Submitted by the Resolutions Committee to the National Convention of the Society of Professional Journalists in Washington, D.C., Oct. 5, 2007
Resolution No. 1
The need for a federal shield law
Whereas, the First Amendments promise of an independent news media cannot be fulfilled unless journalists are able to protect confidentiality of news sources; and
Whereas, the Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the Free Flow of Information Act, which would be a federal shield law for journalists; and
Whereas, some committee members raised questions about defining who would be covered by the law; and
Whereas, the First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press to all Americans;
Therefore, be it resolved by the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, that the proposed Free Flow of Information Act apply its protections to all Americans engaged in journalistic pursuits; and
Be it further resolved that the Society urges the full Congress to speedily enact such a Free Flow of Information Act and that the President of the United States sign it into law; and
Be it further resolved that copies of this resolution be sent to the majority leader and whip and the minority leader of the U.S. Senate, and to the speaker, majority leader and minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, and to the President of the United States.
Resolution No. 2
The need for Freedom of Information Act reform
Whereas, Congress passed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in 1966 with the intent of making the working of government more accessible to citizens, including those working in the news media; and
Whereas, the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government reports, the 2006 backlog of FOIA requests broke a record set last year, increasing 26 percent, and few agencies met the mandated 20-day response deadline. Across the board, basic indicators of efficiency declined significantly; and
Whereas, legislation entitled the Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 2007 seeks to improve the implementation of FOIA by establishing an ombudsman, setting penalties for agency non-compliance, improving reporting on performance, and overturning a court ruling that has limited the award of attorney fees when a requester prevails, according to the legislative summary; and
Whereas, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 2007 by a vote of 308-117; and
Whereas, the Senate has approved the similar Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National (OPEN) Government Act, by unanimous consent;
Therefore, be it resolved by the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, that the two houses of Congress are urged to resolve their differences and pass effective amendments to the Federal Freedom of Information Act.
Resolution No. 3
Investigating the assassination of Chauncey Bailey
Whereas, Chauncey Bailey was editor of the Oakland Post, a weekly newspaper serving the African-American community in the San Francisco Bay area; and
Whereas, Chauncey Bailey had worked as a reporter for the Oakland Tribune and the Detroit News in a distinguished career as both reporter and editor; and
Whereas, Chauncey Bailey had been known in his community for an assertive style of questioning of local officials and an equally assertive approach in his writing; and
Whereas, Chauncey Bailey was assassinated on a street in downtown Oakland, in broad daylight, and the man who was charged with murder told police he objected to stories Bailey was writing about a local organization he was investigating;
Therefore, the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, condemns the killing of Chauncey Bailey, an effort to silence a community voice and end an investigation important to the community; and
Be it further resolved that state and other law enforcement agencies thoroughly and promptly investigate Baileys killing in order to apprehend and prosecute his killer or killers; and
Be it further resolved that the Society supports efforts, journalistic or otherwise, to uncover the facts behind this crime and bring the perpetrators to justice; and
Be it further resolved that the Society urges all journalists to honor the legacy of Chauncey Bailey by persevering in their investigations of important community and society issues without fear of retribution.
Resolution No. 4
Protecting our core values in an era of change
Whereas, journalism is being affected in many ways by changes in technology and ownership of news outlets;
Whereas, regardless of its commercial and technological circumstances, journalism has a special mission with special obligations; and
Whereas, the delivery of news is more than just a business, but a form of public service that has special obligations to the public and to itself;
Therefore, the Society of Professional Journalists in convention assembled, asks all those who call themselves journalists to observe a certain measure of professional responsibility and accountability, regardless of the platforms on which they operate, using the SPJ Code of Ethics as a guideline; and
Therefore, be it further resolved that those who own news platforms should operate them in ways that encourage journalism to reach its full potential of public service, responsibility and accountability.
Resolution No. 5
Laws to protect student media from censorship
Whereas, California and Illinois have passed the first state laws prohibiting college and university administrators from censoring student newspapers; and
Whereas, Oregon has passed a law extending to high-school journalists the same protections previously enjoyed by high-school journalists in California;
Whereas, similar laws protecting high-school journalists exist in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas and Massachusetts, and through administrative regulation in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and
Whereas, these laws bill sends clarion calls to all states that they should codify prohibitions of censorship of campus media; and
Whereas, student reporters and editors in all media at colleges and universities should share the same First Amendment freedoms as their professional colleagues; and
Whereas, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ruled that administrators at universities in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin could review student articles before publication if their student-run newspapers are published by the college, resulting in passage of the Illinois law; and
Whereas, the Campus Media Statement of the Society of Professional Journalists says, Our student media are designated public forums and free from censorship and advance approval of content. Student media are free to develop editorial policies and news coverage with the understanding that students and student organizations speak only for themselves. Administration, faculty, staff or other agents shall not consider the student media's content when making decisions regarding the media's funding;
Therefore, be it resolved by the Society of Professional Journalists in convention assembled, that SPJ urges other states to follow the examples of these states in protecting student press rights; and that colleges and universities nationwide adopt the Societys Campus Media Statement in principle and practice.
