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Home > SPJ News > Resolutions passed at Excellence in Journalism 2018

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Resolutions passed at Excellence in Journalism 2018


10/10/2018


J. Alex Tarquinio, SPJ National President, 212-283-0843, alex.tarquinio@gmail.com
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Director of Communications and Marketing, 317-361-4134, jroyer@spj.org

BALTIMORE – Each year, Society of Professional Journalists delegates vote on resolutions submitted by members on topics of importance to the Society. These resolutions are voted on by delegates during the closing business session at the Excellence in Journalism annual conference.

Here are the resolutions that were approved during EIJ18 in Baltimore:


Resolution No. 2
Sponsorship Task Force
Submitted By: Alejandra Cancino, Chicago Headline Club
Delegate Action: Approved


WHEREAS the Society of Professional Journalists is the country's leading nonprofit journalism organization;

WHEREAS SPJ has had a Code of Ethics in place for nearly a century that calls for independence and avoidance of conflicts of interest or even the appearance of conflicts of interest;

WHEREAS SPJ members have cancelled their memberships or threatened to cancel them due to SPJ's acceptance of donations from groups who have been documented to consistently work and spend money on efforts to destroy public faith in independent journalism;

WHEREAS incoming president Alex Tarquinio has expressed her intent to appoint a task force, chaired by president-elect Patti Newberry, that will review and recommend a convention sponsorship policy;

THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists meeting in convention on Sept. 29, 2018, in Baltimore, Md., directs the sponsorship task force to consider rejecting dollars from entities whose actions are at odds with SPJ’s journalistic mission and using the SPJ Code of Ethics as a guide to vet donations.

LET IT BE FURTHER RESOLVED that an updated policy be put in place well before the 2019 convention in San Antonio and be used to determine which sponsorships will be accepted.

Resolution No. 3
Condemning threats to ban access
Submitted by: Sonny Albarado, Arkansas Pro Chapter and Resolutions Committee member
Delegate Action: Approved


WHEREAS the first obligation of journalists is to seek truth and report it;

WHEREAS part of that obligation is to report accurately the circumstances under which sources agree to share or not share information;

WHEREAS Oklahoma State University football coach Mike Gundy threatened reporters with the loss of access to players if the media asked players any questions about the recent departure of a key wide receiver;

WHEREAS reporters present at the weekly player interviews acquiesced and did not ask any questions about the departed player;

WHEREAS after the player availability session ended, an OSU media relations person told reporters there would be repercussions if they reported the threatened ban on player access;

WHEREAS such threats run counter to claims of transparency and actually contribute to increased distrust between public institutions and news organizations;

WHEREAS a university professor and freedom of information advocate broke the news of this incident via Twitter;

WHEREAS student journalists wrote an article assuring university authorities that they were not the source of the professor’s knowledge of the coach’s threats;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists meeting Sept. 29, 2018, in convention in Baltimore, Md., strongly condemns the OSU coach’s efforts to keep reporters from doing their jobs.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Society urges all reporters to resist all efforts to condition their reporting on the availability of access to sources.

Resolution No. 4
Supporting “Saving Student Newsrooms”
Submitted by: Frank LoMonte, The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, University of Florida
Delegate Action: Approved


WHEREAS student-led newsrooms in high schools, colleges and universities are crucial to fulfilling the public’s need for information and knowledgeable commentary about the workings of educational institutions and their surrounding communities;

WHEREAS a First Amendment crisis is rapidly spreading across high school, college and university campuses in the United States;

WHEREAS independent student-led newsrooms are often treated by administrators with apathy or open hostility;

WHEREAS administrators often put up questionable or illegal roadblocks in the path of student journalists trying to seek the truth and obtain transparency;

WHEREAS colleges and universities are diminishing or withdrawing their already-modest financial support for student-led news organizations at a time when that support is most urgently needed;

WHEREAS the Knight Foundation and other thought leaders in media have called on America’s colleges and universities to assume primary responsibility for meeting the civic-information needs of their communities, in the model of an informational “teaching hospital;”

WHEREAS many states have approved "New Voices" statutes that outlaw content-based meddling in student newsrooms;

WHEREAS a movement called #SaveStudentNewsrooms has been launched to help protect student-led newsrooms from undue, unwarranted and illegal interference by administrators;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Society of Professional Journalists, meeting Sept. 29, 2018 in convention in Baltimore, Md., strongly supports the #SaveStudentNewsrooms movement by providing advice, counsel and legal support where appropriate through the SDX Legal Defense Fund.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Society calls on the leaders of America’s 4,000-plus institutions of higher education to assume responsibility for ensuring the financial stability of student-run news organizations, because a healthy campus community requires editorially independent news coverage as a foundational civic necessity.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Society of Professional Journalists commends the founders of the #SaveStudentNewsrooms movement—Melissa Gomez, Caitlin Ostroff and Jimena Tavel—for their leadership and vision in galvanizing public urgency in support of imperiled news organizations.

