Highlights through Oct. 1

branding ironThe highlight of last week was, without a doubt, my trip to the Fort Worth to meet with members of the Fort Worth Pro SPJ chapter. They graciously hosted a “meet the president” event where they presented me with my very own branding iron and gave me the opportunity to update them on what’s new in SPJ along with my goals for the year. I also got the chance to visit with Carol Cole-Frowe, one of my favorite freelancers, and Eddye Gallagher, our region 8 director. Eddye and her husband Ed showed us around Fort Worth, including a number of historic sites.

But that was just a small portion of what SPJ accomplished last week. Here are a few other highlights:

Ethics: Posters and bookmarks of the new Ethics Code are ready to download. Hard copies will be back from the printer this week. In addition, members of the Ethics Committee have been doing media interviews, scheduling speaking engagements and preparing the supplemental documents that will sit “behind” the Code on SPJ.org to help explain and clarify some of the Code’s content.

Jennifer Royer, SPJ’s communications strategist, shared her communications plan with the national board to explain how SPJ will communicate the new Code to students, journalists, educators and the public. I did a media interview today with a student from American Journalism Review and will be speaking at Green River Community College on Oct. 4 to discuss the revised Code.

Communities: Carlos Restrepo of the International Journalism Community reached out to new members to ask for their ideas and goals. SPJ Digital held its first Google hangout with its leadership team to plan for the months ahead. SPJ Freelance continues to reach out to potential members. Gen J further explored the idea and benefits to becoming a community.

Journalism Advocacy: SPJ signed onto a letter to the U.S. Forest Service written by the NPPA to protest the need for permits in certain situations where newsgathering and photography may be done in the nation’s wilderness areas. Though the U.S. Forest Service has backed off on some of the original permitting provisions, the new language is vague, putting press freedom in danger. {SPJ.org will post a copy of the letter soon.}

Education: Members of SPJ staff and immediate past president Dave Cuillier attended ONA in Chicago last week to discuss partnerships and funding opportunities and to scout for programming ideas and speakers for future SPJ programming.

Member Engagement: Tuesday Taylor Carlier conducted a Twitter chat with the hashtag #youngjournojobs. She’s preparing a Storify of the event, so stay tuned for that on SPJ.org. Also, Tara Puckey is working with a group of SPJ members in Nebraska who don’t have a chapter. The group will host the region’s spring conference.

Diversity: A member of NAHJ staff reached out to me to see how he could help SPJ expand its base of diverse journalists. I will follow-up to see what types of partnerships we can forge with groups like NAHJ, NAJA, NABJ, NLGJA and others.

I’m sure I’ve missed some highlights. If I did, please email me or post in the comments section. Thanks for your support of SPJ!

~ Dana Neuts, President

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Highlights, week of Sept. 15

With EIJ two weeks behind us now, things are slowing down a little bit, but the momentum that started at the convention is still going strong. Committees, communities and volunteers are hard at work, locally and nationally. Here are this week’s highlights:

Launch of International Journalism Community: Under the leadership of Carlos Restrepo of the St. Louis Pro chapter, the International Journalism Community was launched. To date, more than 30 journalists have expressed an interest in joining the community. Want to get involved? Email Carlos directly.

Volunteer of the Month: Last week, the Membership Committee named its volunteer of the month – Victor Hernandez of CNN, for overseeing Excellence in Journalism news at EIJ14. Guiding a team of 14 student interns, Hernandez selflessly shared his expertise. Thank you, Victor!

Journalism Education Committee: Butler Cain, assistant professor of West Texas A&M, and the Journalism Education committee are getting the year off to a good start, wrapping up the editing of a book on the state of high school journalism. I anticipate lots of great work coming out of that committee this year, so stay tuned!

Diversity Committee: Lead by chair April Bethea, the Diversity Committee has gotten off to an enthusiastic start. Read April’s blog post about the committee’s goals for the year.

