By Christine Tatum
Assistant Business Editor, The Denver Post
National President, SPJ
Editorial Writer, The Lewiston (Idaho) Morning Tribune
WE WERE THERE. SPJ’s legal team at Baker Hostetler in Washington, D.C., has provided an interesting recap of Wednesday morning’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing concerning a proposed federal shield law. SPJ encourages all journalists to contact their senators and urge them to support the bill, also known as the Free Flow of Information Act of 2006. Not sure what to say? Check out a sample letter written by SPJ attorney Malena Barzilai.
Still not sure you even support a federal shield law for journalists? Join an online discussion about the issue. Also take a look at an editorial appearing in Arizona’s East Valley Tribune.
WOLF TRAPPED — AGAIN. SPJ continues to support California freelance videographer and blogger Josh Wolf, who was ordered back to a federal jail Wednesday. A panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed a lower court's decision to hold Wolf in contempt of court for refusing to give up unedited video for a grand jury's review. Wolf's lawyers plan to ask the full court to review the case soon. We'll update you early and often on spj.org.
LET THE SUN SHINE IN! A bill aimed at strengthening FOI laws made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee without objection today. While there's little chance the Senate will vote on the bill this year, SPJ is hopeful that the committee's approval will give the proposal great momentum as it heads into the new Congressional season. Check out the proposed Open Government Act of 2005, co-sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont.
READ HER MIND. This week, SPJ President Christine Tatum blogs about the IRS going to church and SPJ’s disgust with a government ploy to hide its embarrassing activities by blocking public access to information that one judge has called “innocuous,” “widely known” – and even commonsensical.
Want Christine to address something near and dear to your heart? Drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THEN INVITE HER SOMEWHERE. Tatum is willing to hit the road to meet with SPJ members across the nation. She’s already planning a trip to Texas and another to Seattle. If you’d like her to swing into one of your chapter shindigs, let her know ASAP.
EAT FREE OR LIVE FREE. Awesome program alert, people! Leaders of SPJ’s South Florida pro chapter and students at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton are on to something big! They recently observed Constitution Day (Sept. 18 for those of you not paying attention) by co-hosting the first (that we know of) First Amendment Free Food Festival.
How it worked: Students who showed up were given a free lunch in exchange for signing away their First Amendment rights temporarily. And guess what: More than 300 of them agreed to forego freedom in exchange for free chow. When they tried to sit with friends, guards told the students they didn’t have the right to assemble peaceably and ordered them to sit alone or with strangers. When the students complained, they were reminded that they didn’t have the right to do so. Student journalists wore duct tape over their mouths because there was no free press. A rabbi distributing religious literature was ordered to stop. For more details, see local news coverage about this cool event in the Palm Beach Post and South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel.
How it could work for you: SPJ South Florida chapter board member Michael Koretzky and SPJ scholarship winner Michele Boyet organized the event and want to help duplicate it in other cities. Contact them at email@example.com. Don’t forget! National Freedom of Speech Week is coming up Oct. 16-22. SPJ is proud to support this initiative. Consider hosting a chapter event that involves a free food festival.
COMING TO A STATE NEAR YOU? State leaders love to copy bad ideas – and they’ve got a real doozey to follow out of Michigan, where Gov. Jennifer Granholm this week signed legislation making secret the lists of folks who have concealed weapons permits. Keep an eye on this issue, and ask if similar legislation is up for consideration in your state. Share interesting FOI news with all SPJ members early and often by contacting National Freedom of Information Chairman Joel Campbell: firstname.lastname@example.org
BUILD THE FUTURE. SPJ seeks journalists interested in improving the quality of journalism education. Select volunteers will serve as the Society’s representatives to the Accreditation Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. SPJ is among 16 professional and industry groups committed to the accreditation process endorsed by more than 100 colleges. The work requires time, talent and energy to find the truth about a college’s programs – and this work is not for the feint of heart. Chosen candidates will win all-expenses-paid visits to garden spots such as Vermillion, S.D.; Bloomington, Ill.; and Oshkosh, Wis. (OK, so Hawaii, Florida, Southern California and Santiago, Chile, have programs, too). Candidates will be expected to study ahead of each visit and to commit to spending four days on a campus to conduct investigations. SDX Foundation President (and former National SPJ President) Steve Geimann wrote: “I volunteered a decade ago, and it’s the hardest work, but also is my most rewarding and fulfilling commitment.” To be considered for an appointment to this team contact Geimann at email@example.com.
WANT TO HIT THE BOOKS? Or maybe the Web? Find innovative online journalism training at News U.
