By Natalie Everett
STANDING TALL FOR TONI. Judge Reggie B. Walton ruled on Friday that former USA Today reporter Toni Locy was in contempt of court for refusing to reveal her confidential sources in the Privacy Act suit brought by former Army scientist Dr. Steven J. Hatfill. On Monday, SPJ signed an amicus brief in support of Locy. Meanwhile, the wheels are in motion. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court granted an emergency stay, which temporarily suspended the fines — escalating up to $5,000 per day — Locy would have to pay otherwise.
ADVOCATE FOR YOUR PROFESSION. Further adding to the momentum, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of a federal shield law (H.R. 2102) in October. The Senate version (S. 2035) also passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in October and now awaits a floor vote. To voice your support for Locy and a federal shield law, contact your Senator or Representative.
NO HORSIN' AROUND. After learning that Dallas Mavericks Team Owner Mark Cuban banned media bloggers from the team's locker room, SPJ President Clint Brewer fired off a letter of protest to NBA Commissioner David Stern that asked him to fully investigate this anti-media policy. Already, the move is causing a debate on Sportsday. Read all about it, and while you're at it, consider writing your own letter or post a comment on Cuban's blog.
SPRING TRAINING. SPJ's Spring Conferences are just around the corner. The day-long professional development sessions bring area journalists, students and journalism educators together to hear from industry experts on topics ranging from improving writing to leveraging technology in today's new media climate. Get information on a conference near you.
FOI AND ETHNIC MEDIA. SPJ will conduct training programs for ethnic-media journalists around the country in the coming months. The program will explore the ins and outs of Freedom of Information laws — and how to use them in daily reporting. The session will include a primer on FOI laws related specifically to each location, as well as guidelines for successful use of the federal FOI law. Programs will be hosted in Los Angeles on March 29; Sacramento on April 25; Minnesota, on April 29; Arkansas on May 15; and Idaho on June 21. For more information or to register, visit SPJ's Ethnic Media Training page.
LEADERSHIP LADDER. Who's next in line to lead your chapter? It's never too early to begin preparing your incoming president for a successful term. The Ted Scripps Leadership Institute is an SPJ program that offers student and professional chapter leaders a mix of sessions focused on interpersonal and organizational leadership skills, as well as sound chapter management practices. The all-expenses paid weekend retreat takes place in Indianapolis June 6-8. It's designed to promote strong leadership in the Society. Applications are due March 16. Those who will be serving as a chapter president during 2008-09 are encouraged to apply. Questions? E-mail Heather Porter at email@example.com.
THE FORECAST SAYS SUNSHINE! Check out SPJ's Web site, which provides ideas for chapters, newsrooms and instructors to promote and further freedom of information in their communities. The best chapter FOI programs from recent years as well as great Sunshine Week projects are featured along with tips, facts and quotable expert sources for writing stories or editorials about FOI. Classroom activities for instructors and ideas for newsroom brown-bags are also included. Don't be left in the dark. Take part in National Sunshine Week, which is March 16-22.
SUNSHINE HAPPENINGS IN MICHIGAN. The Mid-Michigan chapter of SPJ is holding a free discussion of transparency in government. Speakers include former Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, former House Minority Leader Dianne Byrum and Michigan Radio political analyst Jack Lessenberry. While recent polling says the public wants more transparency from its government, lawmakers keep sealing things up — recent events include the controversial presidential primary law that bypasses the state's FOI laws and gives voter lists only to the major political parties. WHEN: Thursday, March 20, 7 p.m. at the East Lansing Public Library. MORE INFO: Contact Christie Bleck at (517) 543-9913, ext 504.
JUDGES NEEDED. If you've always wanted to scrutinize an Ohioan, now's your chance! Organizers of the 2008 Ohio SPJ Awards contest are preparing nearly 700 entries in print, broadcast and online categories to be shipped to judges — but they've found they need more help! The contest is put on by Ohio's three professional chapters — Central Ohio, Cincinnati, and Cleveland — which would be happy to trade your chapter's help now for their help in your future contests. Get details on the contest, including a list of categories at spjawards.org. Chapters interested in judging should contact Central Ohio Pro Chapter President Mike Lorz at 614-443-1877 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'M TOO SEXY FOR MY AWARD. Be awarded one of the first Sex-Positive Journalism Awards. Winning articles will present accurate information about sexual health and sexual diversity, challenge mainstream assumptions about sex and the country's values, and properly contextualize sex subcultures. The advisory board of 'The Sexies' includes the Center for Sex and Culture and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, and judges include popular sex advice columnist Dan Savage and Liza Featherstone, New York journalist and author of "Sex, Lies, and Women's Magazines". Deadline to apply is March 23; visit The Sexies Web site for more information.
LAW SCHOOL ON THE FAST TRACK. Loyola Law School Los Angeles is accepting applications until March 24 for its third-annual Journalist Law School fellowship, a four-day crash course on constitutional, civil and criminal law taught by law professors, jurists and attorneys. Fellowships will be competitively awarded to 35 journalists and will cover instruction, lodging, meals and one-half of travel expenses for the June 18-21 workshop. Learn more at the Web site or call 213-736-1071. The Loyola Law School is a member of SPJ's Legal Advocacy Network.
WASHINGTON BOUND! The Scripps Howard Foundation is accepting student applications from college juniors and seniors through March 20 for the fall 2008 Semester in Washington Program. Students will write and report for the Scripps Howard News Service and have the chance to participate in weekly seminars and tour Washington journalism and governmental institutions. Worried about losing a semester of credits, or messing up your scholarship? Director Jody Beck advises inquiring about internship credit or taking courses online. To apply, or for more information about the program, visit the Scripps Howard Foundation Web site.