Resolution No. 6
Plea on Behalf of Reality Winner
Submitted by: Sonny Albarado, Arkansas Pro Chapter
Delegate Action: Approved


WHEREAS former National Security Agency contractor Reality Leigh Winner is serving five years in federal prison for leaking a top-secret government report on Russian election hacking to the Intercept in 2017;

WHEREAS according to prosecutors, Winner’s sentence is the longest ever imposed in federal court for an unauthorized release of government information to the media;

WHEREAS elections officials in several states said no one warned them about a Russian scheme aimed at compromising their computer networks until the Intercept’s publication of the NSA memo and those officials saw Winner’s leak as a form of public service;

WHEREAS more than any previous administration, the current and preceding U.S. presidents have prosecuted individuals whose leaks have alerted the public to serious abuses of power and, in Winner’s case, information vital to public understanding of attempts to disrupt our nation’s democratic processes;

WHEREAS the federal government continues to use the more than 100-year-old Espionage Act, a law intended to prosecute spies, to pursue American citizens who share information with American journalists;

WHEREAS journalists have themselves been targets of official investigations under the Espionage Act;

WHEREAS according to the Wall Street Journal’s Jesselyn Radack, the Espionage Act “effectively hinders a person from defending himself before a jury in an open court … in part thanks to a dysfunctional classification system” in which over-classification has become rampant;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists meeting Sept. 29, 2018, in convention in Baltimore, Md., urges President Donald Trump to commute Winner’s sentence.


Resolution No. 7
SPJ Denounces Imprisonment of Journalists
Submitted by: Robert Buckman, Louisiana Pro Chapter
Delegate Action: Approved



WHEREAS Myanmar is a member of the United Nations and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers;”

WHEREAS two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, have been unjustly convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison for allegedly violating the Official Secrets Act, when in fact they were performing their normal duties as professional journalists;

WHEREAS this action by the government of Myanmar is counter to the free flow of information practiced by the democratic nations of the world and thus is a stain on the honor and reputation of the country of Myanmar;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists, meeting Sept. 29, 2018, in convention in Baltimore, Md., denounces in the strongest possible terms the imprisonment of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and calls upon State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to issue a full pardon and release them from prison so they may continue to practice their profession in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Resolution No. 9
Fred Rogers and Public Broadcasting
Submitted by: Alex Veeneman, Ethics Committee Member
Delegate Action: Approved


WHEREAS Fred Rogers was a television personality known for his children's television programs on PBS;

WHEREAS Rogers was a staunch advocate for funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting especially in its early days;

WHEREAS 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the debut of “Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood” on public television stations;

WHEREAS “Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood” was produced at public television station WQED in Pittsburgh, Pa.;

WHEREAS Rogers famously said: "Anything that we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service;”

WHEREAS this philosophy is integral to the foundation of the pursuit of journalism, and why journalists pursue this work;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists, meeting Sept. 29, 2018, in convention in Baltimore, Md., hereby recognizes the contributions that Fred Rogers has made to human development and to public television;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Society strongly identifies with the desire to foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow Americans;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Society believes that journalism is one of the best professions to be of service and commends the work of all of its members who help their neighbors be their best;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Society believes that public media is a model to allow the spirit and growth of Americans to be enhanced;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Society supports the work of its members employed by public media and funding for public media by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Resolution No. 10
Remembering Richard D. Hendrickson
Submitted by: Greater Los Angeles Pro Chapter
Delegate Action: Approved


WHEREAS Richard D. Hendrickson was a dedicated professional journalist and educator for more than 50 years and was a passionate advocate for ethics in journalism;

WHEREAS Hendrickson earned a bachelor's degree in journalism, a master's degree in political science and at the age of 59 a doctorate in media studies—all from Bowling Green State University;

WHEREAS after two years in the Navy, Hendrickson began his journalism career in 1961 as a reporter for his hometown paper, the Syracuse Post-Standard, and was soon hired by the Associated Press for its Buffalo bureau;

