By Tom Henderson
Editorial Writer & Columnist, The Lewiston (Idaho) Morning Tribune
Assistant Business Editor, The Denver Post
National President, SPJ
WHAT HAVE WE DONE FOR YOU LATELY? Check out a synopsis of SPJ’s work from the past few weeks. We’ll post these monthly summaries with hopes that you’ll use them to help build the Society’s membership. Refer to them early and often!
IT’S YOUR TURN. SPJ could use your wit and wisdom. That’s right. With your eyes closed, you could generate very helpful guides to this, that and the other thing. You could offer career advice to young journalists. You could respond to postings on SPJ’s message boards. You could share audio and video. Take, for example, SPJ member Kai Jackson of WJZ-TV in Baltimore, who is working on tips for journalists wanting to travel abroad and capture video to support their reporting. Look for his contributions to spj.org soon. Then there is Chicago SPJ member Zak Stambor’s insightful account of his recent (and successful) job search. It’s loaded with details that might help you. And let’s not forget Ken Deutsch of Toledo, who in no time flat banged out a witty piece on how to score freelance work. Zak and Ken’s submissions also will be posted soon. How about yours? Contact Christine Tatum to find out how you can support the cause: firstname.lastname@example.org.
ALWAYS AT BATTLE. Journalists face various ethical pressures during times of war. Popular patriotic passions, the demands and strategic interests of the government, cultural and national sensitivities and traditional journalistic responsibilities are often on a collision course. This month, SPJ’s national ethics committee member Peter Sussman presents a thorough and thoughtful list of questions aimed at helping journalists resolve various ethical conflicts related to wartime.
GOOD GRACIOUS! You’re working a hectic job and leading an SPJ chapter. Where SPJ is concerned, don’t recreate wheels, struggle to learn which way is up or muddle your way through. We’ve got you covered with a treasure trove of online resources aimed at helping you build a strong chapter.
GET WEBBY. It’s way past time for your chapter to have a Web site. SPJ offers plenty of ways for your group to go virtual.
FOI INDEPTH. Each year, SPJ generates a report that sheds more light on various freedom-of-information issues. The most recent report focuses on the question of who should be covered by a federal shield law. But take a look at all the reports recently posted on spj.org. They cover homeland security, cameras in courts, HIPAA, SLAPP and much more.
WANT TO SEE SOME SCARY STORIES? Find out just how dark it is out there by reading SPJ’s FOI FYI, the blog maintained by SPJ’s national Freedom of Information Committee. Did you know, for example, that some California colleges won’t reveal the budgets for their football programs – or that Colorado recently saw a frightening public records audit? What about the mischief and mayhem in Delaware, or the vault of secret information maintained by government officials in North Carolina?
STILL TALKING FOOTBALL. National President Christine Tatum chatted recently with a University of Tennessee athletics official miffed by the Society’s criticism of the university’s sanctioning of a reporter who interviewed a football player without seeking permission from the University first.
PERSONS, PLACES, THINGS. SPJ recognizes historic sites in journalism. Surely you know of one. Check out the details, and apply for consideration. The recognition ceremonies are always fun!
THE INCREDIBLE BLOG! Inspired by Halloween and the 1950s horror flick, “The Blob,” SPJ’s South Florida Pro chapter will host a dinner and discussion about blogging. Who’s invited? Anyone wanting to know more about the phenomenon of blogging and its controversies and legalities. Just be forewarned that the dinner will feature editors’ eyeballs (meatballs), intestine of reporter (all right, it’s baked ziti) and copy editors’ fingers (we’re not going to tell you what those really are …). When: 7 p.m., tonight (Oct. 19). Where:The Sun-Sentinel’s Deerfield Beach office, 333 SW 12th Ave. For more information, contact Beth Feinstein-Bartl: email@example.com.
SPEAK LOUDLY, CARRY A BIG PEN. Journalists Kathy Barks Hoffman of The Associated Press, Charlie Cain of The Detroit News and Ron Dzwonkowski of the Detroit Free Press will discuss coverage of Michigan’s gubernatorial election. When: 5:30 to 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20. Where: The Kellogg Center on Michigan State University’s East Lansing campus. Cost: Admission is free.
