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For more than 100 years the Society of Professional Journalists has been dedicated to encouraging a climate in which journalism can be practiced more freely and fully, stimulating high standards and ethical behavior in the practice of journalism and perpetuating a free press.
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By Christine Tatum
Immediate Past President
Editor-in-chief, Infoition News Services
KNOW A CITJO? SPJ's Citizens Journalism Academy is designed to help people who have little or no formal training in newsgathering strengthen their self-publishing projects and/or contributions to a wide array of news publications. The academy, which is funded with a grant from the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, will provide a crash course in media ethics and law; public-records access; the basics of interviewing, reporting and writing — and much more.
The academies will be May 17 in Chicago; June 7 in Greensboro, N.C.; and June 27 in Los Angeles. You'll find more details on spj.org soon.
Looking for a simple, but profound way, to help SPJ? Then consider joining our organizational team — and know that if you've already contacted us about your interest in helping with this fun and important project, we'll be in touch with you very soon. Drop a line to group leader and SPJ Immediate Past President Christine Tatum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TAIWAN OR BUST! A delegation of 10 SPJ members leaves Monday for a weeklong visit to Taipei. Members will meet with Taiwanese journalists to trade ideas and see their newsrooms in action! SPJ members also will meet with an array of Taiwanese government officials to learn more about Taiwan's economy and its relationship with the United States, China and the rest of the world. Look for trip highlights on spj.org soon.
Want to help empower American journalists to work in, or study, journalism abroad? Want to help make SPJ members more aware of the challenges journalists in other countries face? Consider volunteering to help with projects spearheaded by SPJ's International Journalism Committee. Contact Chairwoman June Nicholson today.
LEGALESE? Hardly. SPJ's Legal Defense Fund is one of the simplest and most practical ways to help journalists nationwide and to support legal action that protects and advances First Amendment rights. Check out a summary of SPJ's committee activity, and pledge to get involved. Chairwoman Molly McDonough of the ABA Journal would be happy to hear from you — and she's particularly interested in hearing from anyone who might like to contribute to the LDF committee's blog.
CONTEMPT?! Former USA Today reporter Toni Locy faces fines of up to $5,000 for refusing a judge's order to reveal her anonymous sources for stories about the much-publicized anthrax attacks of 2001. Read more about the case, then consider signing a petition in support of Locy. For more information, contact Professor Bonnie Stewart, West Virginia University SPJ Chapter faculty advisor at (304) 293-3505 Ext. 5417.
THE PEOPLE VS. THE PAPARAZZI. SPJ's Los Angeles chapter will explore the balance between the right to privacy and the right to know with help from journalists, public officials, lawyers, law enforcement officers, a representative of the Screen Actors Guild — and the owner of a paparazzi agency. When: 6:30 p.m., Feb. 26. Where: The Metropolitan Water District, 700 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles Cost: $15 for SPJ members and students. $20 for non-members (cost includes refreshments). Reservations are required. Contact: Alice Walton, 310-595-5612. For more details: spj.org/losangeles.
REMEMBER: IT'S NOT LEGAL ADVICE. The Indiana Council for Open Government will offer its popular and free "Ask a Lawyer" program. Media lawyers will be on hand to answer your burning questions about public records and public meetings. Seats are limited, so reserve space today. When: 6-8 p.m., April 16. Where: SPJ's National Headquarters, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis. Contact: email@example.com
GANNETT MAKING THE MOVE ON STUDENTS? In August 2006, Gannett Co. bought its first independent student newspaper. It followed up last year with the purchase of its second independent student paper. This year, there are rumbles that the company is looking at purchasing still other student papers. SPJ member and Colorado State University professor Lee Anne Peck examines how two student newspapers have fared since their acquisition.
MONEY FOR SCHOOL? If you know a young writer in Grades 9-12, encourage him or her to enter SPJ's High School Essay Contest. Students enrolled in public, private and home schools are eligible. First place is a $1,000 scholarship. Second place is a $500 scholarship. Third place is a $300 scholarship.
MOLLY! MOLLY! MOLLY! The second annual MOLLY, a national journalism prize honoring the indelible memory of syndicated columnist Molly Ivins, will be awarded June 12 in Austin, Texas. Might you be this year's winner? The MOLLY is awarded for an article or a series of up to four short articles or columns appearing in a U.S.-based publication (print or an online magazine). Those articles should tell a compelling story that really needed to be brought to the public's attention. They should focus on civil liberties and/or social justice. They should embody the intelligence, deep thinking and passionate wit that marked Ivins' work. First prize is $5,000 and a statuette of Ivins in regalia as the Statue of Liberty (everyone needs one of these on a mantle or desktop). For entry guidelines, look online. For information about attending the awards luncheon or contributing to the MOLLY prize fund, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 512-477-0746.
IT'S A WOMAN THING. As Ivins, who died after battling breast cancer, once wrote, "Go. Get. The. Damn. Mammogram. Done." The Society for Women's Health Research wants to honor journalists who have delivered exceptional coverage of women's health research. For details, about the society's 2008 media award, look online. For additional information, contact Karen Young. Submissions must be postmarked by April 4.
SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION. Region 2 Director Ann Augherton and her journalist fiancé, Chris, are finalists in a contest to win a wedding photography package, not exactly chump change on a journalist's budget. But they need our help — and our votes. The happy SPJ couple is currently in second place, trailing Sergio and Leena (if that is indeed their real names) by about 150 votes. Click here, then cast your vote before March 2. Let's show "Sergio and Leena" how journalists stick together.
WILL WONDERS NEVER CEASE? Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has indicated that she would be willing to consider rewriting the state's FOI laws to improve access to public information. The Chicago Headline Club and Illinois Press Association are distributing a two-question survey to glean input from Illinois journalists. If you haven't received the survey and would like to participate, contact Beth Bennett.
FOI INS AND OUTS. SPJ's Eastern Tennessee chapter is having an FOI workshop to help journalists understand state access laws. Instructors include Don Dare of WATE-TV; state Sen. Randy McNally, chairman of the state's open government study committee; and Frank Gibson, a past SPJ national president and current director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government. When: 7 p.m., March 6. Where: University of Tennessee's Shiloh Room in the University Center.
IN MEMORY. Former Chicago Headline Club president Mary A. Myers died Feb. 15. Her long and respected journalism career included professional stops at the Chicago Daily News, Washington Post and Chicago Sun-Times. After leaving journalism, Myers became managing director of the Chicago office of public-relations giant Burson-Marsteller Inc. She remained one of SPJ's most devoted members, and she quietly encouraged several young female journalists to become chapter leaders. Memorial donations may be made to The Alzheimer's Association or to Fourth Presbyterian Church.