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J-Team provides intensive training today at University of Iowa in response to college censorship


Aug. 28, 2015

David Cuillier, SPJ FOI Committee Chair, 520-248-6242(MST),
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Communications Strategist, 317-361-4134,

WHO: The J-Team, which is comprised of the Society of Professional Journalists, Student Press Law Center, and Investigative Reporters & Editors, and journalism students from Muscatine Community College and the University of Iowa. Trainers include Frank LoMonte of SPLC and Alex Richards of IRE. Erica Perel, editorial adviser of The Daily Tar Heel, and Emily Richmond, public editor, Education Writers Association will also join via Skype. This boot-camp is hosted by Daily Iowan publisher William Casey.

WHAT: The first outing of the J-Team, an intensive day-long boot-camp training project aimed at providing support to college journalists who are facing unusual levels of adversity in covering their campuses, including hands-on investigative reporting training and ongoing mentoring and guidance to college journalists whose institutions have used their authority to shut down independent watchdog news coverage. The workshop aims at helping students more effectively expose the stories their college is intent on keeping secret.

WHEN: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., TODAY, Friday, Aug. 28.

WHERE: The Daily Iowan newsroom on the University of Iowa campus, E131 Adler Journalism Building on the University of Iowa campus.

WHY: Journalists from Muscatine Community College’s newspaper, The Calumet, are suing their college for removing a supportive journalism adviser and otherwise retaliating against the newspaper over coverage that included reporting on a faculty committee member who voted to give a competitive scholarship to his own niece. In response to the censorship, a group of current and former MCC students raised more than $5,000 in an online crowdfunding campaign to launch a new independent media outlet, The Spotlight, which will supplement the efforts of The Calumet. The nationally publicized censorship case is pending in U.S. district court.

PLEASE NOTE: In addition to in-person interviews during today’s workshop, Frank LoMonte is available to interview by phone at 404-545-1195. David Cuillier is also available by phone at 520-248-6242. The day’s agenda is below:

J-Team Reporting Workshop
The Daily Iowan
Friday, Aug. 28

9:30 to 10: Introductions, welcome, overview and setup
(Frank LoMonte, executive director, Student Press Law Center)

10 to 10:30: College Editor 101: Staff-building and reader engagement
(Erica Perel, editorial adviser to The Daily Tar Heel) (via Skype)

10:30 to 12 noon: Online investigative reporting tools and techniques
(Alex Richards, training director, Investigative Reporters & Editors)

12-1 Lunch break, informal discussion

1-2:30: Public records and story ideas, “consumer news” on campus
(Frank LoMonte)

2:30 to 3: Source development and writing tips
(Emily Richmond, public editor, Education Writers Association) (via Skype)

3 to 4: Digging deeper with data and documents
(Alex Richards)

4 p.m. ADJOURN

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

Since 1974, the Student Press Law Center has served as the nation’s only nonprofit legal assistance service dedicated to the needs of student journalists and the educators who work with them. More information about the work of the Student Press Law Center is available on its website at

Investigative Reporters and Editors is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting. IRE was formed in 1975 to create a forum in which journalists throughout the world could help each other by sharing story ideas, newsgathering techniques and news sources.


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