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SPJ Leads | 10/12/2006
Bloodfeast, Punt the Vols!, Mitford's letters


By Christine Tatum
Assistant Business Editor, The Denver Post
National President, SPJ

PUNT THE VOLS. Some flacks really don’t get it. Textbook case: The sworn image-protectors of the University of Tennessee’s football team. According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, UT has suspended the media credentials of News Sentinel sports reporter Dave Hooker. Why? Hooker had the audacity to interview an injured football player without first checking in with the university’s sports information office. He broke no rules other those tied to “the arrogant effort of the UT’s (sports information office) to try to manipulate the news,” Region 12 Director Sonny Albarado, a news editor at The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal, stated in a letter sent to Tennessee news organizations and University of Tennessee officials.

TELL THIS TO THE VOLS’ ATHLETICS DEPARTMENT. SPJ is a proud co-sponsor of National Freedom of Speech Week, Oct. 16-22. Get a few ideas about how to celebrate.

READ IT AND WEEP (WITH LAUGHTER). Wells Memorial Key winner Peter Sussman’s book, Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford (Knopf) will hit bookstores Tues., Oct. 17. The book has received high praise in prepublication articles and reviews, with the New York Observer calling it “the book of the season.” Sussman’s book is featured in the current New Yorker. Mitford, author of the classic The American Way of Death, was called by Time magazine “the queen of muckrakers.” In the final year of her life, she joined SPJ because of her admiration for the Society’s campaign to defend journalists’ right of access to prisoners.

Here’s just one example of Mitford’s wit – as she wrote to a friend in the early 1980s:

“In the last few weeks, I have been to THREE memorial services – friends of my age are being called to their maker at a frightening rate. So am now planning mine (based on the deficiencies of the ones I have just been to). Slogan will be BREVITY FOLLOWED BY LEVITY, i.e. none of those 30-min. Appreciations; 2 minutes per speaker, followed by lashings of booze & grub … Should be the Bash of the Year.”

For more information, check out Peter’s Web site, peterysussman.com.

AGE MATTERS. Cover issues tied to aging? Check out the Journalists Exchange on Aging, which has a free e-newsletter, Age Beat Online, edited by SPJ member Paul Kleyman. Sign up and you’ll also receive issues of Aging Today (the newspaper Kleyman edits for the American Society on Aging). For more information, visit www.asaging.org/agebeat and contact Paul at paul@asaging.org.

HEALTH MATTERS, TOO. Amy Tenderich, an SPJ member living in San Francisco, maintains a successful blog about diabetes — www.diabetesmine.com — for which she recently won a LilyforLife Achievement Award. Tenderich, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes three years ago (while in her mid-thirties), writes for a number of diabetes magazines and has a book about the disease coming out in January. She is happy to share her experiences in health and medical blogging with other SPJ members. Drop her a line: amy@diabetesmine.com.

ON THE ROAD. SPJ President Christine Tatum will be meeting and greeting up a storm this month and next. Make sure you stop in to say, “Howdy!” to her when she’s in Fort Worth, Texas on Oct. 20. For more information about the whens and wheres, contact Chapter President Kristin Sullivan of the Star-Telegram at kristinsul@star-telegram.com. Christine will hang with SPJ members in Seattle from 7-9:30 p.m., Nov. 3. Looking for the 411? Contact Dale Steinke, manager of interactive news and operations at KING 5: dsteinke@king5.com. SPJ’s executive committee will descend on Denver on Nov. 17-19 (details to come).

NOT SO FAST. On her blog this week, Christine writes: “In recent days, writers from many publications have asked me what SPJ has to say about the management shakeups and staffing decisions being hashed out between the Los Angeles Times and its owner, the Tribune Co. In a word: Nada. Find out why – and share your opinion.

HELP US HELP YOU. SPJ is accepting program proposals for the 2007 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference to be held in Washington, D.C. Get cracking! Your brilliant ideas are due Dec. 11.

EVENTS, EVENTS AND MORE EVENTS. See SPJ in action nationwide by checking out our calendar of events – and don’t forget to post details about your chapter’s shindigs on the site. Alerting SPJ is easy! Send notes bearing the subject line “Calendar Events” to webmaster@spj.org.

SOMETHING TO DO IN COLORADO. Learn the elements of memoir writing — and how to stay on track with your efforts — from award-winning writer Constance Hardesty and SPJ member Carla Kimbrough-Robinson, who is also a life coach, author and editor at The Denver Post. Reservations are required by Oct. 24. You can make them by calling (303) 371-7445 or dropping a line to weekends@inspirehigher.net. The seminar will be 9-11:30 a.m., Oct. 28 at the Central Public Library, 14949 E. Alameda Drive, Aurora. Cost (includes materials and light refreshments): $20.

WILL WILL BE IN MICHIGAN. Columnist and author George Will is scheduled to speak at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich. Tickets are required. When: 6:30 p.m., Oct. 26. Look online for more information.