WANT TO GET AWAY? MEET NEW PEOPLE? There’s a journalism workshop near you. Search by zip code if you want: JournalismTraining.org. And remember! Chapters should enter their educational events into this database. It’s quick. It’s easy. And doing so makes this great resource even better for everyone.
LOOKING FOR YOUR FIRST JOB? SPJ’s student chapter at Bowling Green (Ohio) State University is sponsoring the Great Lakes Journalism Job and Internship Fair on Nov. 10. News organizations of varying sizes from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania will be represented. The day includes a lunch featuring a speaker from The New York Times. Admission is cheap. The event is soon. So, act fast to register: www.journalismfair.org.
Can’t make the fair or just want to look for jobs sooner? Check out SPJ’s online Job Bank early and often. The site is updated with new opportunities frequently. Remember, anyone can post a job, but only members with a username and password can view openings.
CUT THE B.S. Marion Street Press, a publisher of journalism textbooks, soon will release The Buzzword Dictionary: 1,000 Phrases Translated from Pompous to English. To promote the book, Marion Street is holding a contest where you can submit your own buzzwords. Encourage friends, family, colleagues – anyone who values clear language and disdains obfuscation – to enter!
DON’T FORGET! Marion Street Press is a longtime friend to SPJ. Chapters can make money by selling books. Find more details on the company’s Web site.
TUNE IN. Check out a new PBS series titled “America’s Investigative Reports.” Each of AIR’s weekly, documentary-style, half-hour episodes chronicles powerful, groundbreaking and recent journalistic investigations featuring the reporters and editors who produced them. No matter the medium, these are stories that have shaken communities, held the powerful accountable and tried to make a difference in the functioning of America’s democracy. Check out AIR’s Web site and online pressroom for more information.
DEATH KNOLL. More than three journalists die for their work every month, according to a new report issued by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Most of the dead were murdered, not killed in combat. Government and military officials are behind many of the slayings, and few killers are ever brought to justice. The committee found that 580 journalists have been killed because of their work in the past 15 years.
THINK GLOBALLY. SPJ's International Journalism Committee wants to generate more information for various SPJ publications, including the Society's Web site, that will encourage Americans to work abroad. Helpful contributions will vary widely. We're looking for travel tips, personal insight into cultural differences journalists should be aware of, first-person stories, information about the best study-abroad programs and foreign news organizations willing to hire American journalists. The list goes on ... Please contact Quill Editor Joe Skeel with your submissions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
MAKE AN IMPACT. The McCormick Tribune Foundation, Media Management Center and the National Association of Minority Media Executives Foundation are seeking applicants for the 2007 McCormick Tribune Fellowship program. Eight media execs of color will be chosen to join an exclusive braintrust designed to help the news media achieve its diversity goals. Each fellow will attend one of the nation’s most prestigious executive development programs run by Northwestern University’s Media Management Center. Learn more about this effort to increase the number and impact of minority executives in the news media.
EDU-CARING. SPJ’s Indiana Pro Chapter seeks diversity applicants for scholarship awards this fall. Applications are posted online. Entry deadline: Oct. 6. Two college scholarships of $2,500 each will be announced at the Indiana High School Press Association conference in mid-October at Franklin College. Only high school seniors are eligible to apply and must meet all requirements in the scholarship application. The Indiana Pro Chapter is one of only a few pro chapters in the nation that still award annual diversity scholarships (If your chapter doesn’t, well, hint, hint). Revenues to fund the awards come from the chapter’s annual statewide writing contest.
POLITICS AND RELIGION. Traditional rules of etiquette say these are the two things you should never discuss outside the privacy of home. But, hey, we’re journalists. Miss Manners is cordially invited to take a hike. Politics and religion are precisely what’s on the agenda for Newsweek Managing Editor Jon Meacham, who is scheduled to speak at Arizona State University at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 26. SPJ members will mix it up afterward at Mill’s End Coffee House, 310 S. Mill Ave. There’s still time to grab a free ticket to the lecture.
COMIC BOOK QUOTE OF THE WEEK. "Shorthand? What kind of ridiculous affectation is that for a man? Why can't you use an electronic recording device like any normal hack?"
— Lex Luthor to Clark Kent (All-Star Superman No. 5)
IT COULD BE VERSE. This week, poetry lovers, we offer "The Newspaperman's Life" by William Hudspeth:
He recognizes what is news
And has sense of puzzling clues
Assigned perhaps to some bad run.
He labors till his task is done.
Sometimes he finds himself a dupe
But often carries home a scoop
And no temptation is too great
To not produce the story straight.
Send your favorite poetry to Tom Henderson at email@example.com.