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Sigma Delta Chi Foundation awards nearly $167,000 in grants to promote journalism


Joyce Dobson, Director of Development, Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, (317) 927-8000 or jdobson@spj.org
Georgiana Vines, Chair, Sigma Delta Chi Foundation Grants and Awards Committee, (865) 342-6343 or vines@knews.com

INDIANAPOLIS—The Sigma Delta Chi Foundation board of directors approved grants totaling $166,946 at its May 16, 2004 meeting here.

Grant recipients included the Society of Professional Journalists, the Florida First Amendment Foundation, the National Conference of Editorial Writers Foundation, the Chicago Headline Club with Loyola University, the National Press Foundation and Investigative Reporters and Editors.

More than $68,000 were earmarked for professional development, in excess of $40,000 went toward freedom of information issues, $52,000-plus went toward journalism ethics programs and $5,000 was allocated for diversity in the media.

“We feel confident that our investment in these organizations and causes will advance the journalism profession,” said Sue Porter, foundation president. “By continuing to educate and empower journalists, we are fostering the free and responsible media fundamental to a strong democracy.”

The Sigma Delta Chi Foundation awards most grants in the spring but other projects are considered at the fall meeting. Grants are awarded based on available funds, the relevance and value of the proposal and, for projects that are renewed, evidence of sound usage.

Funds going toward the Society of Professional Journalists will support educational programming at the national convention in New York City, Sept. 9-11, SPJ’s ethics hotline, the Mark of Excellence awards for journalism students, educational programming for ethics week in journalism and educational support for SPJ regional conferences.

The Florida First Amendment Foundation will receive $20,000 to provide a series of specialized mini-seminars dealing with Florida’s open government laws. A series of videotapes and pamphlets will result from the training sessions and will be available to the public.

A grant of $5,000 was awarded to the National Conference of Editorial Writers Foundation for sponsorship of the 2004 Minority Writers Seminar at Vanderbilt University. The seminar recruits and fosters retention of minority writers and editors in the newspaper industry.

The Chicago Headline Club of SPJ and Loyola University Chicago Center for Ethics and Social Justice received $23,243 for continuation of the Ethics AdviceLine. AdviceLine is a free service to professional journalists, offering advice and guidance on ethics issues. Confidentiality is given to all callers although permission to discuss cases is sought for educational purposes.

The National Press Foundation will receive $21,640 from the Foundation for the writing, printing and distribution of the manual “Covering Your State Capitol.” Working with the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, the National Press Foundation expects the publication to be a valuable tool for both seasoned and beginning state government reporters.

An award of $30,000 will go to Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. for continuation of the Better Watchdog Workshops. The series of 15 workshops, co-sponsored with SPJ, will occur throughout the United States and aim to help journalists at small- to medium-sized organizations improve their investigative skills and awareness of open records laws.

In addition to annual grants, the Foundation supports ongoing educational programs including the $40,000 Eugene C. Pulliam Fellowship for Editorial Writers and the $10,000 Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award. The Pulliam/Kilgore FOI internships provide two internships for a journalism student and a law student to conduct research and write about freedom of information issues.

Annually, the Foundation awards about $300,000 in grant monies. Most awards go to SPJ and SPJ-related projects to further align with the work of the Society. Other journalism-related projects that help to fulfill the Foundation’s mission, may receive support if funds are available.

Founded in 1961, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) public foundation that is dedicated to ensuring that those who carry on the tradition of a free press are prepared for the challenge. Its goal is to support the educational programs of the Society of Professional Journalists and to serve the professional needs of journalists and students pursuing careers in journalism.

The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. The organization is the nation’s largest and most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. 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.

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