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Home > Publications > SPJ Leads > Intern-al Information, A Question of Ethics

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SPJ Leads | 11/20/2008
Intern-al Information, A Question of Ethics

By Scott Leadingham
SPJ Communications Department

SAVE THE DATE(S). SPJ's upcoming Centennial year will be one for the record books! To celebrate, SPJ is hosting events around the country to recognize our past and the many institutions that have led to the success of the most broad-based journalism advocacy organization in the nation. The year will culminate with the 2009 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference in Indianapolis Aug. 27-29. To kickoff the Centennial, SPJ is hosting past SPJ presidents Dick Leonard and Jean Otto (the first female elected to the position) at the Milwaukee Press Club on Jan. 9, 2009. More details about all Centennial year events will be available soon on the SPJ Web site.

CAN'T BEAT THAT: PAID INTERNSHIPS. Every summer, SPJ offers two prestigious writing-based internships to qualified student journalists. The Pulliam/Kilgore Internships focus on Freedom of Information issues. One position is based at SPJ headquarters in Indianapolis. The other position is located in Washington, D.C., at the law offices of Baker Hostetler, SPJ's legal counsel. Interns receive a stipend of $400 per week for the 10 week program. Applicants should be one of the following: entering senior year in fall 2009 or recently graduated from undergraduate studies in journalism; current graduate student in journalism; current law student with background in journalism. Hurry — application postmark deadline is Jan. 5, 2009. Find more information and an application here. Contact Joe Skeel with any questions.

JUDGE THIS, JUDY. Help SPJ recognize the best in journalism by volunteering to judge the Mark of Excellence or Sigma Delta Chi Awards. Potential judges for the collegiate MOE Awards must have three to five years of professional experience. Potential SDX Awards judges must have at least 10 years of professional experience. If interested, e-mail a bio detailing your professional experience and area of interest (print, television, radio, photography or online) to Awards Coordinator Lauren Rochester. Please note: For MOE awards, judges are only needed for photography, radio and television categories. Replying to this message does not guarantee a judging assignment. For more information on the contests, please visit the SPJ awards page.

GREAT WRITE NORTH. There's still room to join SPJ on Saturday, Dec. 6, in the great plains of Fargo, N.D., for the Online Writing Workshop. This useful and cross-disciplinary program will show why writing for the Web is different than writing for any other medium. To be effective online, writers must know how people use Web sites. See examples of great online stories, learn why it's crucial to improve your headline writing, and take away tips and tools that will enhance your work. Cost is $15. Hurry, only 50 spots are available, and space is going fast! Details and registration are at SPJ.org. Contact Professional Development Coordinator Heather Porter with any questions.

A TIP O' THE HAT. Congratulations are in order for SPJ member Debra Krol, who was recently named "Woman of the Year" by the Phoenix Indian Center. Krol, a member of the Jolon Salinan Tribe of Central California, was honored Nov. 19 during an awards banquet, part of the Center's Native American Recognition Days.

THE BEST POLITICAL COVERAGE EVER . . . UNTIL 2012. If you're a political junkie (which is not to be confused with the Political Junkie) you might be experiencing some post-election withdrawals (that is, if the ongoing Senate races in Minnesota and Georgia aren't enough to sustain you). But what about cable news networks that spent much of the past two years focusing on the election? For CNN and Fox News, for example, is life worth living after Nov. 4, 2008? That's the question John Friedman poses separately for both networks in two recent columns.
The Fox News column is here. The CNN column is here.

QUITE THE QUANDRY. Just because you have access to public information, does that mean you should publish it? Are there any particular ethical dilemmas presented by printing names and salaries of public employees? Does this really minimize harm? That's the question the Victoria (Texas) Advocate is asking itself as it prepares to publish an online database of public records. The newspaper has the information, but now it's wrestling with the decision of whether or not to attach names of employees to associated positions and salaries. It's presenting an ethical debate not only within the community, but also among the newspaper staff. The newspaper even contacted SPJ Ethics Committee Chairman Andy Schotz for some input.

PROVEN METHODS TO IMPROVE. Whether you're a seasoned writer with two Pulitzers who just needs a quick word check or a rising student trying to polish your clips for future employers, everyone can use a little help with writing basics from time to time. Journalism technology blog "10,000 Words" lists eight online writing sites that can help you improve. It's worth noting that we've highlighted this blog several times in Leads. The content is useful and intriguing.

MURDOCH'S NEW GROOVE? Among common descriptions of media giant Rupert Murdoch, "fan of liberal ideology" is not usually one. In fact, detractors of the News Corporation chairman often point to the company's conservative-leaning publications such as The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post as evidence of his disdain toward the left. However, in a New York Times profile, there's inklings that Murdoch is much more pragmatic than his detractors think. Writes Richard Perez-Pena in the piece: "According to people who have watched him operate at close range ... Murdoch is a less predictable, less doctrinaire character than his critics imagine."

THE DOWNSIDE OF SOCIAL MEDIA. Social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook are all the rave in the new media landscape. Among the compliments is the oft-repeated line that such sites can broaden sourcing and researching tools of reporters. But is there a line when, for example, using Facebook to approach minors? And what if reporters use the minors as a way to access adults (i.e. parents)? Clark Hoyt addresses the issue in a recent public editor column. At issue is a New York Times-produced profile of Cindy McCain, the writer of which used Facebook to contact teenagers whose parents might have known McCain. The overarching message in all of this: Social networking sites are very useful reporting tools, but proceed with extreme caution when interacting with certain audiences.

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