Archive for March, 2009


Shield bill passes in House

I just got the word that the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Shield bill on a voice vote. This is great news!

We still have a long road to travel. The Senate is next. Anyone who feels comfortable calling their U.S. Senator, especially in Texas, please do so. We are moving forward.

SPJ will send out a release soon.

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Chapter visits

Region 6 had an excellent meeting Saturday morning at the Midwest Journalism conference. Chapter leaders talked about what is going on in chapters this year. It was great to see everyone again. I realized as I was speaking to the group that I had visited each of the chapters that were represented at one time in my first six months as president.

I was able to stop in Eau Claire, Wis. in January on my drive to Milwaukee for the executive board meeting. I had a nice chat and breakfast with David Gordon, Mary Hoffman and Henry Lippold, longtime journalism department members and SPJ supporters.

In February, I visited the University of St. Thomas and Minnesota State University-Mankato. Former Minnesota chapter president Art Hughes and I spent more than two hours talking to MSU-M students about new media.

At St. Thomas, the students were eager to hear what the future held for journalism. It is not easy to tell students who are graudating in May that they might have to be patient with the job market.

On March 24, I took part in a modifed induction ceremony for SPJ members at St. Cloud State University. The chapter there has worked to keep the induction ceremony as part of its traditions.

I have been to numerous Minnesota Pro chapter events.

I also have spoken at a number of conferences and colelges not affiliated with SPJ chapters. I spoke to a small class at a community college in Willmar and to about 200 students and advisers at the Midwest College Journalism Conference in Minnepolis.

The speaking schedule has been busy and fun!

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Busy Traveler

I just got back from the Midwest Journalism Conference in Bloomington where members from Region 6 were taking part in professional development and networking.

It was an excellented conference that was missing a few friends from the northwest who were at home in Fargo, Moorhead and Minot, N.D. battled rising flood waters. We look forward to seeing them next year.

The trip to Bloomington started a seven week stretch where I will be on the road five of those weeks.

This Friday, I will head to Phoenix for the Region 11 conference. Mark Scarp and the Valley of the Sun Chapter have a great program lined up. I will stay in Minnesota the weekend of the 11th and 12 to celebragte my birthday and Easter and then will head to Indianapolis and Greencastle April 17-19 for the SPJ Centennial celebration, the SPJ board meeting and the SDX board meeting.

The next week I will be back in the air to Philadelphia, a city that I have never visited. The Region 1 conference will be at the Temple University downtown campus.

And finally May 5-7, I will be in Los Angeles as the LA chapter celebrates its 75th anniversary during its annual awards banquet and the Omni Hotel.

I look forward to the travel and teo seeing some of you at these events and in these cities.

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Remember the Centennial

The big day is coming up. The 100th birthday of the Society of Professional Journalists. We have big things planned that day at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. That is just a short drive from our national headquarters in Indianapolis.

We have a great day planned that includes a pogram, a modified SPJ induction ceremony that will take us back to our fratenal roots, a dinner and SPJ member Jane Pauley and a special speaker. She is being inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.

It will be difficult for everyone to make it. So we are making arrangements so chapters and individuals can take part. Watch SPJ leads for details about a web cast of key events and if you are on twitter check Scott Leadingham’s updates. (@scottleadingham

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Challenge to bloggers, partisan web sites

A little known U.S. Representive from Colorado is causing a stir because of remarks he made to a Netroots Nation in Your Neighborhood event. He said those sharing information on their Web sites, including himself, helped kill traditional journalism. Maybe, but I doubt it. First of all, the Web sites of traditional media are much more heavily trafficked than probably any of those at the meeting of bloggers in Colorado. That doesn’t really matter.

The Congressman doesn’t know what he is talking about. The Rocky Mountain News died for many reasons that had little to do with him or anyone who has a Web page.

Those who are celebrating the death of some papers and obvious struggles of many others might want to think about what they are wishing for. Right now, those are the people spending the most resources on government watchdog efforts. I would issue this challenge to Web site operators that are cheering for the death of newspapers and the news coverage and Web sites that go with them. I’d like to see you go a week without linking to one story from a newspaper, TV station, magazine or any Web site that pays people to produce the news and information on it. It might be fun to look at all those blank Web sites.

It would be interesting to see this site or this site or this one without orginal reporting to link to or reference in a commentary.

It is great that the public has so many choices from professionally reported news, to aggregate sites that compile easy access links, to partisan blogs and gossip. The public needs access to all types of information so it can make up its mind about what it chooses to believe and how it wants to react.

Let’s be careful not to wish the failure of any of it.

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