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By Christine Tatum
Business Writer, The Denver Post
Editorial Writer, The Lewiston (Idaho) Morning Tribune
STEEEERIKE! The ability of journalists to gather news without fear of government intimidation took another blow this week when a federal judge told two San Francisco Chronicle reporters that they must disclose their sources, who leaked grand jury testimony concerning professional athletes’ steroid use (Never mind that the journalists’ work prompted Major League Baseball to adopt new rules regarding players’ drug use). SPJ President David Carlson condemned the judge’s ruling and reiterated SPJ’s support of a proposed federal shield law.
• Find out why we need a federal shield.
• Learn more about how a shield law would work and the lobbying and legislative process behind the proposal now before Congress.
• SPJ has raised more than $30,000 to support the cause so far. You and your chapter can continue to help. Discover how.
• If you haven’t done so already, please contact your state’s senators and representatives to let them know how important a federal shield law is to a free press.
CAGED WOLF. Josh Wolf, a freelancing blogger and videographer, is sitting in a federal jail in Dublin, Calif., because he insists on upholding the First Amendment. Wolf, 24, was taken into custody Aug. 1 for refusing to give federal prosecutors unedited video he shot during a 2005 protest in San Francisco. Wolf rightly claims journalists have no business helping the government build legal cases. SPJ has given Wolf $1,000 to help cover his rapidly mounting legal bills and has signed on to an amicus brief to be considered by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Meanwhile, Josh’s living expenses are piling up, too. For example, he needs help paying his rent so he won’t lose his apartment. SPJ urges all members to consider supporting Wolf. Just a few of ideas for you:
• Give time. SPJ’s NorCal chapter is promoting a benefit for Josh. If you’ll be in the San Francisco Bay Area, consider attending. When: 7-9:30 p.m., Aug. 19 Where: Cafe la Boheme, 3318 24th St., in the city’s Mission District.
• Give money. A PayPal account has been set up for online donations to be spent on Wolf’s legal defense. You also may send a check to Josh’s mother, who is trying to help cover her son’s bills. Checks made out to Elizabeth Wolf-Spada should be sent to P.O. Box 2235, Wrightwood, CA 92397.
• Give personal attention. Josh would welcome your letters. You may send them to Federal Correctional Institution, Joshua Wolf 98005-111, 5701 Eighth St. Camp-Parks, Unit J2, Dublin, CA 94568. Also consider checking out Josh’s blog, where he has reported that he is in good spirits – and remains determined not to allow his unedited video to fall into the hands of a federal grand jury.
ANOTHER FRIEND IN NEED. John McCusker, a photographer who was part of The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune’s 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winning staff, recently hit a new low after learning he wouldn’t receive enough insurance money to rebuild his Katrina-ravaged home, according to a New Orleans police report. McCusker caught officers’ attention by driving erratically and engaged in a violent scuffle with them, telling officers several times, “Just kill me. Get it over with. Kill me.” Police arrested McCusker after subduing him with a Taser gun. The veteran photographer is no longer jailed and is undergoing treatment, his attorney has said. SPJ member Michelle Nicolosi, assistant managing editor of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, hopes other SPJ members will consider helping McCusker. To send a donation, visit friendsofthetimespicayune.com, a site established to help the newspaper’s employees recover from Katrina. Be sure to earmark any donations for McCusker by adding a note to the memo field. If you’d rather send a check, you’ll find an address on the Web site.
SPARKLING WORK. Has Jon Marshall lauded your reporting lately? Better check his blog, News Gems, to find out. This week, he praises Anne Saker of The (Portland) Oregonian for “Mending Broken Bones – and Two Families.” The story does a masterful job of describing the adoption saga that pitted two families against each other and ultimately brought them together, Marshall writes.
Have you spotted a great – and we mean great – story? Share it with Jon by dropping him a line. News Gems highlights the best in American journalism and is sponsored by SPJ.
LORDS OF DISCIPLINE. SPJ will honor Johnson County (Kan.) Community College students Miguel Morales, Kevin Mimms and the staff of The Campus Ledger with a First Amendment Award. The students have doggedly pursued accusations of sexual harassment and labor violations within the college’s administration. Their work – even conducted for free when the school’s board denied a request to pay student paper salaries during the summer months – is believed to have contributed to the college president’s resignation (he cited health concerns). The winners “have sacrificed time, money and perhaps even some degree of their academic and journalistic futures at Johnson County Community College because they needed to do what is right,” wrote Anne Christiansen-Bullers, the newspaper’s adviser. “They have been professional in the face of pettiness, and they have upheld the finest standards of journalism during a very troubling time.” SPJ couldn’t agree more and will present the award during the upcoming 2006 SPJ Convention and National Journalism Conference in Chicago.
