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Home > Publications > SPJ Leads > Sunshine Week + San Diego JournCamp/Scripps Duo

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SPJ Leads | 3/5/2014
Sunshine Week + San Diego JournCamp/Scripps Duo

By Ellen Kobe, SPJ Communications Department



Writing a 500-word essay could get you $1,000. How awesome does that sound?

This Friday, March 7, is the deadline for SPJ's High School Essay Contest. All students have to do is write about the importance of independent news media, have a teacher sign the entry form and mail everything to SPJ HQ. You can find all these and more details online.

If you have questions, email Awards Coordinator Chad Hosier at


Each year, the SPJ participates in National Sunshine Week, which has been celebrated every March since 2005. The week is meant to shine light into the dark recesses of government secrecy - a key mission for SPJ and a duty of all journalists. Here are some announcements about this year's Sunshine Week, which is March 16-22.

Online resources

As national co-sponsors of Sunshine Week, the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press are hosting, a website with information about freedom of information, free materials for participants to use, a calendar of events and a list of participants.

For more information, including Freedom of Information reports and contact information for the Project Sunshine Chair in your state, visit the Sunshine Week section of SPJ's website.

Celebrate in Chitown

The Chicago Headline Club is hosting FOIA Fest, a daylong conference to get tips from the pros on how to wrestle information out of obstinate public agencies, how to access public records that are "hidden" in plain sight and how to analyze data for hard-hitting, compelling, stories. The event is at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, March 14th, at Loyola University's School of Communications, 51 E. Pearson Street. Register online.

Chapter events -- Keep us posted!

Chapters, if you are doing something to recognize Sunshine Week, let us know. There are plenty of fun events you can host (see Chicago example above). We'll tout your programs through SPJ channels and add them to the calendar of events around the nation. Get creative!


From May 16 to 18 we're visiting San Diego for a double dose of SPJ fun: JournCamp and the Ted Scripps Leadership Institute.

It all begins on May 16 with JournCamp -- a daylong workshop that will give you practical, skills-based professional development to help you to become a better journalist. Information about registration, prices and sessions will be posted on our website soon. In the meantime, check out our most recent JournCamp in Nashville, Tenn., for a glimpse of the program.

The rest of the weekend (starting the evening of May 16), members can participate in Scripps, an SPJ boot camp designed to identify your leadership skills and help you better work with those around you. Our most recent graduates of the program left with great ideas and a new outlook on leadership after our event in Fort Worth, Texas. Check out our website to see a detailed schedule of events, plus information on how to apply.

Go to JournCamp. Go to Scripps. Or even better, go to both! We can't wait to see you in San Diego.


A brief reminder: SPJ is accepting public nominations for the SPJ Honors. Each award highlights attributes valuable to the journalism community, and we know many journalists and organizations deserve such recognition. We need you to tell us about them.

Take a look at the honors and think of whom you want to acknowledge:

Public honors | Deadline March 21

Distinguished Teaching in Journalism
Ethics in Journalism
Fellows of the Society
Historic Sites in Journalism
Sunshine Award 


Congratulations to Amy Cherry of the SPJ Delaware chapter! Amy is the March SPJ Volunteer of the Month. As chapter president and co-founder, Amy was nominated for helping start the Delaware chapter and for being the point person for chapter events, including a town hall-style meeting on Delaware FOI issues with Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden. According to Chris Carl who nominated Amy, she has also been the driving force in the chapter's efforts to develop a mentoring program matching local professionals with college journalists.

When not volunteering for SPJ, Amy is the assistant news director and a general assignment reporter and anchor for WDEL-AM in Wilmington, Del. She joined the award-winning news team in 2010 from WBZ Newsradio 1030 in Boston.

Amy has earned the esteemed honor of "Best of Show" in 2013 from the Associated Press, beating reporters in major markets in the Mid-Atlantic for the title. She's also been named "Best Reporter" by the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association three years in a row. Amy is a four-time regional Edward R. Murrow award winner for her investigative and feature reporting.

In addition, Amy received a Terry Harper scholarship last year and attended the Ted Scripps Leadership Institute in Richmond, Va., in November.

Congratulations to Amy and a big "thank you" for her commitment to quality journalism and SPJ! #spjlove


On March 29 in Minneapolis, there will be a session at the Midwest Journalism Conference (which serves in part as SPJ's region 6 annual conference) focusing on the journalism ethics codes and what changes might be considered. On the panel will be RTDNA's Executive Director Mike Cavender, RTDNA Ethics Committee Chair Scott Libin and SPJ's President-Elect Dana Neuts. If you're in the area, try to attend to give input on potential revisions to both organizations' ethics codes.


Jerry Vondas, a member of SPJ since 1972, passed away on Aug. 20. A member of the Pittsburgh Pro chapter, Vondas served as the Tribune-Review's feature obituary writer for the past 15 years. You can read his obituary in the Tribune-Review.

Scott R. Schmedel, of Mountainside, N.J., who joined SPJ in 1950 at Indiana University, died Nov. 9 at age 82. As an employee and then a freelancer, he wrote for The Wall Street Journal for 50 years. He was best known for writing the weekly front-page column, Tax Report, for 14 years. A 1953 graduate of IU, he served as editor of The Indiana Daily Student and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Duane McDowell, a member of SPJ since 1943, passed away on Jan. 15, 2013. A member of the Northern California Pro chapter, McDowell served as the public relations consultant for the U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce (Pacific) Inc. for 25 years. You can read his obituary online.


What daily newspaper company recently bought a competing alt weekly in its market?

Answer: Baltimore Sun Media Group

And the winner is ... Stephen Di Benedetto from the Chicago Headline Club. Congrats! Your prize will arrive soon!


What longtime, popular NPR newscaster is retiring this spring?

Submit your answer to Ellen Kobe.

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