WHEREAS Hendrickson moved to Ohio in 1966 to open a new bureau for the Lorain Morning Journal and spent 35 years there as reporter, editor, bureau chief and editorial page editor and served as president of the Cleveland SPJ Pro Chapter;

WHEREAS Hendrickson next landed in Los Angeles where he was a journalism instructor in reporting and media ethics with UCLA Extension and taught journalism part-time at California State University Northridge and online for John Carroll University;

WHEREAS Hendrickson served on the board of the Greater Los Angeles SPJ Pro Chapter as treasurer;

WHEREAS SPJ has bestowed many honors upon Hendrickson:

- Howard Dubin Award - 2008 Outstanding Professional Member

- Cleveland Pro Chapter - 2009 Distinguished Service Award

- 2010 Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award

- Region 11 – 50-year membership pin at SPJ Conference in 2018

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists meeting Sept. 29, 2018, in convention in Baltimore, Md., mourns the death of Richard D. Hendrickson at age 77 and memorializes his passion for and dedication to journalism professionally and as an educator.

Resolution No. 11
Thanks to SPJ President Rebecca “Marvel Girl” Baker
Submitted by: SPJ Resolutions Committee
Delegate Action: Approved


WHEREAS Rebecca Baker is completing her one-year term as President of the Society of Professional Journalists:

WHEREAS Baker worked her way up through the arduous ranks of the Deadline Club board to become president of that esteemed chapter—a volunteer position requiring the combined skills of a preschool teacher and lion tamer;

WHEREAS she helped put together an amazing 2010 Region 1 Conference in New York while managing not to bankrupt the club or any of its members;

WHEREAS the success of that conference—with the assistance of a quart or two of tequila—earned her the sobriquet “Marvel Girl;”

WHEREAS Baker set her sights on bigger challenges and was elected Region 1 Director for the geographically manageable but population dense territory;

WHEREAS Baker artfully navigated the pitfalls of Region 1 with the skills of a NASCAR driver—especially a regional conference in the Seventh Circle of Hell (AKA New Brunswick, NJ);

WHEREAS Baker found her next calling as SPJ Secretary/Treasurer just as discussions began on refocusing the SPJ Board and reducing its size from 23 to nine members;

WHEREAS Baker ascended to the SPJ Presidency and immediately instituted Press4Education, which sent pros all over the country into elementary, middle and high schools to help students learn media literacy;

WHEREAS Baker, with polished professionalism, constantly defended the First Amendment, SPJ Code of Ethics, journalism education, newsroom diversity, the rights of freelancers and the Pittsburgh Steelers;

WHEREAS Baker helped recruit and welcome a new Executive Director for the Society of Professional Journalists;

WHEREAS Baker’s presidency coincided with a move from New York City to Washington, D.C., to become one of the nation’s top legal journalists as Bloomberg Law Managing Editor;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED the Society of Professional Journalists meeting Sept. 29, 2018, in convention in Baltimore, Md., sincerely thanks Rebecca “Marvel Girl” Baker for her leadership, dedication and determination to help make SPJ stronger.

Resolution No. 12
Thanking Staff for a Successful EIJ18
Submitted by: Resolutions Committee
Delegate Action: Approved


WHEREAS the headquarters staff of the Society of Professional Journalists makes it possible for SPJ to provide strong professional development programs, defend the public's right to know through First Amendment advocacy and guide journalists to act ethically;

WHEREAS the SPJ headquarters staff has undergone a seismic change in staffing in 2018 with new Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie coming on board along with many new employees in key roles;

WHEREAS the majority of those employees came on board two-thirds of the way through the planning process for EIJ18 with RTDNA (Radio Television Digital News Association);

WHEREAS they seamlessly worked side-by-side with veteran staff members to make sure every EIJ18 detail was handled with perfection;

WHEREAS these sleep-deprived miracle workers have survived days with multiple cups of coffee and energy drinks to provide excellent service for every EIJ18 attendee in Baltimore;

WHEREAS no request was too big or too small and every task was met with a smile and a reply of "I can do that;”

WHEREAS EIJ18 has been a slam-dunk, home run event in the beautiful Maryland city of Baltimore;

WHEREAS EIJ18 would not have been so successful had it not been for the SPJ staff's high level of skill, ingenuity and nimbleness;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists meeting in convention on Sept. 29, 2018 in Baltimore, Md., thanks the SPJ staff for a job well done and taking us over the goal line—a performance worthy of a standing ovation.


SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund, or give to the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.

-END-



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