Ethics Committee:  Committee chair Andrew Seaman and SPJ communications strategist Jennifer  Royer are working on a plan to publish, publicize and share the revised Code of Ethics. Late last week the final version went to the printers. Posters and bookmarks will be available soon.

Journalism Advocacy: SPJ issued a statement applauding the city of Tupelo, Mississippi for complying with open records laws. Though the laws have been in place since 1983, Tupelo is the first municipality in Mississippi to comply. Thanks to SPJ member and reporter Robbie Ward, staff writer for The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, for prodding the city to archive text messages and make them available to the public.

Journalism Advocacy: SPJ signed onto a letter by the American Association of Law Libraries to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Court urging them to restore electronic access to court records that were recently removed from PACER and a letter from the Reporters Committee to the DOJ for a dialogue following the media’s treatment in Ferguson.

Volunteer Outreach: Since EIJ14, I’ve been making calls to volunteers including new board members, committee chairs and community leaders to learn about their goals for the year and to thank them for their service. In addition, I have asked for a volunteer to help me support SPJ’s communities, including freelance, digital and international journalism. If you have an interest in working with me, please email me.

Board Training: Chapter coordinator Tara Puckey held the first of two sessions of board training via Skype to tell us more about our roles and responsibilities.

I’m traveling this weekend to meet with the Fort Worth Pro SPJ chapter for its annual “welcome the president” event. I will update you on this week’s highlights when I get back. Until then, thanks for your support of SPJ and journalism, and let me know how I can help.

~ Dana Neuts, SPJ President

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SPJ now has an International Journalism Community!

Updated, Sept. 17, 7:17 am–Revised logo replaces “committee logo.”

SPJ_International-Committee_LogoI am excited to announce that SPJ has added a new community – the International Journalism Community - our third community since trying the concept out last year. The International Journalism Community joins the Freelance and Digital Communities as a new way to reach out to and connect our members.

The International Journalism community is being lead by Carlos Restrepo, a member of the St. Louis Pro Chapter, who has agreed to get things started. We’ve already heard from 15 or so interested volunteers, including SPJ members who were involved with the International Journalism Committee previously. We welcome their expertise, ideas and enthusiasm for this topic which seems to grow in importance each day.

Next steps:  Restrepo will email members who have indicated their interest and ask for their ideas and goals. Together the community will choose goals and draft a master plan for achieving those goals. If you’d like to be involved, contact Carlos directly. As things ramp up, follow the community on Twitter.

 

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SPJ members share EIJ highlights

As always, the Excellence in Journalism conference co-hosted by SPJ and RTDNA was chock full of good content, networking opportunities, business sessions and hearty discussions about what we need to do better or differently. Focusing on the positive, here are some of the comments I heard from fellow convention goers:

“The most encouraging thing I saw – and experienced – at this year’s EIJ was the energy among many of the younger attendees. During the ‘ask the experts’ time, they were forthright and willing to sit right down and ask questions in a quest to learn more. Unlike the grizzled conference veterans who were looking to network, forge connections for the next gig or locate an open bar, these young journalists were eager to lay the groundwork on their growing skillset by listening to the pros.”

“Another great facet of this year’s EIJ was the efforts put forth by staff in scheduling sessions and meetings. It’s been a long-standing concern that meetings were taking place while learning sessions were underway. If we – as a population that needs to stay current in our understanding and skills – want to excel, we can’t be in board and committee meetings while educational events are happening.”

~Jeff Cutler, New England Pro Chapter

 

“Diversity Fellowship Program!”

~ Athima Chansanchai, Western Washington Pro

 

“Meeting the reps from JEA and finding out NJ does a better job than most states getting pros and high school students together!”

~ Jane Primerano, New Jersey Pro Chapter

 

“I thoroughly enjoyed the networking opportunities at every turn. In many ways, it’s a conference of extroverts – people willing to talk to anyone and find shared experiences. Every year, I meet new people and go home with more contacts than I had.”