ETHICS MATTER. SPJ will present its Ethics in Journalism Award to nine California journalists who resigned rather than accept and enforce a series of top-management decisions at the Santa Barbara News-Press that they believed violated provisions of SPJ’s Code of Ethics. The paper’s former executive editor, Jerry Roberts, will be at SPJ’s national conference, coming up in Chicago next week, to accept the award.
CHICAGO! DID SOMEONE SAY CHICAGO?! We’ll be having a fabulous time in the Windy City next week – which is why the next edition of Leads will hit your e-mail in-box the week of Aug. 28. If you’re planning to join us, here are just a few cool things to look out for (And if you aren’t joining us, well, you’re really missing out … HOWEVER, know that it’s not too late to swing on by! You may register on-site to attend professional development sessions and various special events at the convention hotel. (Also know that a one-day pass for members to attend professional development sessions is only $130.)
• Honor the First. This unprecedented SPJ celebration of the First Amendment will feature an array of Chicago-area artists who are generously donating their time to remind us that we must never take our freedoms of expression for granted or allow them to be compromised. See a Jewish and Palestinian comedic duo promote “Comedy for Peace.” Don’t miss one of Chicagoans’ favorite sketch-comedy groups, Schadenfreude. Check out an array of the city’s top performance poets, who will be dishing original verse during the Chicago Poetry Showcase. Hear one of today’s top young voices in opera, Rodell Rosel of the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists. Join our sing-along of the “Open Record Blues” with rock stars of the j-world, Bill Lueders and Peter Leidy.
• Book signings. Author meet-and-greets.The Ride of Our Lives, Mike Leonard. When: 5:15-6 p.m., Aug. 24. The Authentic Voice, Arlene Morgan, Alice Pifer and Keith Woods. When: 10:15-10:45 a.m., Aug. 25. Letters to a Young Journalist, Samuel Freedman. When: 2:15-3 p.m., Aug. 25.
• Free career/life coaching. Life coach – and longtime career coach of journalists – Carla Kimbrough-Robinson will show you how to set goals you really can achieve. She’ll meet in the conference’s Expo on a first-come, first-serve basis with journalists wanting a free, personal 20-minute consultation. When: 1-5 p.m., Aug. 25.
• Career advice to bank. If you’re looking to land the perfect journalism gig or if you’re seeking advice on how to get promoted, SPJ experts have you covered. Professionals staffing the Career Development Center will be standing by with tips to help you perfect your craft. Bring your clips, tapes and résumés and participate in small group discussions that will have you headed in the right direction. Advanced registration is required. Sign up in the Journalism Expo. Looking to get information on internships? Be sure to ask a professional at the center.
• Friday Night Fun with the Chicago Headline Club. SPJ’s largest chapter – and the host chapter of our fabulous national conference – has dreamed up plenty of neat ways for you to enjoy the city of Chicago. Meet journalists from across the nation as you visit legendary haunts and hot, new hangouts. Take in a show at The Second City! Down a drink – or two – at the infamous Mirage Tavern, where news veterans will recount what it was like to run a bar that city officials loved to frequent for all the wrong reasons. Hit the “Meet Market,” a series of informal mixers scattered around Chicago and co-hosted by the National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, National Lesbian and Gay Journalists’ Association, Asian American Journalists Association and The Independent Writers of Chicago.
• Outstanding photography. SPJ will feature two photography exhibits you don’t want to miss:
• Picture This! will present a provocative exhibition of photos taken by homeless youth photographers as a preview of the Chicago Headline Club’s October roundtable discussion about the myths surrounding homeless youth. Picture This! is a volunteer group that uses photography to encourage kids’ creative expression and self-esteem and bridge gaps between people of different backgrounds. The group was founded in 1993 by Chicago-area women photojournalists. When: Aug. 24-26. Where: Conference.
• The Associated Press will present “9/11: Five Years Later,” an exhibition showing the images of 9/11/2001 and the same sites, shot by the same AP photographers, as they appear today.
• Awesome discussion that’ll help you be a better journalist. What should newsrooms of the future look like? Join a roundtable discussion with some of the news industry’s most innovative thinkers, including Bill Gannon, managing editor of Yahoo! News. Want to break into management? Find out how young managers such as Lora Johnson LeSage, an executive producer of special projects at NBC5 News Chicago, promotes teamwork. Thinking of heading abroad? Make sure you know what sort of professional groundwork you need to lay first.
