By Willie Schatz
Immediate Past President, Washington, DC Pro Chapter
COMMUNICATION SUNSHINE. To kick off National Sunshine Week and to educate the public on the importance of open government, Mid Michigan Pro chapter president Christie Bleck wrote a column that appeared in the Grand Rapids Press on March 15. Using detailed examples of the state's wrongdoings, Bleck advocated for the people's right to know. Maybe you could do the same in your newsroom.
AP PRESIDENT LETS IN SUNSHINE. At a time of continued government secrecy, the news media should press the presidential candidates on whether their administration would enforce "the spirit as well as the letter of the law" protecting the public's right to know, Associated Press President and CEO Tom Curley said Tuesday in speech at the National Press Club's Sunshine Week Dinner. Read the entire speech.
Are you eager about open government? Then check out the host of online resources and put them to work in your community.
TAPPING INTO MULTICULTURAL AMERICA. You've heard the numbers. Vibrant demographic changes are sweeping the nation and Los Angeles sits at the entryway. Ethnic media outlets are booming — a trend in sharp contrast to their stagnating mainstream counterparts. It's certain that traditional and mainstream news media must change in order to tell the story of today's America and embrace the populations that we all now serve. Join Marketwire and SPJ on March 27 to learn all about ethnic media trends and what we can do to reach the majority of minorities. More info: Visit SPJ's Journalism Education Series page.
CREATING DOCUMENT DRIVEN NEWSROOMS. SPJ kicks off its ethnic media training program March 29 in Los Angeles, where the topic will be Missing Persons, Injustice and Health Hazards. Along with covering these subjects, the program — which could soon be in your neck of the woods — will focus on the ins and outs of Freedom of Information laws and how to use them in daily reporting. The session will include a primer on the FOI laws related specifically to Los Angeles, as well as guidelines for successful use of the federal FOI law. Participants will see how these laws can be used to create quality journalism, and get some great ideas for producing document-driven stories. Cost: $8, with lunch included. Where: Southern California Radio, 261 South Figueroa St., Suite 200, Los Angeles. More info and to register: Visit SPJ's Ethnic Media Training Page.
TELL IT LIKE IT IS. Think outside the inverted pyramid with Tom Hallman, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing and numerous other feature writing honors. Hallman will help define narrative writing, explain how to report for a narrative story, discuss long form narrative storytelling — and how to use each of these in your daily reporting. Five workshops will be hosted in cities across the country. The tour kicks off in San Jose, Calif. Do you know the way? Register today. Participation is limited to 50.
HELP MAKE THE SOUTHERN OHIO CHAPTER OFFICIAL! After six months of organizing, coordinating, and administering, our newest wannabe chapter needs just 20 — count 'em, 20 — signatures from active SPJ members before becoming a member of our tribe. So chapter chair Ryan Scott Ottney writes that if you are a member of the SPJ national organization, and would like to support (but don't necessarily need to join) their budding chapter, please send him your name, address, phone number and e-mail address to be added to their petition. Once the chapter has 20 signatures, it can be approved by national headquarters, and members will be offered an opportunity to join. Already a member of another chapter? No problem! Members can join MORE THAN ONE chapter to expand networking possibilities! The Southern Ohio Chapter needs OUR help to survive! For more information on the SPJ of Southern Ohio, visit the chapter's Web site. Ryan regrets that the site is under reconstruction following a hacker/spam attack. But he promises the chapter will overcome. Questions? He's got your answer.
THERE'S TROUBLE RIGHT HERE IN MEDIA CITIES. The good news is that newspapers are still far from dead. The bad news is that the language of the obituary is creeping in. And the really bad news is that the industry in 2007 got sicker rather than better, and 2008 may be worse. These are some of the conclusions from "The State of the News Media 2008," a 700-page comprehensive look at the state of U.S. journalism by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.
GAS, NUKES AND OTHER ENERGY IDEAS. Do you cover energy, business, the environment or government? Then get yourself to a free daylong seminar at Cox Enterprises in Atlanta's Perimeter Center. "Gas Pump Prices, New Nukes and Alternative Energy" will be presented April 23 by the Foundation for American Communications and SPJ, with Cox Enterprises, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Southern Newspaper Publishers Association. Presenters include Robert Kaufmann, Ph.D., Professor in the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies at Boston University; Nuclear energy expert James F. Stubbins, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and Sam Shelton, Ph.D., Founding Director, Georgia Tech Strategic Energy Institute. The seminar includes breakfast and lunch. Participants must register in advance. Further details or to register: Go to The FACS Web Site.
COMPUTERS, FREEDOM AND PRIVACY ... OH MY! Yale University's18th annual Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference will be May 20-23. This election year, the conference will address U.S. technology policy as part of the national debate. Panel topics may include social networks and e-democracy.
Yale's Law and Media Program will provide full funding, including hotel and meals, for up to 20 qualified journalists who are writing about privacy, intellectual property, telecommunications and cyberlaw. For more information on the conference, and on how to apply for funding, visit the conference Web site.
CALIFORNIA J EXPO. Indy Arts, the Society of Professional Journalists-Northern California and Journalism That Matters/NewsTools2008 are producing The Innovations in Journalism Expo on Saturday, May 3rd. Up to 50 exhibitors from businesses, nonprofits, think-tanks and community organizations will have booths showcasing their cutting-edge work in journalism technology, methods, business models, philosophy and ideas. Questions? Call (415) 677-9877.
SPORTY SCHOLARS. The Associated Press Sports Editors are sponsoring four $1,500 scholarships for collegiate sports journalists. Talented college sports journalists entering their sophomore, junior or senior years are eligible for the scholarships, which will be awarded based on the students' journalistic work, their academic record, financial need, and geography. The scholarships will be awarded to students from four different regions of the United States. Deadline for applications is June 1. For more information on applying, contact Joe Sullivan at the Boston Globe: (617) 929-2845 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE NATIONAL PRESS CLUB WANTS YOU! SPJ members are invited to compete for one of 14 National Press Club Awards, some with multiple categories that represent a wide range of journalistic genres. But MOVE IT! The deadline is April 1. There is no entry fee and an applicant does not have to be a member of the National Press Club to enter. Questions? Contact Mark Schoeff at (202) 662-7218, email@example.com, Jessica Brady (202) 349-4154, firstname.lastname@example.org or Joann Booze (202) 662-7532, email@example.com.
A NEW WEB WAY AT SPJ/LA. The Greater L.A. Chapter has a redesigned and updated its Web site. The new site includes information on membership, upcoming events and the chapter's position on issues important to the Los Angeles journalism community. An addition to the SPJ/LA Web site is a blog that will include posts from members of the Board of Directors. Along with the updated Web site is a new e-mail address. Anyone wishing to post information about jobs, promotions, movements or events should send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONGRATULATIONS LORRAINE. SPJ member Lorraine Branham, director of the School of Journalism and G.B. Dealey Regents Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, has been named dean of Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, effective 1 July. Branham joined the UT faculty in 2002 after a 25-year career as a newspaper editor, editorial writer and reporter. She was previously the assistant to the publisher of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and senior vice president and executive editor of the Tallahassee Democrat, and held several positions at the Philadelphia Inquirer, including associate managing editor for features. She also worked as a reporter at the Philadelphia Tribune; the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, N.J.; the Philadelphia Bulletin; and the Baltimore Sun.