By Christine Tatum
SPJ National President
Business Writer, The Denver Post
Editorial Writer, The Lewiston (Idaho) Morning Tribune
ON YOUR MARK, GET SET … A U.S. Senate hearing regarding the proposed federal shield law is scheduled for Sept. 20, according to SPJ attorney Bruce Brown of Baker Hostetler. SPJ is an ardent supporter of the proposal and has raised more than $30,000 to fight for the bill’s passage. Members are strongly encouraged (please, please, please) to call their senators’ offices on Sept. 20 to lodge their support for the measure.
THE TOP MODEL? Connecticut’s relatively new shield law is considered one of the strongest state shields in the nation. Find out how to make it work for you at an upcoming event hosted by SPJ’s Connecticut chapter. Featured speakers will include Lucy Dalglish, the dynamo executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sept. 27. Where: Mancheski Seminar Room, Quinnipiac University. Cost: Free admission (and lunch is included!) Contact: Stephanie Reitz: email@example.com or (860) 978-2409.
If you’d like to learn more about how your SPJ chapter could fight for a state shield law (or a stronger shield law than you’ve got), contact Connecticut Chapter President Steve Kalb: firstname.lastname@example.org or (203) 927-7921.
WHAT ELSE ARE THE LAWYERS WATCHING? The California Supreme Court. Judges are reviewing a 2003 ruling by a state appeals court that a service provider (think Google and Yahoo!) is responsible for the contents of defamatory messages if the provider knew, or had reason to know that the message was libelous and failed to remove it. Check out The San Francisco Chronicle’s report on the case.
OUR TURN TO WATCH THE LAWYERS. SPJ’s crackerjack legal team at Baker Hostetler never sleeps (or so it seems). Take a look at the extensive report detailing what has been accomplished this year – and get a glimpse of what lies ahead. Remember: Your membership in SPJ helps make this legal advocacy possible. Thank you. (And don’t hesitate to show off what you’ve helped accomplish when telling colleagues why they need to join SPJ.)
FREE MONEY. SPJ will give $5,000 to fund local chapter programs during the 2006-07 year, and your chapter could receive up to $500 of that pie! All fully chartered SPJ chapters in good standing with the national organization are eligible to submit a grant proposal. Eligible chapters must have a 2005-2006 annual report on file with the national office. Grant applications must be postmarked by September 29, 2006. That deadline is coming up quick! Visit SPJ online for complete details.
MORE FREE MONEY. To encourage promotion of Ethics in Journalism Week, $1,000 grants are available to chapters for ethics programming. The grant is made possible through a generous donation from the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation. There is one grant available for each of SPJ’s 12 regions. Chapters must have a 2005-2006 annual report on file with the national office to be eligible for an Ethics Grant. For 2007, your program proposal should focus on “Minimize Harm.” Submit a proposal by midnight Monday, November 13, 2006. Check out spj.org for more information.
SPEAKING OF MONEY. Journalists who understand business pressures now forcing huge changes in the news industry will know how to roll with the punches and position themselves for even better jobs. Check out “The Business of the News Business,” an online presentation explaining various challenges facing the news industry and the promising strategies being pursued by some innovators in and outside the industry. Perhaps you’ll chart the future of your career here!
SCORE A LITTLE DOUGH. SPJ will give $300 a year to members who agree to serve as a Regional MOE Awards Chairperson. These newly created jobs, to be awarded to one person in each region, entails recruiting contest judges within your region, organizing the region's awards ceremony and assisting the regional director with other aspects of the contest. Serve as an awards coordinator for three, full consecutive years, and you'll receive a free, one-year national membership. For more information, contact your regional director or Programs Coordinator Heather Porter: email@example.com. Directors have been asked to appoint awards chairpeople by Oct. 15.
ACTING YOUR AGE? As one step on his path to create a career inventory instrument for students interested in journalism careers, SPJ member Bruce Plopper, a journalism professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, analyzed 235 “reporter characteristics” surveys obtained as responses to a June 2006 SPJ Leads item. The 45-item survey asked journalists to agree or disagree with a variety of statements reflecting reporter beliefs, values and behaviors.
Answers from reporters and editors who responded showed:
• Females rated their people skills higher than did males.
• Older journalists (aged 46 or older) rated their people skills, their writing skills, their curiosity and their desire to be a watchdog over government higher than did younger journalists.
• Journalists with more experience (more than 10 years) rated both their people skills and their determination higher than did journalists with the least experience (1-5 years).
• Journalists writing hard news rated their journalistic idealism higher than did journalists writing features.
• Information gleaned from these responses will help Plopper convert the survey into a usable student career
inventory that will be tested for validity with students later this year.
FOR THEY ARE JOLLY GOOD FELLOWS. SPJ’s Diversity Leadership Outreach Program has been a smashing success, and the Society has benefited tremendously from the contributions of its Diversity Fellows. This year’s fellows attended SPJ’s national conference in Chicago and already are stepping up to help several national committees. And SPJ’s 2005 fellows have really delivered. Consider:
• Holly Edgell of the Missouri School of Journalism has worked diligently on SPJ outreach to the National Association of Black Journalists and has tried to boost the number of SPJ's broadcast members.
• Curtis Lawrence of Columbia College Chicago planned a reunion of past SPJ fellows. He also helped produce a session on investigative reporting for other diversity fellows, organized a panel conducted during SPJ's 2006 national conference and is now working on a high school journalism diversity project.
• Bonnie Davis of Virginia Commonwealth University directed a workshop for high school journalists, organized a workshop on cross-cultural communication, spearheaded a program about new-media diversity for her local SPJ chapter and coordinated a panel for SPJ's 2006 national conference.
