event. Reservations are required.
THE FCC-CONGRESS DISCONNECT. The Foundation for American Communications and SPJ are conducting the program "Congress, the FCC and the Aging Internet: Clearing the Policy Logjams" on Jan. 29 from 1-2:30 p.m. EST. Blair Levin, managing director of telecom and technology research firm Stifel Nicolaus & Co., will lead the seminar and explain federal oversight of the Internet, mobile phones, broadband access and other communications market segments. Journalists can participate for free, but must register at The FACS Web site.
J ETHICS WORKSHOP. The William O. Douglas Pro chapter is bringing SPJ stalwart Reggie Stuart to the Tri-City Herald on Jan. 26 at 11 a.m. for a free ethics seminar where participants will take part in role playing exercises. Lunch is provided. Contact chapter president Michelle Dupler at email@example.com for information or visit the William O. Douglas Pro Chapter Web site.
CITIZEN MCCAW. A new documentary about the Santa Barbara News-Press' 2006 "meltdown" is set for a world premiere on March 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara. The event will feature a Q&A with the film's producers following the screening. General admission tickets are $15; VIP tickets are $200. More info: Visit The Citizen McCaw Web site.
UGANDA GATEKEEPING MISSION. The International Reporting Project will host a 10-day Gatekeeper Editors' Trip to Uganda on May 3-15 for U.S. editors and producers interested in learning more about Uganda and East Africa. Gatekeepers are any senior journalists who help select content. The trip will focus on the challenges East African governments face. Up to 12 gatekeepers will be selected for the all-expenses-paid trip. More information: Visit the International Reporting Project Web site or contact Sonja Matanovic at (202) 663-7726 or firstname.lastname@example.org.