By Jeremy W. Steele
SPJ Region 4 Director
Lansing State Journal business reporter
OPEN UP! The Society of Professional Journalists and 42 open government organizations signed onto a Feb. 6 letter [PDF] to House leaders that expresses concern over proposed 2009 budget attempts to shift funding for a new Office of Government Information Services at the National Archives and Records Administration to the less-than-FOIA-friendly Department of Justice. SPJ's FOI FYI blog also notes that the budget leaves out funding for the newly approved FOIA ombudsman. Read SPJ's official statement.
DO YOUR PART. The nation's 2009 budget proposal was sent to Congress on Monday. A budget resolution will be presented by Congress later this spring. To prevent the Bush Administration from shifting critical FOIA funds from NARA to the Department of Justice, SPJ leaders are encouraging journalists and the public to register their concerns by writing or calling members of Congress. For the House of Representatives and Senate listings, visit House.gov and Senate.gov. Additionally, personal meetings with lawmakers in their home states should be scheduled during the upcoming President's Day holiday on Feb. 18.
CONCERNING MILITARY SUBPOENAS. U.S. Air Force officials have revamped their subpoena practices to extend greater protections to journalists, according to newly released regulations. The changes are the result of a 2005 meeting between top Air Force attorneys and members of The Dart Society. The changes are modeled after guidelines adopted decades ago by the U.S. Attorney General for use in federal civilian cases. The new policy characterizes media subpoenas as a last resort in criminal cases. It instructs Air Force authorities at installations across the country to consult with chief attorneys before issuing subpoenas. It also requires them to exhaust "alternative" investigative steps and to hold discussions with media representatives before pursuing legal action.
FINDING SOME LOST HIGH SCHOOLERS. Quill and Scroll, the international honor society for high school journalists, is looking for alumni who are working in media-related fields. Members initiated as student editors, designers, journalists or photographers can visit the organization's Web site, click the Alumni tab, and fill in the personal information. Quill and Scroll has more than 10,000 high school journalists as members every year.
SAVE A TREE. Calling all chapter leaders! Chapter annual reports can now be filed online. Submit one today and know that your chapter delegates will get voting rights and the chapter can be recognized at the 2008 SPJ Convention and National Journalism Conference in Atlanta.
AND THE AWARD GOES TO ... Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications is inviting submissions for the second annual Mirror Awards. Deadline for entries is Feb. 15. The awards recognize reporters and editors who "hold a mirror to their own industry for the public's benefit." For details, contact awards coordinator Jean Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AND TO ... If you're planning to enter the D.C. Pro Chapter's Dateline Awards journalism competition, take note that the deadline is fast approaching. Entries must be postmarked by Feb. 20. For complete contest information, go to the chapter's Web site. Questions? E-mail Dateline Awards coordinator Brooke Kenny at email@example.com.
AND ALSO TO ... The 12th annual Ohio SPJ Awards call for entries is coming soon. This year's awards include five new categories: Best TV News Producer in Ohio and four new college journalist writing awards for news, feature, sports and opinion. Get the scoop.
SOURCES IN A SEA OF SCRAPS? Region 11 director Sonya Smith is on a quest to get organized. Like many reporters, her desk has become a veritable Bermuda Triangle as far as sources names and numbers go. Sound familiar: "names and numbers written down on stickies, scraps of paper and other documents ..." Find out what she did and pick up a few other tips at the Generation-J Committee's blog.
THE NEXT 'NEWSPAPER NEXT'. American Press Institute will have a live Webcast at 2:30 p.m. EST Feb. 19 to talk about its new report, Newspaper Next 2.0: Making the Leap Beyond 'Newspaper Companies.' The Webcast is free, but pre-registration is required. The 90-minute Webcast will include an overview of the report, including several case-study examples. Presenters will be Newspaper Next Managing Director Steve Gray, principal author of the report, and Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates Inc., which developed the report's section on online revenue opportunities.
GET HEALTHY. The National Institutes of Health is accepting applications until Feb. 29 for its Medicine in the Media: The Challenge of Reporting on Medical Research training program. The program is from May 5-7 in Hanover, N.H. There is no cost; priority is given to working health journalists in the mass media. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
WRITE GOODER. Narrative Writing Workshops, led by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tom Hallman Jr., are back. SPJ will hold a fresh round of the workshops in San Jose, Calif., on April 26 at San Jose State University; Des Moines, Iowa, at Drake University on May 24; Gainesville, Fla., on June 14 at the University of Florida; Houston, Texas, at the University of Houston on June 21 and Richmond, Va., at the University of Richmond on July 26. For complete details or to register, visit SPJ's Narrative Writing Workshop page or call Programs Coordinator Heather Porter at (317) 927-8000, ext. 204.
PUBLISHER'S PERSPECTIVE. Los Angeles Times Publisher David Hiller, who was at the center of a recent story in which Times editor James O'Shea left amid a budget dispute, will speak Feb. 21 at the University of Indianapolis. Hiller will discuss "The Future of News — Good News or Bad?" The program will be at 4 p.m. in Ransburg Auditorium, 1400 E. Hanna Ave. The event is free and open to the public.