• Necessary Evils. We get pitched to the point of no return with useless information and we’re often left wondering how PR people tracked us down. As journalists, we’re part of national databases and directories and we’ve become synonymous with public information. Learn how to make those databases work for you with help from Paolina Milana, vice president, marketing and media relations, Marketwire and Fay Shapiro, group publisher of Bulldog Reporter’s Daily Dog.
GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS. Yes, we’ve got Society matters to think about in Chicago, too:
• National committee work. SPJ is obviously a tremendous advocate of American journalism. Much of our highest-profile work is generated by members of national committees. Consider getting involved in one. Convention-goers are invited to check out various committees. Check online for a schedule of those meetings. Even if you won’t be in Chicago, consider helping a national committee. Christine Tatum is searching for SPJ members to lead the national Generation J committee, the national freelance committee and the national professional development committee. If interested, contact her at email@example.com.
• One member, one vote. Convention delegates will be asked to consider a proposal that would allow every SPJ member in good standing to vote individually for the Society’s executive leadership and national at-large directors. Make an informed decision by reading an online debate about the issue.
• Business meetings. Serving as a delegate for your chapter? Find a schedule of meetings you must attend, and check out the bios of candidates running for national office so that your votes are informed ones.
WE LOVE YOU, TOO. This just in from SPJ member Lisa Wuertz: “My SPJ membership was a great investment,” she wrote. “I was able to get the student (dues) price because I only graduated this past June. So, it wasn’t too expensive, and I got a job out of it. I recently accepted a position at MAS Magazine in Bakersfield, Calif., where I live and went to school. The magazine only listed their job opening at the SPJ Job Bank. Being a member really paid off. Thanks, SPJ!”
Want a new gig? Or your first gig? Then check out SPJ’s Job Bank. Only members may see job listings (so have your password handy), but anyone may post openings for free (so share openings you know about to make this searchable database a great resource for everyone). This week’s featured openings include a state reporting job in Oklahoma and an online production job in Maine.
Like Wuertz, are you fresh out of school and wanting to get your career off to a great start? SPJ has a trove of online resources for you to review. We’re also recruiting new members for SPJ’s “Generation J” national committee, which focuses on helping early-stage pros sharpen their skills and bone up on the importance of journalism advocacy! To get involved in this lively group with big plans, contact Christine Tatum pronto: firstname.lastname@example.org.
GET THE WHOLE STORY. When writing about low-wage work or poverty, don’t gravitate only toward sources who have trouble making ends meet or who have defeated all odds to find success. Expand your horizons by presenting a greater diversity of thought and voice in your stories. See The Whole Story, an online guide on spj.org regularly updated with tips and tools that will improve your reporting.
WHOOPS! A message to SPJ members in last week’s edition of Leads about the Official Secrets Act (What a mess that is. Check out a recent editorial in The (Springfield, Mo.) News-Leader to learn more about it.) misidentified the state represented by U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. Sen. Stevens is a Republican from Alaska. Our thanks to Alaric DeArment of Ball State University for catching the goof.
COMIC BOOK QUOTE OF THE WEEK. Last week’s quote (“I took the notes you pulled together, made a couple of calls, finished the pieces, fed them into the system under your editing code. Of course, I had to split a few infinitives, clunk up a few sentences, so [the editor] would think it was you.”) was spoken by the one and only Lois Lane.
That was easy. Now let’s try something more difficult. Anyone who identifies this week’s quote will receive a free “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” poster (Kolchak, by the way, is the coolest – or is that eeriest? – reporter from 1970s television). Here it is:
“The best way to soothe a loss is to turn it into a story, dear.”
Send your best guesses to Tom Henderson: email@example.com.
KOLCHAK AND BRENDA ARE IN THE HOUSE. Find an array of cool goods featuring the images of Brenda Starr and Carl Kolchak on SPJ’s Snake River chapter’s CafePress site.
SHEER POETRY. This week’s verse was contributed by the late, great Dorothy Parker and is dedicated to the many people who write letters to the editor:
“Arrived in heaven, when his sands were run
He seized a quill, and sat him down to tell
The local press that something should be done
About that noisy nuisance, Gabriel.”
Got some journalism-poetry to share? Hit us with your best shot: firstname.lastname@example.org.
HEADLINE MADNESS. From Tucson’s Arizona Daily Star: “Brief cooking at low heat recommended for diabetics.” Yummmm.