MAKE IT YOUR BUSINESS. Every story has a business angle. Learn more about how to make business coverage more interesting and how to add more depth to other types of news reporting simply by knowing more about business. SPJ’s Los Angeles Pro chapter is hosting a business reporting forum featuring top-notch business journalists. When: 7 p.m., Oct. 24. Where: Valley Economic Development Center Community Room, 5121 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys, Calif. Cost: (Includes dinner and refreshments) $8 for members, $10 for non-members. RSVP: By Oct. 22, please. Contact Brent Hopkins: firstname.lastname@example.org.
POWER TOOLS. The Chicago chapter of the American Association of Business Press Editors will conduct a half-day workshop focused on ways to increase readership by using a variety of digital tools, including e-mail news products. When: 9 a.m. to noon, Friday, Oct. 27. Where: Columbia College Chicago’s Ferguson Theater. Cost: $20 for ABPE members, $25 for non-members. RSVP: By Friday, please. Send a note to email@example.com.
IF YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TO DO. SPJ’s events calendar is getting bigger all the time. Check it out, and don’t forget to search for professional development opportunities at JournalismTraining.org.
WIN BIG PRIZES. Submissions are being accepted for the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Cushing Niles Dolbeare Media Awards. The awards aim to recognize print journalists who do an exemplary job of illuminating the affordable housing crisis in America. The coalition presents the awards in partnership with Affordable Housing magazine. Three first-prize winners will receive $2,500 and be honored at an event in Washington, D.C. Entries must have been published during the 2006 calendar year. The submission deadline is Jan. 5. For more details, see www.nlihc.org.
FEELING BRAINY? The American Academy of Neurology seeks entries for its 2007 AAN Journalism Fellowship Award. Journalists who exemplify excellence in medical and health reporting are encouraged to apply. Fellows will receive a trip to the academy’s 2007 annual meeting. For more info: firstname.lastname@example.org.
PLAY ANOTHER ROLE. Want to immerse yourself in the world of theater criticism, playwriting, directing and acting? The School of Journalism of the USC Annenberg School of Communication and the National Endowment for the Arts are offering their 3rd annual NEA Institute in Theater and Musical Theater. The institute brings journalists together from across the country to Los Angeles Jan. 30 to Feb. 9. Most costs are covered by the NEA Institute, including travel to and from L.A., hotel (The Bonaventure), performances, Internet use for work and most meals. To request an application, send an e-mail to NEAInst@usc.edu. Applications are due Monday, Nov. 20. Questions? Call Sasha Anawalt at (213) 437-4414.
A STARR IS BORN. Actor and screenwriter Jenna Mattison was born to be “Brenda Starr, Reporter.” Check out her efforts to play the comic book icon at blog.zap2it.com/brendastarr. SPJ’s Snake River chapter president Tom Henderson is working with Mattison to ensure SPJ remains identified with Brenda as she makes her way through the Hollywood process. With any luck, Brenda Starr might become a television movie or even a series starring Mattison. Henderson has reassured Mattison that if she can just slightly re-envision Brenda’s leading man,
Basil St. John, as a 6-foot-6, 300-pound middle-aged man with thinning hair, he could be persuaded to give up journalism for acting.
GO ON! SEND IT IN. Please submit proposals for programs to be offered during SPJ’s 2007 Convention & National Journalism Conference by Dec. 11.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK. Last week’s quote was practically a gimme:
“Journalists! Peeking through keyholes! Running after fire engines like a lot of coach dogs ... a lot of lousy, daffy buttinskis, swelling around with holes in their pants, borrowing nickels from office boy! And for what! So a million hired girls and motormen’s wives’ll know what’s going on!”
But no one correctly identified the quote’s source! It was from “The Front Page.”
Here’s this week’s movie quote: “That’s the press, baby, the press. And there’s nothing you can do about it! Nothing!”
Send your answers to Tom Henderson at email@example.com. The first two people to submit correct responses will receive a cool “Honor the First” blue, rubber bracelet from National President Christine Tatum.