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SPJ commits $15,000 to development of “SEIZED” documentary


1/17/2024


CONTACT:
Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins, SPJ National President, ashanti.blaize@gmail.com
Kim Tsuyuki, SPJ Communications Specialist, ktsuyuki@hq.spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists is committing $15,000 to documentary filmmaker Sharon Liese for the development of “SEIZED.”

The First Amendment Forever Committee voted to provide at least $5,000 toward development of the documentary, and asked the Board of Directors to commit to an additional $10,000, which it did during its recent board meeting.

“SPJ is pleased to support this important documentary on a topic that continues to grow more concerning,” said SPJ National President Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins. “SEIZED will help raise awareness about the role of a free press and how vital it is to protect our Democracy, now more than ever.”

“SEIZED” is a feature documentary about the illegal raid of the Marion County Record in Kansas last year. The documentary aims to expose how corruption turned a small town into a battleground over the First Amendment.

“With all eyes on Marion, Kansas, newsrooms everywhere may be affected by how this small local government moves forward. It is no exaggeration to say that Democracy is at stake,” said Liese. “This documentary will help raise national and international visibility of the attacks on democracy and inspire much needed conversations and activism to occur.”

In August, the SPJ Board of Directors unanimously approved allocating up to $20,000 from the Legal Defense Fund to assist the Marion County Record with legal costs. SPJ also joined the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 33 other news media and press freedom organizations in a letter to Marion Chief of Police Gideon Cody condemning the raid.

The SPJ First Amendment Forever Fund is an endowed fund to help journalists and news outlets fight libel suits, SLAPP suits and subpoenas. In addition, it may be used to help fund projects like documentaries that help educate the public on the importance of press freedom. More information about the fund and ways to donate can be found on the SPJ website.

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 SPJ Foundation.

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