~ Robyn Sekula, Louisville Pro Chapter

 

“I was very proud to be an SPJ member after seeing the cooperation and hard work that went into revising and ultimately passing an Ethics Code.”

~ Joe Radske, region 6 director

 

“I had a wonderful time at my first Excellence in Journalism conference this year.  One of the most beneficial parts for me was having the opportunity to receive one-on-one resume reel critiques from professional coaches and veterans in the field.  I just made my first resume reel this summer, so it was valuable to hear how I can improve my work in the future.  I learned a lot from the “Unleash Your Inner Broadcaster” session, where we received one-on-one constructive feedback on our broadcast voices.

I also really enjoyed the programs by Boyd Huppert and Al Tompkins, both of whom are storytellers that my professors have held in high esteem.  After seeing and reading about their work in class, it was special to meet them in person.

Finally, I enjoyed being one of the two delegates for my student chapter.  It was exciting to play a role in voting on the new SPJ ethics code, which will help train young journalists in future generations.”

~ Emily Schweich, University of Maryland

 

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Highlights, week of Sept. 7

Last Friday I shared the week’s highlights with the national SPJ board. Tom Johnson, one of our new regional directors, asked if he could share it with his region. If his members were interested in this info., I thought maybe other members might be too. Here are a few of the things SPJ was working on last week:

Diversity:  A hot topic generating lots of interest. I spoke to Diversity chair April Bethea yesterday. Her committee’s top two projects are providing management training for journalists with a diverse background and finding a university, educator or other group willing to maintain the Rainbow Diversity Sourcebook. There are other projects and discussions in the very early stages in the works, but they will likely extend beyond the scope of this committee. This will include adding volunteers from other journo orgs like NAJA, AAJA, NABJ, NLGJA, etc. to join our committees.

International Journalism: This committee is coming back! We’ve got an enthusiastic volunteer, Carlos Restrepo, from the St. Louis Chapter leading the charge. He’s already got some project ideas in mind and we have about 10 volunteers so far. I don’t yet know if this will be a committee or a community, but we don’t need to decide that now.

- Awards:  Based on our discussion at this Sunday’s board meeting, Lynn Walsh and Sue Kopen Katcef will work on researching how other journo orgs handle awards, identifying and explaining how our awards are done, etc. They’ll provide information to be discussed by Exec. in January. Exec. will prepare recommendations to submit to the full board at its April meeting.

Chapter Support:  Alex Tarquinio and Tony Hernandez are interested in pursuing two separate but related projects to help us strengthen our chapters. As they flesh out their plans, I’ll ask them to provide periodic updates to the board.

Ethics Committee: Andrew Seaman has been working with communications strategist Jennifer Royer on a plan to implement the revised Code of Ethics approved by the delegates last week. Paul and Lynn are both on the Ethics Committee, so they’ll provide us with periodic updates.

Welcome Calls:  I plan to call each of our new board members to welcome them to the board, answer questions, find out where their interests lie, etc. I’ve talked with Rob so far, and hope to make the remainder of the calls next week. If you haven’t heard from me yet, you will.

Job Bank:  At last Thursday’s board meeting (Sept. 4), the board directed us/staff to research the Boxwood job bank arrangement and to propose changes that will better serve our members. Lynn Walsh has volunteered to take this on.

FOI: Past president and FOI chair Dave Cuillier is already getting started, forming his committee and making plans to keep advocacy on the front burner. Go, Dave!

Journalism Education Committee:  Chair Butler Cain and his committee are over the moon excited about their book on high school journalism, a project headed by our very own Becky Tallent. WTG! In addition, Butler is getting the committee organized and they are discussing their plans for the year ahead. They had a lively meeting last Friday, and Butler followed up today.

Nominations:  Per the bylaws, I need to name a nominations chair/committee by early January (Jan. 4?). I will let you know when that’s been achieved. I have made an “ask,” based on recommendations, but I haven’t gotten a response yet (because I just asked this person about 30 minutes ago).