Resolution No. 6
Protecting human rights and journalism in Burma
Whereas, the world has seen the images and accounts of the governments brutal treatment of citizens seeking fundamental human rights in Burma, also known as Myanmar;
Whereas, the State Peace and Development Council has tried to prevent reporting of these and other events by cutting off citizens access to the Internet and many if not most international telephone connections, and by confiscating photographs and recordings from people leaving the country; and
Whereas, peoples and governments around the world have expressed concern about this repression;
Therefore, be it resolved by the Society of Professional Journalists in convention assembled, that we call on the government to restore communication links so that the facts may be laid before a candid world.
Resolution No. 7
Supporting efforts for citizen journalism in Africa
Whereas, the Southern Africa Media Alliance is trying to bring quality journalism to 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly to rural villages where even local radio coverage is minimal; and
Whereas, the Alliance would like to have the assistance of American journalists to train villagers to provide reliable news reports in a way that will uphold journalistic standards and re-establish trust in the news media, especially in nations were state-controlled media trumps freedom of the press;
Therefore, be it resolved by the Society of Professional Journalists in convention assembled, that SPJ endorses the efforts of the Southern Africa Media Alliance and its director, Crosbey Mwanza, and calls on American journalists to offer their help to his worthy effort.
Resolution No. 8
Thanks to President Christine Tatum
Whereas, Christine Tatum has set an example for all journalists through her leadership of the Society of Professional Journalists, and
Whereas, Christine Tatum has worked tirelessly as a leader of the Society at both the local and national levels for many years, and
Whereas, Christine Tatum has long been an advocate and a living example of the value of truth, talent and energy in journalism, and
Whereas, Christine Tatum has worked to assure the Society of Professional Journalists' pre-eminent position among journalism organizations, and
Whereas, Christine Tatum has given selflessly of her time and talents for the benefit of the Society and its members,
Therefore, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, commends Christine Tatum for her dedication, hard work and sacrifice, and express its gratitude for a job well done.
Resolution No. 9
Thanks to SPJ Headquarters staff
Whereas, the Society of Professional Journalists' headquarters staff has devoted years of planning to the staging of this annual convention, and
Whereas, the annual effort culminates in packing up and moving virtually the entire headquarters to another city, and
Whereas, managing a convention such as this involves long hours and little sleep, and staff members have carried out their duties with great skill, good cheer and selfless dedication;
Therefore, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, express its sincere appreciation for the dedication of the the SPJ headquarters staff , and Executive Director Terry Harper, who led the staff even as he underwent serious medical treatment.
Resolution No. 10
Thanks to the Washington, D.C., Pro Chapter
Whereas, a national convention of the nation's largest journalism organization requires extensive planning, and
Whereas, members of SPJ's Washington, D.C. Pro Chapter went well beyond the call of duty by contributed extensively to programming and other areas necessary for a successful convention; and
Whereas, the convention has indeed been both stellar and memorable;
Therefore, be it resolved by the Society of Professional Journalists in convention assembled that our deep appreciation be extended to Reginald Stuart, Todd Gillman, Bill McCloskey, Ann Augherton, Ira Allen, Julie Asher, Jody Beck, Bob Becker, Hazel Becker, Herb Brubaker, Amy Fickling, Sue Kopen Katcef, Dan Kubiske, Tony Mauro, Andy Schotz, Willie Schatz and Bob Webb for a job very well done.
Resolution No. 11
Posting convention resolutions on SPJ.org
Whereas, each year delegates to the national convention of the Society of Professional Journalists spend significant time considering and voting on resolutions covering numerous issues of importance to journalists, journalism and the public, and,
Whereas, the primary impact of these resolutions comes from their widespread distribution to journalists and others concerned with the issues covered by these resolutions, and,
Whereas, the most efficient and effective way to disseminate these resolutions to other journalists and the public is to post and maintain these resolutions on SPJ's Web site in a way that makes them easy to locate and search;
Therefore, be it resolved by the Society of Professional Journalists, in convention assembled, that starting with the resolutions passed at this convention, SPJ post and maintain on its Web site all resolutions approved by the delegates at its annual conventions in a form that makes them easily accessible by members and the public, and post and maintain on its Web site the resolutions approved at as many past conventions as is found to be feasible by the Society's webmaster and reasonable by the Society's executive director.
Introduced by Guy T. Baehr, New Jersey Pro Chapter delegate