• Pueng Vongs served as treasurer of SPJ's Northern California chapter and is now the chapter's vice president. She organized a panel discussion for SPJ's 2006 national conference and is working to develop training on Freedom of Information for ethnic news media.
• Meena Thiruvengadam volunteered to serve on SPJ's national FOI committee.
• Felisa Cardona of The Denver Post helped produce an SPJ regional conference, where she moderated a discussion about how age differences affect newsrooms. (GREAT program idea, by the way.)
MORE COLORFUL PROGRAMS. SPJ has compiled a report about diversity programs held by chapters across the country. Borrow (or blatantly rip off) from this list of ideas.
DIVERSITY APPRECIATED HERE, TOO. The Associated Press Managing Editors Association is offering three $1,100 scholarships to editors of color wanting to attend the annual APME conference in New Orleans from Oct. 25-28. Recipients must never have attended an APME conference. The money may be used for conference registration, lodging and travel costs. Applicants must be at the rank of assistant managing editor or above and African-American, Asian or Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Native American. Find a conference schedule online.
KYLE’S ON A ROLL. Former SPJ National President Kyle Niederpruem recently filed two – count ’em two – Freedom of Information Alerts. In one alert, she describes how an Indiana court ruling permits that state’s public agencies and universities to avoid open meeting laws by holding serial meetings. In another alert, she details the potential restriction of information on the online Whois database, which allows people to find the registered owners of Web sites.
BLOW SUNSHINE! Join SPJ’s National FOI Committee, which soon will launch one mighty fine blog on spj.org. Contact Committee Co-Chairman Joel Campbell: firstname.lastname@example.org. SPJ is particularly in need of Sunshine chairpeople to serve as our eyes and ears in Alabama, Southern California, Georgia, Iowa, New Jersey, West Virginia and Wyoming. Remember: The National Freedom of Information Coalition and SPJ will provide travel subsidies to Sunshine chairpeople wanting to attend the National Freedom of Information Conference.
BREAK IN! Check out a new state-by-state prison access report produced by Joel Campbell and former FOI Committee Chairman Charles Davis.
PAY UP, CAMPBELL. FOI Committee Co-Chairman David Cullier (who teaches at University of Arizona) and Joel Campbell (who teaches at Brigham Young University) made a friendly wager on Saturday's football game between the two schools. The Arizona Wildcats won, so Joel will contribute $50 to SPJ’s Legal Defense Fund. He also has to schlep auction items to benefit the fund from Utah to SPJ’s 2007 national conference.
ROCKIN’ IN THE ROCKIES. SPJ’s Colorado Pro chapter is hosting a fundraiser for California videographer and blogger Josh Wolf during its monthly mixer. Video game columnists from the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post will show off the latest, coolest video games. For $1 per play, attendees can contribute to a great cause – and have fun at the same time. Colorado author Marcia Hughes will serve as guest bartender – and all tips she receives also will be sent to Wolf. When: 6-8 p.m. TONIGHT (Thursday) Where: The Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm, Denver.
ROCKIN’ ‘ROUND THE BLUE RIDGE. SPJ’s Eastern Tennessee chapter will hold its “Umpteenth Annual Welcome Back Picnic” (What a great name!) from 4-6 p.m., Sept. 10 at the Tyson Park Shelter #1 near the UT west entrance (Wherever that is …). Need directions? Drop a line to: email@example.com or call (865) 691-2606. Remember y’all, side dishes are appreciated.
WHICH MOUNTAINS ARE THESE? SPJ’s Mid-Michigan chapter has two cool events coming up. Booth Newspapers travel writer and mlive.com blogger Kim Schneider will share tips on travel and journalism at Noon, Sept. 13 at Tripper’s in the Frandor Shopping Center in Lansing. Cost: $10 for members and students; $12 for non-members. Lunch included. Then, on Sept. 20, the chapter will bid summer farewell at member Kathy Barks Hoffman’s home (she’s clearly a brave soul). “Everyone,” the invitation states, is welcome (make that a very, very brave soul). Food and drink will be provided. When: 6:30 p.m. until … (Man, is she brave). Where: Kathy’s home in Dimondale (Contact her at Kathy@back4mich.com or (517) 646-6361 for directions) Cost: $5 donation to benefit the chapter.
OH, THE IRONY …The Richmond Times-Dispatch has a policy barring employees from speaking with the media without a supervisor’s permission. The policy stems from a labor dispute between the paper’s reporter’s union and management. From a story in Editor & Publisher: “The complaint comes nearly two months after a dispute at the paper over a new media policy that had been implemented at the end of 2005 and requires employees to receive supervisor approval before speaking with the press. The policy was spotlighted after staffer Mark Holmberg made anonymous comments to Style Weekly, a Richmond alternative newspaper, and later revealed his identity.”
THE THRILL OF VICTORY! Nathan Isaacs, SPJ's Region 10 director and a staff reporter at the (Kennewick, Wash.)Tri-City Herald, recently competed in his first triathlon on Sept. 2 in Kennewick. As ordered by SPJ President Christine Tatum, he reported to SPJ Leads that his team's time for the event was 2 hours and 39 minutes for the 1-mile swim, 25-mile bike ride and 6.2 mile run. Nathan confessed that he competed only in the bicycling part of the event and suckered two others into swimming and running. At a 21 mph pace over the slightly hilly course, it was Nathan's fastest time on the bike this year. He says he is on pace to log 4,000 miles on his bike this year. SPJ national directors are thrilled to know he has another outlet for blowing off some steam.
CLICK FOR GRINS. Find out how SPJ stalwart Howard Dubin “supports journalists and other animals” through the Howard & Ursula Dubin Foundation.