Blogging:  I have posted a couple of blogs this week, and have at least more to go. I hope to blog 2-3 times per week. If there are topics you’d like to see addressed, I welcome your suggestions.

We have a lot of work to do this year, but I am excited that we got some much done last week. I’ll try to keep you updated, but please reach out if you think I’m missing something. Click here to send me an email. You can also follow me on Twitter for regular updates on what SPJ and I are working on.

~ Dana Neuts, SPJ President

P.S. – I “owe” you a blog post on EIJ experiences from other SPJ members. It’s coming soon!

 

 

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SPJ needs to improve diversity

Update–Sept. 11, 2014, 8:28 a.m. PT–Since posting this yesterday, I have received an amazing amount of support. Folks are having confabs, but more importantly, they are discussing this openly. People are sharing their stories and volunteering to help improve diversity in SPJ and journalism. I even had one journalist join as a direct result of SPJ having this conversation now. We have much work to do, but it is encouraging to see there are many hands to do it. If you want to join the effort, contact me directly or reach out to April Bethea, our diversity committee chair. You have my heartfelt thanks.

This morning SPJ regional director Michael Koretzky wrote a post about SPJ’s awards programs and diversity. The board has directed the executive committee to make recommendations regarding changes to the awards nomination and selection process, so I won’t address that here, but it prompted some good discussion about SPJ’s lack of diversity. SPJ needs to improve diversity throughout the organization.

This was something I mentioned in my speech at the president’s installation banquet on Saturday. We have a diverse membership across the country, serving as chapter leaders and serving on committees at the national level, but that’s not enough. We need diversity in all areas, including the SPJ board, committee chair positions and future leadership roles.

To look at me, you might not think I’m diverse and maybe I’m not, but I do care about diversity.  I am a 47-year-old, white female. I was born in Gary, Indiana and grew up in a community that’s a close cousin to Chicago. I live in Kent, Washington now, a community that is 53% nonwhite. There are dozens if not hundreds of cultures in Kent, and there are 118 languages spoken in Kent schools. I have family and friends who are gay and transgendered. I prefer to look past color, race, age, gender, sexual orientation and religious affiliation to look at an individual’s values instead.

Admittedly, SPJ has a long way to go, but the organization recognizes it needs to improve diversity across the board. Here are a few ways SPJ is addressing diversity:

– SPJ has an active Diversity Committee, Diversity Resources on SPJ.org including a resource guide, tool kit and blog, and a Diversity Fellows program to recruit future leaders to SPJ.

– Last Friday, SPJ helped organize a Leadership Summit at EIJ, which included 17 journalism organizations including ACES, ONA, UNITY, NABJ, NAHJ and others. The group discussed individual challenges as well as how they could work together.

– We plan to invite members of diverse journalism organizations to join our committees and serve as advisors to help us address diversity issues journalists face.

– I will direct the nominating chair or committee, not yet named, to actively recruit candidates from all backgrounds.

Is this enough? No, not even close. Is it a start? Absolutely.

It will take time and a village to make this happen though. We need your help! If you have an interest in diversity issues or have suggestions or ideas, please reach out to me or contact April Bethea, our diversity committee chair.

2014 SPJ Diversity Fellows

2014 SPJ Diversity Fellows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cowboy Boots, Convos and the Code of Ethics

SPJ votes

SPJ delegates vote during the closing business session at EIJ14. Photo by Jeff Cutler.

I’m just returning home from a whirlwind trip to Nashville for the 2014 Excellence in Journalism conference, held in partnership with RTDNA. With more than 900 attendees in town to participate, there was a lot of fun to be had – but much serious business to be conducted as well.

