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SPJ awards programming grants

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The Society of Professional Journalists has awarded twelve programming grants totaling more than $5,000 to Society chapters. The awards are part of the Society’s third annual chapter grant program.

Programs receiving funding through the national organization this year focused on developing young journalists, understanding access and open records issues, broadcast writing and understanding diversity issues. SPJ received 34 grant requests, a 78 percent increase from 19 requests in 1997.

“Chapters are really the lifeblood of this organization and to see as many responses as we did to the availability of assistance is very encouraging,” said Fred Brown, president of the Society. “There were some very clever and thoughtful proposals for chapter programs, and it was disappointing that we couldn’t fund more of them. It is very gratifying to see that chapters are interested, involved and creative and are doing their best to improve the strength and numbers of SPJ.”

Student chapters receiving grants in the 1998 program are: California State University, Chico, California; Emerson College in Brockton, Massachusetts; Howard University, Washington, D.C.; Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington; Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri; and the University of Texas-Austin, Austin, Texas. Professional chapters receiving grants are Central Ohio, Maine, Minnesota, South Florida, and the William O. Douglas chapter in Eugene, Oregon.

Here's a brief look at the winning chapter programs.

1998 Chapter Grant Recipients and Program Descriptions

California State University at Chico will develop a program examining California's Bagley-Keene Act requiring local agencies to hold meetings that are open to the public. The chapter hopes to provide a forum for the press and members of student government to explore options for future actions and to provide an understanding of open meetings and open records.

The Emerson College student chapter is planning a program titled "Affirmative Action and the Media." The dinner forum will feature minority media personalities and persons in positions of hiring speaking about their views of Affirmative Action in the workplace. Panelists will also discuss recent Congressional decisions and the media’s reporting of the issue.

The chapter at Howard University will organize a newspaper mentoring program for high school students in the Washington, D.C. area. A series of six workshops will be held on Howard University’s campus throughout the school year. With the guidance of SPJ members, the high school students will use the campus facilities to produce their own newspaper.

Lehigh University's chapter will present “Storytelling on the Web: A Panel Discussion on Online Journalism.” The program will feature five online journalists discussing how changes in media technology bring about new ways of telling news stories.

The chapter at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington will operate a year-long mentor program with Leschi High School, a predominantly Native American school located on the Puyallup tribal lands. SPJ members will assist the school in producing its first student newspaper; host a journalism workshop featuring various minority reporters; and produce a journalism handbook for the high school students.

Truman State University's SPJ chapter will present "Turning the Dial for News You Can Use," a two-day radio news workshop presented by Ken Eich, news director at KBIA-FM in Columbia, Missouri. Eich will cover basic broadcast writing, radio news reporting and beat coverage and will critique students' news clips.

A grant was awarded to the University of Texas at Austin for a series of four programs. The series will include a Quark Express workshop, a high school journalism fair, a tour of Austin news organizations and a workshop on journalism ethics.

The Central Ohio Professional Chapter, based in Columbus, will present “Post Mortem on Ohio's Issue 2.” Six panelists, including two award-winning journalists, will discuss the politics of a statewide ballot issue that came about in an attempt to reform Ohio’s workers’ compensation system.

The Maine Professional Chapter will present a broadcast writing workshop. The chapter will invite attendees to submit stories and tapes in advance for critiques by visiting professionals. The half-day program will include general sessions and one-on-one coaching.

The Minnesota Professional Chapter will present “The Storyteller’s Conference: A Workshop for Writers and Photographers.” The program will feature nationally and regionally recognized writers and photographers discussing what makes for great story telling in radio and television.

The South Florida chapter will organize a symposium on “Public People, Private People and the Press: Whose Life Is It Anyway?” The program will address press coverage of celebrities and those who achieve public notice through circumstances not of their making.

The William O. Douglas chapter in Eugene, Oregon, will host Access ’98, a one-day seminar to educate journalists in Eastern Washington about looming battles over public records and to give journalists tools for fighting for open government.

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