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SPJ helps Greater Charlotte Pro Chapter fight for open meetings



David Cuillier, SPJ National President, 520.248.6242, spjdave@yahoo.com
Taylor Carlier, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317.920.4785, tcarlier@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional JournalistsLegal Defense Fund has granted the Greater Charlotte Pro Chapter of SPJ $5,000 to challenge closed meetings of the Charlotte, N.C., City Council.

In late 2012 and early 2013, the City Council held closed door meetings to approve sales tax increases to raise $125 million for stadium renovations and other incentives that would keep the Carolina Panthers NFL team in town. The meetings were held without the public’s knowledge, with police posted to keep citizens out, even though the stadium is on public land and the deal involved taxes.

In the 1970s, SPJ sued Charlotte city officials under similar circumstances. The Greater Charlotte Pro Chapter of SPJ has decided to do so again and filed an open meeting lawsuit. The SPJ Legal Defense Fund will provide $5,000 toward legal costs.

“It is imperative that journalists push back against secrecy — for the public’s good,” said David Cuillier, SPJ President. “Sometimes you have to use a battering ram to keep government doors open, and in the case of Charlotte, sometimes you need to keep bashing.”

SPJ’s Legal Defense Fund collects and distributes contributions to aid journalists in defending freedom of the press guaranteed by the First Amendment. Because of this, the LDF Committee voted to support the Greater Charlotte Pro Chapter’s defense.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit http://www.spj.org/.

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