From the CNN-sponsored kickoff at Wildhorse Saloon where we showed off our cowboy boots through the Sunday morning board meetings of SPJ and RTDNA, EIJ14 was action packed. In addition to programs, business meetings, super sessions and socials, SPJ highlights include:

–        The passage of a revised Code of Ethics, the first update since 1996, was one of the weekend’s biggest accomplishments. Passionately and sometimes heatedly discussed during an ethics town hall session and the closing business session, Ethics Committee members, interested SPJ members and chapter delegates worked together to hammer out details, making additional revisions, line edits and suggestions to ultimately come up with a document satisfactory to the majority of delegates. The new Code is a collaborative effort of those volunteers and the hundreds of folks who commented on the Code over the course of the last year.

The Code will never satisfy everyone, nor will it address every ethical issue we might be faced with. Rather it is a collective body of work that SPJ can be proud of. To keep the Code relevant and to provide guidance to those using or teaching the Code, the Ethics Committee will work on providing notes, position papers, links and other supplemental materials available online. Under the leadership of new committee chairman Andrew Seaman, the committee is already working on collecting and preparing those materials. This aggregation will be an ongoing process, and the committee will seek suggestions and input from SPJ’s 7,500+ members and anyone else who’d like to offer feedback. Click here to share your input with the committee.

–        Approval of an endowed “Forever Fund” to support SPJ’s advocacy efforts. Nicknamed by immediate past president Dave Cuillier the ‘Legal Offense Fund,’ this fund will initially be funded via the Legal Defense Fund. As our new FOI chair, Cuillier will lead the charge for SPJ advocacy and fundraising and creating an endowed fund. For more information on how this fund will work and how the money will be used, contact Dave Cuillier.

–        Hosting of a leadership summit with a dozen or so journalism groups including ACES, UNITY, NAHJ, NABJ, ONA, to name a few. Leaders of these organizations met at EIJ to discuss common challenges and synergies and how they can best utilize the strengths of individual member organizations as well as the group collectively. It was an inspiring meeting with a lot of positive discussion and suggestions for moving forward to better support journalists and journalism.

–        The proposal to change the name Society of Professional Journalists to Society for Professional Journalism was ultimately rejected by the delegates. Though the name change didn’t pass, it stimulated a good conversation about the future of SPJ and how we can remain relevant. A Futures Task Force was formed earlier this year by past president John Ensslin, and the task force submitted recommendations to the Executive Committee in June and to the full board last week. Some of the suggestions are already being implemented, and others are being fleshed out for viability, planning and implementation. Stay tuned for more on that!

–        Programs, super sessions and awards, oh my! You can’t talk about EIJ without talking about the great programming, including sessions featuring Michele Norris, SPJ’s newest fellow, Kara Swisher, lessons from Ferguson, narrative storytelling, freelance foul-ups, pushing for parity and more. In addition, EIJ14 held a number of awards ceremonies and honored individual journalists, media organizations, chapters and SPJ leaders. For highlights, visit the EIJ News site.

In the weeks and months ahead, I’ll write more about these topics. In the meantime, visit SPJ.org to stay up-to-day on Society news, watch your inbox for the weekly edition of Leads, and follow SPJ on social media (see SPJ.org’s home page for links). You can also contact me anytime with questions, concerns and ideas. My inbox is always open. Let me know how I can help.

~ Dana Neuts, SPJ President, 2014-2015

 

(Thanks to Jeff Cutler for letting me use this photo taken during the closing business session on Sept. 6, 2014.)

 

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SPJ Board endorses ethics code draft revision

Next week SPJ delegates will discuss whether to revise the Code of Ethics at EIJ14 in Nashville, and the Board endorses approval of a draft revision developed over the past year.

During a recorded Skype meeting Aug. 20, the Board discussed the draft code for an hour and a half  (see Skype meeting online, along with text discussion).

The Board voted to remove the line “Be cautious about reporting suicides that do not involve a public person or a public place.” Members also debated including an additional line encouraging caution in dealing with anonymous online comments, but it was not approved by the full board. There was quite a bit of conversation about a variety of topics, which can be viewed online.

