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September/October 2017
Volume 105, Number 5
View as PDF: Click to download


It's time for SPJ to go public
"Seek truth and report it." What a challenge those five words have proved to be. Figures in government at all levels are making it harder to find, let alone report, the truth. And elected officials have found it easy to scream Fake news! at coverage that clashes with their social and political ...

SPJs youngest member proves journalism is for anyone with the drive to do it
Hilde Lysiak made national news a few years ago when she broke a hometown homicide story in her newspaper, the Orange Street News. Named after the street she lives on, the Orange Street News is a family ...

Bruce Sanford honored with Wells Memorial Key
Recognizing this years Wells Memorial Key winner, Bruce W. Sanford, was an honor far overdue as illustrated by the unprecedented 34 current and past leaders who signed his nomination letter. While ...

Ten: with David Fahrenthold
Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold has covered a wide variety of topics in his 17 years at the newspaper. Like many journalists, he started as an intern before becoming ...

Reimagining access rights under the First Amendment
We are living through an anti-openness renaissance. In June, on the eve of the special election in the Georgia Six, as it came to be known, Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff excluded a reporter for the conservative Washington Free Beacon from a campaign event, while Republican candidate Karen Handel ...

Fixing FOI: Big ideas for a new era of transparency
Bring in the cats and dogs, and batten down the hatches: The forecast for government transparency calls for increasing clouds with a chance of heavy storms. This year the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation commissioned me to study the state of freedom of information in the United States, where ...

Leveraging the predictive power of FOIA data
In 2010, when we started MuckRock, a non-profit website that helps newsrooms and journalists around the country file and track public records requests, one of our big bets was that if you filed a lot of FOIA requests, youd get better at it. And if you carefully organized and archived all the data around ...

New Ohio records law a good start, but holes remain
Wait, what? That was my initial reaction when I thumbed through the supposed fulfillment of my public records request from the city of Green, Ohio. I quickly double checked the dates. It was May 3, ...

Newsroom ethics discussions dont have to be uncomfortable
No person likes to confront co-workers or managers about issues in the workplace. The conversations can be uncomfortable and lead to hurt feelings. However, those discussions are often necessary to create a good work environment. In addition to topics such as salary issues and disputes with co-workers, ...

Freelancers: Learn to overcome record request hurdles
And who are you reporting for? This the most dreaded question I hear as a freelancer, especially when Im calling a public office to request records. I dont fault anyone for asking it its a natural question, and Im sure I would ask it too, if the tables were turned. But as freelancers, ...

Students and live news: Tips to avoiding kryptonite
Social media has changed not only the face of journalism. It has changed the entire standard for what is news and, in particular, what is considered breaking news. With a 24-hour news hole to fill, 365 days a year, even professional reporters have been tripped up while trying to beat the next ...

Energize yourself with a new writing approach
I wrote in the last issue about a young reporter who discovered the critical importance of picking the right character upon which to build a story. Now I want to introduce you to Jen Kocher, a reporter for a weekly newspaper in Wyoming. We crossed paths when I taught at a Wyoming journalism convention. ...

Embrace the paraphrase
My July/August column focused on the notion that good journalism thrives on good quotations. We said it was up to the writers to ensure that those quotations were indeed good. And by good, we meant that they displayed the same characteristics as good writing itself: clear, brief, accurate and conversational. That ...

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