JERKS IN THE WORKPLACE. Rosa Rodriguez works for a bilingual publication offered by the San Antonio (Texas) Express-News. She’s also a graduate student researching a topic that hasn’t received much previous study: Abuse of journalists in the workplace. Have a story about exploitation, unfair treatment, verbal or physical abuse in a newsroom? Contact Rosa at RERodriguez@express-news.net.

STARRING ROLE. Check out Project StarrLight, a reality blog that follows screenwriter and actress Jenna Mattison as she tries to take a television movie concept based on the comic strip character Brenda Starr from script outline to the screen. Mattison has partnered on the Brenda Starr TV project with Constance Burge, the creator of the hit television series “Charmed” and “Savannah.” SPJ, which long has considered Brenda a poster girl for its various campaigns, scores a mention in the initial release issued by Tribune Media Services.

SPJ’s Snake River chapter (Idaho and Eastern Washington, folks) sells an array of Brenda Starr apparel. Make a purchase, and support a great cause.

BEFORE GOING ON AIR. Get a few broadcast writing tips from longtime SPJ member, TV news writing veteran and all-around nice guy, Mervin Block. He’s written the news for Ed Bradley, Tom Brokaw, Walter Cronkite, Charles Kuralt, Dan Rather, Diane Sawyer, Bob Shieffer and Mike Wallace — so we’re pretty sure he knows what he’s talking about.

RADIO WAVES. Check out “Listening Lounge,” a great radio program hosted by SPJ member Todd Melby on KFAI in Minneapolis. The show features topnotch journalism produced by many Edward R. Murrow Award winners. One great tale, “Just Another Fish Story,” recalls what people in the poorest county in Maine did when a 60-ton whale washed ashore 10 years ago.

SOLID FOUNDATION. New to world of working stiffs? Check out SPJ’s collection of tools for young journalists, including articles about healthy work habits, salary negotiations and making the jump to the big time. SPJ’s new national Generation J Committee is off to a roaring start. Look for fun and informative new Web features in coming weeks.

BE SOCIAL. Emily Sweeney, a reporter for the Boston Globe and president of SPJ’s New England Pro chapter, writes:

“Social networking sites can be great places for finding sources. Over the past three years, I’ve joined a bunch of them. On many of these sites, you can create groups. So I recently decided to start one of my own — a group for journalists in the Boston area on Myspace.com: http://groups.myspace.com/bostonmedia.

It’s too early to say if this little group will be successful or not, but I figured I’d pass the idea along to my fellow SPJ’ers. It might be helpful for SPJ chapters looking for different ways to publicize their events, communicate with their members and perhaps (I hope!) get more folks to join.”

SWEENEY BEHIND THE SCENES. Emily, a lifelong Bostonian, has been sharpening her videography skills to support the stories she writes (“for the best newspaper evah,” she says). Check out some of the cool clips she’s captured from the field — and ask her for tips and tricks that’ll help you do the same: emily.sweeney@yahoo.com. One clip you really need to see is Emily’s video promoting “Bloodfeast 2006.” This club-crazed Halloween party, coming up Oct. 28, will feature “DJ Punkette” and some of the finest techno music known to mankind. Proceeds will benefit the New England chapter’s journalism scholarship fund. Wear the best costume, and score $1,000!

THINKING GLOBALLY? SPJ member Patti McCracken writes: “I’m an American journalist living near Vienna, Austria. I’m a former assistant editor at the Chicago Tribune (foreign/national news graphics) and a Knight International Press Fellow (twice). I have two blogs, one of which is an archive of some of my features and commentaries on international themes. The other is an account of daily life as an American living in rural Europe."

WORLDLY ADVICE. Patti and other SPJ members chiming in on Christine Tatum’s blog have been exchanging ideas about ways to help American journalists connect with journalists in other nations. Add your 2 cents — and know that many people stand to benefit.

DEM ETHIKKODEX DER GESELLSCHAFT PROFESSIONELLER JOURNALISTEN. Many thanks to the U.S. embassy in Vienna for translating SPJ’s Code of Ethics into German.

FROM THE CITY THAT WORKS. SPJ member Jacquee Thomas maintains a blog that is an extension of “Letter from Chicago” — a column she writes for The Daily Journal of Kankakee, Ill.

THE ACCIDENTAL HIPPIE. SPJ member and longtime jingle writer Ken R. Deutsch posts amusing takes on pop culture, politics and the details of some strange personal experiences on his Web site. Check out his tips for those wanting to get into the jingle-writing business and the reasons he says he wouldn’t make a very good revolutionary.

A NEW LEADSTER. SPJ member Tara Lynn Johnson, an award-winning columnist and writer in Wilmington, Del., has agreed to join SPJ Leads’ writing team. Look for her wit and wisdom in upcoming editions — and continue to send items for inclusion in these crazy, little dispatches to leads@spj.org. Interested in joining our team (it’s a volunteer gig, people)? Contact Christine Tatum at ctatum@spj.org.

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