The final tally of the Board vote was 11 in favor of the revised code (Brett Hall, Neuts, Hernandez, Gallagher-Newberry, Albarado, Hallenberg, Fox, Matt Hall, Tallent, Kopen Katcef, Fletcher), 4 against (Cook, Koretzky, Schotz, Corry), and 1 abstention (Sheets). Also, see analysis by Region 2 Director Andy Schotz, who proposed several amendments.

The Board’s recommendation is only advisory. Members also will get to vote online on whether they think delegates should approve the revision. Ultimately, it will be up to delegates in the closing business session 3-5 p.m. Sept. 6. They can approve the proposed draft (which delegates can change next week), turn it down, or continue discussions for the next year.

In addition to the ethics code discussion last week, the Board also approved, unanimously, the creation of a Digital Community. Stay tuned for more information about that from incoming President Dana Neuts!

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Board appoints two for interim positions

On Monday, the SPJ Board conducted a phone conference call meeting to appoint two people to national positions in the interim until national elections in September.

A student rep position will be filled by Brett Hall from the University of Maryland and the Region 11 Director position will be filled in the interim by Matt Hall of the San Diego pro chapter. The field was extremely competitive, which goes to show we have amazing people in SPJ willing and capable of taking leadership roles.

While the two will serve only five weeks, we felt it was important to get people in the spots because of two upcoming board meetings, one in August by phone and the first board meeting at EIJ14 in September. The positions will be filled permanently through the online election process at EIJ14, so members will elect a student rep and Region 11 members will choose their permanent director. Anyone can still run for both positions, if they wish (ask Tara Puckey for more details, at tpuckey@hq.spj.org).

In the board meeting Monday, a variety of issues were discussed, but the main focus was considering the individual nominees’ strengths. Ultimately, we were ecstatic by the strong slate of candidates and will be encouraging all of them to get involved in SPJ through other ways, including national committees. If you are interested in joining a cause, such as the Ethics Committee, Diversity Committee, or FOI Committee, among others, contact president-elect Dana Neuts at spj@virtuallyyourz.com.

Before the next virtual board meeting planned for August to discuss the ethics code revision, creating a digital journalism community, and a future plan for advocacy, we are hoping to find a platform that will enable the public to listen in. We have worked to improve transparency this year, including live streaming of in-person meetings, but we can do more.

In the spirit of transparency, we would normally post roll call votes in the minutes and leave it at that, but here were the votes from Monday’s phone meeting:

Roll call vote for Brett Hall (6 yes, 3 no, 3 abstain):
Fletcher: Yes
Neuts: Yes
Kopen Katcef: Yes
Albarado: Abstain
Corry: Yes
Fox: No
Tallent: No
Schotz: Yes
Koretzky: Abstain
Stevens: Yes
Sheets: Abstain
Hernandez: No

Roll call vote for Matt Hall (7 yes, 4 abstain, 1 no)
Fletcher: Yes
Neuts: Yes
Kopen Katcef: Abstain
Albarado: Abstain
Corry: Yes
Fox: Yes
Tallent: Yes
Schotz: Yes
Koretzky: No
Stevens: Abstain
Sheets: Yes
Hernandez: Abstain

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Third draft out on ethics code revision

Kudos to the Code of Ethics revision group that met in Columbus this weekend to hammer out the final draft of the code. Feel free to check out the meeting, which was streamed live.

In the next few days the code revision website will also include a Q&A on the revision by Kevin Smith, who is leading the process, as well as a strike-through version to see the specific changes. Members can review it, continue to provide feedback, and vote on it in the online election in September. Also, the SPJ Board will chime in with its thoughts and recommendations and ultimately delegates will discuss it at EIJ14 in Nashville Sept. 4-6.

Thanks to the group that has been working all year to provide delegates a revised code to consider. Also, thanks to the hundreds of members and non-members who have provided suggestions and feedback (see feedback form), which were all considered by the group. The latest version truly reflects today’s media much better than the existing code.

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